Successful referendum results move Yukon First Nation School Board forward

by ahnationtalk on February 1, 2022183 Views

Joint news release with the Yukon First Nation Education Directorate.

The Government of Yukon and the Chief’s Committee on Education (CCOE) are pleased to announce that eight schools, including seven school attendance areas, have voted to move to a new Yukon First Nations School Board (FNSB). This historic development is the result of decades of reports, agreements, negotiations and collaboration.

This process culminated with a referendum period, which started on January 11, 2022 and officially closed on January 27, 2022, where community members were able to choose if their school community should fall under the jurisdiction of the new school board. The school board will be established this year and authority for the provision of K-12 education for the following school communities are on track to transfer to the board for the 2022–23 school year:

  • Chief Zzeh Gittlit School, Old Crow;
  • Ross River School, Ross River;
  • St. Elias Community School, Haines Junction;
  • Johnson Elementary and Watson Lake Secondary, Watson Lake;
  • Nelnah Bessie John School, Beaver Creek;
  • Takhini Elementary School, Whitehorse; and
  • Grey Mountain Primary, Whitehorse.

The Yukon First Nation Education Directorate, the Department of Education and Elections Yukon will work closely over the coming days and months to ensure the new school board will continue to progress and be ready for the 2022–23 school year. This will include the election of the five First Nation School Board trustees.

The schools remain public schools bound by the Education Act and will continue to deliver the British Columbia K–12 curriculum and graduation program.

Today, Yukoners have chosen reconciliation through their “yes” votes for the First Nation School Board. This historic day will reverberate throughout Turtle Island as the day a colonial government ceded responsibility of the administration of its schools to the first peoples of this land in a landmark agreement promising collaboration, inclusivity and good governance – to improve the outcomes of all Yukon students. This milestone is long in the making – it has been nearly 50 years since Yukon First Nations Chiefs demanded authority over education in Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow. Today, we celebrate. Tomorrow, the hard work begins.

Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation Chief and Chair of Chiefs Committee on Education Dana Tizya-Tramm

This is a historic moment for the Yukon as we move to establish the Yukon First Nation School Board. I know that Yukoners are celebrating these efforts that will improve the educational outcomes for all of our students across the territory for years to come. I want to thank everyone who participated throughout this process. We have made incredible strides and I am excited to see this new school board established in the days and months ahead.

Minister of Education Jeanie McLean

Quick facts

  • The Yukon First Nation School Board Agreement was signed by 10 Yukon First Nations in June 2021 and allows for the creation of a First Nation School Board using the processes outlined in the Education Act.
  • Moving forward with the school board will allow Yukon First Nations and their citizens to assume greater responsibility for the administration and management of education programs for students in their communities.

Information on the First Nation School Board:

As of December 2021, nine schools submitted resolutions and petitions to join the First Nation School Board for the 2022–23 school year. They are:

  • J.V. Clark School;
  • Nelnah Bessie John;
  • Takhini Elementary School;
  • Chief Zzeh Gittlit School;
  • Grey Mountain Primary School;
  • Johnson Elementary School and Watson Lake Secondary School, including 1 referendum;
  • Ross River School; and
  • St. Elias Community School.

To join the school board, residents of the school’s attendance area as well as parents with a child attending one of these schools voted by submitting mail-in ballots and in-person voting, over several weeks in January with a result of 50 per cent plus one in favour.

Information on the First Nation School Board Agreement:

Forty-eight years ago, Chiefs from 12 Yukon First Nations presented Together Today for our Children Tomorrow to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, stating their intent to reclaim their inherent rights as Indigenous peoples of Yukon with the control of education for First Nations as a pillar.

In 2018, the Chiefs Committee on Education (CCOE) was reestablished to negotiate a framework agreement for First Nations education. In 2019, the Government of Yukon and the CCOE agreed to explore the creation of a Yukon First Nation School Board under the provisions of the Education Act. This collaboration resulted in the agreement to establish the Yukon First Nation School Board. This agreement is a first step forward in reclaiming the rightful authority and control over education for our Yukon First Nations and all Indigenous students.

The 2009 and 2019 Auditor General’s Report on Education highlighted that more had to be down to meet the needs of First Nation learners in the territory. Created by the Chief’s Committee on Education (CCOE), the Yukon First Nation Education Directorate provides multi-tiered, wrap-around solutions to these long-unaddressed gaps and failures. The Government of Yukon, CCOE and YFNED share the common goal of providing high quality and culturally appropriate education systems for all Yukon students based on an Indigenous world view.


Renée Francoeur
Cabinet Communications
[email protected]

Katharine Sandiford
Communications Director, Yukon First Nation Education Directorate
[email protected]

Erin Scott
Communications, Department of Education
[email protected]


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