Council of Yukon First Nations, Math’ieya Alatini, Kari Johnston, Alison Perrin, Rhiannon Klein, Kiri Staples & Kristeen McTavish
The COVID-19 pandemic brought many challenges to Yukon First Nations (YFN) in relation to intergovernmental collaboration, including coordination of health services, emergency measures communication, and access to health data. These challenges are in part related to the complex landscape of relationships between multiple governing authorities in the territory. The Yukon is one of three territories in northern Canada and is home to 14 YFNs, 11 of which are modern treaty holders. YFN modern treaties recognize and present the opportunity for collaboration between governing authorities, specifically YFN governments, the Government of Yukon (YG), and the Government of Canada. However, nation-to-nation collaboration involving both treaty and non-treaty nations must be sought.
YG is primarily responsible for health-care program and service delivery for all Yukoners, inclusive of Indigenous populations, as well as administering Yukon's Civil Emergency Measures Act (CEMA). We sought to better understand the intergovernmental dynamics that were at play during the COVID-19 response in the Yukon and identify lessons learned for interjurisdictional emergency and pandemic response. We conducted qualitative Intra-Action Reviews with YFN, territorial, and municipal government representatives involved in the pandemic response. Our preliminary analysis highlights challenges and lessons learned related to YFN self-determination in emergency planning, critical challenges faced by rural and YFN communities in emergency response, and lessons for future pandemic planning and public health strategies in the Yukon. These findings confirm key gaps and priorities that have been identified by others, provide context-specific elaboration and examples, and identify additional opportunities to be explored.