Animal welfare service Kona’s Coalition is shutting down after nearly a decade

It was a difficult yet necessary decision to shut down Kona’s Coalition, according to founder and president Jordi Mikeli-Jones. The Whitehorse animal protection non-profit has been serving the community since 2013, but with board members leaving and the pandemic bringing new difficulties, it wasn’t feasible to continue.
“At our inception, we were four women that were very passionate about animal advocacy,” said Mikeli-Jones. “At our last board meeting we really talked seriously about what we had in the bank, what we were prepared to do, and if we could make it to our 10th anniversary. We did some soul-searching and decided it was time for us to wind down operations.”

For the last two years or so, Mikeli-Jones and Madeleine Girard were handling operations on their own as the only two remaining board members. It became too much work for two people alone. The pandemic also made it more difficult to fundraise, with in-person events becoming rare and strict. Mikeli-Jones used to be heavily involved in event management, staging music festivals including Sunstroke and Moonstroke, as well as Halloween parties, fashion shows and golf tournaments. She said the organization spent around $250,000 in fundraised money during its time.
While it’s sad to have to call it a day, Mikeli-Jones said she is trying to focus on the positives, remembering the great work Kona’s Coalition did for animals and families in the Yukon during its nearly 10 years of operation.
“I feel it’s been an arduous journey, but one I’m really proud of,” she said. “I know that we’ve made a difference and ultimately, that was our fundamental goal: to improve animal welfare, increase advocacy, focus on education and help animals and families in need, and we’ve helped thousands.”

Some of the outreach Kona’s Coalition provided included a safe haven for pets program, a vaccination clinic, a spaying and neutering subsidy program, mobilizing youth through a junior ambassador program and, of course, offering fostering for animals in need.
“There’s an emotional toll that it takes when you’re in animal welfare,” said Mikeli-Jones. “In the 20 years I’ve been involved in animal advocacy, it’s certainly toughened me up a little bit. But we’ve always been that voice for animals. We never let people or politics get in the way of what we were doing and I think that’s why we had so much success.”

Mikeli-Jones said she is able to take comfort knowing that the services Kona’s Coalition provided are not going away completely. She has connected with Sammy Salter, a Whitehorse veterinarian who works with The Humane Society and Whitehorse Connects to offer a mobile clinic. Mikeli-Jones is supporting Salter’s work by allocating funds from Kona’s Coalition to put towards Salter’s clinic.

In Mikeli-Jones’ mind, she will always be involved in animal welfare in some capacity, and is always willing to help wherever and however she can with animal protection organizations in the community. While she is busy with a family and her role running the ever-expanding Triple J’s business, she’s also taken up a new project in her spare time.
“I’ve dedicated 20 years of my life to animal advocacy in my community. I think where I’m headed next is to build my own hobby farm,” she said. “I can redirect some of this energy to my own animals at home. I have 10 now and we’re looking to grow, so there could be something I might do on a personal level which could involve taking in animals who need homes as pets.”

Mikeli-Jones said that one of the best parts of running Kona’s Coalition for so many years was being able to keep alive the memory of her dog, Kona. Kona was the first dog helped by the organization, which made an amputation possible for the pup.
“It was never easy,” she said. “But we put our hearts and souls into keeping this organization alive.”
Visit konascoalition.org to read more about the organization.