Skip to content

Eight Yukon schools vote to join First Nation School Board

Board trustee election upcoming.
Shadelle Chambers, Council of Yukon First Nations executive director, from left, CYFN Grand Chief Peter Johnston, Vuntut Gwitchin Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm, and Melaine Bennett, Yukon First Nations Education Directorate executive director speak to media about a new independent education directorate in Whitehorse on Aug. 13, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

A number of Yukon schools will be run by the First Nations School Board next year.

With referendums held across the Yukon to decide which schools would be operated by the newly-created board concluded, a clearer picture of the board’s scope has emerged.

Unofficial results show seven of the eight areas where referendums were held voted to join the First Nations School Board.

Referendums held between Jan. 5 and 27 met the thresholds for: Chief Zzeh Gittlit School in Old Crow, Grey Mountain Primary School in Whitehorse, Johnson Elementary and Watson Lake Secondary in Watson Lake, Nelnah Bessie John School in Beaver Creek, Ross River School in Ross River, St. Elias Community School in Haines Junction and Takhini Elementary in Whitehorse.

The referendum for J.V. Clark School in Mayo did not meet the threshold. It will be operated through its school council and the Yukon Department of Education as it has been.

A simple majority of 50 per cent plus one vote was required for each referendum to succeed. According to unofficial results, some of the referendums succeeded by a landslide while others were closer affairs.

Of 48 valid votes in Old Crow only four were for “no.” Ross River saw only one “no” vote and no one voted in opposition to joining with the new board in Beaver Creek.

Much closer were the votes for Grey Mountain Primary School with 135 to 100 and St. Elias Community School with 215 to 153.

The referendum in Mayo delivered a convincing “no” vote with 116 ballots cast against joining the school board and 33 in favour.

A news release from Elections Yukon, which oversaw voting, states that results will be made official by Jan. 31.

Now that it has schools to represent, the First Nations School Board will be created and a board trustee election will be held.

“Last night marked a historic moment in the Yukon, as we received the preliminary results of the referendum on the First Nation School Board. These results show that seven school communities have voted yes to have their schools operated by the new Yukon First Nation School Board. The official results of the referendum process will be announced on January 31 and we will have more information to share at that time,” said Minister of Education Jeanie McLean.

McLean called the move a step toward reconciliation that will improve educational outcomes for all students across the territory. She thanked all the government and First Nations agencies involved in the process.

“As Yukoners, we should be proud of the milestone we have achieved today. This is a momentous occasion and I congratulate all schools that will be joining the new First Nation School Board. We remain committed to working collaboratively over the days and months ahead as the school board is established and these schools make the successful transition.”

Contact Jim Elliot at

Jim Elliot

About the Author: Jim Elliot

I’m a B.C. transplant here in Whitehorse at The News telling stories about the Yukon's people, environment, and culture.
Read more