"I am very, very happy that I’m going to be able to help other people, especially First Nations,” says Mitander.
In 1905, Skookum Jim put money into a trust for his daughter Daisy and her future children. Daisy died in 1938 without children. The money was then put back into the trust to support Yukon First Nations, and it was the called Daisy Mason Wellness Fund. The Commissioner of Yukon and the Bishop of the Anglican Church of the time were made trustees of the fund. Now over 115 years later, Edna Mitander of the Selkirk First Nation is the first ever recipient of the cash.
Mitander is Northern Tutchone from Dawson and now lives in Whitehorse. She is getting $750 to go towards her education as she attends the Professional Counsellor Diploma program at Rhodes Wellness College in Vancouver.
Mitander was presented the prize by the Commissioner of Yukon Angélique Bernard, the Bishop of the Anglican Church Lesley Wheeler-Dame, and Fund Advisory Committee member Adeline Webber this afternoon at historic Taylor House in the territory’s capital.
“Edna, you’re a part of history!” Bernard exclaimed after presenting the award.
She says she is excited to use her education to help others.
“When I think about Skookum Jim and I think about myself as a First Nations child growing up in Dawson City, I was born there, I used to play in the Klondike River and I’d envision him being up in Bonanza Creek 125 years ago. Now his legacy is trickling down to me to be able to spark joy in myself, to be able to spark joy in the future. I am immensely proud of being able to get this and I am very, very happy that I’m going to be able to help other people, especially First Nations,” says Mitander.
Mitander says she was inspired to get into the field after her own experiences dealing with mental health and she wants to help others hold their head high.
She says when her schooling is done, she plans to open her own practice in Whitehorse.