I am writing this submission on my last day as Chief of Kluane First Nation. Looking back on the past 6 years, I am astounded by the amount of work the staff and the community of Kluane First Nation have been able to accomplish. We have established and expanded our community facilities such as: the Jacquot Hall expansion and upgrade including a mould free daycare and infant playground, a quiet, clean library and a Youth/Elder room that has a spectacular view; establishment of a green space for our youth garden and place to play; a skating rink that can be used no matter how hard the wind is blowing; a new playground in the Copper Joe Subdivision. Using community labour we have constructed a four-plex, upgraded ditches and chip sealed the community roads and two new micro-homes are underway. All this was completed while our staff has been completing code and health & safety renovations on the majority of our housing units.
We have been trailblazers in the Economic Development front with the establishment of the two Corporate entities: Kluane Däna Shäw Corporation (KDSC) and the Kluane Community Development Corporation (KCDC). Many of the other Self Governing Yukon First Nations have been looking to our success and emulating our structures. The partnerships and joint ventures that have been developed have allowed our First Nation to scale an incredible learning curve. I would like to take the time to thank the Board of Directors for both KCDC and KDSC (which was the same board at one point) for the dedication and vision that they have to move our Nation closer to economic self-sustainability. The staff of the corporations have dedicated an incredible amount of time and energy to creating economic opportunities and putting them into effect. We have one of the lowest, if not THE lowest unemployment rate of any community in the Yukon and we also have the lowest Social Assistance rate. These are huge accomplishments that our Nation should be very proud of.
We are also one of the communities that have been leading the shift away from dependence on fossil fuels to more green energy options. The upgrade and expansion of our district heating system, installation of wood stoves in all housing units for safety and alternate heating source, the installation of solar panels on our municipal buildings as well as the four-plex, the drilling of our geothermal well for heating our new water treatment facility (construction 2017) and the greenhouse (construction 2017-18). Last but not least is the three 100KW wind turbines to be installed between Destruction Bay and Burwash (construction 2017). We are not under the impression that we will get off of the diesel generators but we will be able to offset the consumption of diesel considerably (ATCO Yukon may be limiting it to 50%).
Our proactive approach to resource management has extended into renewable and non-renewable resource management. The shocking low numbers of the Duke Moose surveys were the impetus for the Trapper Incentive pilot project which had the 3 objectives of getting trappers back on their traplines, creating and building a trapping economy locally and reducing the predators so that the moose, caribou and sheep populations were not so pressured. We are still the only First Nation in the Yukon that has ever jointly funded Moose and Sheep surveys with Government of Yukon and Parks Canada. The pilot project was so successful that it is now a program we fund using the dollars generated from the Special Sheep Guiding Opportunity auctioned at the Wild Sheep Foundation Auction held in Reno, NV every January. The surveys have helped create baseline information for responsible management and support the creation of the Kluane Duke Moose Management Plan by KFN, YG, PC and DKRRC – yet to be implemented.
With all of these amazing accomplishments that are visible within our community we have also done amazing things in the Government. We have implemented the Management Team to build capacity and broaden the knowledge base of staff within the organization. The amount of planning done with the community is incredible; we have a Phase 1 Land Use Plan for the community lands of Burwash and Destruction Bay & our lot in Haines Junction, a Phase 2 Land Use Plan for all Settlement Lands, and an Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (ICSP) that encompasses all of the strategic planning, infrastructure planning and governance planning that has gone on.
On the home ownership front we are waiting for the other Yukon First Nations to agree to a registry system and legislation that is enforceable or we use the Yukon Lands registry system. We have to complete our surveys and we cannot get any support on this until we have proven that we are able to collect rent successfully. This is a requirement for the FN Market Housing Trust and most banks that provide mortgages will require some sort of proof of continuous payment from the First Nation. This means rent on KFN houses has to be implemented.
On a social front we have an outstanding wellness team that is taking care of our elders, youth and community members. Our community is still dealing with the impact of two suicides and the assistance that the councilors provide to individuals, families and the community as a whole is immeasurable. The healing will continue with the love and patience for each other.
How to meet our citizens’ educational needs has always been a priority for us. In addition to successfully lobbying with other First Nations and education partners to ensure that our citizens are now eligible for the Yukon Grant funding, we signed an agreement with Yukon Education Department to construct a new K-12 School in Burwash Landing and our nation will be involved in the curriculum development and teachers recruitment for this new school. We are also communicating with YG and Yukon College aiming to establish a Yukon College community campus in Burwash Landing.
It is with mixed emotions that I say farewell. I believe we have done stellar things as a team and the team will continue to do amazing feats. My wish is to be able to support KFN initiatives and those of the Kluane region as your next Kluane MLA.
That’s it for now. Keep well and dream big.
I am honoured to have been your Chief for the past six years.
Follow me on twitter: @mathieya