Crystal Schick/Yukon News La Commission scolaire francophone du Yukon (CSFY) President Jean-Sbastien Blais talks to media on Nov. 16, after the announcement of funding for the creation of Francophone community spaces.

Feds give $7.5M for community spaces at future Yukon French high school

The funding will help build the gym, theatre and kitchen, Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee says

The Canadian government has given the Yukon $7.5 million for the creation of Francophone community spaces that will be part of the territory’s first-ever French-language high school.

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, on behalf of Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly, made the announcement at the Yukon government administrative building in Whitehorse Nov. 16.

“This has been a long exercise, a very hard exercise but, obviously, you’ll see, very worthwhile,” Bagnell said of the creation of the school, which will be built on the Riverdale Education Reserve. “The battle was worthwhile and it’s so exciting today for the French community.”

The $7.5 million is coming from the federal government’s minority language education program and is the “largest federal contribution to the official languages minority community infrastructure in Canada in over decade,” Bagnell said. The funding is an addition to the $20 million already set aside by the territorial government for the school’s construction.

Yukon education minister Tracy-Anne McPhee said the territory is “very pleased” about the announcement.

“Looking back, the last project funded through this federal program was the construction of école Émilie-Tremblay back in 1996…. This project will give the francophone community more spaces for local activities and programs as well as community events and gatherings,” McPhee told reporters.

The federal money will go towards facilities like the school’s gym, theatre room, community kitchen and a portion of the library that will be accessible both to students and the wider community.

“The francophone community is vibrant, and a growing part of the Yukon…. A strong francophone community benefits all Yukon communities,” McPhee said. “Through these spaces, the francophone community will be able to share their culture and heritage with all Yukoners. With this contribution from the Government of Canada, we can invest in our community and help the francophone realize their future.”

In a brief question-and-answer period, McPhee said the government does not have a firm timeline for when construction on the school will begin or when it will open. She said soil remediation and testing at the site has thrown off the original plans. However, she said the design plan is being finalized and that the government is still aiming for its original opening date of sometime in late 2019 to early 2020.

Speaking to media following the announcement, commission scolaire francophone du Yukon president Jean-Sébastien Blais said the funding is “great news” and will finally allow francophone high school students to have a school with resources equivalent to the ones enjoyed by their English-language counterparts. The CSFY will be launching a contest in the coming days, he added, to name the school, soliciting submissions that evoke the Yukon’s history or natural beauty.

Blais emphasized, though, that there’s still a lot of work ahead.

“I think it’s important to say, we’re pleased about the announcement, but we’ll be very pleased when (the school will) open, and for me, this is something that needs to be designed well but with a sense of emergency,” he said, describing the situation at Émilie-Tremblay, with students being overflowed into portables, as a “real crisis.”

“We cannot wait any longer,” Blais said. “We have the funding now, so let’s get started, right?”

Contact Jackie Hong at

French-language educationYukon politics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speak at a COVID-19 update press conference in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. On Nov. 24, Silver and Hanley announced masks will be mandatory in public places as of Dec. 1, and encouraged Yukoners to begin wearing masks immediately. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Masks mandatory in public places starting on Dec. 1

“The safe six has just got a plus one,” Silver said.

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks at a press conference in Whitehorse on March 30. Hanley announced three more COVID-19 cases in a release on Nov. 21. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three more COVID-19 cases, new exposure notice announced

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Brendan Hanley, announced three… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: COVID-19 strikes another blow at high-school students

They don’t show up very often in COVID-19 case statistics, but they… Continue reading

The Cornerstone housing project under construction at the end of Main Street in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. Community Services Minister John Streicker said he will consult with the Yukon Contractors Association after concerns were raised in the legislature about COVID-19 isolation procedures for Outside workers at the site. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Concerns raised about alternate self-isolation plans for construction

Minister Streicker said going forward, official safety plans should be shared across a worksite

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

City council was closed to public on March 23 due to gathering rules brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The council is now hoping there will be ways to improve access for residents to directly address council, even if it’s a virtual connection. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Solution sought to allow for more public presentations with council

Teleconference or video may provide opportunities, Roddick says

Megan Waterman, director of the Lastraw Ranch, is using remediated placer mine land in the Dawson area to raise local meat in a new initiative undertaken with the Yukon government’s agriculture branch. (Submitted)
Dawson-area farm using placer miner partnership to raise pigs on leased land

“Who in their right mind is going to do agriculture at a mining claim? But this made sense.”

Riverdale residents can learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s plan to FireSmart a total of 24 hectares in the area of Chadburn Lake Road and south of the Hidden Lakes trail at a meeting on Nov. 26. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Meeting will focus on FireSmart plans

Riverdale residents will learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s FireSmarting… Continue reading

The City of Whitehorse is planning to borrow $10 million to help pay for the construction of the operations building (pictured), a move that has one concillor questioning why they don’t just use reserve funds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Councillor questions borrowing plan

City of Whitehorse would borrow $10 million for operations building

Most Read