Updated: Apr 6, 2020
BY SKYLER ISAAC
It’s the morning of June 19th, 2018. The weather is abnormally hot. We’re standing in the back lot of the City of Whitehorse Transit Headquarters. A handful of people stand around us, admiring the same view that we are.The object of our adoration is a bus. Not a regular transit bus, the type of which can be seen every day in our city, no. This bus has been adorned with artwork depicting prominent First Nation elders and members of the First Nation community.
The design is nothing short of excellent. After a while, a small school bus pulls into the driveway. From that vehicle spills a small group of First Nation Elders. They make their way to the immaculately decorated bus, oohing and ahhing all the way. Spirits are high as they board the vehicle.The bus is then paraded all around town. Elders open up the windows and wave at passersby. People in other cars honk their horns vigorously and supportively at us. Eventually the elders arrive at City Hall, where they disembark and are greeted by a flurry of cameras and well-wishers. The elders gather together and pose for a group photo.“Hoo-Ha!” they shout in unison. The crowd present cheers and laughs.
Despite the dedication of the artists and attention to detail in their craftsmanship, Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis doesn’t think that the bus should be such a major focus of attention. Not for the moment, at least.“When you have something as phenomenal as the bus wrap…we start to lose focus of what today’s really all about. It’s a bit of a backdrop to what we’re really trying to accomplish here.”What the mayor is referencing is the signing of the Declaration Of Commitment, a document signed by Mayor Curtis, Kwanlin Dun First Nation Chief Doris Bill and Ta’an Kwach’an Council Chief Kristina Kane.
The document declares that it is meant to strengthen the existing relationships between the three governments.“I think you’d agree when I say that it’s long overdue,” continued Curtis, “And that it’s something we’re very, very proud of.”“Today we formalize our inter-governmental relationship,” said KDFN Chief Doris Bill, “We are committed to building a better future, together, for generations to come.
I think there is great symbolism that this bus wrap—created in partnership amongst Kwanlin Dun, Ta’an Kwach’an, City of Whitehorse, and the Yukon First Nation Tourism and Culture Association—is being revealed today. It is a tangible outcome of our partnership. And there is more where that came from.”