New principal picked at Catholic high school

Vanier Catholic Secondary's new principal will be a familiar face at the school, at least for now. Ryan Sikkes, a former teacher and Vanier vice-principal, has been picked as principal for a one-year term.

Vanier Catholic Secondary’s new principal will be a familiar face at the school, at least for now.

Ryan Sikkes, a former teacher and Vanier vice-principal, has been picked as principal for a one-year term. He spent four years as a chemistry, science and math teacher, and five years as Vanier’s VP.

He has spent the past two years working as the director of human resources for the Yukon Worker’s Compensation Health and Safety Board.

According to a notice posted on Vanier’s website, the position is temporary. When asked for more information, the Department of Education referred the News to the notice without offering further explanation. Deputy Minister Valerie Royle is on vacation and could not be reached for comment.

Sikkes could not be reached for comment by press time.

Vanier’s previous principal, Ed Frison, was transferred out of the school by the department in March. Frison had come under fire from students and parents during a controversy over the school’s use of a same-sex policy document written by Whitehorse Bishop Gary Gordon.

The document, which leaned heavily on Catholic doctrine, called homosexuality a “disorder” and an “intrinsic moral evil.” It also forbade students from forming a gay-straight alliance at the school.

The bishop’s policy also contravened a Department of Education policy that offered protections for gay-straight alliances and support for gay, lesbian, transgendered and bisexual youth.

The policy was eventually removed from the Whitehorse Catholic schools’ websites, and in March the department promised to draft a new one specific to the Catholic schools but in line with the department’s own policy, which applies to all other schools in the Yukon.

That draft is now finished, said department spokeswoman Eilidh Fraser. It will be given to the school councils, which will seek feedback from the school communities. That feedback will go into the final draft, which Fraser said should be ready by October.

After the Vanier controversy broke, it revealed other deep-seated fractures within the school. Some teachers and students complained that Frison and Gordon were taking the school in an overly conservative direction, to the detriment of students’ academic focus.

The department also promised to review the Catholic schools’ hiring policy, which many people had said gave the bishop too much power over who got jobs.

In June, deputy minister Valerie Royle said that work was still progressing on the new hiring policy, and that the department hoped to get a memorandum of understanding signed with the church that more clearly defined the roles and powers of the bishop in the hiring practices.

Fraser said on Thursday that policy review is still ongoing, and no agreement has yet been signed.

The department did use an updated hiring policy for the 2013/14 school season, but a more complete review is expected to take until the 2014/15 school year.

Contact Jesse Winter at

jessew@yukon-news.com