Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

LATE COMMISSIONER’S LEGACY MARKED – Marilyn Smith, the daughter of the late James Smith, has loaned the Commissioner’s office items for their exhibit on her father. These include the desk and posters, including a Jim Robb poster, among others.

Order of Yukon medal design released

The Commissioner of the Yukon has released the design of the Order of Yukon medal, her own personal coat of arms and a new exhibit at Taylor House.

By Gord Fortin on July 11, 2019

The Commissioner of the Yukon has released the design of the Order of Yukon medal, her own personal coat of arms and a new exhibit at Taylor House.

Commissioner Angélique Bernard released the designs and the exhibit at a press conference held outside Taylor House on Wednesday afternoon.

The Order of Yukon will be the highest honour in the territory. It will be similar to orders awarded in other provinces and territories.

It recognizes Yukoners who demonstrated high achievement and excellence as well as contributed to the territory’s society.

This order is now part of the Canadian Order of Precedence, Orders, Decorations and Medals.

The first Order of Yukon ceremony will take place at the 2020 Commissioner’s New Year’s Levy. At that time, the first Yukoners will be chosen as members of the Order.

Bernard unveiled some concept art as well as a medallion of the Order. The band has the tri-colour of the Yukon flag. Fireweed and the Yukon Coat of Arms are also represented.

Her personal Coat of Arms was unveiled in Ottawa in early June at the annual meeting with the Governor General, lieutenant-governors and commissioners.

Bernard’s coat of arms includes a soccer ball. She asked her children about it, and that led to the ball, as it represents outdoor activities with her family.

A raven, the territory’s official bird, is incorporated into the design.

Her French, Irish and Italian background as well as her husband’s Polish and Ukrainian background are also incorporated.

The support on the coat of arms was the easiest thing for her: she chose two bears. One is a brown bear and the other a grizzly. This is because the name Bernard means “strong bear”.

The shield represents Bernard’s work as a translator, as well as volunteer involvement in the francophone artistic communities.

Her motto is in French, which, when translated, means “open to all possibilities”.

“I like to say to people, ‘when I first came here, for four months, 24 years ago, I had no idea that I would become the commissioner,’” Bernard said.

“Anything is possible in the Yukon if you put your mind to it and do something.”

The Yukon is the last jurisdiction to get its own Order.

The new exhibit is located on the second floor of the Taylor House, which is on Main Street near Sixth Avenue.

It offers insight into the term served by previous commissioner James Smith from Oct. 15, 1966 to June 30, 1976. It shows the evolution of the role of the commissioner.

Bernard felt the second-floor space is a nice area, and that something should be done with it.

Smith’s daughter, Marilyn, had an idea on how to use it and honour his legacy.

Smith explained the exhibit came about when her family was looking for a place to keep her dad’s desk. He worked at that desk for 50 years, including his time as commissioner.

When he retired, the desk was given to him as a gift. He used it for another 10 years as chair of the Northern Canada Power Commission, which was in charge of power development in all of northern Canada.

When he retired from the commission, he took the desk, and it became a centrepiece in his home office.

“The vision I have of my father is him sitting behind the desk, and I think of all the incredible conversations that had taken place,” Smith said.

She believes the desk was in the now-demolished Federal Building, corner Main Street and  Fourth Avenue, when the territorial government capital was moved from Dawson City to Whitehorse in 1953.

“It really saw the evolution of government,” she said.

She thought it would make a great display in the Taylor House, which is visited by many people. People want to know about the building and what the commissioner is.

She thinks this is something all Yukoners should be proud of.

Comments (11)

Up 0 Down 0

Patti Eyre on Jul 17, 2019 at 5:06 pm

The comments to this article are funny, and I can see why it's thought the coat of arms are on the medal, the author could have more clearly made that distinction but if you read it closely Laurie is right! But I had a deep laugh over this one.

Up 13 Down 2

she's deluded on Jul 15, 2019 at 2:15 pm

What an embarrassment this woman brings to the Commissioners Office.

Up 29 Down 1

Gringo on Jul 14, 2019 at 3:30 pm

A perfect example of a politically appointed commissioner with limited Yukon background or respect making this all about her, her kids and husband. Lordy Lordy what a blague!

Up 9 Down 15

Laurie on Jul 13, 2019 at 8:56 pm

Juniper Jackson and all you commenters who agree wth her need to read the story again. There are three separate and dististinct parts to the story. 1. The Commisioner unveiled the Order of Yukon Medal: 2. Her personal coat of arms was unveiled in Ottawa (Every Commission gets their own personal Coat of Arms and it has nothing to do with the Order of Yukon Medal): 3. A new exhibit was opened to honor former Commissioner James Smith.

Up 21 Down 4

life time Yukoner on Jul 12, 2019 at 5:31 pm

Al, you know what, I just read the article again and in hindsight, you are right.
JJ's comments and Seth are also very fair.

My initial comments were because I didn't want to insult the person (commissioner) but at the end of the day, it is totally arrogant and a real insult to Yukon People that the Commissioner would design an "Order of the Yukon" and make it all about her kids soccer interests, husbands background and so on.

A public design process (local art etc) would have been tasteful. Something that incorporates First Nations (Yukons First People) would have been really nice.

Up 30 Down 4

Al on Jul 12, 2019 at 12:03 pm

@life time Yukoner
I don't need a lesson from you on Mountain Fireweed. MF does not look at all as ugly as that which is represented. Having been born here I will voice my concerns and opinions on this topic if I so choose. This medallion is ugly, plain and simple. It might have been more appropriate to let Yukoners decide what they would like to see represented.

By the way LTY I live in a very rural environment - the outdoors is my life.

Up 7 Down 23

David on Jul 12, 2019 at 12:02 pm

Nice job on the design, it looks really beautiful!

Up 30 Down 4

Seth Wright on Jul 12, 2019 at 9:19 am

There we have it... Represented symbolically... The absolute arrogance of those in power in the Yukon... Demonstrating that even the highest honour a person can achieve is about the giver of that honour rather than the recipient of that order...

I absolutely agree with JJ... A very Liberal thing to do... This is the greatest and most pressing social issue in the Yukon... The narcissistic whimsy of the power structure...
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday!

Up 10 Down 22

life time Yukoner on Jul 11, 2019 at 5:39 pm

Al, if you have never seen fireweed look like that it's because you never leave your house. It is called Mountain Fireweed and is common in alpine environments. It's not the fireweed you see on roadsides where you ponder insulting comments for news stories.

Up 37 Down 9

Juniper Jackson on Jul 11, 2019 at 4:31 pm

I'm sorry..(not) Bernard..but, I don't care about you, about how you play soccer, I don't care about Bear.. but, why on early would you stick your personal coat of arms on a Order of Yukon medal? Personally, I think that's pretty presumptuous.. but, it IS a thing a Liberal would do. It goes without saying that taxpayers paid for it too.. I can't figure out how that medal became about you.

Up 27 Down 5

Al on Jul 11, 2019 at 2:47 pm

...well now I have never seen Fireweed look like that! It is one of most ugliest of the Yukon representations I have ever seen; and there has been some pretty ugly stuff done in the past. It is embarrassing...

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