I was surprised to see my name on the front page of the Yukon News and in the article by reporter James Munson on September 4, and subsequent editorial by Richard Mostyn on September 9, about my role at the closing session and news conference of the Northern Forum General Assembly.
This meeting was hosted last week in Whitehorse by the Yukon government.
I have been serving as the Yukon government’s representative on the Northern Forum as a regional co-ordinator for the past six years. In that capacity I was closely involved in planning and organizing the meeting in Whitehorse.
Premier Fentie was the head of Yukon’s delegation at the meeting and attended the previous two days of the meeting, prior to having to leave for Iqaluit, with his delegation of senior officials, on the last morning of the meeting.
As regional co-ordinator, I attended all of the general assembly business meetings and functions, as did several other regional co-ordinators, some of whom represented their governors. I was not asked to step in “at the 11th hour” on the last morning of the meeting as the editorial stated.
The Yukon News was incorrect in reporting that I was asked to sign the Whitehorse Declaration for Yukon. Premier Fentie signed this document before his departure for Iqaluit early Thursday morning. It is his signature and name that appears on the Whitehorse Declaration, not mine.
I was disappointed that the Yukon News reporter did not follow up with me after the conference to ask me about my role at the meeting as regional co-ordinator, even though I identified this as my role to reporters attending the press conference.
There were some interesting stories at the meeting, however, from my view.
Yukon hosted delegates from Russia, Finland, South Korea, China, and Japan, as well as new members from Nunavut, Alaska and Alberta.
As well, the FOGAR meeting held concurrently with the General Assembly involved international delegates including the president of Tuscany, representatives of the European Parliament, Gabon, Senegal, Cameroon, Ecuador, and the president of the Association Internationale des Regions Francophones.
As well as these diverse delegations, most of whom had never travelled to the North before, Yukon officials gave excellent presentations on issues like climate change, cold climate research and innovation, energy and forest resources, the Yukon economy and on innovative partnerships and community development mechanisms like the Northern Strategy Trust.
Delegates also had the chance to enjoy local entertainment, including the Fiddleheads and First People’s Performances. Several delegates met with the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce at their AGM, visited local businesses and attractions and Kluane National Park.
All of these activities helped to build awareness and relationships that can benefit Yukon in various ways.
As the Northern Forum’s regional co-ordinator for Yukon, I did have a clear role at the meeting and was pleased to have the opportunity to help organize the meeting.
Yukon was fortunate in being able to host the delegations, all of which spent thousands of dollars to visit here, and will return to their regions with a better understanding and appreciation of other sub-national governments and regions and especially Yukon.
Amazing weather that week also helped create a lasting and positive impression.
Thank you for the opportunity to clarify my role at the meeting of the Northern Forum and the value this meeting provided to Yukon.
Jennifer Trapnell, intergovernmental relations officer, Northern Forum regional co-ordinator
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