Yukon to celebrate National Aboriginal Day as stat holiday for first time

National Aboriginal Day will be celebrated across the Yukon June 21, with Yukoners getting the day off to participate in the festivities.

National Aboriginal Day will be celebrated across the Yukon June 21, with Yukoners getting the day off to participate in the festivities.

This year marks the first time it will be celebrated as a statutory holiday after the Liberal government passed legislation earlier this year.

First Nations across the territory are organizing events to celebrate their history, culture and traditions. Events will be held in Whitehorse, Haines Junction, Carcross, Mayo, Carmacks and Dawson City.

The First nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun is organizing an all-day celebration at Binet House in Mayo including performances by Selkirk Spirit Dancers and Dena Zagi.

In Carcross, the Carcross/Tagish First Nation celebrates with the opening of a new learning centre. The three-day grand opening will see dances, feasts and a pole-raising ceremony June 20.

Carmacks residents can head to the interpretive centre, which is hosting a free lunch and a variety of games including bingo and fishing games. There will also be a craft table where participants can learn and practice different crafts, said Elizabeth Skookum, heritage manager at the centre.

Dawson City’s festivities will take place at Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre from 11 a.m. onwards. The event features shows by the Han Singers and Drummers, Boyd Benjamin, Kevin Barr and Friends, and Dawson City Youth Fiddlers. Premier Sandy Silver will take part in the celebration, being broadcast live on Radio Zho on CFYT.

In Whitehorse, residents can participate in the Aboriginal Day community walk which starts with a performance by the Dakhká Khwáan Dancers and DJ Dash at the Whitehorse Visitor Information Centre. The walk will be led by the dancers all the way to Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre, where celebrations will continue into the evening. These include performances by local artists, storytelling by First Nations elders and a bannock bake-off.

Residents can access transit facilities as usual and Shipyards Park will be open for public access. Parking rules will not be enforced. However, non-emergency city facilities will be closed, including the Canada Games Centre. Liquor stores are also closed for the day. Rick Karp, president of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce, said local businesses can decide to remain open or not.

“If a business wishes to, they can open for the day and grant the stat holiday to their employees another day,” he said.

Contact Sharon Nadeem at sharon.nadeem@yukon-news.com

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