Yukon First Nations People and the Justice System – Redefining the Conversation

Speaker/s: Chantal Genier, Elder Shirley Adamson, Maisie Smith, Samantha Dawson

Date: Tue, September 13, 2022

Start Time: 9:00 am

End Time: 4:00 pm

Location: In-person at Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre

Cost: Free – lunch and snacks provided

CPD Credits: 7

A full day session designed and facilitated by Yukon First Nations professionals who have worked for Yukon First Nations and Indigenous peoples in a variety of settings and capacities for years and in some cases decades. Their collective range of experiences encompass everything from front line service in the fields of law, health and journalism to holding political leadership positions advancing critical policy change.  

The day will open with a traditional sacred fire and prayer where participants will be able to take part in a smudging ceremony before the session moves indoors. A presentation on historical and current events that affect First Nations and Indigenous peoples will follow.

A facilitated panel featuring Yukon First Nations guests undertaking and leading important work in the area of First Nations Self Government, Administration of Justice, Restorative Justice and Community Safety will also take place with time for questions.

Lunch will feature traditional Yukon First Nations foods. Participants that stay through lunch will have an opportunity to hear some examples of cultural teachings delivered through story. 

In the afternoon, smaller groups will be formed to dig deeper into the information presented by the panelists. This will be followed by a presentation touching on legislated remedies including the Gladue sentencing provision and Community Impact Statements as well as information about local Yukon First Nation community-based initiatives and best practices. 

The overall goal of the day is to provide information for legal professionals to better serve Yukon First Nations and Indigenous clients navigating the justice system through a culturally informed approach. 

Chantal Genier
Chantal was born and raised in Whitehorse, Yukon.  She is of Southern Tutchone and French descent, a citizen of the Ta’an Kwӓch’ӓn Council and part of the Wolf Clan. Chantal has been actively engaged in the field of justice since she earned a Diploma in Northern Justice and Criminology from Yukon College in 2009. She began working for the Council of Yukon First Nations (CYFN) as an Aboriginal Court Worker and after several years, became the Manager of the department. She moved on to become the Yukon’s first Women’s Legal Advocate and began working towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Justice Studies through the Royal Roads University, which she obtained in 2019. During this time, she was called to work on the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls as the Government of Yukon’s Senior Advisor. Chantal has participated on numerous boards and committees including the: Yukon Aboriginal Women’s Council, Yukon Legal Services Society, Commanding Officer’s Yukon First Nation Advisory Committee, Yukon Review Board and Community Corrections Advisory Board.  After coming full circle Chantal is back at CYFN as the Senior Justice Analyst, managing CYFN’s Justice Department.

Elder Shirley Adamson
Shirley Adamson was born for Ágüná (the Wolf Clan) of the Tagïsh Ch’än and is a Citizen of the Tà’án Kwäch’an Council. Currently Ms. Adamson is a curriculum developer of the Tagish language for the Yukon Native Language Centre and instructs its credit course for Simon Fraser University. She is also developing and instructing a non-credit course of the Tà’án Kwäch’an dialect. She is the inaugural Elder with EntrepreNorth, a Trustee/Chair of the Yukon First Nations Languages Trust and is a Director of the Board for the Indigenous Screen Office. She is a visual artist and a renowned storyteller.
A life-long advocate of aboriginal languages, cultures, and rights she focuses on helping with Yukon First Nations youth and elders. Ms. Adamson actively promotes the rights of Aboriginal Peoples through public speaking engagements, presenting workshops and as a mentor to many youth and youth groups.
Ms Adamson’s elected and appointed positions have included in part: Chairperson of the Tà’án Kwäch’an Council; Yukon Regional Chief of the Assembly of First Nations; Grand Chief of Council of Yukon First Nations; she served as the CEO of Northern Native Broadcasting, Yukon, CEO of Keyah Productions Inc., Director and Chair of the Board of the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network; Director with Northern Vision Development, Director of the Board for Da Daghay Development Corporation, Trustee and Chair of the Lanalxh Prosperity Trust; Trustee with the Yukon Hospital Corporation and Chair of its First Nations standing committee; Board member of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, during her tenure she sat on its Executive Committee Governance Committee and Aboriginal Issues Committee, which she also chaired.

Maisie Smith
Maisie Smith is from Southeast Alaska and Yukon and is of Tlingit and Northern Tutchone descent. She is a citizen of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations. Ms. Smith has approximately twenty years’ experience working in the helping field and received her Masters in Counselling Psychology from the University of British Columbia in 2017. She is in private practice and a FNIHB service provider for clients affected by Indian Residential Schools (IRS), MMIWG, and Federal Indian Day Schools (IDS).

Samantha Dawson
Samantha Dawson is of Tlingit and Northern Tutchone ancestry and is a member of the Selkirk First Nation. She was awarded her J.D from the Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia in 2017, where she specialized in Aboriginal Law. Since then, Samantha has worked as a lawyer in the areas of criminal and administrative law and is called to the bar in Yukon and British Columbia. She has presented at the Polar Law Symposium in Rovaniemi, Finland in the research areas of alternative and restorative justice measures. She is a member of the Criminal Defence Advocacy Society, as well as the Yukon Human Rights Commission and continues to do work in the justice field as the Violence Prevention Program Officer at the Council of Yukon First Nations. Prior to law, Samantha worked as a journalist with a degree from Ryerson University in Toronto.

This CPD event has been approved for 7 hours by the Law Society of British Columbia and may be applied towards the mandatory 12 hour Continuing Professional Development requirement in the Yukon.