Yukon College shares path to reconciliation in new podcast
'We're not perfect, we've got lots of growing still to do but I think that we've made some really good moves.'
A new project from Yukon College is keeping the oral storytelling tradition alive with some help from modern technology.
Thursday, the college launched the first episode of "Walking Our Path Together" an 11-part podcast series about the institution's reconciliation journey.
"We're not perfect, we've got lots of growing still to do but I think that we've made some really good moves," says Davida Wood, director of First Nations initiatives at the college. "To be able to share that and have people hear it, I think will be an amazing opportunity."
Wood said the idea for the podcast came as a response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action. While other schools across Canada have created reconciliation plans, she said that wasn't the right approach for Yukon College.
"This is something that we've been doing for quite a long time. And so it wasn't necessarily that we felt that we just needed to make a plan but we started to realize we need to tell a story."
Wood credits the early start to the college's reconciliation journey to Yukon First Nations who she says approached the college, marking the beginning of an ongoing relationship.
"They said we need to do something different, we are not necessarily meeting their needs."
The podcast series features interviews from more than 50 Yukoners and includes stories from the college's early days as a vocational school to future aspirations for Yukon University.
Episodes focus on themes including Indigenizing curriculum, elders on campus, land-based learning and the legacies of residential school in Yukon.
"Reconciliation isn't a one-sided conversation and so it also didn't feel like it was just ours to share but we needed the community, the Yukoners, the people who we work closely with, the First Nations, to share that story with us," said Wood.
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The first episode "What does reconciliation mean?" features 19 people explaining what reconciliation means to them. Among them is Tosh Southwick, a citizen of Kluane First Nation from the Wolf Clan who is also Yukon College's associate vice-president of Indigenous engagement and reconciliation.
"Reconciliation to me at its simplest is really about working together in partnership — a true partnership," she said. "And it is about making sure First Nations in the Yukon are at every part of that conversation, whether it be about policy, whether it be about programs or services or space. And not just that they're involved in the conversation, but that their input is valued."
Episodes of "Walking Our Path Together" will be released bi-weekly until July on the college's website.
The webpage for the podcast features a birch tree from its roots underground to its yellow leaves against the Yukon landscape, and a caribou that creeps across the page.
Wood said they chose the image of a tree as it represents the college's ongoing reconciliation journey and like a tree she hopes the podcast will continue to grow beyond 11 episodes.
"A story doesn't necessarily end in the same way," she said.
"It's not as if this journey ends in the next year or two or five or ten."
With files from Sandi Coleman and Max Leighton