Canada’s territories are finally getting their own university.
Whitehorse’s Yukon University, which has been a college in some iteration since 1963, is set to become the first official university in Canada’s north.
It will separate itself from other universities in the country with specific curricula relevant to the region, and a commitment to local students.
The institution will focus on Arctic, climate and environmental research, and will include Indigenous teachings across disciplines.
It will evolve as a hybrid institution, offering both high-quality undergraduate degrees — to be eventually followed by the development of post-graduate programs — as well as college-level and vocational classes.
The aim is for all students to leave with “a foundational understanding of Yukon First Nations,” the school’s director of Indigenous engagement told CTV News.
With this goal in mind, the territorial legislature and 14 Yukon First Nations will provide input for all of the school’s programming.
Though some schools in the territories have already been offering courses that students can use toward degrees at universities in other parts of Canada, Yukon University will be the first in the north to be able to grant degrees under its own name.
The school is excited to finally provide Yukon students the chance to thrive in a post-secondary environment “surrounded by their family, their culture and near their communities.“
A bill for the transition was passed by the territorial legislature this week, and the Yukon U brand will officially launch on May 8.
The first students graduating with a Yukon U degree will be from the institution’s Indigenous Governance program in May 2020.
The school’s strategic and academic plans will continue to be developed over the next few years along with some major updates: mainly to the campus and the school’s governance structure.