Kwanlin Dün First Nation and funding partners officially open new Kashgêk’ building, named in honour of former Chief Johnnie Smith
WHITEHORSE, YUKON—Today, Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) Chief Doris Bill; Dr. Brendan Hanley, Member of Parliament for Yukon, on behalf of the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities; Yukon Minister of Community Services Richard Mostyn; and members of Johnnie Smith’s family officially opened the new Kashgêk’ building in the McIntyre subdivision.
Kashgêk’—Johnnie Smith served as KDFN Chief for three terms between 1969 and 1988. Kashgêk’ was part of the historic delegation of Yukon Chiefs that presented Together Today for our Children Tomorrow to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, laying the foundation for the Yukon’s Final and Self-government agreements.
The new building contains Kwanlin Dün Council Chambers, an Elders lounge, a wellness room, gathering spaces, and five government departments that provide services to Citizens.
The building was designed with input from KDFN Citizens. It is shaped like a leaping fish to signify KDFN’s connection to the river and features work by KDFN artists. It also uses green technology, including a solar panel array on the building’s roof.
Construction commenced in 2020, on the 15th anniversary of KDFN self-governance. It was completed and partially opened for use in 2021. COVID-19 safety considerations delayed the official opening event.
The building was funded through a $19.3-million investment from the Government of Canada, a $6.4-million investment from the Government of Yukon, and $3.2 million from KDFN.
“I am pleased to celebrate the opening of this building, and honoured to be able to bring the name from the former administration building to this one. With this connection to our history, we are strongly rooted in the past, honouring the leaders who brought us to where we are today. We are also looking to the future in the new Kashgêk’ building—the Council Chambers, work spaces and meeting rooms—that will support our First Nation as we move forward in a good way.”
- Kwanlin Dün First Nation Chief Doris Bill
“The new Kashgêk’ building will be a place to celebrate culture, reflect on history, and provide a gathering place for the community. The Government of Canada is proud to support the Kwanlin Dün First Nation through this new community building that will leave a legacy to future generations.”
- Brendan Hanley, Member of Parliament for Yukon, on behalf of the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities
“We have been pleased to partner with the KDFN and Canada in funding the construction of the new Kashgêk’ building. We extend our congratulations to the Kwanlin Dün First Nation on its opening and for creating an energy-efficient building that will serve them well for years to come.”
– Yukon Minister of Community Services Richard Mostyn
- The new Kashgêk’ building is approximately 38,700 sq. ft. (3,600 m2).
- It is two-storeys high and has a basement level for archival storage.
- It contains KDFN Council Chambers, an Elders Lounge, a Wellness Room, and five government departments: Administration; Executive Council Office; Finance; Heritage, Lands and Resources; and Justice.
- There is office space for roughly 140 employees, and many shared spaces for meeting and gathering.
- There is also a landscaped outdoor courtyard.
The building’s design was guided by Citizens to reflect natural elements that are important to Kwanlin Dün. For example:
- When viewed from above the entire building is in the shape of a leaping fish to show KDFN’s connection to the river. There are also Yukon River patterns in the floors.
- There are Kwanlin Canyon designs throughout the building, including on the front reception desk and in the basalt columns in the outdoor landscaped area.
- Council Chambers and the outdoor courtyard space is circular with 14 columns that represent the 14 Yukon First Nations.
The building was designed for northern climate. It includes renewable energy sources and design features to maximize efficiency.
- Its orientation allows for lots of natural light to enter the building throughout the day, even on winter days.
- The building is insulated and the windows are treated to reduce heat loss or gain.
- It has a high-efficiency air handling system that
- It is fitted with solar panels that are expected to produce:
- 64,214 kWh the first year; and
- 1,512,631 kWh over 25 years.
This is expected to offset one-third of the energy needs of the building.
About Kashgêk’—Johnnie Smith
Kashgêk’—Johnnie Smith (1922-2010) was born near the Marsh Lake dam to parents Kàdùhikh K’ałgwach K’odetéena—Kitty Smith and Kanét—Billy Smith. As a child, Kashgêk’ travelled with his family throughout southern Yukon, hunting, trapping and gold mining. He learned the traditional languages, drumming and stories from his parents and continued to share those with audiences throughout his life.
Kashgêk’—Johnnie Smith served as Chief of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation for three terms between 1969 and 1988. Kashgêk’ was part of the historic delegation of Yukon Chiefs that presented Together Today for our Children Tomorrow to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, laying the foundation for the Yukon’s self-government agreements.