Lack of diversity no laughing matter
I read the letter you published regarding the lack of diversity at the Whitehorse organization ‘Yukonstruct.’ The writer’s style of humour elevated an important message. I am glad that humour can be used in this way.
However, the absence of diversity is not a funny issue for most people. In the context of Indigeneity, our politicians and leaders talk about how much they are doing to promote and progress reconciliation. They point to all of the money they give to this and that but money is not the only thing that matters to bringing about change.
I have been to a number of public events at Yukonstruct and enjoyed the entertainment, food and beverages. However, not once have I seen Indigenous food, culture or First Nation languages celebrated or even mentioned.
They have many prominently displayed acknowledgements of their government funders and sponsors throughout their building, website and social media channels. Yet there is not even a simple acknowledgement of traditional territories anywhere.
Most organizations in our vibrant Yukon communities embrace Indigeneity while Indigenous people also warmly embrace other cultures. So why doesn’t a well-established public organization like Yukonstruct think to consider acknowledging First Nation lands and peoples? This simple act of respect is one of the easiest Calls to Action established by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Yukonstruct's 'North Light' building was launched as a place of collaboration and partnership but anyone who has actually stepped foot inside the building would probably tell you that it is quite exclusive-feeling in there with an atmosphere of locked in high-security. There are no accessible gathering spaces for the public inside or outside the building.
As far as I can make out from their website, there are no Indigenous board members or staff at the organization. Sure, they might say “we tried our best to bring Indigenous people into our organization but we were unsuccessful.” If that is the case, then perhaps the question the managers should be asking themselves is “why don’t Indigenous people see value in our organization and what it stands for?”
Reconciliation is in danger of becoming a buzz word. The Yukon needs to see real leadership and true vision before our big organizations will start to change. As long as the people behind the organizations take the money and say “yes” every time to the people writing their cheques, things will stay the same.