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Yukon Indigenous-led community safety program will use AIP prize money to support and expand program

The first-of-its-kind Indigenous-led community safety program will use the $500,000 it won from the Arctic Inspiration Prize to develop more training for its programs and host the first Indigenous safety summit in Whitehorse this August.
Gina Nagano founded House of Wolf in 2015. The Indigenous Community Safety Partnership program she developed won a $500,000 Artic Inspiration Prize. She said she'll use the prize money to develop more training for its programs and host the first Indigenous safety summit in Whitehorse this August. (Mike Rudyk/CBC)

The first-of-its-kind Indigenous-led community safety program will use the $500,000 it won from the Arctic Inspiration Prize to develop more training for its programs and host the first Indigenous safety summit in Whitehorse this August.

The Indigenous Community Safety Partnership Program, developed by House of Wolf and Associates, is designed to help Yukon First Nations address the root causes of intergenerational trauma, violence and vulnerability.

"We work with the communities [on] crime prevention," said Gina Nagano, a community safety specialist who worked for the RCMP for 21 years and founded House of Wolf in 2015.

"We work with the communities to have them solve their own problems, you know, and allow them to do this through their traditional ways, their traditional teachings and through traditional justice that's incorporated," said Nagano, who is a Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation citizen.

She added that a community will identify its own safety concerns. Her firm conducts research and an analysis of the community and comes up with recommendations.

So far, her firm worked with five communities with this program –  Kwanlin Dün First Nation in Whitehorse,the Carcross/Tagish First Nation, the Teslin Tlingit Council, the Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation in Mayo, and the Selkirk First Nationin Pelly Crossing.

Nagano said each community has different safety priorities but one common element through all of them so far has been the establishment of community safety officers.

Community service officers Joyce Douville, Jeff Myke and Margaret Douville are community safety officers in Teslin, Yukon. The Teslin Tlingit Council is one of five communities that has developed an Indigenous-led community safety plan with the help of House of Wolf. (Submitted by Gina Nagano)

Nagano said that in Teslin, two Elder aunties work as the community's safety officers.

"And it's amazing through their traditional ways that the, you know, the community provides that respect back to them," she said.

"It's going back to our old values of, you know, respecting the elders."

She said the true intent of the Indigenous Community Safety Partnership Program is to get back to traditional customs and laws.

She said the work her firm is doing with the communities is needed.

"We know at the end of the day, we will provide better social, economic and cultural outcomes," she said.

Darcy Marcotte is a community safety officer in Selkirk First Nation. (Submitted By Gina Nagano)

She said she's received feedback from one of the communities she's working with that  94 percent of its citizens feel safer. 

"You know, we get feedback from elders that feel they're safer, we get feedback from women that say, you know, we feel safer. We see the results of children that are out playing in the community," she said.

Developing curriculum

Nagano said the prize money will go toward developing curriculum for a train-the-trainer program so more people can do the work with different Indigenous communities that Nagano is doing.

She said the plan is to also develop curriculum to train people to train the community safety officers, and also host the first Indigenous safety summit, dedicated to murdered and missing Indigenous girls and women, this August.

Gina Nagano, top right, and members of her team react upon hearing the Indigenous Community Safety Partnership Program won a $500,000 Arctic Inspiration Prize earlier this month. (Arctic Inspiration Prize)

"It will be an opportunity to share best practices," said Nagano, who hopes to expand the  Indigenous Community Safety Partnership Program.

She said she's already received calls from other communities in Canada who are interested in the program.

With files from Elyn Jones

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