Mailbox: Rendezvous and protests

Letters to the editor from Feb. 14

Shame on all of you

My name is Telek Rogan and I was the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Queen in 2017. Like so many other people from the Yukon, I grew up with Rendezvous. I remember seeing the queen candidates as a child, travelling in groups with long skirts swishing and hats and feathers adorned with jewels and flowers.

I wanted to be crowned queen, and in February 2017, I finally was. I did my best to represent the crown that year with passion and a commitment to representing Rendezvous with humour and dignity.

The year I campaigned for queen, I remember thinking that it was a shame that it was always cisgendered women that ran for QFTC. It was an idle thought, and one I didn’t focus on much at the time. I will admit that though I had no real issue with the idea of a man competing for the crown as well, I just assumed that there wouldn’t be much interest.

So when my friend Chantal Dowden, owner of the Bra Boutique proudly announced that she was sponsoring a young man to run in the quest for the crown, I was delighted.

I had already been pleased to see YSR’s move towards inclusivity by opening the contests to welcome both genders. Not all men want to be a Sam, which involves a lot of loud noise, barrooms, and being over-the-top ridiculous, and not all women want to be a Queen, which involves a lot of protocol, dress codes, and sitting (or standing) quietly for long periods of time, and I was very happy to see that immediately there was a sponsor and candidate who wanted to take advantage of the newly changed rules.

So I can’t really say on this public forum how I really feel about the bullying and harassment from our community that led to this young man’s decision to leave the Quest for the Crown.

I can tell you that I am mad. Spitting mad. Inappropriate words in front of children mad. Unless you have been involved with Rendezvous, or accompanied the QFTC candidates, or been one yourself, most people don’t really understand the toll it takes on the men and women running.

The expectation is that we are to go out, on a regular basis, approach strangers one by one and try and cajole them into buying our raffle tickets.

I am lucky to have more stubbornness than good sense, so I bulldozed my way through the ticket sales requirements by refusing to stop until it was over.

But for some of my fellow candidates who suffer from stage fright or anxiety, this was the most daunting obstacle in their way on that journey.

And to have to compound that with open harassment from the public? Shame on you. Shame on any of you who thought you were just joking, or think that your opinion is anything except an attack on the person you were delivering it to. Shame on you all.

Telek Rogan

Whitehorse

Bagnell needs to take a position

The following is an open letter to Yukon MP Larry Bagnell:

In recent weeks the RCMP have constructed militarized exclusion zones preventing Wet’suwet’en and invited guests from accessing their unceded territory.

The presence of RCMP directly violates the basic rights and dignities of Wet’suwet’en peoples, as outlined within Wet’suwet’en law and the Canadian constitution. On Feb. 6, armed RCMP officers conducted a violent raid on the people at Gidimt’en, destroying vehicles, tents, cabins and making arrests.

On Feb. 7, a group of concerned Yukoners presented a letter to you expressing concern about the RCMP presence, escalating violence, and raid on the Wet’suwet’en land defenders in British Columbia.

At that meeting you said you were not up to date on the issue and could not comment. Since that meeting, RCMP actions have escalated quickly, including the arrest of several Wet’suwet’en matriarchs during a ceremony for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls by RCMP officers in tactical gear.

On Feb. 10 we attempted to follow up with you for a response to our previous letter, but your staff informed us that you were out of the territory and unreachable.

This issue is of great concern to this group of Yukoners, as it represents a dangerous step down a broken path to reconciliation and a real and immediate threat to human safety.

Recent B.C. and RCMP actions are a clear violation of the right to free, prior, and informed consent and signal disregard for the principles of reconciliation and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

As our elected member of parliament we expect you to:

– Make an informed public comment on the issue.

– Denounce the violent actions of the RCMP against unarmed citizens

– Take action to hold the Liberal Party accountable to its stated commitments to reconciliation and the recognition of unceded Wet’suwet’en territory and authority of hereditary chiefs as recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada in the federal Delgamuukw and Gisday’wa decision (1997).

We know the common response is that “this is a provincial issue” or “out of my jurisdiction.” While we understand the complexities of this situation, we nevertheless urge you to remember and honour and the federal Delgamuukw and Gisday’wa decision as well as the federal commitment to UNDRIP.

This issue is pressing and quickly evolving and with this urgency in mind, we again request a meeting in person or by phone by Feb. 17.

Roberta Nakoochee, Nick Hyatt and Tory Russell

Yukoners for Solidarity and Action

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