The Yukon Territory sits in the northwest corner of Canada, and is located north of the province of British Columbia and west of the Northwest Territories. At 483, 450 square kilometres it covers 4.8% of Canada’s total land mass, and is the ninth largest provincial/territorial jurisdiction in the nation.
The population of the Yukon is 38,455 people (YG, 2017), and 29,758 of that population (or 75%) live in or around Whitehorse, the territory’s capital. In addition to Whitehorse, only three Yukon communities out of 14 count more than 500 people (Dawson City, Haines Junction and Watson Lake). Yukon’s Indigenous people are referred to as ‘First Nations’, and they make up approximately 21% of the total Yukon population (Yukon Government, 2017). There are 14 First Nations in the territory, and eight language groups Land claim settlements in the Yukon between 1993 and 2006 have provided recognition and authority for 11 of the 14 First Nations communities to self-govern and direct their own future development (https://cyfn.ca).
The Territory’s legendary climate boasts the coldest ever recorded temperature of – 63 °C at Snag in 1947. However, while having a severe cold climate remains an essential Yukon characterization, recorded average minimum temperatures for January for the 1971 to 2000 period range from a more moderate – 24 °C to – 20 °C for Whitehorse, and – 34 °C to – 30 °C for Dawson City. Whitehorse temperatures especially are not dissimilar to the recorded mean minimum temperatures for southern Canadian regions, as is evident in average minimums for Edmonton (-19 °C to –15 °C), Saskatoon, Regina and Winnipeg (-24 °C to – 20 °C), and Ottawa and Montreal (-19 °C to -15 °C). There is growing evidence that climate change will impact Yukon temperatures in the next three decades by increases of as much as 3 to 4 °C during the winter months.
Economic development in the territory since the 1898 gold rush has primarily been characterized by “boom-and-bust” mining cycles in a manner that typify many of Canada’s natural resource dependent towns and regions. Tourism is promoted as the second largest industry in the territory after mining, and “tourism industries impact nearly all other sectors” (http://www.gov.yk.ca/aboutyukon/industry.html). In 2015, it was reported that the Yukon had the highest growth in tourism jobs when compared to other provinces and territories in Canada (Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon, 2015). Yukon’s communities, organizations and its First Nations are actively engaged with tourism for community and economic development.
Winter tourism appears to be a growing phenomenon in the Yukon. There is yet to be much research on what is happening; but anecdotally, the evidence points to the fact that winter tourism is on the rise (Winter tourism ‘totally crazy’ in Yukon, CBC, January 10, 2017, http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/tourism-yukon-winter-1.3928414). Travel Yukon, the Yukon Government’s tourism website actively promotes the season to visitors: Tourism Yukon – Winter the way it’s supposed to be Breathe in the crisp, cool air. Feel the snow crunch beneath your feet. All around you the mountains and trees sparkle under a bright blue sky. This is winter in the Yukon, and the possibilities are endless: Winter is the longest season, spanning five months from November until the end of March. It may be dark, cold and snowy, but you’ll soon find out why that makes Yukon winters all the better (https://www.travelyukon.com/en/discover/seasons/winter).
- Getting to the Yukon: http://www.travelyukon.com/basic-page/getting-here-air
- Travel information: www.travelyukon.ca
- About Yukon communities: http://www.yukoncommunities.yk.ca
- Whitehorse “The Wilderness City”: http://whitehorse.ca/about
- About Yukon First Nations: https://cyfn.ca/nations
- First Nation 101 – 6 hour online introduction to Yukon First Nations (Northern Institute for Social Justice [NISJ]/Council of Yukon First Nations [CYFN]): https://www.yukoncollege.yk.ca/programs/courses/yfn-001
- About Yukon First Nations self-governance: http://mappingtheway.ca/
- About Yukon First Nations tourism: http://yfnct.ca/
- Adäka First Nations Cultural Festival (Whitehorse): http://www.adakafestival.ca/
- See also “Journeys to Adäka” movie trailer – Sagafish Media: https://vimeo.com/217345878
- Yukon Government, Department of Tourism and Culture: http://www.tc.gov.yk.ca/index.html
- Yukon statistics: http://www.eco.gov.yk.ca/stats/ybs.html
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