Champagne and Aishihik First Nations Elder Vera Brown is this year’s recipient of the Yukon’s Council of the Federation Literacy Award, which celebrates exceptional achievement, innovative practice and excellence in adult literacy. Premier Sandy Silver presented the award to Vera today, on International Literacy Day, at a small ceremony with her family, friends and colleagues. This award recognizes the contributions of Vera Brown in Southern Tutchone language learning and preservation.
Born into the Crow Clan from Champagne, Vera was named after her grandmother, the late Elder Annie Ned, with the traditional Southern Tutchone name Nthenat, which means “fox den.” At age 16, Vera left a residential school to live with her grandmother, from whom she learned the traditional ways of living from the land, hunting and gathering, as well as the language and culture of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations.
Determined to continue learning her own language and to help preserve the Southern Tutchone language, Vera has been an Indigenous language teacher in the Yukon for several decades. She served as a teacher for 14 years in the public school system and for the past 13 years at the Dusk’a Head Start Family Learning Centre. Vera has also worked with adult learners at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, helping residents develop foundational skills in Southern Tutchone and connect with their language.
Recognized by her colleagues as an “innovative educator,” Vera “inspires the community to learn Indigenous language and culture and provides opportunities for students to participate and grow their understanding.” Her dedication to teaching Southern Tutchone has enriched countless lives.
The Council of Federation Literacy Award recognizes the importance of literacy in enabling participation as a full and active citizen in all areas of society. As the 2021 award recipient for the Yukon, Vera receives a certificate signed by Premier Sandy Silver, a personalized gift and a Council of the Federation Literacy Award medallion.
For decades, Champagne and Aishihik First Nations Elder Vera Brown has found fun, creative and innovative ways to share the Southern Tutchone language with learners of all ages and to help this language thrive into the future. It is my honour to recognize Vera for her contributions to literacy and Southern Tutchone language revitalization. Her work, story and family legacy demonstrate the importance of intergenerational learning and the vital relationships between languages, culture, heritage, traditional knowledge and the land.
Premier Sandy Silver
Congratulations to Vera Brown for receiving this prestigious award. Her lifelong work demonstrates the impact of high-quality, culturally inclusive programming for learners of all ages, especially young learners. Vera’s legacy highlights the intricate relationship between First Nations’ ways of knowing, doing, learning and being and Indigenous languages. Her contributions to literacy will benefit future generations of Yukon communities for years to come.
Minister of Education Jeanie McLean
The Council of the Federation Literacy Award was established in 2004 and is presented annually to recipients across the country. The award recognizes excellence of learners, educators, volunteers, community organizations, and businesses for outstanding achievements, innovative practices and excellence in adult literacy. The Government of Yukon began presenting the Literacy Award in 2005.
The Council of the Federation’s members are the Premiers of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories. The Council fosters a constructive relationship among the provinces and territories and with the federal government, to strengthen the Canadian federation.