The Council of Yukon First Nations (CYFN) and the Government of Yukon have jointly developed and implemented Yukon First Nations cultural programming at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre (WCC).
Cultural practices, such as sweat ceremonies and drumming circles, have been incorporated into the correctional centre’s regular operations, along with cultural awareness training for staff, the hiring of a full-time First Nation liaison and a contribution of 30 books with First Nations content to the facility’s library.
These projects support the Government of Yukon’s commitment to address 40 recommendations made by legal advisor David Loukidelis, following his independent inspection of the WCC, which began in January 2018. The report, released publicly August 15, 2018, made recommendations for cultural programming to improve outcomes for First Nations individuals in Yukon’s justice system.
The outdoor sweat lodge was constructed at WCC in the fall, with the first sweat ceremony taking place in October 2019.
We have known for a long time that access to cultural activities, and the outdoors, is vital to inmates’ mental well-being and future successes. I am so pleased that we have been able to partner with First Nations to support inmates on this truly important project.
Minister of Justice Tracy-Anne McPhee
CYFN is committed to the task of improving the lives of all Yukon First Nations by facilitating a re-connection with culture. We’re pleased to partner with the Department of Justice to make this happen for inmates at the WCC.
Council of Yukon First Nations Grand Chief Peter Johnston
CYFN identified an Elder who helped construct the sweat lodge and who will continue to lead sweat ceremonies.
CYFN obtained $30,000 in funding for this project from the Department of Health and Social Services’ Mental Wellness Strategy.
Seven of the nine recommendations in the Whitehorse Correctional Centre Inspection Report that pertain to cultural programming have been completed, or are underway, in collaboration with CYFN. Read the full report: http://www.justice.gov.yk.ca/pdf/wcc-inspection-report-david-loukidelis.pdf