Having spent six years living in Burwash Landing, a remote First Nation community in the Yukon, John has an intimate understanding and respect for the First Nations peoples. He is fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn traditional life skills from his Kluane family and Elders. The lessons of what First Nation communities have had to endure in order to survive for thousands of years, their closeness to the earth, the verbal histories and the respect for Elders, still inform and balance John’s world view and day to day perspective. Two of his four children were born and raised in Burwash Landing, three are members of the Kluane First Nation (KFN), his step-daughter was a former Chief and the youngest, a member of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations (CAFN). During his time in Burwash, John was involved in the first residential project in the village to have running water and sewage. The project was funded by the Yukon Government and received funding in part to employ and train KFN members in carpentry.
In 2016, John had the opportunity to return to Burwash Landing to design a gym and hockey change rooms for the Kluane Community Development Corporation. The facilities had to be built during the cold winter months with permafrost conditions, so concrete was not an option. JCA designed the structure to be made of prefabricated cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels from green certified forestry, with a foundation designed using an adjustable aluminum grid frame.
The project crew consisted of four KFN members who all lived in Burwash Landing, one site superintendent from Alfred Horie Construction and one carpenter from Whitehorse. The First Nations laborers were all trained on the job, providing the opportunity to learn a trade and earn an income while contributing to their community’s health.
For projects in need of First Nations community consultation, JCA works in partnership with Asunya Strategies Inc. and GSD Consulting, First Nations business consulting and project management companies.