For most Yukoners (including this newspaper) it never left, but now it’s government official: The Yukon is back.
The government updated the “Yukon and the Yukon” section of the official style guide this month, bringing back the definite article before the territorial name — at least in informal materials.
“We wanted to change it in a way that was no cost, no impact, it’s actually just a policy,” said Public Service Commission Minister John Streicker, noting that the French equivalent was never actually dropped.
“It’s real and local. I mean, I think that was the point here, right? This is just reflecting what the public says and knows,” he said.
The Yukon’s “the” was dropped in 2003, when devolution took place and the Yukon Act came into force. Because of that, the government style guide still requires “Yukon” to be used in formal materials, such as agreements and legislation.
While the change was made to align the territory more with the provinces, it turns out Yukoners like being a little different. Among most of the population, “the Yukon” persists.
Streicker said the new policy will not change the Yukon’s legal designation, so there is no cost associated with the change.
New internal and public materials, including news releases, letters, digital content, briefing notes and policy documents, can now go back to “the Yukon.”
The style guide instructs that when dealing with ministers, First Nations or communities the government actors should defer to the local preference. It also notes consistency — to avoid mixing “Yukon” and “the Yukon” in one document.
Streicker said the conservation around the change took place after the World Juniors when officials called the government to find out if it was “the Yukon” or “Yukon.”
“The government folks said, ‘Well, formally it’s Yukon.’ And when we heard that, we’re like, ‘Oh, come on. This isn’t right.’”
Streicker also gave a shout-out to NDP leader Kate White, who made “Back to the Yukon” a campaign issue during the territorial election, with buttons and a promise to bring the phrase back in government materials.
She said she was happy to see the Liberals following through.
“There were so many really important, really serious things that needed to be talked about during the territorial election like affordable housing and access to health care, that was just an opportunity for us to be light-hearted,” she said. “It’s super fascinating that that was shared hundreds of times on Facebook. So I think people are really excited to get back to that.”
Contact Haley Ritchie at firstname.lastname@example.org