NEWS RELEASE: Yukon Native Language Centre Honours 11 Youth Immersion Program Graduates

By January 19, 2024News Release

WHITEHORSE – The Yukon Native Language Centre recently honoured students who completed the Youth Today: Language Leaders Tomorrow language immersion program.

The two-year program aimed at developing language proficiency among Yukon First Nation youth and produced 11 graduates. Funding for the program provided wages for the youth over the course of the program. This enabled them to study their Yukon First Nation language full time, addressing a common barrier for language immersion programs.

The Youth of Today: Language Leaders Tomorrow program was funded and supported by Yukon First Nations including Teslin Tlingit Council, Ta’an Kwäch’än Council and Kwänlin Dun First Nation, along with the Council of Yukon First Nations, the Yukon First Nation Education Directorate, and the Government of Canada.

The program’s objectives included supporting the youth to develop language proficiency and empowering them to become language champions to carry their language into the future. The students began the program as beginners and are now intermediate-advanced level speakers in either Łingít (Tlingit) or Dákwänje (Southern Tutchone).

A program evaluation is underway along with funding applications to support a second offering of the program in fall 2024.


This initiative has not only produced highly competent language speakers but has also nurtured the leadership potential of our youth to spearhead language revitalization efforts in their home communities in the years ahead. It has been a great pleasure to observe the transformative power of language revitalization in action.

– CYFN Grand Chief Peter Johnston

Aatlein gunalchéesh chʼa ldakát ḵaa haa eet yidasheeyí! A huge thank you to everyone who has helped and supported us throughout our language journeys. Ḵúnáx̱ yee eede shtóog̱aa x̱at ditee, I am really so grateful to them all. I want to especially recognize and hold up my elders, teachers, family, and friends – I could not have gotten to where I am today without their guidance, knowledge and unwavering support. Ax̱ téix̱ʼ xʼéig̱aa shaawahík yeedát. Gunalchéesh, gunalchéesh, gunalchéesh.

– Chʼáak Yádi Abigail Turner, Program Graduate
Photo: Erik Pinkerton Photography

The Kwä̀dąy Dän Tän Yíx Yaa Aa “We walk the path of our Ancestors” Cohort and 2024 Graduates of the Youth Today: Language Leaders Tomorrow Program:
NameLanguageYukon First Nation
Tagàyä́tä̀y Dustin HillDákwänje (Southern Tutchone)Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation
Gádzûsdà Tayī Van BibberŁingít (Tlingit)Selkirk First Nation
Khusínûkʼ Leah SmarchŁingítLiard First Nation
Dleit Héen Tláa Taneshia JulesŁingítTeslin Tlingit Council
Chʼáak Yádi Abigail TurnerŁingítTeslin Tlingit Council
Khàgâne Zoë Grant-WolfeŁingítTeslin Tlingit Council
Shgùnàkh Cordell JulesŁingítTeslin Tlingit Council
Ä́yínzhia Cory HolwayDákwänjeKwanlin Dün First Nation
Shàn Tlaa Nicole WelinŁingítCarcross/Tagish First Nation
Shä̀wkwälità Nathan Easterson-MooreDákwänjeKluane First Nation
Béebi Zhōh Stewart “Stewie” TizyaDákwänjeTa’an Kwäch’än Council