Whitehorse shelter to be run by Council of Yukon First Nations, Connective

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Council of Yukon First Nations Grand Chief Peter Johnston at a news conference in Whitehorse in October 2021. (Jackie Hong/CBC - image credit)
Council of Yukon First Nations Grand Chief Peter Johnston at a news conference in Whitehorse in October 2021. (Jackie Hong/CBC - image credit)

The Whitehorse Emergency Shelter will be under new management as of the start of next month.

A partnership between the Council of Yukon First Nations (CYFN) and Connective, formerly known as the John Howard Society, will operate the shelter on a day-to-day basis.

Connective is a non-profit group that provides support to marginalized people.

"Our intent is for an immediate smooth transition into running the shelter in the short term, and then we will seek to foster an ongoing collaborative and communicative relationship with the local community," said Mark Miller, chief executive officer of Connective.

CYFN will be the subcontractor and the Yukon government will continue to fund the shelter.

The shelter was first run by the Salvation Army, then the Yukon government took it over in 2019.

This is not Connective and CYFN's first partnership.

The two organizations have been working together to run the Housing First residence in downtown Whitehorse, which provides longer-term housing for people in need, since April 2021.

There have been a lot of complaints around the Whitehorse Emergency Shelter.

Local business owners say the area has seen increased public intoxication, violence, and property damage.

CYFN Grand Chief Peter Johnston says there is now a community safety plan in place.

Johnston hopes the partnership can address the concerns from businesses about shelter,

"It all bodes well back to this complex issue that we are dealing with," he said. "It's going to take all of our collective input to alleviate this and hopefully, in 10 years we won't need a shelter."

Connective says programming at the shelter will run as usual, while CYFN will provide culturally appropriate programming.

The Yukon government says it has always intended the shelter to be run by a non-governmental organization or by a Yukon First Nation or other Indigenous organization.

It hands over the keys on Oct. 1.