Yukon's new premier has deep roots in Cape Breton

Ranj Pillai was sworn in as the 10th premier of the Yukon on Jan. 14. (Julien Gignac/CBC - image credit)
Ranj Pillai was sworn in as the 10th premier of the Yukon on Jan. 14. (Julien Gignac/CBC - image credit)

Ranj Pillai has become the second Nova Scotian in a row to serve as the Yukon's premier.

He took the reins from Sidney "Sandy" Silver of Antigonish when he was sworn in on Jan.14 in Whitehorse.

Pillai is from Brook Village in Inverness County, completed high school in Antiginosh and attended university in Halifax, he told CBC Radio's Information Morning Cape Breton.

He said he was working in Halifax after graduation when close friends encouraged him to make a trip to the Yukon.

"They said, 'hey, why don't you come and visit us' — and the tale of the Yukon is always that you come for a visit and you stay for the rest of your life," he said.

"The north caught me and that was 22 years ago, and the Yukon became my home."

Chris Windeyer/CBC
Chris Windeyer/CBC

Pillai successfully ran for city council in Whitehorse in 2009 but he said he chose not to run for a second term.

He was elected as an MLA in 2016 and served in Silver's cabinet.

Pillai said it has been a "real treat" living in the Yukon after growing up in Cape Breton, describing those two places as the most beautiful in Canada.

The Yukon has a population of just over 40,000, which is about a third of Cape Breton's, he said.

Pillai's family still lives on the island and he still has "deep roots" in the community there.

"People in Inverness County over the years are so kind, and folks always made time to teach me about life and the world around me," he said.

"All of those individuals taught me that contributing to economy and service was a noble cause, and was part of the reason that I'm in politics."

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