Why We Love and Respect Whitehorse and the Yukon

By Mellisa Murray, Artist and Whitehorse City Councillor and Michelle Friesen, Yukon First Nations Woman and Whitehorse City Councillor

The Yukon truly is a magical place— the land of the midnight sun where you can explore a glacier or a desert – in the same day! Here in the Yukon, you can learn about partnerships with First Nations and how we can move forward in a spirit of reconciliation, take a self-guided tour to view beautiful murals on downtown buildings, pick up a skill at a workshop…and so much more.

The Yukon is also the land of opportunity. This is likely why this territory is at the forefront in many ways that are recognized across Turtle Island. Here are the top five reasons why we love and respect this special place:

Figure 3.4 Yukon Indigenous languages (modified by Lovell Johns from Yukon Government Map 2017).


Yukon is mapping the way in Indigenous self-determination.

Yukon is home to 14 First Nations, 11 of which have signed final self-governing agreements. This represents about half of all these agreements across Canada! 



Whitehorse was named “Canada’s Most Entrepreneurial City.”

It’s a fertile ground here for innovators and entrepreneurs! It’s important to support local and we invite you to visit some unique and wonderful downtown businesses. Check out ArcticArtsSummit.ca/yukon for our suggestions on great places to start, including Lumel Studios, uNORTHodox, Bullet Hole Bagels, YFN Arts Online Shop, Yukonstruct and more.


We are “The Wilderness City.”

Whitehorse has over 700 km of beautiful trails to enjoy—wherever you choose to explore in this beautiful “larger than life” territory, be sure to take a moment to reflect on the land you are on, whose Traditional Territory it is and the Indigenous peoples’ connection to the spaces you are enjoying.


23% of Yukon’s population is Indigenous.

More than 50% of Yukon’s Indigenous population resides in Whitehorse and there are eight Indigenous language groups in the territory. The history, culture and traditional knowledge of Indigenous peoples is preserved through language and passed down from Elders to the next generations. Try picking up a few words in an Indigenous language—and if you’re lucky enough, enjoy tea with an Elder. 


Yukon is home to many arts and cultural organizations.

From First Nations’ cultural centres across the Yukon— including Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre in Whitehorse, Danoja Zho Cultural Centre in Dawson City, Haa Shagóon Hídi in Carcross, Da Kų Culture Centre in Haines Junction— and the many vibrant arts organizations, there is a rich array of diverse programming and opportunities to gather.

Did you know …
Whitehorse rests on the Traditional Territories of the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council and Kwanlin Dün First Nation but was renamed by Klondike gold seekers who thought the wild, frothing rapids of the Yukon River running through Miles Canyon resembled the manes of charging white horses. Miles Canyon was also renamed by settlers but was once a traditional gathering ground for weddings, trade and harvesting.