Whitehorse Daily Star

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A CAUSE TO CELEBRATE – Key figures in the development of Yukon College’s Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Gover- nance program gathered Thursday. They included college president Karen Barnes (second from left); Andrew Richard- son, the dean of applied arts (third from left); Tosh Southwick, the executive director of First Nations and community initiatives, and college board member Judy Gingell (both left-right, centre foreground); and Education Minister Tra- cy-Anne McPhee (third from right).

College marks major moment in its evolution

For years, Yukon College has partnered with Outside universities to offer degrees in teaching, social work, business and more.

By Stephanie Waddell on May 11, 2018

For years, Yukon College has partnered with Outside universities to offer degrees in teaching, social work, business and more.

The post-secondary institution is now making history as it gets set to begin classes in September for its Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Governance program.

It will be the first degree program to be developed and delivered in the territory.

The college recently received the final approval from the Yukon government for the program. That followed the recommendation of the Not only is the program historic as the first degree program developed in the Yukon, but it is also unique in that it was developed in partnership with all of the territory’s First Nations.

“This is an exciting step in the transition of Yukon College to Yukon University,” Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee said Thursday at the program’s launch.

“It is fitting that our first degree is one of such critical importance and relevance to the Yukon.

“The Indigenous Governance program will allow students to develop the knowledge and skills they need to work with, support and lead Yukon First Nations governments.”

Karen Barnes, the college’s president and vice-chancellor, noted, “This first made-in-Yukon degree is a shining example of Yukon College’s commitment of collaboration with Yukon First Nations.

“We have developed the Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Governance in partnership with all 14 Yukon First Nations, and it is much stronger due to their guidance and input,” Barnes said.

“The new degree meets the academic rigour, breadth and depth of national degree standards, while Yukon First Nations contributions ensure the courses are relevant, accessible and grounded in Yukon realities.”

The program has been in the works for many years.

The degree itself has been pursued for four years. It has gone through reviews, revisions, re-revisions and so on as the material has been put forward for First Nation partners, college staff, the Alberta organization and the Yukon government.

“We made these decisions together,” Tosh Southwick, the college’s executive director of First Nations and community initiatives, said of working with the territory’s First Nations. “This is Yukon’s degree.”

The degree grew out of the college’s First Nations Governance and Public Administration (FNGPA) certificate program.

That began as the executive development program — a partnership among the college, Champagne and Aishihik First Nations and Yukon government aimed at building capacity in Yukon First Nations governments.

As it was stressed by officials, this will further build capacity for First Nations as well as other governments.

Nine students have graduated from the certificate program since 2011 with many more opting to take the program part-time or pursue certain courses that are offered through it.

The degree includes all FNGPA courses, along with providing new electives such as Language Activism and Anthropology of the State.

It features six new courses: Indigenous Political Thought; Bridging Knowledges; Indigenous Peoples and Research; Indigenous Politics in Canada; The Government of Canada; and a final-year capstone project featuring both a land-based and community-based activity created in partnership with a government (Yukon First Nations, territorial or federal) or community organization.

Students will benefit from the direct experience of Yukon First Nations leaders, elders and former chiefs in navigating land claims, modern-day treaties, self-government and revitalizing language and culture.

Andrew Richardson, the college’s dean of applied arts, said there’s already been interest expressed by a number of students who have taken or are taking the certificate program.

Among them is Meta Williams, currently a student in the certificate program planning to transfer to the degree program.

“I am so happy there is a degree I can take here in the Yukon and don’t have to move outside to complete my education,” said Williams.

“My goal is to learn about First Nations governance and have a deeper understanding of land claims and policy creation within the Yukon context.

“The courses in both FNGPA and the Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Governance are grounded in the Yukon experience. This will better enable me to contribute and assist in decision-making and achieve a better future for our children and grandchildren.”

Southwick noted described the degree as “an opportunity for all Canadians.”

It will be very versatile and will likely appeal to those working or looking to work in First Nations governance, other government, NGOs and so on, Southwick said.

Her son, who will soon graduate from high school, has applied for the program.

Southwick joked that she made it clear he wasn’t just going to sit on the couch at home after graduation. She also said one of the big reasons he applied to the program was his desire to make a difference in his community.

The college has set a target of 35 students enrolling in the program and envisions between 15 and 20 graduating in the first cohort in three years.

As Richardson pointed out, the program has part-time and distance learning course offerings for students as it has does with many of its programs. That means the number of students will vary at any given time.

A deadline of Aug. 15 has been set for students to get their applications in for the fall semester.

Information sessions for prospective students are set for May 23, May 29 and June 7.

Information is available at yukoncollege.yk,ca/indigenousgovernance.

Those interested can also email indigenousgovernance@yukoncollege.yk.ca for more information.

Comments (3)

Up 0 Down 0

Stella Yukon on May 16, 2018 at 6:12 pm

About as useful as a degree in women's studies.

Up 2 Down 0

ProScience Greenie on May 14, 2018 at 11:23 am

Most of this is ego / optics driven. It would be nice to see some real world degrees available rather than ones that are customized with the sole purpose of bloating the various levels of government and NGOs here. It would also be nice to see our high schools do a better job of educating youth to lessen the huge numbers that require a year or so of upgrading at Yukon College. Right know it's more or less functioning as a 'grade 12'.

Up 2 Down 0

University_of_Life(Hons) on May 11, 2018 at 4:02 pm

‘An opportunity for all Canadians’ ? I seriously doubt that. One course does not a University make I am afraid. Nice try, but fairly transparent in the true intent behind this showpiece program designed to ‘accredit’ the place as something other than a Community College.

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