Yukon College launches an oral history of its reconciliation journey

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WHITEHORSE—Yukon College is launching an oral history of its journey towards reconciliation this week. 

Walking Our Path Together is an audio podcast featuring a wide range of Yukoners sharing their first-hand experiences of the College deepening its relationship with the 14 Yukon First Nations and integrating Indigenous ways of knowing and doing into the institution. 

The eleven episodes of the first season feature stories about Indigenizing curriculum, Elders on campus, land-based learning, and the legacies of residential school in Yukon.  

The podcast also covers the College’s early days as a vocational school, the naming of the Whitehorse campus “Ayamdigut” (I-am-dey-goot), the 2008 Sunrise Report and its significant impact on the College’s relationship with First Nations in Yukon, as well as aspirations for the role Yukon University will play in Northern post-secondary education. 

The project is part of Yukon College’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action. 

“Other institutions have produced detailed plans on how they will address reconciliation and decolonization, but the idea of a plan felt foreign. It wouldn’t reflect where we are in our journey, or the work already done at Yukon College to Indigenize the curriculum, to ensure all students and employees possess a grounding in Yukon First Nations history and culture,” said Davida Wood, director of First Nations Initiatives. 

In the podcast’s introductory episode Tosh Southwick, the College’s associate vice president for Indigenous Engagement and Reconciliation, reflects on why sharing an oral history resonated more deeply. 

“In our communities, when something really important happens we make a story about it, and one of the foundational differences between an Indigenous culture and a Western culture is that oral history part – that idea that we transmit our knowledge orally down the generations,” says Southwick. 

With more than 50 Yukoners contributing to the oral history, this approach also allowed for more voices, and their unique experiences and perspectives to be included, adds Wood. 

We are grateful to everyone who has taken the time to share their thoughts and stories with us. Ultimately, this is not the entire story, it’s part of our story, at this point in time. This format provides opportunity to return to it and add to it in the future, as our story continues,” says Wood. 

“Collaborating closely with Yukon First Nations has been a board directive since 2008 and reflected in the past three strategic plans. This work of reconciliation, of building connections and trust, takes time. It is important to share how we have approached this through this podcast and the impact it has had on the College and on Yukon, and hopefully inspire others,” said Dr. Karen Barnes, Yukon College president and vice chancellor.  

“I hope Yukon University continues to be a place where community and academic voices come together to tackle important topics in innovative ways, such as this project,” added Barnes. 

The College hopes the podcast will inspire Canadians, individually and collectively, to engage in the work of reconciliation. 

I hope people take away that this has really been a journey. This isn’t a light switch that you turn on and off. It’s a lot of little steps that have culminated in some amazing work and in Yukon College being a leader in this field,” says Southwick in the introductory episode. 

“And I hope they take away what reconciliation really looks like on the ground... Because sometimes that’s a little fuzzy when we throw out these big words like reconciliation, Indigenization, decolonization. There aren’t always examples behind that and I think this project will show our staff, our students, other people across Canada what our version of reconciliation has been and take that to inspire their own activities.” 

Walking Our Path Together is produced by Leighann Chalykoff of LC Creative with original music by Jona Barr. The website features original, multi-layered, motion graphics by Nhesa Patoy, a graduate of the Multimedia Communications certificate program.  

The introduction and first episode, with transcripts, are available now for download at ourpath.yukoncollege.yk.ca or audio only via iTunes or Android. Episodes will be released bi-weekly through to July, starting with episode two on Thursday, March 14. Listeners can subscribe to ensure they do not miss an episode. 

For more information, please contact:

Davida Wood

Director, First Nations Initiatives
First Nations Initiatives
867.668.8879
dwood@yukoncollege.yk.ca

Tosh Southwick

Associate Vice-President
Indigenous Engagement and Reconciliation
First Nations Initiatives
867.456.8673
tsouthwick@yukoncollege.yk.ca

Michael Vernon

Communications Coordinator
College and External Relations
867.668.8786
mvernon@yukoncollege.yk.ca