Routes - Yukoners in Action - Issue 1, November 2018

IN YUKON, 49 PERCENT of First Nations adults have a post-secondary qualification, compared to 71 percent of non-Indigenous people, according to Statistics Canada. It will take fundamental changes to bridge the gap, and that’s exactly what EleV, a new program that’s been co-created with Yukon First Nations youth and Elders, is proposing.
My name is Dwight Snowshoe. I am a Tetlit Gwitchin from Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories. I have been living in the Yukon for the past seven years and I currently work as a transitional support worker at Yukon College. I spend a lot of time at the WCC – Whitehorse Correctional Centre – and I help people make transitions to education.
MICHAEL GIRARD AND Shannon Holmes have been friends for life. They’ve known each other since elementary school, and now they’re both working in a new program called Building Stability. It’s aimed at giving youth who have been involved with the justice system an introduction to basic carpentry and fundamental skills for employment by teaching them how to build a tiny house.
WHILE GROWING UP in Whitehorse, Tahltan First Nation citizen Jeremy Linville thought a lot about dropping out of school. “I often felt left out – like I didn’t understand what was going on,” he says. “I had depression and anxiety, and I couldn’t sleep at night, so when I went to school in the morning, I would sleep through the whole first block.”
WHEN NICOLE MORNINGSTAR Tom had her third child, she found herself spending a lot of time at home. She was thinking about continuing her education, and after getting some experience in politics as an assistant to the executive director of her First Nation, she had the bug. Nicole, a Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation citizen, wanted to learn more, but she didn’t want to leave her family or her traditional territory.
ON A CRISP AFTERNOON in mid- October, Jim Pope fires up the engine on Yukon College’s Mobile Trades Training Trailer – an 18-wheeler outfitted with all the gear needed for welding, electrical, millwright, and piping – and rolls up the North Klondike Highway. Today he’s on his way to Carmacks to meet with high school students and anyone else who wants to talk.
SCIENTIST LISA KNIGHT pushes through thick bushes in search of a certain plant to show her class. Nearby, dressed in high-visibility safety vests, the course’s second instructor, David Petkovich, and seven environmental monitoring students wait, curious to see what she finds. This is just one of the on-the-land lessons shared during a week-long course on terrestrial monitoring of soil and vegetation that took place over the summer at the proposed BMC Minerals Kudz Ze Kayah mine site in south- central Yukon.
JODY INKSTER HAS ALWAYS been drawn to working on the land. “I am a Kaska person and it’s important to me and to the community that we have local and Indigenous people employed on our traditional territory,” she says. “We have a responsibility to make sure we’re protecting that land and water.”