A well-known, born-and-raised Yukoner has announced she’s seeking the Yukon Party nomination in the riding of Porter Creek North for this year’s territorial election.
Geraldine Van Bibber is currently senior community advisor in the Yukon government cabinet office, working as a liaison between Premier Darrell Pasloski and the territory’s communities. She is also chancellor of Yukon College.
“I’ve been called a politician for so many years, I thought maybe I’d better make it come true,” she said with a laugh, referring to the five years she spent as the territory’s commissioner.
“I’d like to continue to give back to the Yukon. This is home, and I care about it.”
With her children grown, and her husband’s support, Van Bibber said now’s the time to try to make what she sees as a natural transition to politics—a different way of being involved in the community.
Current Porter Creek North MLA Doug Graham, also the education minister, announced last week he will not be seeking the nomination for the Yukon Party this year. He has represented the riding since 2011.
Van Bibber was born and raised in Dawson City but has lived in Whitehorse for 40 years. Of her years growing up in the Klondike, she remembers “a dusty little sleepy town,” without much of the tourism that exists there today.
Since then, she has worked in the Yukon Department of Finance, assisted in the formation of the Yukon First Nations Culture and Tourism Association, and been a board member of the Canadian Tourism Commission and vice-chair of Aboriginal Tourism Canada.
She is of Tetlit Gwich’in and Irish descent.
“I know people will make an issue of me being a First Nation woman, but I’ve always been very open to all,” Van Bibber said. “I don’t try to say ‘them and us.’ I’m a Yukoner first and I believe in trying to make a great place to live for all of us.”
Pasloski and his government have been criticized for their handling of several issues involving Yukon First Nations, namely the land use planning process for the Peel watershed and Bill S-6 amendments to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act.
“There’s always going to be controversy, no matter what party is involved in the top job,” said Van Bibber. “That’s the nature of the game.
“Premier Pasloski has shown me that he cares about the Yukon. I firmly believe he’s doing a good job.”