Pat Joe is a KDFN Citizen from the Tagish Nation and the Dak’laweide Clan. This summer, she won a Canadian Teachers’ Federation award for leadership in Indigenous education and excellence in teaching that reflects Indigenous culture. The award was presented on July 15, 2021.

“I owe this honour to my grandparents, Julia and Johnnie Joe,” she says. “I was born on the trap line, and raised by my grandparents. During long winter evenings at the family homestead, grandmother would pull out the National Geographic magazine and teach us about the world and its people by the light of the old oil lantern.

“Grandfather could read the land and he survived like our ancestors before him. He told the creation and oral stories to me that had been passed down to him for generations.”

Pat is a teacher, mother, grandmother and knowledge keeper. She specializes in oral stories and oral histories. As a former Deputy Chief and Chief Land Claims and Self-Government Negotiator, she also has many years of experience in politics and business.

“Yukon First Nation people are Potlatch People and that means we give gifts,” she says. “Our Elders have left us with many gifts, and they have left us their stories in written form–stories not only about the past, but also about the present and future too.”

Pat is a third-generation survivor of residential school, and she diligently teaches about the legacy of residential schools and the impacts on First Nations. Throughout her career, she has been an outspoken advocate for her culture, history, beliefs and values.

“I accept this award, acknowledging that many Yukon First Nation Elders, past and present; colleagues, friends and family have supported me on my path and in my work,” she says. “Because of the knowledge gifted to me by the ancestors, it is my duty to give back by supporting teachers and working with students from K-12 in delivering Yukon First Nation curriculum.”