Category: Elaine Taylor Letters

Tourism’s success is built on partnerships

Elaine Taylor, MLA for Whitehorse WestAs submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Thursday, June 30, 2016
by Elaine Taylor, Minister of Tourism and Culture

Tourism has always been a key sector for Yukon and it continues to be an important part of our economy. Every visitor who enters our territory spends an average of $82 per day in the summer and $150 per day in the winter. That’s new money that flows directly into our economy driving job creation and creating a better quality of life for our families.

Contained within the 2016/2017 territorial budget are a number of strategic investments in support of Yukon’s tourism industry. Most significant is the commitment of $2.7 million for the continuation of the ever successful Yukon Now marketing program. Yukon Now is not only the single largest investment in tourism marketing but is perhaps the most successful program ever to be undertaken in Yukon’s history.

I would like to acknowledge and thank the Tourism Industry Association of Yukon and the Yukon Chamber of Commerce for sharing their vision to increase the awareness of Yukon as a travel destination and to see a greater investment in television marketing.

Yukoners can be justifiably proud of the commercials that were produced and the contribution of Yukoners, industry and government.

Over the past decade, First Nations have experienced a tremendous cultural resurgence through the sharing of stories, song, dance and art. We’ve seen the creation of new festivals such as Adäka, celebrations such as Hà Kus Teyea biennial gathering and the inaugural drum and dance festival that was held in Haines Junction last summer.

We’ve seen the emergence of dance groups such as the Dakhká Kwáan dancers. We’ve seen the construction of new cultural centres, such as the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre and the Da Kų House in Haines Junction, and are seeing new tourism experiences emerging throughout the territory. This rich cultural tradition is a key piece of what attracts visitors to our territory and is an important part of what makes Yukon unique.

The Yukon First Nations Culture and Tourism Association (YFNCTA) has played an integral role in the development of Yukon First Nations’ arts, culture and tourism sectors. Recently, we were pleased to sign a partnership agreement with YFNCTA that reflects the importance of supporting and strengthening Yukon’s tourism and culture sectors. Our government was also pleased to support their work with an increase of $100,000 in annual operational funding, for a total of $160,000.

This year, we have also committed $1.84 million in support of the 11 Yukon museums and the seven Yukon First Nation cultural centres, growing the overall budget by more than 300 per cent since 2002.

Minister Elaine Taylor and Yukon First Nations Culture and Tourism Association president Shirlee Frost sign a new increased funding agreement in March.

Minister Elaine Taylor and Yukon First Nations Culture and Tourism Association president Shirlee Frost sign a new increased funding agreement in March.

We are improving Yukon government campgrounds with $248,000 in this year’s budget for campground infill and expansion, as well as $52,000 for basic infrastructure upgrades to outhouses, fire pits, docks, signage and kiosks. In addition, $50,000 will go towards developing universal access around our campgrounds, particularly for mobility-challenged visitors. We have also extended the camping season with earlier openings and later closings and opened Yukon’s first new campground in almost 30 years, Conrad Campground on Windy Arm.

The budget also includes approximately $56 million for highways, roads, bridges and airports. These investments are also integral to the growth of tourism and a driver of job creation across the territory.

As we look to this year, a weaker Canadian dollar, lower oil prices, strong air access, and increased awareness of Yukon as a travel destination all bode well in favour of a strong tourism economy in Yukon.

Looking further ahead, Yukon is looking forward to celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary and the 75th anniversary of the Alaska Highway with visitors and the rest of Canada.

I would like to acknowledge and thank the many individuals, organizations and governments for the work being done to promote Yukon as a larger than life destination, providing exceptional and unique experiences to visitors.

The Yukon government is a proud partner with the shared goal of creating and maintaining a strong, vibrant and sustainable tourism industry. Through partnerships, we can ensure that tourism remains a vibrant, strong contributor to Yukon’s economy.

All Yukoners have a role in ending the crisis of violence in our communities

Elaine Taylor, MLA for Whitehorse WestAs submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, February 19, 2016
by Elaine Taylor, Minister responsible for the Women’s Directorate

Last week I had the privilege of co-chairing an event that was profound, moving, and of the utmost importance to the future of Indigenous women and girls in Yukon, and across Canada.

The Yukon Regional Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was held on Friday at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre. With me as co-chairs were Kwanlin Dün First Nation Chief Doris Bill and Yukon Aboriginal Women’s Council president Doris Anderson. We were also joined by Premier Pasloski, Minister of Justice Brad Cathers, Yukon MP Larry Bagnell and many others.

The purpose of the forum was to bring together government leaders, agencies, communities and families to discuss and develop shared objectives on how we can work collaboratively to address this prevalent issue in our territory and our nation.

A guiding principle of the Yukon Regional Roundtable was to meaningfully integrate the voices of the families of Yukon’s missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, who met on December 12 at a family gathering.

It was also an opportunity for government leaders, the RCMP and other key organizations to hear directly from more than 70 family members who shared their stories about grieving, the lack of adequate support, and the isolation they’ve experienced.

The day was marked by informative yet difficult discussions, and the stories we heard had a profound effect on each and every one of us.

The roundtable was a forum to connect, reflect on what is being done, discuss what is working and identify priority areas for further collaborative action in preparation for the second National Roundtable later this month, and for the upcoming National Inquiry.

We have committed to moving forward on this issue, and together signed a declaration to advance our collective work to address violence against Indigenous women and girls. We also made a commitment to hold another family gathering to keep the conversation going and ensure that Yukon families continue to be heard.

Planning for the Yukon roundtable has been underway since last February, when Premier Darrell Pasloski, Chief Bill, Teslin Tlingit Council Chief Carl Sidney and other representatives attended the first National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Ottawa.

Holding a family gathering and a Yukon roundtable were two of the recommendations that came from that meeting. The Yukon delegation also supported the call by national Aboriginal leaders to hold a national inquiry into the issue.

The Government of Yukon has been actively working on this issue for several years, both nationally and here at home. We’ve held two regional summits and participated in four National Aboriginal Women’s Summits. We also continue to ensure that initiatives are designed and delivered by Aboriginal women who are committed to reducing the disproportionate levels of violence.

Since 2004 the Yukon government has provided $1.9 million to the Prevention of Violence against Aboriginal Women Fund. We have contributed $900,000 to implement the recommendations of both Yukon Aboriginal Women’s Summits. And we have also provided $682,000 to Yukon Aboriginal women’s organizations through the Women’s Equality Fund since its inception in 2007.

All Yukoners have a role in finding a solution to the crisis of violence in our communities. This is an issue that affects us all, and therefore requires a collective response.

On behalf of the Government of Yukon, I reaffirm our commitment to preventing and addressing violence against Indigenous women and girls.

I would also like to acknowledge the incredible strength and resilience of the family members who shared their stories at the roundtable. My deepest gratitude goes out to them, and to all Yukoners who are working together towards a future where all members of our communities can live without fear of violence.

Celebrating and preserving Yukon’s heritage and culture

Elaine Taylor, MLA for Whitehorse WestAs submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, February 12, 2016
by Elaine Taylor, Minister of Tourism and Culture

This past week I was pleased to make two announcements in support of Yukon heritage and culture.

On February 4th, I was happy to announce that the Yukon government is moving ahead with plans to increase storage space at the Yukon Archives, to enable the continued collection and preservation of Yukon’s valuable historic legacy.

The Archives houses an irreplaceable collection of materials that are unique to Yukon’s history and culture. It includes government records dating back to 1896, more than 150,000 photographs, corporate records, private manuscripts, maps, plans, newspapers and more. Many of the older items are fragile or unstable, and require special storage and handling.

Keeping the collection safe for years to come is essential. This is why the Yukon government is committing $6.3 million in 2016/17 – subject to legislative approval – to increase the Archives’ storage capacity from its current 1,000 square meters, to approximately 1,550 square meters.

The new storage space will include increased storage for paper records, a separate cold storage for unstable materials such as films and negatives, and a separate vault for digital records. The project will also improve the Archives’ energy efficiency, and will extend the functional life of the existing storage areas.

Construction of the new storage space will be managed by the Department of Highways and Public Works. Work is scheduled to begin this summer and is anticipated to be completed in 2017.

Two days ago, I was joined by Premier Pasloski at the MacBride Museum, where we made a funding announcement of $450,000 for the engineering, architectural design, site preparation and planning for a new expansion to the museum.

The MacBride Museum first opened its doors back in 1952 – for sixty-four years now it has been preserving and presenting Yukon’s history to visitors and residents alike.
Back then, the museum’s entire collection was housed in the government Telegraph Office, which was built in 1900 and still stands in its original location.

The MacBride cares for more than 30,000 important photographs, documents and other historic objects. Like all of our museums and cultural centres, it plays a significant role in Yukon’s social fabric, gives us a sense of our roots and contributes to our identity as Yukoners.

A 3,000 square foot expansion to the museum was completed in 2007. Despite this, only a fraction of the museum’s collection can be displayed at any time, and that collection continues to grow.

Though it has served Yukoners well for many years, the museum is, quite simply, full. The MacBride has many more stories it could tell, if only it had the space to do so. It needs room for new exhibitions, travelling shows, and safe artefact storage.

For this reason, our government is very pleased to make this investment that will not only assist the museum in moving the project forward but will also leave a lasting heritage legacy for Yukoners and for all Canadians.

Museums and First Nations cultural centres play a key role in preserving, interpreting and promoting Yukon’s rich heritage. They are also among the most popular visitor attractions in Yukon, welcoming more than 125,000 visitors every year, contributing to a strong economy.

Over the years, we have seen tremendous growth in the heritage community including the number of museums and cultural centres there are in the territory. Back in 2002, the Yukon government provided core funding to nine museums and cultural centres. We now provide funding to 18.

I am very proud to say that in the coming fiscal year, the overall budget supporting museums and cultural centers has grown by more than 300 per cent since 2002. In 2016/17, our museum funding will total $1.86 million, 20 per cent more than in 2013/14.

Our government is a proud partner and our ongoing commitment will help these institutions continue to safeguard and interpret our heritage, and to share it with the world.

Building our brand, creating jobs and growing capacity

Elaine Taylor, MLA for Whitehorse WestAs submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, October 23, 2015
by Elaine Taylor, Minister of Tourism and Culture

On Wednesday evening, I was honoured to join the cast, crew and many Yukon stakeholders in the unveiling of five new Yukon tourism television commercials.

The commercials are a key part of Yukon Now, a $3.6 million territorial/federal investment, the single largest investment ever made in Yukon tourism marketing.

Investing in this area is key in helping build further awareness of Yukon as a travel destination and generating revenue for Yukon businesses. Making Canadians aware of Yukon as a place to travel is the first step in encouraging them to make the decision to visit. This is the primary objective of Yukon Now.

The commercials are a direct response to industry and the vision shared by Yukon’s tourism industry to see greater investment in television marketing in a growing domestic market. Specifically, the initiative means that made-in-Yukon television commercials will proudly show the beauty, majesty, history and rich culture Yukon has to offer visitors from Canada and beyond.

Yukoners across the territory will have an opportunity to view this exciting suite of tourism commercials during community visits in November.

Last February, the Yukon Now marketing program was launched with the airing of our first made-in-Yukon commercial. The ad, celebrating the beauty of the northern lights, aired over 500 times on 24 different conventional and specialty channels, and was seen over 33 million times.

Following the launch, traffic to the Travel Yukon website nearly doubled in February as compared to the same month last year. Our territory also enjoyed a corresponding increase in the number of visitors in February, March and April.

In the coming year, this and the remaining five new commercials will be broadcast to millions of Canadians on conventional and specialty TV channels across the country. The commercials, in their entirety, feature Yukon’s history, culture and authentic Yukon stories, two set in our winter season and four in the summer.

We’re very proud of the fact that Yukon Now has and continues to involve Yukoners in many ways, more than any other marketing program in the past, representing the hard work of many stakeholders and partners.

More than 160 talented Yukoners made up the vast majority of the production crew and the cast. Over 45 local business were involved and 75 per cent of the total budget for making the commercials was spent here in Yukon.

The production of the six commercials created invaluable training and employment opportunities within Yukon’s film and sound industry, making this perhaps the biggest legacy of all.

I want to thank all of the many Yukoners involved in every stage of these commercials.I would like to acknowledge the Tourism Industry Association of Yukon and the Yukon Chamber of Commerce for championing this important initiative. My thanks also goes to our stakeholders for their vital input and feedback, including the Yukon First Nations Culture & Tourism Association, Wilderness Tourism Association of Yukon, the Klondike Visitors Association, the Tourism Marketing Committee, the Screen Production Yukon Association and the Yukon Film Society. And finally, I want to express my appreciation for the hard work and creativity shown by all in every stage of the production.

In addition to the investment in commercials within the Yukon Now marketing campaign is the award-winning digital storytelling and user-generated content initiatives. Tourism Yukon and our marketing agency, Outside the Cube, recently won a national award of excellence for the most innovative public relations campaign for both. The digital storytelling project uses locally-produced short videos to convey Yukon stories while the user-generated content project features photographs, videos and written content from Yukoners and visitors showcasing their Yukon experiences.

Yukon Now is complemented by a strategically-focused overseas component which has included trade missions to Japan, China, Britain and German-speaking Europe in the past few years. As well, by partnering with the Association franco-yukonnaise (L’AFY), we are strengthening relationships with tour operators in France. AFY has maintained a presence at key travel trade shows and this past summer Tourism Yukon hosted French tour product managers here.

Yukon’s tourism industry as a whole is filled with dedicated and passionate people who are very excited to share Yukon with the rest of the country and indeed the rest of the world. By working together, we are achieving positive results and contributing to Yukon’s success as the best place to visit, live and raise a family.

Resource protection, interpretive services and research ongoing at Herschel Island-Qikiqtaruk Territorial Park

Elaine Taylor, MLA for Whitehorse WestWade Istchenko

As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, August 21st, 2015
by Elaine Taylor, Minister of Tourism & Culture and Wade Istchenko, Minister of Environment

As ministers for the departments of Environment and Tourism & Culture, we were fortunate to visit Herschel Island recently and observe the excellent work taking place at Herschel Island-Qikiqtaruk Territorial Park.

The island is Yukon’s most northerly point, approximately five kilometres off our northern coast, and is home to more than 100 species of birds along with caribou and muskoxen. In addition to its fascinating flora and fauna, the park is of great historical importance to our territory. The land has been used for centuries for hunting, shelter and as a meeting place by the Inuvialuit. In the 1890s, whalers established a community at Pauline Cove due to its deep, safe harbour. The park was created in 1987 as a result of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement. Its purpose is to conserve and protect wildlife and habitat, protect heritage resources, and allow for ongoing traditional use by the Inuvialuit.

During our recent visit, with the assistance of the Yukon government’s park rangers, we were able to see first-hand how the park is managed and hear directly from staff and visitors about their experience. It was valuable to see the excellent collaboration of our two departments, with Environment administering and managing the park, and Tourism and Culture managing the heritage resources found there for the benefit of Yukon residents and visitors.

A team of park rangers from the department of Environment monitors natural and historical resources, conducts patrols and surveys, and provides interpretive services to visitors. The park rangers also assist Parks Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard with search and rescue, and are true ambassadors for the island. They collect data, such as weather conditions, ice conditions, bird migration, and the condition and abundance of vegetation within established sampling areas, which in turn the Yukon government shares with researchers around the world.

Staff from Tourism and Culture work at the park to restore, conserve and document the history and historical structures that remain on the island, which include 12 standing buildings (dating from 1893 to 1930), several subterranean ice houses and many burial sites.

Given that the average temperature in the Arctic has risen three to four degrees over the past 50 years, changes to the permafrost and ground temperature are carefully monitored. Our departments work collaboratively to manage Herschel Island’s precious heritage resources and monitor any effects that are caused by the changing climate.

The park also allows Yukon to provide important contributions to science at an international level. During our visit, we met with researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute of Germany. They are doing field studies on the island to examine the rates of ground warming and deterioration of the permafrost. Researchers from McGill and Carleton universities have also worked on projects at Herschel Island. Other research includes collaboration between the Wegener Institute and the University of Edinburgh, with logistical support from Yukon government, to measure long-term vegetation plots to help understand growth trends. The department of Environment’s Ecological and Landscape Classification Program is also undertaking a full mapping project this year on the island, in cooperation with the Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope), to inform future wildlife management decisions.

One aspect of the strength and value of Herschel Island’s contributions is that data has been collected continuously there for more than 20 years. This longevity and continuity in scientific data collection can be seen in only a few areas of the circumpolar world, and it is part of what makes Herschel Island such an important contributor to research on an international level.

Last year, just over 400 people visited the park, which is accessible by boat and aircraft in the summer. This year, two cruise ship visits are expected, in addition to commercially-guided and private visits. Site visits are strictly controlled – with staff monitoring the effects visitors are having on the environment and artifacts.

Visitors to the park normally include cruise ship passengers, Inuvialuit, researchers, tourists, Yukon government employees, sailboat travelers and Coast Guard staff. This year, we were privileged to be among those visitors. Our trip to Herschel Island was a fascinating experience for both of us and we are proud that the Government of Yukon supports the important historical preservation and scientific research work taking place in this unique and remarkable place.