Constitution Revision Project 2022

Florian Lemphers – Project Manager


Why are we doing this?

The 1996 Red Constitution is out of date and needs to be revised to include the Consolidated Custom Election Code, which was a direct result of the Federal Court decision in 2010, followed by a Referendum. Today, the 1996 Red Constitution does not read properly, making it very difficult for Membership to interpret and understand.

Who is on the Constitution Revision Committee?

Chief Bessie Chassé

My native name is K’ehnaa meaning “move after.” My mother is Ruth Johnny (Sam) of Northway, Alaska and my father is former Chief David Johnny Sr. My maternal grandparents are Martha and Andrew Sam. My paternal grandparents are White River Johnny (aka Little John) and Sicilly. I am Upper Tanana (wolf) of Scottie Creek and Northway. My sons are Blake, Louis, and Robert. I am currently the Chief of White River First Nation, elected in March 2021. Before my current position as Chief, I was the Employment & Training Officer. I believe it is very important to keep our Constitution up-to-date and keeping it equal for all Members. It will help our Nation to move forward and build a positive outcome.

Brenda L. Asp

I am of the Tsuki Yehtłan – Raven Family (Clan) and a WRFN member. My Maternal Grandmother is Agnes Nieman (Jack) and My Grandpa is Paul Nieman Sr. My mom is Liz Asp (Nieman) and my dad is Roland Asp. I am Northern Tutchone from the Snag area of the Yukon and Tahltan from Northern BC with ancestral lineage to the Upper Tanana, Atna as well as Tlingit from the coasts of Alaska. My Paternal Grandmother is Thelma Norby (Edzerza) and Phillip Asp. My step Grandfather is Vern Norby.  I have formal education in Fashion Design, Environmental Monitoring, Business Administration and Family Support Work. I have worked with both Yukon First Nation Governments and Federal Governments within diverse levels and capacities. Observing negotiations and working with Chiefs on varying lobbying efforts. I have always been interested in law, and spent many years working at the Federal Crown department. I’ve worked within community wellness, family support, proposal writing, project monitoring / reporting / management as well as event coordination, logistics planning and minute taking within varying levels of governments.  I enjoy learning in general, including my languages, creating fashion, various forms of art and beading and elements of our ways to be well spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically, this helps me to connect to my culture as well as my ancestors.

Deb Enoch

Deb’s ancestry is Northern Tutchone/Upper Tanana and is a member of White River First Nation. Deb grew up in Snag with her adopted parents until they moved to Burwash Landing so she could attend elementary school. Deb then moved to Haines Junction in order to attend high school where she graduated. After high school, Deb applied to NorthwesTel for the 3-Year Youth Employee position. While working in the clerical position, she applied for the Electronics Technical program at Yukon College with NorthwesTel sponsoring her studies. Deb has 36 years of experience with NorthwesTel, where she worked in various technical positions in Inuvik, Dawson, and Whitehorse. Since she joined the Copper Niisuu Limited Partnership in 2018, she has held a director position and now the Vice President of the White River Development Corporation. Deb would like to see her First Nation succeed in creating business opportunities to enable growth and create jobs in the community. In her free time, Deb likes to travel, mostly to explore new places and visit family and friends. Deb’s passion is curling where she curls in the Whitehorse Curling Club. She’s also rediscovered her passion for creating beadwork where she makes various items and currently holds beading workshops for the Yukon Government’s treatment program.

Rose-Marie Blair-Isberg

Rose-Marie Blair-Isberg, also known as Dlit Dlit, Eyéndya’a Hiyzhę was born to Mary Jane Tom Tom and William Arthur Blair. Her great-grandparents are Jessie and Copper Jack. Her maternal grandparents are Sarah Copper and Joe Tom Tom from Snag and her paternal grandparents are Anna Jonake and Peter Blair form Bay City, Micigan. Rose-Marie has two children Joleene Mari Smith also known as K’éteneje, Eyéndya Kétsät and Curtis William Thomas Smith also known as Senetina. She has five grandchildren, Näntsäna Danielle M., Nints’ia Katelynn M., Daniel James Billy Ezāde S., Amy Rose Marie Mādesdele S., and Jacob S. Rose-Marie attended residential school at the Sacred Heart Convent for three years. She then attended Beaver Creek School and went on to F.H. Collins. She graduated from Lethbridge Collegiate Institute and has a degree in education from Grant MacEwan. She spent much of her professional career as a teacher, principle, and caregiver. Rose-Marie has experience in governance and had been elected in the past as a Northern Tutchone Councillor and Chief of White River First Nation. She’s also been a representative for the Council of Yukon First Nations and White River First Nation having sat on numerous boards and committees from 1975 to 2022. Rose-Marie believes the Constitution Revision Committee is important because democracy matters. Our Constitution is a founding document that our membership should know and be able to have a dialogue about. Diverse perspectives are important for us to find commonalities when we look at revising the document for the betterment of our membership.

Tahmoh Penikett

Born in Whitehorse, Yukon, Tahmoh Penikett is the son of former Premier Tony Penikett and Lulla Sierra Johns. He’s a member of the White River First Nation. Upper Tanana, and from the Johnny family, Tahmoh is proud of his diverse background and is actively involved with language revitalization with the WRFN, having sat on the last two language committees. He was very close with his grandmother Nelnah Bessie Johns and he strives to uphold the principles, values, and strength she was known for. He’s honoured to be a member of the Constitution Revision Steering Committee, confident that keeping our constitution current and fair will ensure a stronger Nation moving forward. He’s optimistic that active involvement with all aspects of our Nation will enable a more prosperous and culturally intact future. Splitting his time between Los Angeles and Vancouver for the last twenty years, Tahmoh is a professional actor and producer.

Tara Brown

My name is Tara Brown and I am Upper Tanana. My family has strong ties and connections to the White River First Nation (WRFN) and it’s traditional area. My parents are Nellie and Dwayne Backstrom. My grandparents are Mary and Peter Eikland. I am a Teacher on Call working part time. Sharing my culture with my students and learning about other Indigenous cultures is a priority of mine. I have three daughters and being their mom has been one of my proudest accomplishments. Now that they are finishing up their schooling and working in their chosen careers, I have more time to contribute to my community and First Nation. Sitting on the Revision Committee for WRFN is important to me because I want to be more involved in WRFN. A good understanding of our governance will enable me to be an informed member. Additionally, I would like to share this knowledge with our membership. I believe some aspects of the current constitution need revision and clarification. Our membership is small, but we have the potential of doing good things and working for the betterment of all members. Having more members participating and contributing will enable our First Nation to make progress and inspire all members to work together. To make a difference, I want to be engage and informed and working on the Constitution Revision project is one way I can do this.

Teresa Vander Meer-Chassé

Dineh k’eh Ddhälh kit Nelnah shǫǫsį’. Nòodlèey k’eh Teresa shǫǫsį’. Niisüü t’įįn diht’eh. Tthèe tsa’ niik ts’änh diht’eh. Victoria, BC tah huht’įįn. Shnąą Janet Vander Meer mǫǫsį’. Shta’ Wilfred Chassé mǫǫsį’. Shnąą wunąą stsǫǫ Marilyn John mǫǫsį’. Shnąą wuta’ stsaay Sid van der Meer mǫǫsį’. Shta’ wunąą stsǫǫ Helen Chassé mǫǫsį’. Shta’ wuta’ stsaay Louis Chassé mǫǫsį’. Teresa is a proud Niisüü member of the White River First Nation. She is a visual artist, curator, and MFA student at Concordia University. Teresa travels to Beaver Creek as often as she can to spend time with family and to gather and process natural materials. She is an active member of the Nation, having been the Vice President of the White River Development Corporation and Copper Niisüü Limited Partnership until her retirement in 2021. She has experience with committees and boards, having sat on numerous, as well as leading community-based projects. In 2022, Teresa was involved in two arts-related projects in the community; the acquisition of new artworks by local artists at the Visitor Information Centre and a research project on public art in Beaver Creek which led to new infrastructure being proposed. Teresa is excited to see what comes from this Committee and believes that positive change and revision to our Constitution is vital.

Florian Lemphers, Project Manager

Florian has very extensive and well recognized experience with First Nations, public government and with the private sector and has worked in all 3 territories with most of the time in the Yukon, over a period of 45+ years. One of his most valuable skills is the ability to understand very complicated systems and relationships, and develop visual overviews of how these systems work, in order to explain them to others. He has well recognized skills in what he calls the creation of these “Flo” charts. They are anchored in the intellectual work of physicist, Richard Feynman. He has been involved in helping out White River in various capacities such as Chairing General Assemblies over a number of years, and helping with administration practices and policies. Although he has held various numerous high level positions over the years, one of his most valuable skills is the ability to speak plainly, and truthfully on the most difficult and complex topics.

Our Goals
  • Merge the 2010 Consolidated Custom Election Code with the 1996 Red Constitution
  • Identify redundant and misleading text as a result of the merger of documents
  • Identify areas of the 1996 Red Constitution that are no longer relevant or not required
  • Suggest areas of improvement for Chief & Council and Membership to consider
  • Inform Chief & Council and Membership of our progress
Our Timeline

Coming Soon

IMPORTANT: Stay informed by submitting the Consent to Release of Information

Email filled form to or fax (867) 862-7806

Key Historical Documents

WRFN Members, do you have a question or comment for the Constitution Committee? please fill out the form below and click send.

This page will be updated regularly