Acting as an ambassador of the arts and culture, Governor General Michaëlle Jean will visit the Yukon from June 17 to 21.
This is the 13th stop on her cross-Canada tour and she is looking forward to seeing the Yukon for the first time.
“What seems to be special about Yukon is people really have a sense of doing together, of really bringing all their efforts and strengths together and you seem to champion solidarity so well and on so many issues,” she said from Ottawa, Thursday.
“Social issues, but also protection of the environment, preservation of the land and history for generations to come, and people seem to have a good sense of living together, so I really look forward to experiencing that spirit.”
Her first day in Whitehorse will include presiding over citizenship ceremony and presenting a Caring Canadian Award.
“Everywhere I go, I really take the time to meet with people, to hear about what they do, what they achieve, what their aspirations are, what the challenges are and what kind of solutions they bring to those challenges,” said Jean.
“Everywhere people come with the same concerns and the initiatives are very similar, the gestures, the actions, are very similar.
“I can just imagine the impact it would create if there were more of powerful national networks on certain issues.
“I think people would have a greater voice and I think they could do more.”
Her second day in Whitehorse will include visits to the Yukon Artists@Work gallery, the Arts Underground studio and gallery, and the Sundog Carving studio.
She will also be leading a discussion called Yukon Art Matters at the Yukon Arts Centre.
Through the Yukon Art Matters forum she hopes to encourage a discussion about the creative process and society’s perception of art.
Similar talks have already taken place during her official visits to other provinces and territories.
“What I find quite fascinating is how much in the Yukon you take the arts as a tool to really bring people together, to work with the youth, to bring about change in your communities and to express a lot of, not only talents, but also ideas,” said Jean.
“People seem to be very creative in Yukon.”
The office of the Governor General can bring recognition to the ideas that emerge from Yukon artists, said Jean.
“I think some acknowledgement and visibility to that way of living in the Yukon and the ideas that you bring about is very important,” she said.
“Through recognition, comes a lot — comes some awareness of what we can do, what we can achieve, what people have achieved.
“Creativity is very important because it brings together vision, ideas, solutions, perspective and I see across Canada how powerful the arts are as a tool.”
Across Canada, young artists have said their artistic endeavour saved their lives, said Jean.
“People who were totally marginalized and have found an initiative that has to do with arts, have had then the opportunity really to explore their identity, explore their difficulties, explore the challenges and find themselves,” she said.
“They get back on their feet and start to dream and to hope, and hope is essential in life; if you don’t have that you’re lost, you’re totally lost.”
Jean will then spend a day in Kluane National Park and Dawson City before heading back to Whitehorse to celebrate National Aboriginal Day on June 21.
“I find that there is a special relationship between the First Nations, the Aboriginal communities in general and the office of the Governor General,” said Jean.
“It’s a relation of trust and ongoing dialogue and this has to be preserved.”
Aboriginal heritage is every Canadian’s heritage, said Jean.
And the governor general is coming to the Yukon with a message tailored to aboriginal youth.
They must believe in their potential, she said.
They must be strong and assertive and to never let anybody stop them from following their dreams, she said.
And education is key to realizing their goals and personal freedom.
“It’s important also to encourage them to preserve their traditions, their experiences and their language not only for the sake of their communities or our country but for the sake of humanity, because if we lose that, it’s a loss for us all, it’s a loss for all humanity,” she said.
Her official welcome is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Sunday at the Yukon government building.
At 11:30 a.m. Monday she will participate in a forum dubbed Yukon Art Matters at the Yukon Arts Centre.
On 10 a.m. Thursday, at Whitehorse’s Elijah Smith Building, Jean will participate in National Aboriginal Day activities.