The Kwanlin Dün First Nation marked the official opening of its Kashgêk’ building on Oct. 14.
While the building opened in 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the official ceremony for the structure that is named in honour of Kashgêk’ — former Chief Johnnie Smith.
Smith served as the chief for three terms between 1969 and 1988 and was part of the historic delegation of Yukon chiefs who presented the Together Today for our Children Tomorrow document to then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau. The document laid the foundation for the final and self-government agreements in the territory.
Inside the new building are the KDFN’s council chambers, an Elders lounge, wellness room, gathering spaces and five of the First Nation’s departments which deliver services to KDFN citizens.
The building was designed with input from citizens and is shaped like a leaping fish to signify the First Nation’s connection to the Yukon River. It also features work by KDFN artists and makes use of green technology, including solar panels on the roof.
“I am pleased to celebrate the opening of this building and honoured to be able to bring the name from the former administration building to this one,” KDFN Chief Doris Bill said.
“With this connection to our history, we are strongly rooted in the past, honouring the leaders who brought us to where we are today. We are also looking to the future in the new Kashgêk’ building — the council chambers, work spaces and meeting rooms — that will support our First Nation as we move forward in a good way.”
Construction on the building began in 2020, when the First Nation celebrated its 15th anniversary of self-governance.
The KDFN funded $3.2 million for the build with the territorial government putting in $6.4 million and the federal government putting in $19.3 million.
Both Yukon MP Brendan Hanley and Richard Mostyn, the territory’s Community Services minister, were on hand for the official opening.
“We have been pleased to partner with the KDFN and Canada in funding the construction of the new Kashgêk’ building,” Mostyn said.
“We extend our congratulations to the Kwanlin Dün First Nation on its opening and for creating an energy-efficient building that will serve them well for years to come.”
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