After securing the support of the communities surrounding eight Yukon schools earlier this month, the territory’s First Nation School Board was officially created on Feb. 14 with a ministerial order from education minister Jeanie McLean.
On Feb. 2, the official results from the territory-wide referendum revealed that eight Yukon schools in seven attendance areas will be governed by the new First Nation School Board starting in the 2022–23 school year.
The new school board was signed into existence on the 49th anniversary of Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow, a document presented to then-Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau in 1973 by Yukon First Nations Chiefs. First Nations authority over education was called for, even then, as a way of combating a high drop-out rate among First Nations students.
“Today marks a historic day in the Yukon as we recognize the 49th anniversary of Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow and the official establishment of the Yukon’s First Nation School Board. Although there is still much work ahead of us, I am grateful for the Chiefs Committee on Education as we continue to work together to advance reconciliation and make meaningful changes for the betterment of all students throughout the territory,” McLean said.
“The time for reconciliation is now. Yukoners, both First Nations and non-First Nations came together and voted YES to the First Nation School Board so that First Nations can share authority over the management of its schools and offer learning under two worldviews, through localized community control and through the strengths and values of a Yukon First Nations pedagogy,” added Dana Tizya-Tramm, Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation Chief and Chair of the Chiefs Committee on Education.
The minister of education and the chair of the Chiefs Committee on Education also signed a letter of agreement establishing an interim governance committee to see the creation of the board through.
The five-member interim governance committee will take on the work of launching the new board until trustees can be elected this November. The five committee members all have long-term involvement with Indigenous education— they are:
- Dr. Alyce Johnson, identified in the announcement as a lifelong educator and former principal of Kluane Lake school;
- Erin Pauls, a member of Champagne and Aishihik First Nations and their current director of education;
- Jocelyn Joe-Strack, also a Champagne and Aishihk member who is currently the research chair in Indigenous knowledge with Yukon University;
- Mark Wedge, a member and former chief of Carcross/Tagish First Nation who has or currently serves in a variety of leadership roles focused on education as well as economic and social development; and
- Melanie Bennett, member of the Tr’ondёk Hwёch’in First Nation, and current executive director of the Yukon First Nation Education Directorate, the organization that oversaw the referendums that brought schools under the new school board.
“These members bring a wide variety of experience in the Yukon education system to their roles. The Interim Governance Committee will make decisions to prepare for and ensure a successful establishment of the school board for the 2022–23 school year,” the government announcement reads.
Contact Jim Elliot at firstname.lastname@example.org