New online ‘handbook’ puts Canadian Indigenous history at your fingertips in Yukon

Outside the Carcross Tagish First Nation’s learning centre. A new book, called ‘ECHO: Ethnographic, Cultural and Historical Overview of Yukon’s First Peoples’ aims to be a handbook for anyone wanting to learn more about the territory’s Indigenous history. (Mike Rudyk/CBC)
When Yukon University instructor Victoria Castillo and some colleagues decided they needed a new resource book for teaching Indigenous history in the territory, they thought it would be a pretty straightforward job.

They had already collected a lot of material and readings to use in some of their classes, and they wanted to pull it all together into an up-to-date “handbook.”

“We thought it was going to take maybe six months to a year. It actually took us seven years to complete the book, as a group.” Victoria Castillo, Yukon University instructor

The book is called ECHO: Ethnographic, Cultural and Historical Overview of Yukon’s First Peoples, and it’s now available online to download for free.

It covers a lot of ground — from looking at the landscape and geology of Yukon, to Indigenous origin stories, to land claims and modern-day governance, art and culture.

“It’s a big overview,” Castillo says.

Yukon University instructors Victoria Castillo and Tosh Southwick, along with Christine Schreyer of the University of B.C., spent seven years putting the book together. (Yukon University)

Castillo and co-author Tosh Southwick have been teaching courses on Yukon Indigenous history and culture for years at what’s now Yukon University. A lot of the resource material they’d been using was decades-old, Castillo said, and sometimes the language was “dated.”

“So we wanted to put together something that kind of updated all of these amazing resources that already exist,” Castillo said.

Southwick said the intention in creating the book was to include both Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives. It was tough sometimes for the co-authors to agree on what to include, she said.

“We often hear about and read about ourselves in the North from people who live and work in the South. An interesting part for me was making sure there were northern perspectives in it.”Tosh Southwick, Yukon University instructor and co-author

“It was a great process. We didn’t always agree on what we were going to include, but we always got to a good spot and a good end.”

Castillo said one of the most interesting parts for her was interviewing people about some of the ongoing community-based research in Yukon — archeological, anthropological, historical — and including those interviews in the book.

“I think that those really stand out, because you see the relationships that have been built when proper research is done, when community-based research is happening and when people are feeling good about the work that’s being done in the territory,” she said.

The authors say that because the book exists as an online document, it can be updated and revised often to incorporate new research and new perspectives.

Southwick says the response to the book has already been great.

“I think the best response is from some youth who have reached out and said, ‘thank you, thank you for producing something here about us that is real and is authentic. It’s gone way further than I think we intended.” Tosh Southwick, Yukon University instructor and co-author

CBC News

For more news from Canada visit CBC News.

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

Leave a Reply

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.
Netiquette »

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *