Yukon First Nations Party established
Only three days before Premier Darrell Pasloski announced the territorial election,
Only three days before Premier Darrell Pasloski announced the territorial election, one Burwash Landing resident started a political party.
Gerald Dickson, a member of the Kluane First Nations, registered the Yukon First Nations Party on Tuesday.
He already has the mandatory two candidates to be considered an official party in the election.
Dickson, 47, is the leader of the newly-formed party and will also run as a candidate in Kluane.
Stanley James, longtime Carcross resident, will represent Mount Lorne-Southern Lakes.
Dickson said Thursday there also might be a candidate interested in running in Pelly-Nisutlin. Stacey Hassard defeated incumbent Justice Minister Marian Horne for that riding’s nomination last month.
Dickson said the reason he started the party is simple: his elders’ voices are not being heard.
Action, he said, is required to manifest the traditional laws of respect, honour, love, compassion and harmony.
And Dickson believes only First Nations people can really understand First Nations issues.
“We want the natural laws to be honoured and respected,” he said.
Sustaining First Nations’ natural and cultural resources, Dickson told the Star, is at the very heart of the party’s beliefs.
He did admit, though, that he hasn’t yet sat down with James nor other people interested in the party to flesh out its policies and platform.
Dickson was raised by his grandparents in Burwash Landing, where he lives now and does some carpentry work.
He was deeply involved in land agreements and says he was the first First Nation person to speak out against them.
“I was the first to say they were illegal documents,” he said.
Dickson said he was involved in politics for many years in the Kluane region, but has become less involved in recent years.
“I don’t even vote anymore,” admitted Dickson.
But he knows his new position gives both himself, and his elders, the potential to have their voices heard within the territorial government.
Dickson said he is particularly worried about the environmental damage of dams. He created the film Declining Film Source two years ago to examine the impact of damming the Aishihik River in the early 1970s.
“We need to have respect for the natural world and how it functions,” he said.
Dickson remembers a time when everyone would see a moose trampling on by the band building, and let it go. Nobody would touch the animal until it was “fat and ready” in January.
“That doesn’t happen anymore.”
Dickson said James is also someone who has been involved in politics for a long time, including negotiating land claim agreements.
His integrity to protect the inherent rights of First Nations people is what makes James a strong candidate, explained Dickson.
Arthur Mitchell, the leader of the Yukon Liberal Party, told the Star Thursday afternoon that although it does seem a little “late in the day” to be creating a political party, and he doesn’t know its platform nor goals, everyone is entitled to get together and start a party.
Dickson is not sure when he will announce his third candidate, or if there will be a third candidate at all. He did say he is receiving a lot of support from his community.
“Now,” said Dickson, reiterating what is perhaps the most common line in election campaigns — “it’s time to start knocking on doors.”
By Nadine Sander-Green