The Yukon government released a report this week that looks at what has been done in the territory to address recommendations issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
But the report is not an action plan, meaning it doesn’t offer any recommendations on what should be done. There’s no clear timeline for when such a plan would be done.
“Essentially it was an inventory of where we were at,” said Sherri Wright, the assistant deputy minister at the Department of Health and Social Services.
“It’s meant to be a document to sit down and help us begin discussion with First Nation leaders.”
The TRC issued its 94 recommendations in June 2015.
The residential school system led to the deaths of over 3,000 children, and the abuse of many more. Many suffered poor nutrition, poor health conditions, and extensive physical and sexual abuse.
When the TRC report came out, Premier Darrell Pasloski didn’t make any specific commitment to implement the recommendations, saying the government would look at the report and work with First Nations to address the call to action.
Wright said both First Nations and the Yukon government “confirmed” their intention to work together at an April forum where Yukon First Nations met with the territorial and provincial government.
The Yukon government report breaks down the 94 recommendations into 22 themes, looking at which are relevant for the territorial government.
The document is dated January, 2016, but was only released this week because the government had to have approval from First Nations before making it public, Wright said.
Council of Yukon First Nations (CYFN) Grand Chief Peter Johnston wasn’t available for an interview.
CYFN sent the News a statement in which Johnston said implementing the TRC recommendations is important to Yukon First Nations.
“This is an opportunity to look at the social determinants of health of First Nations and to build a healthier people,” he said.
The report also had to go through some editing, and “internal process,” Wright said. There’s no clear timeline for when an action plan will be released, though Wright said she expects work to begin after the election.
“I don’t think that it would be another year before we get rolling on any of the TRC calls to action.”
Both the Yukon government and Yukon First Nations presented their approach to the federal government, which delayed the report, Wright said.
First Nations have also requested federal funding to support implementation of the recommendations and are waiting to hear back, though it’s not clear why that would slow down working on a draft action plan, she said.
In contrast, the City of Whitehorse adopted in May a draft action plan to guide the implementation of 11 of the 94 recommendations.
The report also details scores of programs and initiatives completed before January, 2016. It includes a wide variety of initiatives, from the Umbrella Final Agreement finalized 25 years ago, to a totem built by the Northern Cultural Expressions Society with TRC money.
The totem was included because it’s one of the initiatives that took place in the territory, the Yukon government’s Aboriginal Relations spokesperson Shari-Lynn MacLellan said.
“While YG didn’t commission the totem pole we are very supportive of it and as the report mentions, YG will assume maintenance responsibilities for the pole.”
The report notes that the government and First Nations “have also made strides beyond some of the TRC’s specific calls to action through the Final and Self-government Agreements.”
“Yukon is at the forefront of land claims and self-government in Canada.”
It doesn’t mention that the Yukon Court of Appeal ruled the government went against some of those self-government agreements during the Peel watershed land use planning process.
“The Yukon government is in various stages of negotiations for reconciliation agreements with the non-settled Yukon First Nations and the Kaska Dena Council,” the report notes.
Negotiations between the Kaska and the federal and Yukon governments have been on and off for the past decade.
Contact Pierre Chauvin at firstname.lastname@example.org