Yukon College celebrated 50 years as a post-secondary education institution in 2013. Since its early days in the ‘60s, the institution has been evolving. It started out as a vocational and technical training centre, opened campuses throughout the communities and became a college in the 80s, began delivering partner degrees in 1989, and saw its legislation change in 2009 to allow the conferring of Yukon College degrees. Now YC is preparing for the delivery of its first made-in-Yukon degree to commence in 2018, and the transition to university status.
Founding post secondary education in the Yukon
Fifty years ago, in June of 1963, the Whitehorse Vocational Training School opened its doors. Courses were offered in office admin, building trades, automotive mechanics, heavy equipment operation, drafting, food services, practical nursing and hairdressing. It was an exciting time for Yukon, and the start of what is today - Yukon College.
Changing names for changing times
The Whitehorse Vocational Training School founded in 1963 was renamed the Yukon Vocational and Technical Training Centre in 1965 to reflect the growing number of students from across the Yukon, as well as the expanded program offerings. In 1983 the institution changed names again, this time to Yukon College. Academic courses joined vocational trades training to offer a broad range of post secondary education to Yukon students close to home.
Since 1989 Yukon College has been delivering the Bachelor of Education degree taught by YC faculty - the Yukon Native Teacher Education - in partnership with the University of Regina. In 1995, partnering with the same university, the Bachelor of Social Work program was launched at the Ayamdigut campus. In 2009 Yukon College introduced its third partnership degree to be delivered at Yukon College – the Bachelor of Science in Environmental and Conservation Sciences with the University of Alberta. This degree is taught by both UofA and YC faculty.
Building the dream—Ayamdigut Campus
Angela Sidney bestowed the name Ayamdigut on the new 50 million dollar Yukon campus when it opened in 1988 on the bluffs above Whitehorse. The Tlingit phrase meant “she got up and went”, referencing the Whitehorse Campus move from downtown. At the official opening Mrs. Sidney expressed her thanks for the new campus where Yukon students could study close to home.
New beginnings—a Yukon Board of Governors
In 1989 the College Act was amended to establish an independent Board of Governors for Yukon College. Yukoners from all walks of life have served on the boards, establishing visionary goals for programs and services. Dedicated members bring diverse perspectives and expertise to guide the administration, faculty and staff in meeting the post secondary needs of all residents.
Warm welcome to students from around the world
In 1963, students of Asian ancestry were among the first to attend Whitehorse Vocational Training School. That tradition has continued through the years with Yukon College giving a warm welcome to students from around the world, offering English language training, northern outdoor experiential programs and a full range of academic courses to new Canadians and visiting international students. Today YC hosts nearly 100 international students each year from over 15 countries.
Student Union in action
Student Council members at the Whitehorse Vocational Training School organized dances, hockey, basketball, sewing classes, and a year book in the 1960s. Through the years, students continued to build school spirit with pub nights, sports, First Nations cultural programs, social and environmental awareness events. Today’s Student Union is an active participant in enhancing student life at Yukon College.
Research for a new north
The Northern Research Institute (NRI) was established at the new Yukon College Ayamdigut Campus in the 1990s to support research “By the North—For the North—In the North”. Renamed the Yukon Research Centre, programs today include cutting edge investigations into issues of critical concern to northerners—mine reclamation, cold climate construction, climate change impacts, community health and economic diversification. YC was awarded Tri-Council eligibility in 2006.