WHITEHORSE - Darius Elias, Liberal MLA for Vuntut Gwitchin, and Kevin Barr, NDP MLA for Mount Lorne-Southern Lakes, today called for the establishment of an independent Aboriginal liaison position at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre.

"I’m pleased that both of Yukon’s opposition parties are speaking with a unified voice on this matter,” said Barr. “As someone who has delivered culturally-relevant programming at Whitehorse Correctional Centre as a volunteer and contractor, I know firsthand the value such a position would have to Aboriginal inmates as they pay their debt to society and seek to reform their lives for successful reintegration upon release.”

Elias first raised the issue in the Legislative Assembly on March 28, 2012, urging the Minister of Justice to create the role. This person would provide support services to all inmates, their families, and elders, and facilitate, when needed, their engagement with correctional staff.

Aboriginal people are chronically overrepresented within the Canadian justice system. Roughly 17% of federal inmates, and up to 80% of Whitehorse Correctional Centre inmates, are Aboriginal. There is a demonstrated need for rehabilitation programs to prevent future recidivism.

“For the most part, Whitehorse Correctional Centre inmates are members of our community who will soon be returning home,” said Elias. “Aboriginal liaison support would help inmates prepare for reentry into regular life, and that has real benefits for the communities they come home to.”

Desire for an Aboriginal liaison was first expressed by inmates at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre who raised concerns about a lack of culturally-appropriate support services. Mr. Elias and Mr. Barr have written a joint letter to Mike Nixon, Yukon’s Minister of Justice, asking him to create the position.

For additional information contact:

Shay Kokiw   667-8642