Angélique Bernard was sworn in as 26th commissioner of the Yukon on March 12.
“You’ve never sworn so much in your life,” Yukon Chief Justice Ron Veale told Bernard.
The ceremony, which also included the swearing in of Adeline Webber as administrator, took place at Taylor House in downtown Whitehorse.
Premier Sandy Silver was present, as was Nils Clarke, speaker of the Yukon Legislative Assembly.
Bernard told reporters that she’d received a phone call from the Prime Minister’s Office on February 21. She was told she’d get another one the following day, but wasn’t given any information what the call would be about.
Bernard, vice-president of the Association franco-yukonnaise, said that when she was eventually told her name had come up in discussions around the role of commissioner, which includes responsibility for assenting to bills, signing orders in council, and other legislative and ceremonial duties.
She said she was interested in the position, and spent two weeks in discussions with the Prime Minister’s Office and Privy Council.
Bernard said she got the phone call confirming the position on March 7.
“I think it’s a great honour to have been asked to take on this position,” she said. “And for my work, I’m at the point where I’ve been doing it for 20 years, doing translation work for 20 years in my basement, so I was ready for a new challenge. And the Yukon has given me so much since I’ve been here for 23 years and I just feel like I want to give back to the Yukon as a whole.”
Veale said he thought it was great that two women, representing the First Nations and Francophone communities in the Yukon, were being appointed to the positions of commissioner and administrator.
Webber, a member of the Teslin Tlingit First Nation, founded the Whitehorse Aboriginal Women’s Circle and served as the Yukon district director of the Public Service Commission of Canada. She has also worked on land claim and self-government agreements.
She looked happy, but nervous as she signed the various oathes of office.
“I can breathe now I guess,” she said, smiling, when she finished.
There will be a public reception later in March.
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