In 1963, burgeoning industries were eager to hire graduates who knew the lay of the land. Whitehorse Vocation and Training Centre opened its doors to equip students with training during this exciting time. Twenty years later we became Yukon College. A strong foundation in training excellence set the stage for emerging education to meet the needs of the North.
In 2020, Yukon College was granted university status, and all thirteen campuses were renamed Yukon University.
Guided by Yukon First Nations
We honour, respect and are guided by Yukon First Nations' leadership and wisdom and we are deeply committed to advancing reconciliation in all we do. Representatives from each Yukon First Nation guide curriculum development that integrates cultures, worldviews, and ensures our programs and services meet the needs of First Nations.
Our vision to become a thriving learning and research community is rooted in the beautiful Traditional Territories of all fourteen Yukon First Nations.
Growing from northern needs
Yukon College first sat on the banks of the Yukon River in Whitehorse. Growing enrollment demanded a larger learning space, and in October 1988, the campus moved up the hill to the bluffs overlooking Whitehorse, and was gifted to the people of the Yukon with a Potlatch. Yukon First Nations were represented by Elders Mr. George Dawson (Hereditary Chief of the Ta'an Kwach'an Council), Nthenat / Mrs. Annie Ned, and Stóow Ch'óonehte' Máa / Mrs. Angela Sidney. Stóow Ch'óonehte' Máa named the campus Ayamdigut, a Tlingit name meaning “she got up and went,” to reflect our migration to a new home.
As we took root in our new home, community campuses also grew across the Yukon. By the 1990's, thirteen campuses were up and running, with an emphasis on supporting First Nations capacity building. Today, we connect students to accessible learning in person and virtually via this constellation of campuses.
At Ayamdigut, we've continued to grow welcoming spaces for learners, instructors and community. Campus Housing gives a home away from home to students far and near. The Yukon Research Centre lab was built to expand research potential, and in 2016 the Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining was built.
From the beginning, students gained exciting career and education training to meet the demands of the growing North. Throughout the 1970's-2000's Yukon College continued to offer excellence in training professionals in diverse trades, health care, mining, office administration, northern programming—and new programs were developed to meet specific needs of the North.
Our first degree program, the Bachelor of Education—Yukon Native Teacher Education (YNTEP) was created in 1989 in response to the landmark document Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow—calling for a Yukon First Nation approach to education.
Our Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) and the Northern Environmental and Conservation Sciences (ENCS) degree followed and in 2019 our first made-in-the-North degrees—the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) and the Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Governance (IGD) were created to equip learners with the knowledge and tools to become effective leaders, foster prosperity and well-being in northern communities.
The North magnetically draws people with bold ideas and unstoppable spirits to unleash their potential. The learning environment, and the land itself, provide optimal conditions to challenge yourself to reach beyond for innovative ways of thinking and doing. The result is continuous growth. For decades, students and thinkers have gathered to nourish their love of learning, and in turn, they have advanced our educational offerings, and shaped who we are today.
The expertise gained by students is applied to the needs of community, and today their work is visible in the infrastructure, organizations, health care and education systems that have grown across the Territory. Many alumni have gone on to become leaders in industries, government, community development and the arts.
We strive to empower bold thinkers and confident change leaders who set the direction for a sustainable and prosperous future.
- We continue to grow alongside a changing landscape. We must adapt quickly to climate change, technological advances and geo-political uncertainty. With the promise and potential of Canada’s first university north of 60, we approach all questions with curiosity, creativity and collaboration.
- We continue to develop bold thinkers and confident change leaders in research, cutting edge degree programs, trades training, lifelong learning and community programing.
- We take our place in advancing Reconciliation. We also see our role in advancing equity, diversity and inclusion in everything we do. We empower students, staff and faculty to achieve their fullest potential and help to create a kinder, better future for all.
- We know our northern expertise sets us apart. We continue to promote confident action in our quest for better solutions to the pressing problems of the North and the world.
YukonU Research Centre
Since the early 1990’s, the YukonU Research Centre has been home to opportunities for researchers and students to investigate complex questions, drawing on Western science and Indigenous Knowledge to share innovative solutions.
The Northern Review is a peer-reviewed publication devoted exclusively to northern issues and published north of 60 since 1988. The editors invite research articles and book reviews relating to human experience in, and thought about, the Circumpolar North.
Growing from our roots in practical, flexible training, our Continuing Studies courses empower community members across Yukon to continue education, upgrade skills or discover something entirely new.
Youth Moving Mountains connects children and youth to exciting science, technology, engineering, math and trades programs, while partnering with Yukon First Nations to bridge Traditional ways of knowing and doing. Programming is designed to spark curiosity and expand possibilities for the next generation.
For over one hundred years, mining has driven economy and innovation in the Yukon. In 2016, the state-of-the-art Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining was built to provide flexible real-world training for workers. Our research explores holistic approaches to make mining more sustainable and environmentally-aware.
Yukoners are natural innovators and entrepreneurs. Launched in 2010, Cold Climate Innovation fueled Yukoners with visionary ideas to develop new products and services, and grow a strong economy for the benefit of all.
Today, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, based in downtown Whitehorse, continues to collaborate with communities, industry, ecosystem partners and governments to support trailblazers to build impactful solutions for the North and beyond.