Wilderness Tourism Association of the Yukon manager, Kelly Faser, from left, and president Kalin Pallett, sit for a photo with Yukon First Nations Culture and Tourism Association board of directors member Melina Hougen, and tourism development officer Caili Steelafter talking about how the two organizations are combining forces for a pilot project this spring in the Yukon. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Yukon pilot project aims to train First Nations youth to become wilderness guides

Eight youth will be selected to take part in training this spring in Champagne

A pilot project being undertaken by two Yukon tourism associations is aiming to train First Nations youth this spring on becoming wilderness guides.

Headed by the Yukon First Nations Culture and Tourism Association (YFNCT) in collaboration with the Wilderness Tourism Association of the Yukon (WTAY), the project will see eight First Nations youth ages 18 to 30 participate in an intensive, four-week-long training course at Long Ago People’s Place in Champagne. Participants will be living together at a camp meant to mimic the conditions of being on a river excursion, and on top of getting certified for industry-standard skills like wilderness first aid, will also learn cultural interpretation skills and protocols from Yukon First Nations elders and knowledge-keepers.

Following training, participants will be able to apply for paid internships at a number of WTAY-affiliated businesses.

YFNCT tourism development officer Caili Steel said the pilot project was created to address both the lack of First Nations people working in the Yukon tourism industry and a lack of culture-focused tourism opportunities.

“Those are the two main goals of the project — get more First Nations people, help them get into industry by taking away some of those barriers around training and cost for training and to really encourage culture to be a focal point because people are coming to traditional territories and that’s important,” Steel said.

“We want to make sure these youth are really culturally-rooted coming out of this program and have strong understandings of protocols around story sharing and for travelling through the different traditional territories … because when they are really rooted, then they can pass that knowledge on to visitors, teaching them how to travel respectfully through the territories.”

Elders and knowledge-keepers from Champagne and Aishihik First Nation, Kwanlin Dün First Nation, Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, Ta’an Kwäch’än Council and Kluane First Nation are expected to participate in the training.

Participants for the pilot project will be asked to pay a $500 registration fee that will cover all transportation, accommodation, training and certification, the last one of which Steel said is worth thousands of dollars alone.

WTAY president Kalin Pallett said his association is supporting the initiative because, in recent years, there’s been an increased demand for “cultural product” but not enough resources to meet that demand. As well, in the past, people would book wilderness excursions well in advance, but that’s no longer the case.

“Now, people are showing up almost unannounced, or in some cases, unannounced … and wanting to join trips, and all of a sudden, you’re literally scrambling to find guides, so having a larger pool to draw from is only going to benefit the industry,” he said.

Having a local pool of wilderness guides — especially ones who know Yukon First Nations traditions and stories — also offers tourists a different experience, YFNCT board of directors member Melina Hougen said.

“It’s just kind of a more personal experience and a different perspective of the land, the river,” she said. “So much of the focus, I think, has been on the Gold Rush history, especially for the Yukon River, so this is just kind of a chance to follow the national trend of more Indigenous tourism.”

Applicants can apply online at tinyurl.com/yfnwildguide. The deadline for applications is April 14. Training is scheduled to start May 6.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

Champagne and Aishihik First NationFirst NationsTourism

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The City of Whitehorse’s projected deficit could be $100,000 more than originally predicted earlier this year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City deficit could be just over $640,000 this year

Third quarter financial reports presented to council

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speaks during a COVID-19 press conference in Whitehorse on Oct. 30. Masks became mandatory in the Yukon for anyone five years old and older as of Dec. 1 while in public spaces. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
As mask law comes into effect, premier says $500 fines will be last resort

The territory currently has 17 active cases of COVID-19

Crystal Schick/Yukon News file
Ranj Pillai, minister of economic development, during a press conference on April 1.
Government rejects ATAC mining road proposal north of Keno City

Concerns from the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun were cited as the main reason for the decision

asdf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Dec. 2, 2020

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited internet options beginning Dec. 1. (Yukon News file)
Unlimited internet for some available Dec. 1

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited… Continue reading

Submitted/Yukon News file
Yukon RCMP’s Historical Case Unit is seeking information related to the unsolved homicide of Allan Donald Waugh, 69, who was found deceased in his house on May 30, 2014.
Yukon RCMP investigating unsolved Allan Waugh homicide

Yukon RCMP’s Historical Case Unit is seeking information related to an unsolved… Continue reading

A jogger runs along Millenium Trail as the sun rises over the trees around 11 a.m. in Whitehorse on Dec. 12, 2018. The City of Whitehorse could soon have a new trail plan in place to serve as a guide in managing the more than 233 kilometres of trails the city manages. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
2020 trail plan comes forward

Policies and bylaws would look at e-mobility devices

Snow-making machines are pushed and pulled uphill at Mount Sima in 2015. The ski hill will be converting snow-making to electric power with more than $5 million in funding from the territorial and federal governments. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Mount Sima funded to cut diesel reliance

Mount Sima ski hill is converting its snowmaking to electric power with… Continue reading

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Most Read