Yukon First Nations Wildfire recognized with Arctic Inspiration Prize

Press release from Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor)

YFNW, a leading wildfire fighting service supported by the Government of Canada, is awarded for their program designed to provide land-based healing to Indigenous youth

February 6, 2020 — Ottawa, Ontario — A steady increase of wildfires throughout Yukon and lack of available firefighting crews within the territory has led to a rising demand for first responders. Yukon First Nations Wildfire (YFNW) is working to meet that need by providing first responders to combat wildfires and provide ongoing preventative support to reduce wildfire threats to Yukon communities.

Through their ‘Beat the Heat’ Bootcamp, YFNW has developed a Resilience Training and Healing Program to complement the firefighting program by providing land-based healing and mentorship to the 75 Indigenous youth hired as wildland firefighters.

During the 8th Annual Arctic Inspiration Prize (AIP) Awards Ceremony yesterday, YFNW was recognized for this Resilience Training and Healing Program.  While at the ceremony, the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, helped to present YFNW with the award and announced an additional $622,000to support the organization in improving fire suppression services within Yukon.

This funding was provided through the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor) to strengthen YFNW’s capacity to pursue contracting opportunities at the local, regional and national levels. The funding was also used to purchase equipment and materials to help combat wildfires in Yukon last year and to improve business and project management capacity.

Supporting projects impacting the North

The Government of Canada understands the importance of supporting projects with direct impacts in communities across the North and has provided $300,000 in funding to the AIP Charitable Trust to support recipients whose projects contain opportunities for economic development or business expansion.

These investments are being made through the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor) which supports Canadian businesses and organizations seeking to create, improve or enhance economic output, facilities and experiences. The Government of Canada will continue to make strategic investments that leverage opportunities within the territories and diversify the northern economy.

As the largest annual prize in Canada with a focus on the Arctic, the AIP encourages, enables and celebrates the inspiring achievements of the people of the North. Each year, the AIP awards up to $3 million: one $1 million prize, up to four prizes of up to $500,000 each, and up to seven youth prizes of up to $100,000 each.


“Strong regional economies are essential for Canada’s success and sustainability. Our regional development agencies are there to help businesses and innovators grow, succeed and create good jobs for Canadians. Investing in projects that have a direct benefit to Northern communities will help grow a diversified and sustainable Northern economy.”
– The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages

“Through CanNor, we are supporting innovative and diverse projects that address the unique opportunities and challenges in the North. Making strategic investments in projects that benefit the North strengthens collaboration with territorial and Indigenous stakeholders and fosters robust and inclusive economies across the territories.”
Larry Bagnell, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency)

“Yukon First Nations Wildfire is pleased to work alongside their First Nations partners, and the federal government, to deliver programs that strengthen our ability to protect the North. This support strengthens YFNW in our efforts to combat the effects of climate change while working to develop future leaders from among the young citizens in Yukon.”
Chad Thomas, CEO, Yukon First Nations Wildfire

“The Arctic Inspiration Prize is the largest prize in Canada, and how wonderful that its focus is on the North and what Northerners can achieve. Yukon First Nations Wildfire, along with the seven other incredible 2019 Laureates, are now well on their way to achieving lasting impact in their communities and beyond. Their projects are outstanding examples of people from diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise coming together to use their skills and knowledge to bring about real change and advance the quality of life for Northerners.”
Lucy Kuptana, Chair of the Arctic Inspiration Prize Charitable Trust

Quick facts

  • The Government of Canada invested $622,000 in Yukon First Nations Wildfire’s project to increase Yukon’s fire suppression resources through the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency’s Northern Aboriginal Economic Opportunities Program (NAEOP), and the organization contributed $825,000.
  • Yukon First Nations Wildfire is a collaborative organizational effort with support from Yukon Government’s Wildland Fire Management Services and represents a unique partnership among Yukon First Nations.
  • The Government of Canada is investing $300,000 in the Arctic Inspiration Prize through the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency’s Inclusive Diversification and Economic Advancement in the North (IDEANorth) program. The territorial governments are contributing a combined investment of $830,000 and the Arctic Inspiration Prize Charitable trust is contributing $4.5 M.

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SOURCE Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor)

For further information: Alexander Cohen, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Economic, Development and Official Languages, alexander.cohen2@canada.ca; Naomi Sharpe, Communications and Media Relations Manager, CanNor, 867-975-3749, Naomi.sharpe@canada.ca; Angela Drainville, Communications Coordinator, Yukon First Nations Wildfire, 867-334-2241, angela@outcrop.com; Allison MacLachlan, Director of External Relations and Public Engagement, Rideau Hall Foundation, 613-316-3473, allison.maclachlan@rhf-frh.ca

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Date of publication: 6 Feb 2020

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