Women in Whitehorse – Part 2

From the river to the mountains, Whitehorse is a picturesque place. However, it’s the people that make Whitehorse truly breathtaking . Beauty is found in Yukoners weaving their unique skills and talents into the tapestry of the north. This is the first in a three part series about three particularly extraordinary women of Whitehorse.

Teagyn Vallevand is an impressive young woman who pours her heart and soul into many different pockets of the Yukon. Vallevand is a member of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation and her whole family has roots from the Whitehorse area.

Vallevand is an F.H. Collins graduate. However, she felt lost in high school and yearned to search for her identity as a First Nations person.

Vallevand wanted to learn about her true history, an education she never fully received in high school. After much learning and searching, Vallevand was steady on her feet and ready to help other indigenous youths understand their identity.

Vallevand has committed herself to this passion with gusto, firmly believing that even if she just helps one person, all of her hard work will be worth it.

Vallevand sits on the board for the Skookum Jim Friendship Centre and the Northern Cultural Expressions Society.

That is just the beginning of her accomplishments.

Vallevand is a part-time student at Yukon College, where she’s working towards her degree in First Nation Governance and Public Administration. She compliments her studies by working part-time at the office of the Yukon Member of Parliament, Larry Bagnell.

Working as a scrutineer in a First Nations election piqued her interest in politics. In her own words, it “opened up a can of worms,” to the concept of the power of the people.

Vallevand is a firm believer that everyone needs to be involved in government to some extent. She says it’s a necessity to keep the government accountable and aware of what the people want.

As a First Nations person, Vallevand notes it can be difficult working in government. Though her job is officially non-partisan, she’s proud to work for the Hon. Larry Bagnell, a politician, she truly believes, who works for the people. At the office, Vallevand takes on the task of running the Yukon Youth Council, due to her passion for youth empowerment.

Vallevand’s passion for working with youth extends past the walls of our Member of Parliament’s office. She is a youth facilitator and regularly helps run Lateral Violence Workshops with her business partner Aurora Hardy (another young adult, Kwanlin Dun First Nation) throughout the territory. These workshops are directed towards indigenous youth and they address lateral violence, which is emotional and physical violence directed against one’s peers.

In Vallevand’s opinion, intergenerational trauma, racism and the feeling of loss of power all contribute towards this violence.

To further help her indigenous community, Vallevand  and Hardy also routinely conduct Blanket Exercises across the Yukon. The Blanket exercise is an interactive exercise where blankets are placed across the floor to represent the land and participants are taken through the history of Indigenous Peoples and colonization. Participants then read through Canada’s history in a manner that highlights the Indigenous perspective, while the blankets are manipulated to correspond with the history. Vallevand and Hardy  were trained through Respectful Workplace and Kwanlin Dun First Nation. Their business is based out of Whitehorse, Yukon.

Though it was originally created for youth, an increasing number of adults are partaking in the blanket exercise. Vallevand believes this demographic shift is happening because it’s such an amazing interactive learning opportunity, with an authentic human connection.

Vallevand described the workshop as building a bridge between the indigenous and non-indigenous communities.

She says that she’s thankful to be a part of such positive, beautiful and meaningful work. This is a path Vallevand wants to continue. She looks towards the future with a desire to spread lateral kindness and strengthen her community.

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