Statement from Kaaxnox, Dän Nätthe Äda on the creation of a First Nation School Board

Statement from Kaaxnox, Dän Nätthe Äda on the creation of a First Nation School Board


January 31, 2022

 Dakwäkäda (Haines Junction, Yukon) Champagne and Aishihik First Nations (CAFN) is thrilled the community has voted in favour of a First Nation School Board for St. Elias Community School.

We are happy to take this first real step in building a better educational future for our people.  A school where every child has access to learning based on their own unique strengths.  It means more kids staying in school, graduating, and leaving high school better prepared for life, jobs, university, trades, and ready to contribute to a stronger, healthier community.

CAFN is proud to help carry on the vision Elijah Smith, Paul Birckel, Harry Allen and other Yukon leaders had when they prepared Together Today for our Children Tomorrow.  This is a huge step forward, but our work and journey isn’t over. It is just beginning.

Shäw nithän to the CAFN staff who have been working on this for years and to all those who worked hard during the referendum to support our Citizens in exercising their collective power to change the course of history.

We are also honoured to be part of this work with people who stood shoulder to shoulder to bring this change for our children forward – the leadership from Yukon First Nations who collectively pressed for change, and the communities that came together to make it happen.

Forming the First Nation School Board and local Community Committee to lead education in the Yukon and the CAFN Traditional Territory will take time, hard work and many people to step up to help.  CAFN looks forward to offering support as they begin their critical new roles.

Everyone in Dakwäkäda/Haines Junction has a role to play in building something better for our kids.  To the grandmas, grandpas, aunties, uncles, moms and dads in our community, your stories and wisdom are so important as we move forward together.  To our experts on the land, and our Dákwänjē students and teachers, you are essential to help build this new path.

This discussion and referendum process has been challenging at times – Zoom meetings and Facebook chats are not the same as face-to-face discussions with our friends and neighbors.

But the active conversation in our community has helped bring understanding and support.  And we know that respectful conversation must continue so we can grow as a community together.

To every person who voted YES, gunałchish – thank you.  We hear you.

To every person who voted no, thank you.  We hear you too.

We had a very high voter turnout. We know people in this community care a lot about our kids, but this isn’t for the adults.  This is for all our children today and all our children to come.  No child should be left behind, feel less than, or fall through the cracks.  Every child matters.

The referendum outcome is not about winning or a victory. It’s not about retaliation or retribution, or imposing our way after generations of harms to our people.

It is a new story where there is a place for everyone. 


Kaaxnox, Dän Nätthe Äda

(Steve Smith, Chief)


 For more information:

Amy McKinnon, Strategic Communications Manager

(867) 332-1973