Hidden from History:
The Canadian Holocaust
Whitehorse Prison: The Real Gold Mine
Livestock - "the use of animals for profit".
The Yukon's Economic History
Whitehorse was founded during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896-1898, when over 30,000 prospectors braved the wild Klondike River on their way to Dawson City in search of the gold they were told, existed. The gold rush was mythologized as romantic and "a miracle of economic prosperity". In reality, the gold rush was the result of Capitalist intentions. Corporations and Government mandate was designed to populate and build the North. The Gold Rush was used to drive thousands of people to this new colony. Massive ad campaigns flourished across North America's, unemployed stricken-ed, "lower class" population. The "mad rush" to the North was extremely prosperous for the rich. Passage, supplies and accommodations (in the North) emptied the pockets of the poor. The Gold Rush didn't "pan out" for most of the 30,000 people. Cheap labour was easily found amongst the poor minors who were forced to build roads to pay bills. Very few workers (relative to the 30,000 gold seekers) retired wealthy from Yukon Gold. But does an economic "gold mine" exist?
Mining, forestry, tourism and government are the primary attempts of achieve economic stability. Unfortunately, for many reasons, these are economic failures (relative to Yukon economic projections). The Yukon, in order to survive, has always been funded billions of dollars from the federal government.
Modern day Whitehorse is extensive, with beautiful facilities considering its small population. Legally, 100,000 people must live in one place for it to be deemed a city. Maybe self-proclamation of city-hood increases funding received? Government institutions are used as a means to create territorial, profit-bearing, industry. To say the Whitehorse Prison is an "economic miracle" or "workhorse" is an understatement. The Whitehorse Prison proves to be an economic "gold mine". It may prove to be one of the main economic generators in the Yukon.
Genocide in the North
When the Gold Rush brought thousands of Euro-North Americans to Canada's North the original, Yukon Territory, Native inhabitants were destroyed. The government acted, from its domestic policy (of assimilation and eradication), to contain the Native population. Natives were forced to live on reserves. Alcohol, Euro-Canadian imposed diseases, and Euro-Religions were used to erase a distinct, advanced Native culture.
Church and state run Residential boarding schools stole thousands of Native children (from their families) to become victims of Genocide. Murder, sexual and physical abuse (long term), brain washing, and atomization of "the individual" (through isolation from Native culture) was regular practice. Residential schools were federally funded to achieve its political motive - Genocide. By definition, Native children were livestock.
Livestock is defined as: "using animals for profit or gain". The Yukon prison system is an arm of the economic prosperous, genocide machine. Yukon "Justice" or Corrections is a vast, extensive operation. Since September, 2002, I've conducted research into the Whitehorse prison system.
"Whitehorse Corrections" or "Justice", main administrator reported that the jail is given, from the federal government, $100,000 per inmate, per year (tax free). British Columbia prisons are granted $80,000 (per inmate per year). Ontario prisons are granted $50,000. The Whitehorse Prison holds approximately 60 inmates. I was told by Sherin Hickey, a Whitehorse Prison administrator, that the jail only holds inmates for sentences up to 4 years. I was told by Cathy Johnson of The Native Court Workers (NCW - an advocacy group working to increase the welfare of native inmates) that the jail holds prisoners, up to 2 years. As of December 2002 the jail was full. After only one month into my investigation the prison population dropped to 40 inmates. 1/3 of the total prison population was released in 5 weeks. NCW and Justice told me this is common.
A new jail will be built to house 120 inmates. Yukon Corrections and corrections related personal outnumber actual prisoners. 20 people are Direct Prison staff/administration. When counsellors, probation officers, jail service providers, etc., are factored in - the amount of employment is major boost to the Yukon. How much of a boost? In a town where 70% of the employment is service industry jobs (McDonalds, gas stations, hotels) - Justice employment is a much needed employment solution. $100,000 per inmate per year ends up being injected in the Yukon directly from employee salaries. At least $4 million to $6 million dollars are added to the local economy each year. This will double once the new jail is up and running for business. This may be the single largest economic gold mine in the Yukon.
Cathy Johnson of the Native Court Workers (NCW) told me that the new jail will be filled, predominately, with Native inmates. That is double the amount of native prisoners to date. But why is the Yukon building a new prison? Is there evidence of crime on the rise to warrant a 200% increase in holding facilities? StatsCan report indicates that crime has increased 35% over the last 4 years. Most importantly, the crimes are mostly domestic dispute related (minor assault, intoxication, property damage, theft). Murder and other major crimes are rare.
The Whitehorse Jail is condemnable. The fire marshal visited the jail to tell the Yukon Liberal government and The Yukon Party (now in office) that the facility should be condemned and that a new jail must be built because of the terrible conditioning of the present jail. Cathy Johnson (from NCW) explained that the jail is literally falling apart. I've visited the jails front administrator lobby and I can testify to its dismal conditions. Prisoners are cooped up and ventilation is non-existence. In addition to these horrible conditions, inmates are allowed to smoke indoors. Tally this into the fact that Yukon Justice policy allows these minimum security inmates only 1 hour of outside time per day. This is similar to the outside time death row inmates receive in maximum security prisons in the US. This is a major injustice to Native prisoners - as NCW confirms it to be. In the present jail, between 80%-90% of the inmates are Native Canadians (mostly men and few women). Whitehorse "Justice" Communications coordinator, Dan Cable, reported that the jail houses 75% Native inmates. Native Court Workers reported that the jail holds between 80%-90% Native inmates. Whitehorse Corrections employees (who wish to remain anonymous) revealed to me, in interviews, that the Native Court Workers estimate is accurate. A StatsCan researcher confirmed 80% or more.
Cathy Johnson from the Native Court Workers explained to me that when economic activity increases (in the North) so does criminal activity. She said during a phone interview that "if/when the pipeline development begins in the Yukon, it will create thousands of jobs and many Yukoners will gain much needed employment. The alcohol consumption rate will increase as a result. So will crimes.
Few logical conclusions can be made from the high Native inmate population statistics. One conclusion is that Native people are inherently predisposed to cause crimes. An alternate conclusion is that the aftermath (alcoholism and drug addiction) of economic instability and poverty (that is very real in the lives of Native Northerners and Euro-Canadians) leads to domestic disturbing activity. Crime increases even when jobs are plentiful.
4 Whitehorse Justice workers told me, secretly, that sentencing (in the Yukon) is prejudice against Native Canadians. A Native Court Worker confirmed that the "justice" system is unjust. I spoke with a StatsCan researcher (who conducted research on the Whitehorse Prison) who confirmed that prejudice exists. An Aboriginal Healing Foundation administrator (an organization set up by the government to address its own Residential School Crimes) confirmed (during a phone interview) that sentencing is prejudice. Domestic Policy scholars like Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman detail how jails are a way to contain minority populations - prejudice systems for profit. Jails have been turned into state-run, "economic miracles" for fallen/failed, industrialized communities as Dr. Chomsky discusses in his book, Keep the Rabble in Line.
What My Study Found
My goal was to question inmates as to why they thought so many inmates were Native.
In October, 2002, I contacted the Whitehorse Prison Administrator Sherin Hickey and arranged to ask inmates questions in a formal interview. The interview consisted on questions regarding if they they thought the prison system is prejudice and, if so, why. It was agreed by Sherin that inmates could participate, at will, in my questionaire. I explained that I was conducting an independent study on behalf of The Truth Commission into Genocide in Canada. Sherin told me to drop off my advertisements (for my study) and she would post several of them so the inmates could call me if they feel like participating. By late November no inmates contacted me. The ad listed my contact information so they could call me direct. Yet, no one called. I called Sherin and left a message on her answering machine asking if my AD had been posted. Two weeks passed and she had not returned my call. Instead I got a call from the Prisons Communications Coordinator, Dan Cable. I asked him if my ads were posted. He replied: "I'll fix the problem", meaning he would post them. He asked me to re-send my ad. I asked him "what happened to my ads - were they posted?" He never answered except to reiterate: "I'll fix the problem". I emailed him my ads and he responded that he would not hang my ads (after he and Sherin had previously promised to do so).
He said my study was "unfit and invalid" even though he had not seen my hypothesis. I asked him where my original ads went. I was very upset. I suggested to Dan that my ads were deposited in the garbage. I asked Dan to produce the ads I gave them. A day later Dan told me he could not find my original ad. He said the ads were not in the garbage, but instead, that they "were misplaced". I told him that they were misplaced in the nearest dump. Realizing they had some explaining to do, Dan re-allowed me to do my study. Now, Dan said "I would be allowed to conduct my study and that any citizen should be allowed to ask inmates questions". I informed him that I'm conducting my study on the behalf of The Truth Commission into Genocide in Canada (as I had arranged with Kevin Annett). He said that there has been a misunderstanding but never apologized for his (and Sherin's) questionable behaviours. Nobody apologized for "misplacing" my original ads or for inconveniencing me. But I was guaranteed, for the 2nd time, that my ads (requesting interviews with inmates) were hanging where inmates would see them.
6 weeks passed and I began to try and gain information to determine what Native "criminals" were being imprisoned for. I was wondering if sentencing of Natives prisoners is harsher than White counter-parts. I don't think white men in Canada's richest towns go to jail for minor, domestic crimes. I know this to be true while I observed sentencing in my home town of Oakville, Ontario - the 2nd "richest" town in Canada. Whitehorse is blue-collar and less "financially fortunate" relative to Oakville. In Oakville, drug sentencing is very slight compared to the 2-4 year sentencing in the Yukon. During this time I did not receive any calls from inmates wishing to participate. I was surprised because I thought inmates would be eager to shed light into the corrupt nature of the "Justice" system.
I keep regular contact with Cathy Johnson at NCW (Native Court Workers). She was extremely helpful in providing information about the cruel treatment of Native inmates - after all, she represents an organization that serves as an advocate for the voiceless. She told me that inmates would shy away from participating for fear of retaliation from institutional-protectionist guards.
Cathy told me about prison guards demeaning inmates by attacking and demoralizing the Native way of life. Often, inmate religious paraphernalia is destroyed by taunting guards. Whitehorse inmates are granted similar outdoor times as US, death row inmates - 1 hour per day. Several Human rights lawsuits were pending against Yukon "Justice" because of serious violations of prisoner decency. One Native woman was illegally strip searched and humiliated in the process. I was writing down these facts when Cathy told me that she had not seen any ads posted in the jail. I was too busy writing down important inmate statistics and I did not fully hear what Cathy just said. A few weeks passed and I called Cathy to ask her if I could get more statistics on Native sentencing. At a later day, I would compare/contrast these with White inmates in my home town of Oakville.
Forgetting about my last conversation with Cathy, I told her I wasn't sure Dan Cable at the Yukon Prison actually posted my ad. I told her all about Sherin Hickey's failure to do so in October. Now it was mid-January and I'd still not asked any questions to inmates. Cathy said again that she had not seen any ads at the jail. This time I heard her loud and clear. She would double-check to see if the questionnaire ads were hanging during her daily visits to the prison. She did, and emailed me that no ads were posted. In fact, she asked several inmates who testified to her that they hadn't seen ANY ads. I contacted Dan Cable by email.
I told him that he hadn't posted the ads and I directly questioned his character because he did not honour his word. A few days passed and he replied that "I should apologize to him immediately for wrongly accusing him and if I did not then he would not communicate (with) me because I am extremely rude". He said he photocopied and posted 9 ads in this extremely small prison facility. Cathy or the inmates hadn't seen the ads. Dan suggested the inmates ripped them all down. I asked Cathy if this was the case. She replied that it is possible but unlikely because guards monitor around bulletin boards. Besides, inmates said they never saw the ads.
Cathy told me that, instead, the corrections administration had its own advertisement to conduct its own study. This was a totally different advertisement than mine. Dan said he never contacted me again. He is the only person who saw the ads posted. Dan contacted Matt Held at The Truth Commission into Genocide in Canada to argue that my study was invalid based on scientific methodology. This was Dan's ridiculous argument months ago. What happened to his apologetic statement that "a citizen should be allowed to ask inmates questions". Now my study is not fit for the Harvard Journal of Psychology and therefore, I should not be allowed to conduct it. Dan should have asked me, in the beginning, to see my hypothesis. This is a social science methodology involving case study analysis. Dan has deemed my study invalid yet he has never asked to see my hypothesis. Mistakenly, he believes I am trying to prove that the Prison system is prejudice. I am not.
I already know the system is prejudice based on the feedback I've received from several top Justice officials, StatsCan, Native Court Workers, Aboriginal Healing foundation, and other Justice employees (who wish to remain anonymous for obvious reasons). It doesn't take a scientist to figure this out considering 80% (or more) of the inmates are Native. Top economic and political analysis scholars such as Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman reconfirm the reality of of our prejudice prison system. Instead, I am trying to determine WHY the system is prejudice so I do not need to prove whether it is or not. Dan wrongly assumed my study is designed to determine the PREJUDICE factor. Dan is unaware that his administrator and staff spoke the truth. Then, Dan argued that his masters degree proves he is correct.
Sherin Hickey, the top administrator, of the Whitehorse Justice System told me that the courts hand out harsher sentencing to Native people. She said "courts determine social worth of any individual on trial. If the courts determine that the individual is a 'responsible member of society', the consequent sentence is reduced'. All of the Yukon remembers, I am told, when an abusive Minister killed his wife whom he had been seriously abusing for years. Sherin told me that he had received only 4 years because he was "a respected member of the community". She forgot to mention that his sentence was reduced, also, because he is white. A Native woman killed her abusive, raging husband and she received 8 years (at least). The Whitehorse prison is filled with young Native men and woman who are guilty of drug possession/abuse. The Premier of the Yukon is a convicted coke dealer who spent 4 years in jail. He was released on parole, before his sentence was served. He received a full pardon from the federal government. His criminal record was erased and now he runs the Yukon government. Would a Native man have been granted this exceptional privilege to re-enter society?
At present time, Dan, the communication coordinator, is not communicating with me. Cathy Johnson (at NCW), my advocate in the early months of my study, no longer corresponds with me. This is a small town and Native Court Workers is funded by local political groups by way of federal funding. I am uncertain she will regain contact.
I met with a local, Human Rights Commission lawyer who testified to the fact that numerous human rights violations exist at the Whitehorse prison. All of the violations, which are numerous, are against Native Canadians. These violations have gained local press coverage and appropriate lawsuits are pending in some of the incidents. This lawyer, involved in these Human rights violations, confirmed that the justice system is prejudice.
Are Native people really being used like livestock - animals for profit? I read in the Yukon News newspaper that a 17 year old male served two years in the Whitehorse prison for "vagrancy". Vagrancy is defined in Webster's as; "without home or money" (paraphrase). Well, a native breaking the law (seeing as vagrancy is a crime in the Yukon [if you are native]) is worth $200,000 of federal hand-outs to the local Whitehorse economy. And hey, this guy will have a place to sleep - prison! I wonder if Ottawa will erase his record? By definition, this Native man is livestock.
In conclusion, because of respected political analyists, like Noam Chomsky, we can now see the genocidal racism happening right in front of us. We need to initial ourselves - genocide is Canada's cancer. I believe jails are an arm of genocide machine, at work, for several reasons. Livestock for profit is one. But also, Native ex-prisoners, with a criminal record, are even more unlikely to integrate into white society. With this in mind, the financial stability of an ex-prisoner will be very difficult. It is impossible to build a family when you are locked up and it is very hard to provide for your family after you are spit out (of prison) and forced into a the rat-race as a victim of injustice. The criminal record It extreme social branding of, relatively innocent men. But then again, we all know why cattle ranchers brand their livestock.
Kevin thanks for your support. You encouraged this as a The Truth Commission into Genocide in Canada project. It enabled me to get this far.