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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Holding on while letting go : education, politics, and Yukon public schools, 1960-2003 Sikkes, Ryan Timothy


This dissertation presents a history of Yukon’s public school system between 1960 and 2003 – a history that is inseparable from Yukon’s colonial history as a territory of Canada. This period witnessed a devolution of power from the federal government to the Yukon government that resulted in a shift of the day-to-day political tensions and disputes in Yukon moving from a federal-territorial orientation to a territorial-local one. Two key themes are consistently present in Yukon’s political and educational history. The first is the tension between centralization and devolution of power between levels of government. The second is the confidence required by each level of government to devolve or accept power. Key developments of Yukon’s linked constitutional and educational development serve to periodize the history. The creation of the Advisory Committee on Finance in 1960, the appointment of elected Yukon Council members to the territorial Executive Committee in 1970, the arrival of responsible and representative government to Yukon in 1979 via the Epp Letter, the passage of the Education Act in 1990, and the final devolution of programs and services from the federal government (along with an updated Yukon Act) in 2003 all serve as events that show significant shifts in (or the potential to shift) the transfer of power from the federal, through the territorial, to the local level. Textual documentary sources including federal and territorial government documents and reports, correspondence, newspaper articles, and legislative documents were the primary source materials used to write this dissertation.

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