Whitehorse Daily Star

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PREDECESSORS JOIN INCUMBENT – Three former commissioners are seen at Monday’s Commissioner’s Levee with outgoing Commissioner Doug Phillips. Shown left to right are aid-de-camp Sgt.-Maj. Doug Spencer, Phillips, former commissioners Geraldine Van Bibber, Jack Cable and Ken McKinnon, and aid-de-camp Capt. Kathleen Tipton. Photo courtesy GOVERNMENT OF YUKON

Orders of Yukon to be few and far between

There’s an Order of Canada, an Order of British Columbia, an Order of Nunavut – but no Order of Yukon.

By Taylor Blewett on January 3, 2018

There’s an Order of Canada, an Order of British Columbia, an Order of Nunavut – but no Order of Yukon.

At present, the Yukon is the only Canadian jurisdiction without an Order that honours the contributions of exceptional citizens.

But that could soon change, with Premier Sandy Silver announcing New Year’s Day that his government is developing an Order of Yukon.

It will be the highest honour in the territory, according to a government press release issued Tuesday.

“It will recognize individuals who make exceptional contributions to Yukon” as well as “excellence, achievement and contributions to the social, cultural and economic well-being of Yukoners,” the press release reads.

If this announcement sounds familiar, that’s probably because in June 2016, the former Yukon Party government notified the territory of its plans to have an Order of Yukon in place for the Canada 150 celebrations.

Obviously, that didn’t come to fruition.

“New government, new priorities, still important, but just took some more time,” Erin Loxam, a spokesperson for the Executive Council Office, told the Star Tuesday.

The Liberals officially replaced the Yukon Party regime on Dec. 3, 2016.

While the timeline has changed – the date the first Orders will be awarded remains up in the air – elements of the original work on the honour are present in this government’s plans.

As proposed in 2016, the expectation is that the number of Orders doled out annually is capped at three, according to Loxam.

“We’re not going to be handing out hundreds of these. It’s going to be a very limited number that go out, so it will be people held to a very high standard.”

The government is also looking to include a First Nations representative on the advisory council that peruses nominations for the Order to determine its recipients.

This decision follows a 2016 public consultation on the honour. That saw comments suggesting “the need to include contributions to First Nations cultural and heritage endeavours,” according to Tuesday’s government statement.

It’s unknown when nominations for the Order will be accepted.

The Yukon’s next commissioner will announce this and other information about the honour.

He or she will also be responsible for overseeing the induction of Yukoners into the Order, according to the government statement.

However, the person who will succeed Commissioner Doug Phillips has not yet been named publicly.

Loxam, meanwhile, shed some light on other aspects of the award process.

Anyone can nominate anyone, she said, so long as they make a case for their exceptional contributions to the territory.

The Order’s advisory council will consist of the Yukon’s chief justice, the head of Yukon College and the government’s cabinet secretary, as well as a First Nations representative.

Once established, Loxam said the Orders will probably be presented once a year.

Until now, it’s arguable that the closest thing the territory has had to an Order of Yukon is the Commissioner’s Awards, established in 1973.

“A highlight during my term as commissioner has been the opportunity to recognize the outstanding work of Yukoners whose volunteer work build our communities,” Phillips said in the government press release.

“Their dedication has inspired me to work with the Government of Yukon to create the Order of Yukon. I’m thrilled that the process is underway.”

Phillips’ last day as commissioner is Jan. 31.

“Although Commissioner Phillips will not have the opportunity to present the first Order, it would not be awarded without his efforts and influence,” Silver said in the press release.

Orders in all of the provinces were introduced in the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and early 2000s.

Nunavut established its Order in 2010, and the Northwest Territories did so in 2013.

Asked why it’s taken so long for an Order of Yukon to come into being, Loxam said she isn’t sure.

“I just think it’s unfortunate that we haven’t done it until now, to be perfectly frank,” she said.

“This is something that we should have, and be in line with everybody else.”

Pavlina Sudrich, the commissioner’s private secretary, told the Star today that as responsible self-government in the territory has evolved, so too should the way Yukoners are honoured.

“The commissioner and others felt it was increasingly appropriate to have an honours system in place here in Yukon that was consistent with other jurisdictions across Canada,” Sudrich said in an email.

The government is planning to table legislation that would establish the Order of Yukon in the spring sitting. It will begin March 1.

Comments (8)

Up 0 Down 0

ProScience Greenie on Jan 8, 2018 at 1:16 pm

Pretty soon we'll need a whole new department, minister and a few extra sub-divisions just to deal with the ever growing number of policy analysts. Same with communication spokespeople.

Sadly BnR, I don't think either the YP or NDP will offer anything better unless they boot out the far right and far left fringe types that have way too much influence on their respective policies.

Up 1 Down 1

Arturs on Jan 6, 2018 at 8:29 pm

Let's not let the mutual admiration society aka self assuming "Yukon Party" start handing these Orders out or you won't be able to keep them in stock.
By the way have we mentioned some of the Liberal numbers anytime lately?
12 consecutive months of full time job growth; lowest unemployment rate in 40 yrs; restoral of long form census; billions of dollars in infrastucture spending; gender balanced cabinet; turf hugely unpopular fair elections act (anything but); 4%GDP; settlement of Syrian refugees; eligibility back to 65 for OAS; refitting of the previously ignored military; paving of the Dawson airport; mining finally getting the support it needs like 360 million for road access; booming tourist industry (winter and summer); unprecedented building construction; new mines starting up (almost hard to keep track of).
Please try not to hold up progress with partisan negativity this is reality but ultimately people are entitled to any fantasy they wish to engage in.

Up 2 Down 0

Ginger Johnson on Jan 6, 2018 at 2:15 pm

WOW Premier - a financial crisis in the territory is imminent and you're wasting money on this fluff?
You're honeymoon is over - start solving the problems that you were elected to solve

Up 4 Down 0

What has the Yukon Government done on the following and stop wasting Yukoners time on Jan 4, 2018 at 1:45 pm

1) economy and job creation, nothing yet?
2) what has the Yukon Government done for housing in the Yukon, nothing?
3) why is the Yukon Government not standing up to the Federal Government for creating carbon tax and killing our economy?
4) Why is the Yukon Government letting the Yukon hold the bag on Federal finances and drive the Yukon going into debt?
5) Why does this Yukon not have backbone to stand up to Ottawa like NB, MAT and Sask?
6) why does the Yukon government not protect their employees from abuse, bullying, harassment?
Wilf Carter

Up 4 Down 0

Nile Nukon on Jan 4, 2018 at 9:15 am

At a time when the government needs to be cutting back we have to ask if this is really a priority. The costs may not be huge but it all adds up.

Up 3 Down 1

ProScience Greenie on Jan 3, 2018 at 3:43 pm

Humble people that do good deeds don't ask for honors, rewards and ceremony. Thought that was a Yukon value.

And if they do go ahead with this then how about including contribution to science in it. Sad that science always takes a back seat to culture and the arts. Must be an ego thing.

Up 5 Down 0

BnR on Jan 3, 2018 at 3:20 pm

With all the legislation that really needs changes and improvements, like Lands Act, Wildlife Act, the Libs are actually going to waste more time and money to write some new legislation on a medal? Really? Guess we’ll need some more policy analysts to help.
Bye bye Libs in the next territorial election.

Up 1 Down 0

ralpH on Jan 3, 2018 at 2:51 pm

No matter how this plays out give too few and it gets politically tainted. Give too many and it becomes a joke. An independent committee with a mandate that allows for flexibility on the merits of the candidates, and number of recipients, is the only way to work this. Remember at three a year it would take a century just to recognize all those that already contributed so much to the Yukon.

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