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Yukon government staff recognized with outstanding service awards

The award honours individual successes and collaborative efforts of employees in the territory
Tricia Johnson-Drapeau, one of the recipients of the Premier’s Award for Excellence and Innovation, is seen with Premier Ranj Pillai (Courtesy/Erik Pnkerton)

Four individuals and 10 teams of Yukon public servants were recognized with the Premier’s Award for Excellence and Innovation during a ceremony on June 16.

Established in 2005, the award is designed to honour the individual successes and collaborative efforts of employees. It’s aimed at helping foster productivity, cooperation, understanding and respect within the Yukon government public service, according to a joint press release from the cabinet communications and Public Service Commission.

Recipients are chosen by the Premier’s Award of Excellence and Innovation selection committee, which includes Yukon government employees from several departments and one community representative.

This year’s individual recipients are Tricia Johnson-Drapeau, Robert Legare, Ian Yap and Helen Fitzsimmons.

Johnson-Drapeau is senior advisor on First Nations relations in the department of Highways and Public Works. She established the Indigenous Training Program (ITP) to improve hiring of young Indigenous employees.

The statement said programs and opportunities such as the ITP help to build positive leaders who see themselves as belonging within the Yukon government workplace.

“Tricia’s commitment to supporting students who are transitioning from high school to the workplace in a safe, comfortable and non-intimidating fashion has been exceptional,” it read.

Johnson-Drapeau said the goal of the program is to provide Indigenous youth with skills development, on the job experience, mentorship, confidence and capacity-building.

“It was amazing to see their growth over time and see their confidence being built during the program,” she said. “I enjoyed working with them and I’m sure they enjoyed the experience.”

She told the News she was humbled and grateful to receive the award. She said her father, who worked for the government for 30 years, was an inspiration.

“I kept him close to my heart that day knowing that he would be proud of me,” she said.

The statement described Legare as someone who championed the need to develop a territorial forest health monitoring and reporting process during the Haines Junction bark beetle infestations.

“Through his work, the understanding of forest insects and diseases has increased across the Yukon, including damaging effects but also benefits to forest ecosystems,” it said. “This information not only helps assess population trends but is also valuable information for tracking the impacts of climate change on Yukon’s forests.”

The statement described Yap as a creative problem solver and the legal guru in procurement and contracting, which can be very complex on large capital projects.

“When issues come up in the broad and complicated world of procurement and contracting across the Yukon government, the common response is, ‘You better check with Ian,’” the statement said. “You never leave a discussion about an issue with Ian without a set of options for moving forward, often with substantive written content from him.”

Fitzsimmons has been working for the Yukon government for more than 45 years and has always provided the best service to her employer, the statement read.

“Helen has provided high-quality service that is accessible and reliable to the Legislative Assembly Office through independent, non-partisan advice and services,” according to the statement, adding Fitzsimmons enables members of the Yukon Legislative Assembly, caucus staff and the assembly’s house officers, Ombudsman, Child and Youth Advocate and Conflict of Interest Commissioner to carry out their constitutional and legislative responsibilities.

“She seems to be able to maintain a very happy attitude and smiles through the heavy and demanding workload.”

Premier Ranj Pillai said public servants dedicate themselves to delivering vital programs and services across the Yukon.

“These awards are a celebration of those individuals who have exceeded their regular duties, making exceptional contributions that benefit all of us,” he said, adding this year’s award recipients have demonstrated “remarkable teamwork, leadership, excellence and innovation within our public service.”

In addition, among the 10 different teams recognized for the award are the Arctic Arts Summit coordination team, The Centre de Santé Constellation Health Centre, Tséi Zhéłe/Sinwaa Éex’i Yé /Conrad management team and the Eagle River Bridge incident response team.

Others include the integrated restorative justice unit, learning network leaders and facilitators, mail services team, the neurodiversity culture and programming team at Hidden Valley Elementary School, new revenue-neutral mining business carbon rebate team and the Rugged Apprentice 2022 — voluntourism pilot project team.

Contact Patrick Egwu at

Patrick Egwu

About the Author: Patrick Egwu

I’m one of the newest additions at Yukon News where I have been writing about a range of issues — politics, sports, health, environment and other developments in the territory.
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