Angélique Bernard, the Yukon’s new commissioner, calls herself a “Yukoner by choice.”
She moved to the territory from Montreal’s south shore in 1995 for a four-month internship with the Bureau of French Language Services.
Like so many now-Yukoners, she “fell in love” with the territory, she told the Star in an interview this morning.
“Two weeks after I arrived, I knew that this is where I wanted to live,” she said.
“The Yukon has brought me so much, so now I think it’s my time to give back to the Yukon by representing all Yukoners.”
Bernard’s appointment was announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last Friday.
She was sworn in for a five-year term at a private ceremony on Monday morning.
Bernard is the territory’s first francophone commissioner, and has been a very active member of the franco-Yukon community.
She launched her own translation firm in 2000, and served for seven years as the chair of the board of directors of the Association franco-yukonnaise.
Born in 1972, Bernard is also the youngest territorial commissioner in the history of the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, Pavlina Sudrich, the
commissioner’s private secretary, noted this morning.
Bernard’s young family – her two sons are seven and nine years old – also brings a new dimension to the commissioner’s office.
“In the history of the commissioners ... having a young family is a new thing,” Sudrich said. “It’s a re-imagining of the role in many ways.”
Bernard said she wants to involve her family in her role as commissioner as much as possible.
“I think it’s good for kids to see that Mom is not just Mom; that she’s another role. But at home, I’m still Mom, and I make lunches and send them off to school,” she noted with a laugh.
Every commissioner brings a unique vision to the role.
While Bernard will be working to define hers over the coming weeks, it appears family will be a major element of her work.
She emphasized her hopes to really involve Yukon families in official events.
She’d also like to continue former commissioner Doug Phillips’ school tours, where the role of the commissioner is explained to students.
As far as the future of some of Phillips’ signature events, like the annual youth showcase launched under his tenure, Sudrich said the commissioner and her
office will soon examine what Bernard’s mandate might look like, “and then we might be restructuring some of those, reallocating some of those resources.”
In certain areas, the commissioner’s role “depends on the person’s passions, and where they make connections with the community,” Sudrich explained.
Phillips called Bernard from Australia last Friday to congratulate her on the appointment. The two will have a formal meeting at some point, Bernard said.
On Tuesday, she attended an orientation with government officials on her legislative responsibilities.
These are enshrined in the Yukon Act, Sudrich explained.
They include providing assent to bills passed in the legislative assembly, signing orders-in-council and statutory appointments, and swearing in members of the legislative assembly, among other tasks.
Bernard was formally welcomed to the legislature by Speaker Nils Clarke on Monday.
The public will be welcomed to a meet-and-greet with the new commissioner in April. Specific details will be announced shortly, Sudrich said.
Asked what she’s most looking forward to about her new job, Bernard said “the people.”
“There’s some amazing people in the Yukon,” she explained, noting what an “honour and pleasure” it is to represent them.