September 5, 2017
The Council of Yukon First Nations (CYFN) and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) highlight experiences of First Nations in the Yukon Criminal Justice system
Whitehorse, Yukon – In light of legal proceedings involving Michael Nehass to take place September 5, Yukon First Nations are raising awareness on the experiences of First Nations in Yukon’s Criminal Justice system.
First Nations continue to be overrepresented in the Yukon Criminal Justice system. A 2015 report from the Auditor General reported that between 70 and 90 per cent of offenders were Yukon First Nations while the overall First Nations population in the Yukon is approximately 20 to 25 per cent.
In 2009, the new Corrections Act was enacted after numerous consultations co-chaired by Yukon First Nations. The new Act included the objectives and principles of rehabilitation, healing, and reintegration. The Act requires Yukon Justice to work with First Nations to develop and deliver correctional programs and services.
The new Whitehorse Correctional Centre (WCC) was built in 2012 and Yukon First Nations continue to have many concerns with WCC in particular:
- The lack of mental health and medical services
- The use of solitary confinement
- The lack of a meaningful appropriate reintegration program
Additionally, in 1999 the landmark Supreme Court decision, R. v. Gladue, calls for Gladue pre-sentencing report detailing First Nations background and sentencing recommendations. While there is no formal Gladue program in Yukon, the territorial government along with YFN and other justice stakeholders are working together to establish one. Currently, CYFN and KDFN provide Gladue reports on an ad-hoc basis without remuneration. Demand for Gladue reports continues to increase.
“In the spirit of reconciliation, Yukon First Nations are calling upon the Yukon Government to work collaboratively to address gaps in the Criminal Justice system faced by First Nations,” said CYFN Grand Chief Peter Johnston.
“We want to see a holistic approach to justice that factors in physical and mental health, education and housing strategies,” said KDFN Chief Doris Bill. “We need to address the root causes of justice issues in Yukon. Putting people in jail and assuming they will get better on their own doesn’t work.”
Communications, Council of Yukon First Nations
Communications Manager, KDFN
867-633-7800 Ext 112