'A long time coming': Dana Tizya-Tramm among elected trustees for Yukon First Nation School Board

Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm in front of the Porcupine River in Old Crow in July. On Monday, Tizya-Tramm was elected as one of 5 trustees for the new Yukon First Nation School Board. (Jackie Hong/CBC  - image credit)
Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm in front of the Porcupine River in Old Crow in July. On Monday, Tizya-Tramm was elected as one of 5 trustees for the new Yukon First Nation School Board. (Jackie Hong/CBC - image credit)

It's been a long-time goal for Dana Tizya-Tramm to help revolutionize education for Indigenous people.

Now, as an elected trustee to Yukon's newly-formed First Nation School Board, he'll have the chance to continue that work.

"It's been a long time coming," said Tizya-Tramm. "And this wonderful opportunity is here."

He'll be joined by trustees Shadelle Chambers, Erin Pauls, Jocelyn Joe-Strack and Gillian Staveley, each of whom were elected to a three-year term for the First Nation School Board, according to official results released Tuesday by Elections Yukon.

Growing up, Tizya-Tramm said he was a "failed student" and that the education system had failed him too.

He said being on the board now is a way for him to help pave the way for youth to have a better experience than he did.

"We're talking about a paradigm shift in our society, to open up our society in a meaningful way and a relevant way to youth so that they can participate in our systems, instead of rejecting them," he said.

"Being on the first First Nation school board … gives me a lot of hope."

Tizya-Tramm is currently the chief of Vuntut Gwitchin. He announced earlier this year that he would not seek another term as chief in the First Nation's election later this month.

'Honoured and humbled,' says new trustee

Meanwhile, Chambers, who is also the executive director of the Council of Yukon First Nations, said she feels "very honoured and humbled" to be a school board trustee.

In her role with the Council of Yukon First Nations, she helped support the creation of the Yukon First Nations Education Directorate.

"Education is so important to our communities," she said. "They needed their own organization and their own mandate to really focus on education. So it's been great to see the evolution over the last number of years … I look forward to bringing some of my experience."

Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada
Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada

In the coming weeks, she said the new trustees will be doing orientation with the interim previous boards.

"I think that I still have a lot to learn about this, but it is an exciting opportunity," she said.

The First Nation School Board has eight schools under its jurisdiction. Chambers said the school board represents an opportunity to design more inclusive education for First Nation communities.

"I'd love to see a Yukon First Nations-led schools with immersion-based programs, and really building the cultural competency and language acquisition skills of our communities," Chambers said.

"I mean, that's my vision and what I hope to be able to bring in some of those pieces. It's really important to hear from the students and the families in the communities and schools about what they would want to see."

Results for francophone school board

On Tuesday, the official results for the voted-in trustees for the Commission scolaire francophone du Yukon school board were also announced.

Jean-Sébastien Blais, Jessica Masson Guerette, Myriam Bougie, Véronique Maggiore and Jesse Cooke were elected to the board.

Official results confirmed 114 people voted in the French school board election, while 219 voted in the First Nation board election.

Yukon's chief electoral officer says he's happy with voter turnout in Monday's elections. Maxwell Harvey said turnout for the Commission scolaire francophone du Yukon was up 40 per cent over last time.

Philippe Morin/CBC
Philippe Morin/CBC

Harvey said there were more options for voting including, for the first time in the territory, online voting.

"We did do a lot of work preparing for the internet vote. It was new. We did lots of research of the internet vote," Harvey said.

"We were confident there was a very appropriate option for Yukoners given that we have electors, 9,000 we estimate, all across the territory."

Harvey said Elections Yukon is waiting for surveys that ask voters what they thought of the process.