Yukon First Nations are being empowered to lead their own community safety plans under a new program, the Yukon government says.
Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee announced in the legislature on March 14 the Yukon government will be creating a community safety planning program.
“Yukon First Nation governments, organizations, and citizens have been working very hard to address safety issues in their communities and they have expressed a need for a structured and dependable community safety planning program and funding that will help enhance safety for them and their families,” she said.
McPhee said the first phase of the program will be available to Yukon First Nation governments in order to allow for local community safety assessments, planning initiatives and implementation.
“We know that First Nation governments are best suited to understand the needs of their communities and that community safety planning is integral to the safety and well-being of northern and remote communities,” she said.
McPhee said that over the next eight years the budget has marked a total of nearly $3 million to “advance community safety initiatives.”
Under the program, McPhee said, First Nations governments will be able to access up to $200,000 each to support the creation of their community safety plan. That funding will need to be spent within three years and First Nation governments can apply for funds on multiple occasions, she said.
In a March 14 release, the Yukon government said it will ensure there is consistent funding for First Nations governments to engage in tailored community safety planning activities across the territory.
“It is important that communities lead their own assessments of local safety concerns, as they know the issues that burden their community and how to address them. That is why they will lead and identify ways to mitigate the issues that they face and to implement solutions that work for their citizens,” McPhee said.
The program will provide “clear criteria,” outline the step-by-step process to apply for funding and ensure equitable access for all Yukon First Nation governments, she said, adding that more information about how to apply, how funding can be spent and how the program works will be rolled out later this year.
In a statement on March 16, Kalah Klassen said the Justice department is currently developing the program requirements.
The statement said it will provide funding that will enable communities to create individualized safety plans and it is separate from the Indigenous community safety partnership program.
Phase two of the program will design options for municipalities, local advisory committees and neighbourhoods to “enhance community safety,” McPhee said, with funding models to be explored down the line in 2022-23.
The opposition parties welcomed the news about a new community safety planning program.
In his response to the minister’s statement, Yukon Party MLA Brad Cathers, who represents Lake Laberge, said he was pleased to respond to the continued success of the community safety program, as well as the additional elements announced that day.
“While we do want to acknowledge and recognize successes today, it is also clear that government needs to do more to work with communities, including Whitehorse, to address the growing amount of crime, including increasing resources for the RCMP,” he said.
New Democratic Party Leader Kate White spoke to the ongoing leadership of Yukon First Nations in making Yukon communities safer for everyone.
“From my own settler perspective, it means that Yukon First Nations are taking the lead to address the root causes affecting their communities,” she said. “This is a beautifully powerful action — one that, with Yukon government financial support, rests well within the justice recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action.”
Contact Dana Hatherly at firstname.lastname@example.org