Last week, life-long Whitehorse resident Adeline Webber received an expected but life-altering phone call.
On the other end of the line was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, calling to offer her the role of Commissioner of Yukon.
The prime minister’s office had previously reached out to gauge her interest in the position. The day prior to the job offer, she was told to standby for a call from Trudeau, which came while on a trip to Pelly Crossing as part of her role as the chair of the Yukon residential schools missing children working group.
“When I got the call, I was outside and in a little park they have there [in Pelly] — I am amazed I was so calm,” says Webber. “We had a pleasant conversation, and [Trudeau] reaffirmed that I was still interested in being appointed, and then he offered me the job.”
The commissioner’s duties will not be entirely new to Webber, who had served as the territory’s administrator since 2018, a role that required her to fill in for the former commissioner, Angélique Bernard, when Bernard was unavailable.
“[As] Yukon administrator, I had the responsibility to carry out any duties whenever the commissioner was not available. So, I signed many legal documents, I swore in the new premier and his cabinet […] and I did any other work that needed to be done.”
As for what she plans to accomplish as commissioner, Webber admits she cannot offer much in the line of specifics because her term just began. However, she’s got the broad strokes figured out: championing the importance of family bonds and connecting with communities across the Yukon.
“Everything seems to be kind of focused in Whitehorse, but it doesn’t have to be. I really would like to travel to all the Yukon communities, wherever they are, and meet with the people in the communities to talk about what is important and […] help bring some community life to this office,” says Webber.
“The other thing that is really important to me is family, ensuring that family is connected through all of the generations, from the little children to the elders.”
Webber, a member of the Teslin Tlingit Nation, has been incredibly active in Yukon communities for many years.
In addition to her work as chair of the working group for missing residential school students and her tenure as territorial administrator, she previously served as the Public Service Commission of Canada’s Yukon district director and is involved with the Whitehorse Aboriginal Women’s Circle.
In 2022, Webber visited Rome to attend Pope Francis’ apology for the Catholic Church’s role in Canada’s residential school system as the Yukon delegate for the Assembly of First Nations.
She tells the News that she has spent many years championing Indigenous women’s rights and working to raise the profile of Indigenous women and families and she hopes to continue this work in her new role.
When asked if she has a message for Yukoners as she begins her five-year term as commissioner, she says, “I’m looking forward to meeting as many people as possible and interacting with them on a personal basis. I’m really looking forward to this opportunity to connect with all Yukoners.”
Contact Matthew Bossons at email@example.com