New project aims to help Yukon Indigenous artists cut through red tape

A new Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Yukon and Canada Council for the Arts was signed on last week to promote Indigenous artists in the Yukon.

Territorial and national governments to set aside $350,000 for Indigenous outreach position

Director and CEO of the Canada Council for the Arts Simon Brault, Jesse Wente Chairperson of the Canada Council for the Arts and Yukon's Minister of Tourism and Culture Ranj Pillai hold the new Memorandum of Understanding between the two organizations on Wednesday morning. (Sissi De Flaviis/CBC)

The Yukon Government and the Canada Council for the Arts have partnered on a pilot project to support Indigenous artists in the Yukon.

The two-year project has a $350,000 budget to create and hire an Indigenous outreach position in the territory. This person will help Indigenous artists apply for funding while helping develop the artists' careers. 

Simon Brault, the Council's Director and CEO, said he hopes the program helps to remove some of the systematic barriers artists face in the country.

"What we need to do is really, not trying to convince people from the North to fit our boxes in the south, but really support them in their own terms and work ground up as opposed to top down," said Brault.

Ranj Pillai, Yukon's Minister of Tourism and Culture, said the project will allow artists to focus on the creativity aspect of their craft, while the future hire will be "somebody that helps them orientate but also supports them through that journey" of logistics and red tape.

Ranj Pillai signing the new agreement at the firepit at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre. (Sissi De Flaviis/CBC)

Jesse Wente, the chair of the council, said he was "over the moon" during the signing ceremony at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre on June 29.

Wente said the agreement is well timed since Canadians are becoming more in tune with Indigenous history. 

"The country is sort of looking at itself maybe a bit differently regarding itself, and it's wanting to have a more fulsome exploration of its place and its history and all the stories that exist here," he said.

As an Indigenous person himself, Wente said this particular project is important to him due to his background and passion for arts and culture.

"I hope to see more, more and more arts coming out of of the Yukon and out of the the artists here," he said.

The territorial and national partnership was born out co-hosting the 2022 Arctic Arts Summit.

Although a timeline has yet to be determined, Pillai said the next steps include recruitment and establishing a structure for the position. 


Sissi De Flaviis


Sissi De Flaviis is a Venezuelan-born reporter/editor for CBC News in Whitehorse, Yukon. She previously worked at CBC Ottawa. Contact her at