The Community Development Fund is investing over $1 million into 21 organizations across the Yukon launching community-driven projects.
The funding was allocated through a three-tier process divided into financial brackets of up to $75,000 and will be given out over the next two years. Projects receiving funding include local First Nations groups, the Yukon Arts Centre and various other arts and cultural organizations, as well as infrastructure initiatives across the Yukon.
The goal of the fund is to provide an “opportunity for local organizations to expand, offer new services and experiences and create jobs for Yukoners,” Minister of Economic Development Ranj Pillai said in an Aug. 1 news release.
As part of a Tier Two project, the Council of Yukon First Nations will receive $75,000 in funding towards a week of cultural programming in February 2023 for the 50th anniversary of Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow. Put forward in 1973, the document formed the “template for Yukon First Nations land claim agreements,” Shadelle Chambers of the Council of Yukon First Nations explained.
On Feb. 14, 2023, a potlach will be held at the Yukon Arts Centre to formally acknowledge the anniversary. The Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre will also host a week of events and activities including performers, workshops, and speakers, serving as open space for learning and connection.
While Yukon First Nations have hosted many cultural learning opportunities in the past, the anniversary will allow for a unique emphasis on the political aspects and more recent history of local First Nations groups.
“We’ll do cultural activities, hands-on activities and opportunities for both Yukon First Nations and the general public to learn more about Yukon First Nations land claims, final agreement and self government agreement,” Chambers said.
Many of the workshops and speakers will also focus on offering in-depth learning to school-aged children.
More information about the programming will be available closer to the date of the anniversary.
To mark the significance of the anniversary and compile learning from across Yukon First Nations groups, a portion of the funding will also be put towards publishing a coffee-table style book that will “highlight the journey of the past 50 years,” Chambers said.
The fund is also allocating money to individual First Nations in the Yukon. $63,801 will be invested with the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in to improve to their food crop infrastructure.
The funding will allow for the installation of two 50-foot planta greenhouses which will enable the community to sustain themselves more reliably year-round.
“It really increases our ability to provide for the community,” said farm manager Derrick Hastings.
“It just allows us more frost-free areas on the farm to potentially have crops later into the year. We want to be able to lengthen the season, however possible, and that usually takes greenhouses.”
The installation of the new greenhouses means the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in community can become much more self-reliant when the cold months strike.
“We’ll be able to start our greens early, have early lettuce crops, and put our zucchinis and beans in these greenhouses,” Hastings explained.
When questioned on the project’s role in generating job opportunities within the community, Hastings emphasized how this sort of investment will generate a sustained need for employment because “more infrastructure requires more hands on deck for maintenance as well as doing the gardening and the harvesting and planting and weeding that happens year-round.”
Another portion of the funding will be invested in the childcare. A Dawson City daycare along with two non-profit childcare initiatives will receive $75,000 towards the initial assessment and design stages of building a childcare hub.
“Childcare is so limited in Dawson. We’ve got three daycares and all three have a huge waitlist. Our daycare has approximately 38 children on the waitlist, which is a similar number for other daycares as well,” said Susan Blower-Lancaster from Dawson Society of Children and Families.
The hub would answer the need for childcare in Dawson by hiring three or four new care workers.
The centre would also house the Yukon branch of the Canadian Prenatal Nutrition Program, which has long been struggling to find a permanent location.
With the blueprints and cost analysis made possible by the funding program, Blower-Lancaster hopes that “to be open by the summer of 2024, if all goes as planned.”
Further information regarding all 21 projects benefiting from the Community Development Fund can be accessed on the Yukon government website.
Contact Mira Alden-Hull at firstname.lastname@example.org