Government of Yukon approves College’s new Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Governance

YG and College officials celebrate launch of new degree
Yukon government and College officials celebrate launch of first made-in-Yukon degree.

WHITEHORSE—Following the recommendation of the Campus Alberta Quality Council (CAQC), the Government of Yukon has given approval to the new Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Governance at Yukon College.

The College is accepting students into the new, three-year program. Classes begin in September. The Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Governance is the first degree entirely developed and delivered in a Canadian territory.

“This first made-in-Yukon degree is a shining example of Yukon College’s commitment of collaboration with Yukon First Nations. We have developed the Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Governance in partnership with all 14 Yukon First Nations and it is much stronger due to their guidance and input,” said Dr. Karen Barnes, Yukon College President and Vice Chancellor.

“The new degree meets the academic rigour, breadth and depth of national degree standards, while Yukon First Nations contributions ensure the courses are relevant, accessible and grounded in Yukon realities,” added Dr. Barnes.

“This is an exciting step in the transition of Yukon College to Yukon University. It is fitting that our first degree is one of such critical importance and relevance to the Yukon. The Indigenous Governance program will allow students to develop the knowledge and skills they need to work with, support and lead Yukon First Nations governments,” said Tracy-Anne McPhee, Minister of Education.

“The Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Governance will be an important capacity-building tool for Yukon First Nations in our continued efforts to implement the Final and Self Government Agreements. Having this program now available to students in the Yukon is an incredible opportunity,” said Peter Johnston, Council of Yukon First Nations Grand Chief.

The Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Governance has evolved from the First Nations Governance and Public Administration (FNGPA) certificate program, which itself began as the Executive Development program—a partnership between the College, Champagne and Aishihik First Nations and Yukon government aimed at building capacity in Yukon First Nations governments.

"I’ve been involved in the development of these various programs for many years and it is exciting to realize the significant accomplishment of a made-in-Yukon degree. Developing this degree in conjunction with Yukon First Nations ensures it has day-to-day relevance and reflects the uniqueness of the Yukon’s governance circumstance. It will provide a valuable tool towards realizing the full potential of Final and Self-Government agreements," said John Burdek, Ta’an Elder.

“Yukon First Nations led the way in moving the Self Government agenda forward. It is entirely appropriate that Yukon College will lead the way in offering a degree program in Indigenous governance. The only way we can reconcile in Canada is through understanding. This new program will enable that understanding to develop, by building capacity to implement these agreements and creating a new generation of leaders,” said Judy Gingell, Yukon College Board of Governors member, former Chief of Kwanlin Dun First Nation and Former Yukon Commissioner.

“Education is a means of empowerment. When our agreements are truly understood and implemented, we will achieve reconciliation," added Gingell.

The degree includes all FNGPA courses, makes use of new Liberal Arts electives such as Language Activism and Anthropology of the State, and features six new courses: Indigenous Political Thought; Bridging Knowledges; Indigenous Peoples and Research; Indigenous Politics in Canada; The Government of Canada; and a final-year capstone project featuring both a land-based and community–based activity created in partnership with a government (Yukon First Nations, territorial or federal) or community organization.

Students will benefit from the direct experience of Yukon First Nations leaders, Elders and former Chiefs in navigating land claims, modern-day treaties, self-government and revitalizing language and culture.

Meta Williams is a student in the FNGPA certificate who plans to transfer into the new degree program.

“This is the greatest news. I am so happy there is a degree I can take here in the Yukon and don’t have to move outside to complete my education,” said Williams. “My goal is to learn about First Nations governance and have a deeper understanding of land claims and policy creation within the Yukon context. The courses in both FNGPA and the Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Governance are grounded in the Yukon experience. This will better enable me to contribute and assist in decision-making and achieve a better future for our children and grandchildren.”

A member of the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation, Williams is an Indigenous Tourism industry veteran who has worked in several Yukon First Nations communities in heritage, tourism and as a consultant.

In the 1990s, Yukon College began co-delivering a Bachelor of Social Work and Bachelor of Education in partnership with the University of Regina. In 2010, the College began co-delivery of a Bachelor of Science in Environmental and Conservation in partnership with the University of Alberta. The College also facilitates access to a Master of Public Administration, a Master of Education and a Master of Business Administration in Community Economic Development at partner universities.

Students interested in enrolling in the new degree program can attend an information session on May 23, 29 or June 7. Further information can be found at yukoncollege.yk,ca/indigenousgovernance or via email at

Dr. Andrew Richardson

Dean, Applied Arts Division

Applied Arts