Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

REINFORCING COMMUNITY SAFETY – Justice Minister Brad Cathers; Doris Bill, chief of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation; and Premier Darrell Pasloski discuss the planned initiatives during Friday’s news conference. Jeanie Dendys

Program ‘will make a big difference’: chief

A Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s community safety officer program announced Friday is just one part of the work the First Nation has underway to make its community a safer place.

By Stephanie Waddell on May 30, 2016

A Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s community safety officer program announced Friday is just one part of the work the First Nation has underway to make its community a safer place.

At a press conference inside the First Nation’s government offices on McIntyre Drive, Chief Doris Bill and Premier Darrell Pasloski announced the pilot program would begin with $1.4 million in funding over three years from the territorial government.

The project will see the First Nation hire a justice services co-ordinator, community security co-ordinator and up to two community safety liaison officers to work in the neighbourhood dealing with issues around safety.

“All Yukoners deserve safe communities,” Pasloski said, highlighting the Kwanlin Dün’s “proven track record (on) program development”.

As Bill said, there were two murders in the community in 2014.

At the general assembly that same year, citizens were adamant they wanted a safer place in which to live, work and raise their families.

“The council heard them loud and clear,” Bill said.

To be successful in any efforts, she added, there would have to be buy-in from the community, with actions reflecting its needs and traditional values.

As the council worked to gain a deeper understanding of what residents are experiencing, it became clear partnerships would be required to be successful.

Bill said she didn’t understand the extent of the safety issues prior to council’s work on the issue.

There had been briefings on individual issues residents were facing, but dealing with them on more of a piecemeal basis meant in many ways, officials kept spinning their wheels.

“This program really brought it all together for us,” Bill said.

The First Nation has been able to take a look at the larger issue and work on a variety of initiatives as part of the overall efforts to make the community safer, she added.

Staff held a technical briefing Friday.

They said improved lighting, potential speed humps, gating off areas that led to illegal dumping areas (which have been cleaned up) and party spots, and brush clearing for wider, more open trails are all part the environmental design efforts now in place or getting underway to make the neighbourhood safer.

A tips line has already been established, and considerations are also being made to have security cameras installed in some areas.

The community safety liaison officer program adds to the overall initiative.

Bill stressed that having liaison officers on hand who are from the community and understand the culture will be a major benefit.

“I think it will make a big difference,” the chief said.

It also means training and employment for Kwanlin Dün citizens.

As Justice Minister Brad Cathers said: “This program is intended to directly support crime prevention and reduction strategies as a liaison between Kwanlin Dün First Nation, Yukon RCMP, the City of Whitehorse Bylaw Department and the Yukon government’s Safer Communities and Neighborhoods Unit.

“We hope to see stronger community relationships developed with police and other partners, as well as an increased sense of security and support within the Kwanlin Dün First Nation community.”

At the briefing following the announcement, Jeanie Dendys, KDFN’s director of justice, emphasized that all of the community safety efforts fit with the First Nation’s long-term vision.

Along with the consultation that was held, a review of the statistics was conducted.

In 2015 in the neighbourhood, more than 800 calls were made to police, with 1,000 coming in in 2014.

Most were drug- or alcohol-related, including reports of assaults and break-and-enters, among others.

“Those are high statistics,” she said.

The issue, however, is not limited to the area.

“This is a Yukon-wide issue,” Dendys stressed.

Gina Nagano, the First Nation’s justice service co-ordinator, stressed the work that is underway takes a more holistic, proactive approach to justice issues.

Comments (5)

Up 10 Down 2

concerned on Jun 1, 2016 at 7:02 pm

Finally. Cops don't do anything.
Give up the alcohol and drug program and put the money to more useful programs.

Up 16 Down 5

yukon 56 on May 31, 2016 at 5:21 pm

So little and way to late by a decade. Good step forward at last.

Up 18 Down 9

yukon 56 on May 31, 2016 at 5:08 pm

So little done to help their own with all the money Canadians have provided, shameful.

Up 20 Down 9

Great work Yukon Party Government on May 30, 2016 at 9:41 pm

and first nations

Up 29 Down 10

jc on May 30, 2016 at 9:19 pm

How about the FN creating a committee to help their people who are wandering the streets all day and night. Even a soup kitchen would be nice.

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