Former Yellowknife resident denied parole after 16 years in prison

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Former Yellowknife resident Francis Yukon was denied parole last month. In its decision, the Parole Board of Canada Yukon's 'pattern of repeated violence' would pose a risk to the public. (Walter Strong/CBC - image credit)
Former Yellowknife resident Francis Yukon was denied parole last month. In its decision, the Parole Board of Canada Yukon's 'pattern of repeated violence' would pose a risk to the public. (Walter Strong/CBC - image credit)

WARNING: This story includes graphic details of violent acts.

A former Yellowknife resident was denied day parole last month after more than 16 years of incarceration.

In reviewing Francis Yukon's application, the Parole Board of Canada determined that Yukon's "pattern of repeated violence" would put the public at risk if his parole was granted.

Yukon, 45, has been convicted of second degree murder, attempted murder, two counts of manslaughter and several counts of assault causing bodily harm.

Yukon went to prison after he was convicted of manslaughter in 2003.

At the time, he and a co-accused assaulted their victim over a drug debt. The sentencing judge said the attack was "prolonged and almost amounted to torture."

The two men tied the victim with electrical cords and stabbed him until he stopped moving. At that point, they put the body in a hockey bag and set it on fire in a remote area in Yellowknife.

While incarcerated, Yukon was convicted of two further charges in 2005 — assault causing bodily harm in April, for beating another inmate with a pool cue, and then second degree murder in December 2005 for stabbing a man with a homemade weapon.

Filed victim impact statements indicate the murdered victim's family members "remain troubled" by the lack of information on the motivation for the attack. The victim had just five months remaining in his sentence prior to his release.

The sentencing judge in that case called Yukon's actions "despicable" and ordered him to serve 14 years before being eligible for parole.

Yukon was again convicted in 2010 for an offence committed while in prison.

He was convicted of manslaughter and attempted murder for an attack with homemade weapons on three other inmates. The two surviving victims had over 20 stab wounds to the head, neck and face. One victim was also hospitalized with two collapsed lungs.

As recently as 2019, Yukon engaged in another physical altercation with another inmate. While no serious injuries were reported, Yukon armed himself with an edged weapon at the time.

Focused on a positive future

Yukon's case management team reported that in the last few years, he has shown remorse for the harm he's caused. Since the 2019 incident, correctional staff have described him as polite and well behaved. He has completed correctional programming in managing substance abuse and violence prevention as well as working with elders as a lodger keeper.

Yukon is incarcerated in a medium security prison British Columbia. He said once released, he intends to stay in B.C. where there are more opportunities than the N.W.T.

Yukon, an Indigenous man, was raised by his grandmother until she died when he was 12. Three generations of Yukon's family have experienced trauma associated with the residential school system.

At the parole hearing, Yukon said he experienced significant abuse growing up. He said he felt angry, alone and as though he could not ask for help. He said his loneliness led him to get involved with gangs.

He said he is now more focused on a positive future and uses singing and learning traditions of the local community to remain calm and on a healthy path.

Yukon also noted his granddaughter as a source of joy and inspiration. He said he maintains regular contact with his family and is motivated to do well so he can meet his granddaughter in person.

Deemed moderate risk for re-offending

In denying Yukon's parole application, the board said they placed considerable weight on a 2021 psychological risk assessment.

The assessment, completed in August, concluded that Yukon poses "at least a moderate risk for violent recidivism."

The psychologist noted Yukon's progress and "desire to desist from criminal offending," but said those factors were not enough to mitigate his risk level.

The board found it positive that Yukon has participated in programming and seems motivated to reintegrate into society.

It found, however, that "given the significant number of violent offences," and the "severity of [his] offending," Yukon requires "cautious, gradual and highly structured release."

They said a transfer to a minimum security setting could be a part of that gradual progression before parole is granted.

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