Traditional Knowledge Circle

We are a group of respected Yukon First Nation elders who provide advice to the Yukon Land Use Planning Council on land and water relationship planning in the Yukon

Most of the current TK Circle. Back row, left to right: Gary Darbyshire, Shirlee Frost, Roland Peter, Carl Sidney (Chair). Crouching: Hammond Dick. Not pictured: Angie Joseph-Rear

What We Do

We consider the significance of Indigenous peoples’ knowledge of the management, the stewardship and sustainable use of the land and its resources.

We work to contribute and support the integration of land management effectively, by advocating for the meaningful inclusion of Indigenous Traditional Knowledge ways of knowing, that is based upon Indigenous stewardship and relationship with the land and their physical interactions with their physical environment.

Our Background

In 2020, the Yukon Land Use Planning Council (the Council) formed the Indigenous Planning and Traditional Knowledge advisory group of respected Yukon First Nation elders. This new group was to provide advice to the Council on shifting towards land relationship planning.

In November 2021, the advisory group coordinated and led a Land Relationship Gathering. The outcome included a set of themes and actions for consideration in regional planning.

In August 2022, the Council made formal Recommendations which included the embrace of Indigenous Planning approaches.

At a September 2022 meeting of YLUPC, the Council provided direction to staff to clarify the role of the advisory committee and expand the membership to include broader First Nation membership.

In June 2023, the group was re-established a new mandate and name: the Traditional Knowledge Circle (the Circle).

Our Priorities
  • Clarify the Circle’s Role: Commissions are independent bodies that develop the regional land use plan. The Circle can support the planning process by making recommendations to the Council regarding ways of adopting Traditional Knowledge and Ways at many points in the planning process. The Circle can collaborate with the First Nation and its Elders Council to discuss opportunities for providing input and advise to the Commission.
  • Embrace Traditional Knowledge: Traditional Knowledge is embraced as containing ethics, laws, teachings, and knowledge and understanding that we are the “voice” for those who cannot speak for themselves. We are like family and are stewards of this land. Ensure Traditional Knowledge gets the same respect and value as scientific knowledge.
  • Seek Partnerships: The Circle must strengthen and enhance its relationships, networks and partnerships (i.e. All 14 Yukon First Nations, YESAB, YFWMB, Renewable Resource Councils, etc.).
  • Include Youth and Elders: We must have Youth with Elders involved with the process of embracing Traditional Knowledge and Ways into planning processes.
  • Share Wisdom and Knowledge: The Indigenous Ways of Knowing, Being and Doing is holistic, respectful and highly valued. Continue to provide advice to YLUPC for decision making consideration. Also, provide Traditional Knowledge teachings and aspects to Federal and Yukon government.
  • Education of Chapter 11 and its relationship to all other UFA Chapters for all Yukoners. Examples could include: newsletters, attending General Assemblies, Yukon University curriculum, radio, social media.
Guiding Principles

Based on the work so far, a number of guiding principles are proposed:

  • Respect the UFA: Respect and promote the evolution and implementation of Chapter 11 provisions of the Yukon Final Agreements.
  • Collaborate with planning partners. Foster and build relationships in planning regions. Support reconciliation through collaboration with First Nation governments.
  • Build consensus around Traditional principles amongst First Nations, partners and technical working staff.
  • Indigenous Planning Approach: Promote and support the integration of indigenous planning approaches and concepts, especially planning to respect the land, water and all living things.
  • Protection: Participate and provide advice to all matters relevant to land and resource protection, including Indigenous land management and cultural heritage practices.
  • Local Context: Provide advice on matters that affect Yukon First Nation peoples in their backyard, their traditional lands, their traditional territory.
  • Best Practices: Provide advice on best practices for participation of Yukon First Nations peoples.
  • Youth: Promote youth participation and their value to future generations.
  • Assist with Commission consultation processes to seek Indigenous holistic world views.
  • Respect other FN bodies: If there is an existing Elders Committee or Senate in place, the Circle will not provide advice unless invited to take part.
  • Seek opportunities: Look for alternative ways to support Yukon First Nations to implement their vision, strategic plans, and issues and interest that reflect their needs in the planning process.
Upcoming Events

We are working towards a on-the-land gathering on the Traditional Territory of the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun. The tentative date for this event is July 23-25. The theme for discussion is “Empowering Relationships”. This event will be by invitation only. Check back here for new information or contact our Land Relationship Planner.

Recent Successes

Advancing Land Use Planning in the Yukon Workshop Series, Winter 2020-21

  • One of the key take-aways from the workshops was to explore and champion Indigenous approaches to planning and application of knowledge. This work should be considered when adapting planning processes.
  • Led to the formation of the Indigenous Planning and Traditional Knowledge Committee – a precursor to this Traditional Knowledge Circle.
  • Read the workshop report here.

Land Relationship Planning Gathering, held November 24 – 25, 2021, in the YLUPC office and virtually online.

  • The purpose of the Gathering was to create an Indigenous-rooted space to develop directions to evolve Final Agreement Chapter 11 Land Use Planning objectives and implementation. The Gathering was to explore how Yukon First Nations (YFN’s) knowledge, ways, and experience can support land planning and relationship building approaches consistent with the spirit and intent of Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow and the Final Agreements.
  • Find more information on the gathering here.

Land Relationship Workshop, held February 6 – 7, 2023, at the Yukon Inn, Whitehorse, Yukon.

  • The purpose of the workshop was to help Council and staff build their knowledge of indigenous planning tools that can be brought to the table to improve regional land use planning (and implementation); to increase understanding of how knowledge and experience of Yukon First Nations People can achieve effective land use Planning (per Umbrella Final Agreement s., “to utilize the knowledge and experience of Yukon Indian People in order to achieve effective land use planning”); and to evolve Council thinking on the topic of indigenous planning.

Indigenous Planning and Traditional Knowledge Committee renamed to form the Traditional Knowledge Circle in June 2023 to provide advice on:

  • Embracing Indigenous planning approaches.
  • How to shift to land relationship planning as a valued-centered, collaborative approach founded on relationships and responsibility.
  • How Commissions can give full consideration to Indigenous Knowledge, values and planning concepts.

Land Relationship Gathering, held August 29 – 30, 2023, in Brooks Brook, Yukon.

  • The event was attended by Elders from across the Yukon, First Nations lands & resources Staff, Council of Yukon First Nations staff, and UFA boards and committees.
  • The goal of the Gathering was to help the Circle and YLUPC identify ways to embrace Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Ways in our work and to find areas the Circle should focus/work on.
  • Read the gathering summary here.

All these successes are supporting a shift to Land Relationship Planning as a values centered, collaborative approach founded on Indigenous relationships and collective responsibilities for land, water, animals and each other.

Meet our Knowledge Keepers

Come learn more about our Knowledge Keepers! Photos, biographies and more!


I was raised in the time of no pollution, we drank from the rivers and streams, gathered and harvested with the seasons. We ate traditional foods that nourished our bodies, and we lived in harmony with Mother Nature and the bounties she provided. We were taught the Original Laws- to care for the land, water, animals, birds, fish and plants as though they were family.  The wisdom of the Land speaks to us. That’s why Chapter 11 is pivotal to help bring balance and wise decisions caring our Homelands.

Shirlee Frost
Circle Member – Gwich’in

The Story of the Council...

and how they are embracing Land Relationship Planning


A video produced for the 2021 Land Relationship Gathering.


Photo: Peter Mather

Shirley and Roland

Part of the 2023 Brooks Brook Gathering

Photo: YLUPC

Drying Fish

Photo: Peter Mather

Carl Original

Photo: YLUPC

North Yukon Heritage Workshop

North Yukon Heritage Workshop 2004

Photo: NYPC

Snowshoe man

Photo: Peter Mather

Hide cleaning

Gwich'in hunter Jeffery Peters cleans the hide of a freshly killed caribou . The hide is used as a sleeping mattress when camping by the Gwich'in, who take great pride in using all parts of the caribou.

Photo: Peter Mather


Photo: Peter Mather

VGFN 2004 GA

Part of the 2003 VGFN General Assembly

Photo: NYPC

Kaska caribou tracks PM

Photo: Peter Mather

Black Bear PM

Photo: Peter Mather

Cozy cabin PM

Photo: Peter Mather

Teslin Hand Games PM

Photo: Peter Mather


Photo: Peter Mather

Loon PM

Photo: Peter Mather

Winter weasel PM

Photo: Peter Mather

Frosty forest PM

Photo: Peter Mather

Eagle Nest PM

Photo: Peter Mather

Tombstone PM

Photo: Peter Mather

VG chum fishing PM

Photo: Peter Mather

Fish shack detail PM

Photo: Peter Mather

River aerial PM

Photo: Peter Mather

Ron C with Drum

Part of the 2023 Brooks Brook Gathering

Photo: YLUPC

Otter family

Photo: Peter Mather

Mountian River PM

Photo: Peter Mather

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