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New program to support Indigenous artists with grant administration

An outreach officer will be hired
Representatives from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Yukon government sign a memorandum of understanding on funding to support Indigenous artists at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre during the Arctic Arts Summit. (Courtesy/Yukon government)

The Canada Council for the Arts has teamed up with the territorial government to launch a new funding initiative to support emerging Indigenous artists in the Yukon.

Set to launch in early 2023, the project aims to distribute $50,000 in the first year and $150,000 in the second year, according to a news release published by the Yukon government on June 29. The project was announced during the third annual Arctic Arts Summit, which was held in Whitehorse on June 27 to 29.

The program will hire an outreach officer to help artists access grants and funding.

Simon Brault, director of Canada Council for the Arts, says the summit was evidence of how this partnership can work together to strengthen the Indigenous art community in a meaningful and effective way.

“This agreement highlights our co-development and co-delivery approach with northern partners in pursuit of a more just, equitable, and decolonized future for the arts and culture,” Brault said.

The Arctic Arts Summit was an opportunity for the council and the Government of Yukon to connect with the local community and brainstorm how they can best delegate these funds in the upcoming years. This dialogue illuminated mentorship to help emerging Indigenous artists build tools for success, such as resources to further hone their craft and export their art, as a key priority.

An Indigenous outreach and program officer will be hired through the Tourism and Culture department to kickstart the program. Based in Whitehorse, the officer will help launch Indigenous artists’ projects by sourcing funding and grants and connecting artists with publicity opportunities.

The pursuit of a better, more integrated approach to arts funding has been a priority of both local and federal governments over the past couple of years, the Yukon government said in the release. Recent funding is in line with the government’s 2021 Creative Potential strategy. Last year, the Canada Council also announced their commitment to create more opportunities for Indigenous artists. The partnership between the arts council and the Yukon government plans to put these goals into action.

According to the release, another major goal of this initiative is to give voice to Indigenous communities and move forward in the process of decolonizing. Ranj Pillai, the Yukon minister of Tourism and Culture said this pilot project will “advance reconciliation by supporting First Nations in sharing their stories, knowledge and traditions.”

Contact Mira Alden-Hull at