Honouring the Past, Touching the Future: Twenty-Two Years of Aboriginal Teacher Education in the Yukon
Recommendations for a Yukon First Nations focused teacher education program date back to 1972; however, this was not acted on until 1989 with the establishment of the Yukon Native Teacher Education Program (YNTEP). Though a ground-breaking initiative in First Nations’ education in the Yukon, YNTEP is not unique. It is one of many small Aboriginal teacher training programs established in various Canadian locations since the 1960s, as community-based teacher training opportunities reflecting local needs in largely Aboriginal communities. This article provides a detailed history of YNTEP set within the historical context of Aboriginal teacher education in western and northern Canada and in relation to the historical and political context of the Yukon at the time of YNTEP’s founding. This includes a short history of public education as it pertains to Yukon First Nations—from mission schools to public schools to post-secondary training and education. I argue that YNTEP, as the first degree program in the Yukon specifically for students of First Nations ancestry, is one of the first tangible realizations of early land claims commitments and that the establishment of this program is a credit to two fronts: unwavering Yukon First Nations leadership, and forward-thinking government officials and educators of the time who recognized that the continuing colonization processes in public school education would not change without the influence of Yukon First Nations educators.
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