North

Kwanlin Dün pushes back on Yukon reopening plan

The Chief of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation in Whitehorse is not happy with the Yukon government's decision to lift COVID-19 restrictions.

'I just really feel that this is a move in the wrong direction for us,' says chief Doris Bill

Doris Bill is the chief of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation in Whitehorse. “I just really feel that this is a move in the wrong direction for us," she said. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

The Chief of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation in Whitehorse is not happy with the Yukon government's decision to lift COVID-19 restrictions.

The territorial government made the announcement in a news conference Wednesday. Starting August 4, it will drop requirements for masks in indoor public places and self-isolation for non-vaccinated people who arrive in Yukon. The government will also lift physical spacing rules and let bars and restaurants return to full capacity.

Chief Doris Bill says her government wasn't consulted about the move, and with numerous active cases in the Kwanlin Dün community, it's too soon.

"I just really feel that this is a move in the wrong direction for us," she said. "As leaders, we should have had input into this decision."

Bill said it's a mistake to allow unvaccinated people into the territory without requiring them to self isolate.

She also said the Kwanlin Dün will look at keeping its own restrictions in place, especially indoor masking.

Speaking at Wednesday's news conference, the territory's Minister of Community Services Richard Mostyn said that about an hour before the announcement was made local leaders were informed of the decision.

"As leaders ... community leaders, mayors, and First Nation chiefs, we just had a call about an hour ago to inform them of the coming changes," he said.

"There is certainly some concern about these changes ... But really as leaders [although] we can encourage people to do the right thing ... we want to make sure that people take personal responsibility for their own health."

CBC is seeking further comment from the territorial government on how this decision was made.

On Thursday, health officials reported seven new cases of COVID-19, all in unconfirmed locations. There are now 72 active cases in the territory, part of the North's biggest outbreak to date. 

With files from Paul Tukker and Chris Windeyer

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