The United States’s diplomatic representative who oversees relations in the far west of Canada paid his first visit to the Yukon on Oct. 6, meeting with government officials, business leaders and military personnel.
Consul General Brent Hardt spent four days in the territory, meeting with territorial officials as part of his duties in fostering cooperation between the two countries.
“We have a lot of similarities between North and South, some even closer than within the country itself,” he noted.
He was appointed to the Vancouver post in August, but due to COVID-19, had yet to visit the territory.
The U.S. Consulate General in Vancouver functions as a U.S. diplomatic office for both British Columbia and the Yukon. The United States government also has consulates in Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto and Winnipeg, in addition to the embassy in Ottawa.
Hardt toured the Boyle Barracks outside Whitehorse and met with personnel from Task Force North. Hardt also toured Yukon University, where researchers shared work on mining, permafrost thaw and Indigenous science.
Hardt said President Joe Biden is very focused on environmental issues and technology, and Northern-specific research in both countries is likely to be useful on both sides of the border.
During his visit, Hardt met with Commissioner Angélique Bernard, Minister of Highways and Public Works Nils Clarke and Minister of Economic Development Ranj Pillai. He also met with the Chamber of Commerce and Chamber of Mines.
Hardt said during his meeting he learned about the history of the Yukon from the commissioner, in addition to discussions about modern concerns including education, the environment and Indigenous relations.
“We have tried in the past to target our programs toward these issues of concern,” he said.
Normally that involves more travel, including welcoming Canadians into the United States. Due to COVID-19, much of the office’s normal activities including trade missions or forums have moved online.
The office of the Consulate General hosts an online group for Indigenous women in business, which linked Indigenous business owners in Canada with their counterparts from U.S. tribes.
Other online seminars in the past year included one on Clean Water Tech in Remote Communities and an event called the Women Entrepreneurs Symposium on Tourism (WEST) which linked women tourism operators, including Indigenous participants, from Alaska, Washington, B.C. and the Yukon.
“This is one way we are trying to be responsive and find ways to bring people together,” said Hardt.
Hardt said the primary goal of the consulate is to help American citizens when abroad in Canada, but the office also aims “to represent the broader administration’s policies.”
During his visit Hardt declined to speculate on when the land border between Alaska and the United States would open but mentioned that new rules were coming in November requiring foreigners to demonstrate their vaccination status when entering the country.
The following week on Oct. 12 the country announced it would once again allow non-essential travel over the border for fully vaccinated Canadians.
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