Task Force appointed to study tourism governance models

Tourism and Culture Minister Jeanie Dendys has announced the appointment of seven people to the Yukon Tourism Development Strategy Governance Task Force.

The task force is responsible for researching and evaluating a range of tourism governance models, including the current governance model, and providing a recommendation to the Government of Yukon on the appropriate model for the territory.

Establishing the task force was one of the seven priority actions identified and endorsed in the Yukon Tourism Development Strategy 2018–2028: Sustainable Tourism. Our Path. Our Future.

The task force will submit a final report in September 2019.

With a new tourism strategy, it makes sense to evaluate and assess how we can best align the efforts of government and industry, improve efficiency and support sustainable tourism industry growth. We know there are different governance models in different jurisdictions in Canada and we want to make sure we have the one that makes sense for Yukon. We are proud to be working with industry partners and organizations to implement the new strategy.

Minister of Tourism and Culture Jeanie Dendys

The establishment of a Governance Task Force as set out in the new Yukon Tourism Development Strategy is an important step in the evolution of Yukon’s tourism industry. I am honoured to have been asked by Minister Dendys to chair the Task Force and am looking forward to working with this strong team of people, who are extremely knowledgeable and experienced in all aspects of the tourism industry.

Yukon Tourism Development Strategy Governance Task Force chair Vicki Hancock

Quick facts 
  • The members of the Yukon Tourism Development Strategy Governance Task Force are:

    • Vicki Hancock, independent chair;
    • Ben Ryan;
    • Justin Ferbey;
    • Marilyn Jensen;
    • Michelle Kolla;
    • Rich Thompson; and
    • Valerie Royle.
  • Government of Yukon Public Service Commissioner Pamela Muir will be an official advisor to the task force to provide information and advice on the impacts of options in a Yukon government context.

  • The task force will have its first meeting in Whitehorse on April 8, 2019.

  • The total budget for the project is $50,000.

  • In February 2019, the Government of Yukon endorsed the Yukon Tourism Development Strategy 2018–2028: Sustainable Tourism. Our Path. Our Future. It also endorsed the implementation of the seven priority actions.  



Vicki Hancock – Vicki held several leadership positions with the Government of Yukon over the course of her career and retired from the government as deputy minister of Tourism and Culture. During her career, Vicki also held the positions of President of the Yukon Liquor Corporation and President of Yukon Housing. She has considerable experience in administrative justice and board governance. Vicki is the alternate chair of the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board, appointed to this position in 2006. Both the chair and alternate chair are non-voting positions. She served as the chair of appeal panels of the board of directors for occupational health and safety and assessment matters.

Ben Ryan – Born and raised in Yukon, Ben is an entrepreneur with experience in aviation, tourism, energy and finance. As chief commercial officer of Air North, Yukon’s Airline, Ben oversees sales, marketing, IT, and loyalty and customer experience, as well as business development of ancillary divisions in charters, groundhandling and commercial fuel sales. Ben is also president and CEO of Air North’s subsidiary Chieftain Energy which specializes in the transportation and sale of fuel, liquified natural gas and lubricants in Yukon, Alaska, the NWT and northern BC. Chieftain has majority First Nation ownership and has direct partnerships with nine First Nations business entities in Yukon and northern BC. Ben is also involved in tourism as a member of the Mätʼàtäna Steering Committee, a group tasked with exploring an Indigenous Tourism and Eco-Tourism opportunity in the Traditional Territory of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nation. Ben also participated in the Tourism Mission to China in 2018, where he met numerous key tourism industry stakeholders with an interest in growing international inbound tourism. He holds a BCom from Carleton University and a MSc in Financial Economics from the University of Oxford. He is also a certified alternative investment analyst (CAIA) and a financial risk manager (FRM).

Justin Ferbey – Justin was appointed deputy minister of the Government of Yukon’s Department of Economic Development in March 2016. He is also president and chief executive officer of Yukon Development Corporation and former chief executive officer of the Carcross Tagish Management and Development Corporation. He also was a federal fiscal advisor in the British Columbia treaty process, an executive of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation government and the chair of a tripartite ratification committee that oversaw the Carcross/Tagish First Nations’ vote to become a self-governing nation. He was a federal appointee to the Joint Public Advisory Committee of the North American Agreement for Environmental Cooperation and is a director of Tides Canada. Justin is the recipient of the British Columbia Lieutenant Governor's silver medal for academic achievement and community service. In 2018 he received a Meritorious Service Medal from the Governor General as part of a team effort in his First Nation community. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Neuroscience, an MBA from the University of Liverpool, has certification in dispute resolution and negotiations and is an alumnus of Action Canada and the US State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program. He has been a frequent speaker at many national conferences involving First Nation economic development and governance and has written articles for The Globe and Mail.

Marilyn Jensen – Yadultin & Dūsts’ā̀dle, is Inland Tlingit and Tagish Khwáan from the Carcross/Tagish First Nation; belonging to the Dakhl'aweidí Clan under the Tagish Keét Hít (Killerwhale House). She presently serves as president of the Yukon First Nation Culture and Tourism Association and is on the executive of the board for Indigenous Tourism Canada. She has taught First Nation Governance at Yukon College and works closely with many Indigenous communities as a senior consultant focusing on Indigenous self-determination and wellness. She has facilitated workshops for the Yukon government on Indigenous history, land claims and self-government for 20 years and has worked on numerous projects with First Nation governments and organizations. She leads a traditional dance group, the Dakhká Khwáan Dancers, who were recipients of the National Indigenous Tourism Award and nominated for an Indigenous Music Award in 2018. Marilyn was honoured by the Governor General of Canada as a recipient of the Polar Medal for Cultural Reclamation. She has earned a BA in Anthropology from the University of Alaska and an MA in Indigenous Governance from the University of Victoria. [The original version published here erroneously stated that Marilyn Jensen recently rather than currently served on the executive of the board of Indigenous Tourism Canada.]

Michelle Kolla – Michelle is a member of the Selkirk First Nation and granddaughter of the late George Fairclough and May VanBibber. Michelle and her husband Rob owned and operated the Snap on Tools franchise for 32 years and are partners in Porter Creek Self Storage. She has worked with non-profits for 15 years including the Skookum Jim Friendship Centre and Council of Yukon First Nations as their executive director. In the past Michelle has worked closely with the local business community and government departments as a procurement officer with the federal and territorial governments. She is a past board member of Selkirk Development Corporation that included overseeing Minto mine opportunities, real estate properties, Minto Resorts and Selkirk Centre store, hotel and gas station. Michelle is a past board member of Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board, National Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres, Director and General Manager of Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon and a founding Director of Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN). Currently she is a member of the Government of Yukon Gas Tax Review Committee and has been re-acclaimed as the President of the Yukon First Nation Chamber of Commerce. Michelle is an alumna of Yukon College, Governor General of Canada’s Leadership Conference and Women in Leadership with Carleton University.

Richard S. Thompson – Rich is the chief executive officer (CEO) of Northern Vision Development LP (Real Estate, Hotels) and of Medstate Developments LP (Medical Diagnostic Imaging). He is also the chairman of Zero Gravity Inc. (Marketing, Advertising). He is well-known in the Canadian advertising community, private company investment circles and in the northern Canadian real estate arena. As CEO of Parallel Strategies from 1986 to 2003, which at the time was the leading Advertising Agency and Multimedia firm in western Canada, he gained significant experience as a senior strategist in tourism marketing, having handled and led programs for Alberta, Yukon and Alaska. In 2004 Rich co-founded Northern Vision Development LP (NVD), the most active real estate company in Yukon. Serving on the board since formation, he took over as that partnership’s CEO in March 2009. Also in Yukon he has served as the chairman of the Tourism Industry Association of Yukon’s (TIAY) Senior Marketing Committee, chaired the Yukon Chamber of Commerce and, most recently, co-chaired the Yukon Tourism Development Strategy Steering Committee.

Valerie Royle – Since August 2017, Valerie has been the Government of Yukon’s deputy minister of Tourism and Culture. She is also deputy minister of the Women’s Directorate. Prior to this she operated her own executive management consulting business after working with Bluedrop Learning Networks as their vice-president of workplace safety and apprenticeship. Before that, she served as the deputy minister of Education in the Government of Yukon from 2012 to 2015 as well as the president and chief executive officer of the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board from 2005 to 2012. She is an online lecturer in disability management through the Pacific Coast University for Workplace Health Sciences as well as in business administration through Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador. She holds an Honour’s Degree in Commerce and a Master’s of Business Administration degree as well as a Certified Disability Management Professional Designation.

Media contact 

Janine Workman
Cabinet Communications

Alicia Debreceni
Communications, Tourism and Culture

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