Meet Our Amazing Faculty
Kathryn Aitken, PhD
Instructor, School of Science
"I specialize in bird biology, particularly birds that nest in tree trunk cavities. Like woodpeckers, for example. Their grub of choice includes the Pine Beetle which, as you know, has impacted BC’s forests. In fact, the Pine Beetle outbreak is progressing towards Yukon which is already contending with a Spruce Beetle outbreak. My previous studies helped support environmental and forestry people to better understand the pivotal role these birds play in preventing outbreaks. It’s also important to remember that outbreaks are a normal result of our cyclical, natural eco-system.
I love teaching as much as I love solving these kinds of bigger problems. In a way, I had been looking for a situation like this all my professional life. It’s so ideal. I honestly believe I am a very lucky person to have this job. This is my dream job. I get to do field work and research, and I get to teach!"
Don Gillies, Red Seal
Carpentry Instructor, School of Trades
"I’ve learned a great deal after 22 years of teaching carpentry. Of most importance for our program, and this college, is that we offer skills our students can apply right now in the real working world. Materials for trades training are very expensive so we explore meaningful, innovative ways to take on valuable learning projects and partnerships that make the best use of what materials we have.
Over the years our students have participated in many projects. An example of this is our involvement with Habitat for Humanity Yukon. Yukon College’s carpentry students have worked on all of Habitat’s projects to date. We’ve also combined science and the trades to develop and test new technologies by partnering with the Yukon Research Centre. These partnerships and projects provide our students with real hands-on experience so they can move from here directly into the workforce."
Carpentry Pre-Employment certificate
Gabriel Ellis, MA, BA
"I have travelled the world, worked and studied for the past 12 years. Capacity-building in Africa. Arctic Studies in Finland. French in Grenoble. European Studies in Norway and Denmark. I taught for a year-and-a half in Canterbury, England, as well as Papua, New Guinea. And I just bought property here. My mother can’t believe that I’m actually settling down.
I have a passion for community development. I believe you have to start teaching from the place of where the student is at. And so I will happily go to bingo to raise money for the Spirit Dancers to travel to Alaska if that helps fill a gap in their learning. This is my first time teaching First Nations people and I hope to learn new skills, like how to quarter a moose and how to catch a fish with a net, skills that take a lifetime to learn."
Instructor, School of Academic and Skill Development
"I’ve taught trades-related Science, Math, Accounting and Computer Applications but it was Science at the start, back in 1988. Now my main interests still include these courses but I’ve also been able to bring to work my passion for farming and food. I created the Food Matters program which looks at food systems and the effects on our economy, society, the environment, us. You could say I take my work home with me; I live on a 160 acre farm and raise cows, pigs, goats, chickens. And I grow organic veggies and grain.
The Northern Greenhouse Research Project is a wonderful collaborative project that I’m particularly proud of. Students learn about growing and gardening techniques specific to our climate while testing energy innovations. This greenhouse uses much less energy than conventional greenhouses because of the various heat and power technologies we incorporated. That’s something to think about, especially when we put our own fresh greens on the college cafeteria menu in the dead of winter!"
Gene Batten, Red Seal
Culinary Arts Coordinator, Foodservice Manager
School of Management, Tourism and Hospitality
"Growing up I enjoyed cooking and would often prepare meals for my family. After trying various jobs I realized I wasn’t following my heart. In my early 20s, I decided to pursue a career in the Culinary Arts and so I went back to school. Finally, doing what I loved, committing myself to what it would take to be successful was easy. And as a result, I graduated at the top of my class with honours and went on to earn my Red Seal certification.
I’ve been in the educational field for most of my 20+ career years, with more than half of that time spent here at Yukon College. I believe I have the best of both worlds: I get to continue with Culinary Arts and I get to teach what I love.
When you care about what you do and when you’re passionate about it, it shows. Passion comes from within. I can’t teach that, but I can lead by example, and I do so every day. It’s about caring and taking pride in whatever you do."
Culinary Arts certificate
Victoria Castillo, PhD, MA, BA
Coordinator/Instructor – Heritage and Culture Certificate + First Nations Governance and Public Administration Programs, School of Liberal Arts + First Nations Initiatives
"I conducted my archaeology Ph.D. dissertation on the socio-economic interactions between the Northern Tutchone people at Fort Selkirk and the Hudson’s Bay Company fur traders. Recently, I’ve decided to write a handbook that synthesizes some of the published resources on Yukon First Nations’ cultures and history together in one volume.
I was 23 when I started college so I can relate to the adult students I teach. Back then, I knew I didn’t want to continue working in jobs that weren’t moving me forward. I didn’t know what I wanted to study at first. I was not an A student in high school and wasn’t sure I could do it. After taking a few archaeology courses in college I realized that my passion was learning about the world and other people, about how we are different and more importantly, how we are the same. My career as an archaeologist has allowed me to travel the world and to learn about different cultures.
I feel really fortunate to be able to work on archaeology projects all over the Yukon. It has given me the chance to learn about many of the First Nations’ cultures here. Teaching has given me the opportunity to share that knowledge with others."
Heritage and Culture certificate
Kim Diamond, MAdEd, BScN, RN
Instructor and Coordinator – Health Care Assistant Program
School of Health, Education and Human Services
"My mother told me she knew I was going to be nurse when I was in kindergarten because I lined up twice for my vaccination. Seriously! I was that fascinated!
I am committed to lifelong learning; formal and informal. As a Registered Nurse I worked in various parts of Canada before obtaining my Masters of Adult Education and coming to work at Yukon College as a nurse educator. I believe you have to model principled, client-centered care and a critical-thinking approach if you intend to teach in this field.
Nursing and caregiving in the North has many rewards and challenges. I strive to help students merge theory and practice to ensure their caregiving is grounded in best practice, an understanding of the client and the community, as well as a solid ethical framework.”
Enrolment for our program is consistently full with a waiting list and has been since I came to work here 17 years ago. Students learn highly transferrable skills and so grads are very desirable. In fact, most students are interviewed for jobs before they graduate."
Health Care Assistant certificate