Kate Carmack joins the Klondike Discoverers in the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame
Whitehorse, YT, January 10, 2019 —
Kate Carmack has taken her place with the Klondike Discoverers: Skookum Jim Mason, Dawson Charlie, George Carmack and Robert Henderson - in the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame.
This week Zena McLean, a descendent of Kate Carmack, travelled to Toronto to accept the honour on her behalf. She was joined by Kwanlin Dün First Nation Chief Doris Bill and Elder Councillor Jessie Dawson, Yukon government Deputy Premier Ranj Pillai, AFN Regional Chief Kluane Adamek, members of Youth of Today Society as well as Yukon Chamber of Mines Past President Sue Craig and Executive Director Samson Hartland.
“As a First Nation Woman, Kate considered herself equal to any man, having her recognized as a mining icon after years of obscurity, is one step towards reconciling all First Nation roles in historical events and the contribution women have made in mining.” said Zena McLean.
The Klondike Discoverers were inducted into the hall of fame in 1999 for the gold discovery that led to the Klondike Gold Rush. Yukon First Nations have believed, for generations, that Kate Carmack was the one who found that first nugget in 1896. As a result, an article written by Eileen Vance-Duchesne in the summer of 1999 highlighted the oversight of the induction.
“Our young people are extremely honoured, and appreciative to have the opportunity, to witness Kate’s induction ceremony to the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame,” says Eileen Vance-Duchesne, board member to Youth of Today Society. “We are particularly proud of the collaborative efforts of so many Yukoners to make this a reality for our Golden Lady.”
“It’s high time that Indigenous women get the recognition that they deserve. They’ve been left out of Canada’s history for far too long,” Vance-Duchesne added.
Twenty years later, Kate Carmack has finally been acknowledged for her contribution to the famous discovery. She is the first Indigenous woman, and third woman to be inducted into the national hall of fame.
Mike Burke, President of the Yukon Chamber of Mines, says for the mineral industry it’s about acknowledging a past wrong and correcting it.
“For a lot of us it feels like a past wrong being righted,” said Mike Burke. “It’s probably the most meaningful and significant piece of reconciliation the Yukon Chamber of Mines has been associated with.”
He says the Yukon mining industry is committed to working with Yukon First Nations and women to ensure the industry is more inclusive and representative.
“If there is to be a future for mining in the Yukon, it can only be achieved through respect and meaningful collaboration with Yukon’s First Nations,” Mike Burke adds.
Contact Yukon Chamber of Mines
Samson Hartland Executive Director 867.667.2090
Kate Carmack’s nomination was a collaborative effort between Kwanlin Dün First Nation, the Youth of Today Society, Yukon Chamber of Mines and Kwanlin Dün First Nation Youth Advisory Committee to Council.
The nomination received support from Yukon’s MP Larry Bagnell, Yukon Government, Council of Yukon First Nations, Carcross Tagish First Nation, Kwanlin Dün First Nation, Yukon Women in Mining and the Yukon Prospectors Association.
In 2016 the Youth of Today Society approached the Yukon Chamber of Mines to paint a mural of Carmack on the side of the chamber’s building located beside the Skookum Jim Friendship Centre as part of a city-wide mural project. The mural was based on a photo used in a 1999 article by Eileen Vance-Duchesne, which recounted the story from Kwanlin Dün First Nation elders that Carmack was the one to find gold in 1896.
Vance-Duchesne reached out to the Executive Director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines, shortly after the mural was completed and asked the chamber to nominate Carmack to the hall of fame.
The Yukon Chamber of Mines Board of Directors supported the nomination and began reaching out to First Nation governments, the Yukon government, mining organizations, including Yukon Women in Mining and Yukon Prospectors Association to write letters of support for the nomination.
The Mining Association of Canada, as a member of the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame, sponsored the nomination, which ultimately led to her selection and consequential induction.
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