Yukon, Canada and Pride flags flap outside the Yukon legislative building on Sept. 18. The territorial Liberal and NDP caucuses have issued a joint statement in light of Gender Equality Week while the Yukon Party has put out its own messaging on social media. (Dana Hatherly/Yukon News)

Yukon, Canada and Pride flags flap outside the Yukon legislative building on Sept. 18. The territorial Liberal and NDP caucuses have issued a joint statement in light of Gender Equality Week while the Yukon Party has put out its own messaging on social media. (Dana Hatherly/Yukon News)

Yukon Liberal, NDP caucuses align ahead of anti-gender ideology protest

Yukon Party Caucus supports free expression and does not take a side as position statements roll in

The Yukon Liberal and NDP caucuses had ideally hoped the three territorial caucuses would come together to proclaim that “the Yukon is a place where political parties of all stripes strongly believe in the freedom of all people to achieve their true selves and the idea that all children are deserving of love.”

But a joint statement on Sept. 18 from the territorial Liberals and NDP, which currently have a confidence and supply deal in place, indicates the Yukon Party has opted out.

“Despite our political differences, we are firmly committed to uniting our voices to promote gender equality and the rights of trans and queer Yukoners,” reads the Liberal-NDP statement.

“We are deeply troubled by the efforts of some Yukoners to deprive trans children of the ability to feel safe, loved and respected at school, at home and in their communities. All children deserve to be loved, regardless of their gender identity, and that they deserve to feel valued for who they are and who they will become.”

In the joint statement, the two caucuses said they are disappointed in the Yukon Party’s decision not to participate in the shared messaging.

The Liberal-NDP statement was issued as all three caucuses marked Gender Equality Week. It calls on the Yukon Party to “stand up to anti-2SLGBTQIA+ policies and sentiments coming from some segments of our society” including the “recent anti-trans resolutions” passed during the federal Conservative Party of Canada’s national convention in Quebec. One of the resolutions calls for “prohibiting life altering medicinal or surgical interventions on minors under 18 to treat gender confusion or dysphoria.”

The Yukon Party responded in an email statement to the News on Sept. 18.

“We were happy to bring attention to Gender Equality Week with a social media post that was made Monday morning on Yukon Party social media feeds,” press secretary Tim Kucharuk said.

“It’s not surprising that the Liberal-NDP coalition issued a joint statement; however, the Yukon Party has always done such statements independently from the Liberals.”

Yukon Party Leader Currie Dixon previously said in a written statement that the Yukon should be a “welcoming place for all people, regardless of their gender or sexuality.”

“Despite progress towards inclusivity and equality, we recognize that many transgender and non-binary people continue to face discrimination,” reads Dixon’s statement.

“Each and every transgender person is deserving of respect, dignity and equality and we’ll continue to fight to ensure those rights are respected and protected.”

The Liberals and the NDP have questioned the territorial party’s relationship to the federal Conservatives. For example, the Yukon Party’s chief of staff has been acclaimed by the federal party’s national council. A few Yukon Party MLAs were spotted by the News at Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre’s rally at the Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre in Whitehorse on Sept. 15.

The territorial Official Opposition has denied “formal” ties to the federal party.

The territorial politicking comes ahead of a planned protest against pronouns, gender ideology, mixed bathrooms, and sexual orientation and gender identity curriculum in schools. The website for the “Million March 4 Children” notes that “major cities across the nation will host march events.”

The demonstration set for Whitehorse is expected to make its way from Shipyards Park to the Yukon legislature at midday on Sept. 20.

A poster for the “Million March 4 Children”, as seen at the intersection of Main Street and Second Avenue in Whitehorse on Aug. 31. (Dana Hatherly/Yukon News)

A poster for the “Million March 4 Children”, as seen at the intersection of Main Street and Second Avenue in Whitehorse on Aug. 31. (Dana Hatherly/Yukon News)

A counter-protest is planned outside the legislative building at noon on the same day. A Facebook event post for the counter-protest calls on “all Whitehorse queers, allies and people of conscience” to “stand together for our queer youth and community and show them they are loved with us.”

Meanwhile, position statements are rolling in.

The City of Whitehorse has shared its stance on the “Million March 4 Children” event.

“While the city supports people’s right to organize and protest, we stand by our 2SLGBTQIA+ community members and their right to live their true selves safely and free of harassment and hate,” reads the Sept. 18 statement.

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Whitehorse Mayor Laura Cabott said there is “no place” for promoting anti-2SLGBTQIA+ ideas and “messages that target fellow community members will not be tolerated.”

The Porter Creek Secondary School’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance responded to the protest plans in a press release.

“As students who have been at the forefront of advocating for the rights and well-being of 2SLGBTQIA+ youth, we are deeply concerned about the impact of this protest on our community,” reads the release.

The Yukon NDP has been very vocal about its opposition to the protest, its support for the counter-protest and calling on the Yukon Party to clarify its stance on the events. That includes Leader Kate White’s passionate speech in a video posted last week to Facebook.

In a Sept. 18 email statement, the Yukon Party Caucus said it supports “free speech and the right of Yukoners to gather to protest or express support of issues that are important to them.”

“We hope that any public gatherings are respectful, safe and law-abiding,” reads the caucus’ statement.

In the spring sitting of the Yukon Legislative Assembly, MLAs in the House voted 15-0 in favour of Bill 304, an NDP-led bill that requires all territorial schools to have safe spaces in the form of activities and organizations dedicated to 2SLGBTQIA+ students.

The Yukon government recently updated its sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) policy, which was first introduced in 2012, that includes a mandate to use people’s preferred pronouns. The policy now requires administrators, staff and students to “recognize people’s correct pronouns, as declared by the individuals themselves. This requirement applies to students who have not made official changes to their name or gender in school records.”

The Education department is partnering with the British Columbia-based charitable organization ARC Foundation to carry out the SOGI 1 2 3 program, which Education Minister Jeanie McLean described as a set of resources, lesson plans and learning modules that “make schools welcome to students of all sexual orientations and gender identities.”

An email from Yukon government cabinet communications states that multiple ministers will be attending the counter-protest in support of 2SLGBTQIA+ youth and community.

A press release from the Yukon Employees Union, which represents about 6,000 government employees, sums up the union’s position on the “Million March 4 Children” protest, which the union said is intended to promote “hatred and exclusion” as part of the “latest pro-segregation movement.”

“The founders of this event have been affiliated with alt-right, anti-gay, Christian nationalist organizations and are closely linked with white supremacist groups,” reads the union’s release.

In a Sept. 19 interview, union president Steve Geick said the union has done its online research about protest organizers.

The News attempted to reach out to some potential protest organizers but did not get a response by publication.

Supporters listed on the “Million March 4 Children” website include Take Action Canada, Stand United, Canadian Democracy Defense Association, Hugs Over Masks, Freedom Party of British Columbia and Alberta 4 Liberty.

An event listing has been created on Eventbrite by the Alberta Muslim Social Association, which features the protest prominently on its website.

It has been reported that Ottawa-based Kamel El-Cheikh, described as a father and businessman, said he organized the cross-Canada event. In a video circulating online, he warns counter-protesters about showing up.

“If you dare to counter-protest, we will make note of that and we will make sure that every Pride festival, every Pride event will be met with a counter-protest,” he said on video.

“If you dare to counter-protest, we will consider that a threat […] if you dare to counter-protest, we will counter-protest every activity you do moving forward.”

City bylaw and RCMP are aware of the scheduled protest and counter-protest in Whitehorse.

READ MORE: Anti-gender ideology protest, counter-demonstration to be held in Whitehorse

Contact Dana Hatherly at dana.hatherly@yukon-news.com