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Premier's Award of Excellence and Innovation

The Premier's Award of Excellence and Innovation celebrates the good work of the public service and showcases the talents of our employees.

2018 recipients

Individual category

Anna Pearson, Manager, Departmental Library, Energy, Mines and Resources
Public Service

In 2015 when Environment closed their reference library, Energy, Mines and Resources was asked to take on their collections and provide library services to the department. It was a huge project that involved a major weeding and reconfiguration of the EMR collection. Anna demonstrated her commitment to high quality service and inter-departmental collaboration by ensuring there would be continued public and government access to valuable reports and documents. Anna also initiated the Seed Library, an innovative program that is now in its fourth year. It is helping to nurture a thriving community of local gardeners, growers and seed savers and supporting them through the process of growing and harvesting. Another project Anna initiated is digitizing and making available online through the EMR Library, over 40,000 aerial photos through the GIS application, Skyline. This massive undertaking included setting standards, investigating software, establishing procedures, negotiating the price of scanning, training staff, and securing funding. Anna makes significant contributions to community events and organizations including the annual EMR Library book sale to raise funds for the Whitehorse Food Bank.

Heather Jirousek, Director, Water Resources, Environment
Excellence in Leadership

During a period of re-organization at Environment’s Water Resources Branch, Heather Jirousek has demonstrated her unwavering responsiveness to her staff. Heather deftly oversaw the creation of the "Water Resources Scientist" term position, which relieved workload pressures related to environmental assessment and quartz mine and water licensing. She used considerable skill to advocate for this position during a time of fiscal restraint. This has alleviated workload significantly within the branch, particularly for the branch's senior scientists and ensured that the government continues to minimize risk associated with potential environmental and financial liabilities. When groundwater emerged as a new program area from the Yukon Water Strategy, Heather oversaw the creation of the permanent "Water Resources Technologist- Groundwater" position, which greatly enhanced the ability of the branch to meet its groundwater-related goals and objectives. Heather patiently coordinated an office move that will take place later this year that will allow the Water Quality team to finally work in a common location. This will help minimize redundancies, enhance operational programming, and create mentorship opportunities. The office move will create significant efficiencies that will continue to improve the performance of branch staff. More than that, Heather did it all with characteristic empathy, humility, and good humour.

Laura Scott, Administrative and Intake Assistant, Public Safety and Investigations, Justice
Outstanding Achievement

Laura provides a courteous, proficient, and wide ranging service to a diverse range of groups. Laura provides a very unique administrative role to the SCAN unit. Under the SCAN legislation Laura is required to manage confidential information and relay this information to the SCAN investigators. In providing this support to our unit Laura has developed a very high level of trust from the team members. She is called upon to support the SCAN team in high risk situations such as setting timers and checking on investigators well-being while out in the field. It is these kinds of roles that Laura takes on without any hesitation or reserve as these are added duties to Laura's day to day administrative duties. Laura provides a high level of service to inmate complainants and appellants who may exhibit challenging behaviors. Laura creates a productive and efficient work dynamic through a positive attitude with everything she does. Laura continues to take on new tasks and builds new skills. She recently took on the implementation of the ESRI and GIS software for SCAN and spent time learning the new platform. This new software will help the SCAN unit monitor case load and provide real data to create a more efficient unit. Laura truly embodies the spirit of collaboration, excellence, and innovation in the Yukon government and is the backbone to the Public Safety and Investigations team. Our team would not be capable of achieving excellence without Laura's contribution.

Rachel Burkhart, Manager, Community Nursing, Health and Social Services
Excellence in Leadership

Rachel's management style is truly one of a kind. She leads her people in a collaborative approach and manner, where all team members are included and feel that they have a voice and are a part of the decision making process in the daily functioning at the health centres. Rachel is exceptionally approachable and lets her staff know that she is always available if they are in need of support or direction. As Rachel has performed the role of both Primary Health Care Nurse and Primary Health Care Nurse – Nurse in Charge she is very aware of what the job duties and responsibilities are as well as the stress that her staff may be experiencing. She is remarkably approachable, open, and honest with her staff. She is also generally aware of the issues that are occurring in communities, and can be found offering support to her staff before situations become a crisis. One of Rachel's exceptional leadership skills, is helping her staff learn and develop strengths that she sees within them. Her manner of correcting behaviour is done in strengths-based approach, which leads staff toward wanting to improve rather than walking away in anger or frustration. Rachel deals with her staff in a positive approach, which helps to increase staff morale and productivity.

Shannon McNevin, Product Development Officer, Tourism and Culture
Outstanding Achievement

Shannon's expertise, experience, insight and practical approach to her work are valued and recognized by her clients, colleagues and tourism partners in Yukon and across the country. She takes a people-centred approach, which has created loyalty, trust and positive relationships with her clients and her colleagues. Shannon played an integral role in the development of pan-territorial Business, Market and Trade Ready standards and learning resources for the northern Canada's tourism sector (referred to as the BMT project). The BMT project was a multi-year initiative that was co-funded by Northwest Territories Tourism, Nunavut Tourism, Government of Yukon and Government of Canada. During this project, Shannon spent countless hours developing the training materials with input from representatives in the other territories. She very quickly proved to be a proficient, thorough and knowledgeable member of the pan-territorial team, and became the final authority on content and curriculum. Through this initiative, she has driven and fostered pan-territorial collaboration which has enhanced additional initiatives and efforts for government and tourism organizations across the north. This project has already drawn the attention of national tourism organizations and Shannon has shared some of the work she completed for this initiative with Destination Canada for the Canadian Signature Experiences Program.

Small team category

Civic Addressing Team
Community Services: Carolyn Moore, Damien Burns, Maryse Sevigny, Randy Diceman, Yanik Freeman, Zoe Morrison
Economic Development: Jordan Stackhouse
Energy, Mines and Resources: Graham White, Jennifer Taylor
Highways and Public Works: Adam MacCannell, Aubrey Sicotte, Evan Wise

Community Affairs staff identified the need for civic addressing in rural Yukon in response to the need for improved emergency response. They initially undertook a pilot project, working with Local Advisory Councils to assign civic addresses in the Whitehorse periphery. Having successfully 'addressed' the Whitehorse periphery, Community Affairs Branch conceptualized a larger civic addressing project that would see all of rural Yukon receive house numbers and street names. Using limited funding the team pioneered an innovative approach to achieve civic addressing across Yukon. The team used aerial photograph interpretation and integrated those results into GIS mapping and existing database systems to assign a civic address to every rural residence in the unincorporated areas of the Yukon. The result of this approach provided the department preliminary addressing which was 85% accurate and at a fraction of the cost of more traditional methods. Public meetings were held across Yukon and approximately five hundred residents attended to provide feedback and improve the accuracy of the civic addressing data to 100%. This innovative approach provided civic addresses to approximately 3500 properties in unincorporated Yukon which did not previously have addresses. All of this has been accomplished through key external/internal partnerships, ingenuity and innovation, and a passionate commitment from all to building a safer Yukon.

Housing Forum Secretariat
Outstanding Achievement
Yukon Housing Corporation: Hannah McDonald, Mary Cameron, Sarah Murray, Tim Sellars

In the fall of 2017, the Yukon Housing Corporation, assumed the role of the Provincial/Territorial Housing Forum Secretariat, taking over the role from British Columbia. On November 22, Canada announced the launch of the National Housing Strategy, a first for Canada, with a commitment to engage provinces and territories as primary partners and committing to 10 years of new funding. With the announcement of the National Housing Strategy on November 22, the Yukon Housing Corporation team was thrust into the position of leading provincial and territorial governments in the negotiation of a partnership framework that would bring the National Housing Strategy to life. Starting from the day that the National Housing Strategy was launched, the team coalesced to explore and gain understanding of the interrelated roles of Yukon as advocate, liaison, communicator and negotiator. Once they had their feet on the ground, they began to engage with Canada, establish strong networking connections with the other provinces and territories, clarify points of agreement and identify issues that arose, all while ensuring that Yukon interests were reflected. Challenges continued to arise as there were significant gaps between positions of the negotiating parties. Through interest-based discussions, position development, leveraging and difficult negotiations, consensus was able to be achieved and Canada and the provinces and territories were able to reach consensus on a new partnership framework upon which the National Housing Strategy will be implemented.

Yukon Physical Literacy Program - Curriculum Development Team
Outstanding Achievement
Community Services: Trevor Twardochleb
Education: Chris Kirk, Dwayne Stoker, James Shaw, Jeff Cressman, Sarah Taylor, Tamara Boiteau, James Snider

In December of 2015 this team of people came together from Education, Community Services’ Sport and Recreation Branch and Sport Yukon to begin building the new curriculum for Grades 3-7 on physical literacy. The work went beyond just the development of the curriculum itself including lesson plans, and putting it in a manual format with supporting photos, examples, tools needed along with an implementation plan and training modules for teachers. This collaborative work between education and sport professionals is unique in Canada for the development and implementation of a curriculum resource in physical literacy. Yukon is the only jurisdiction so far that has developed a working partnership between education and sport to work on a unique physical literacy curriculum for students in Yukon in Grades 3-7. This has resulted in the "one of a kind" curriculum for physical literacy. Presentation of this curriculum has been shared at both a national and international conference on physical literacy with tremendous results. The Canadian Sport for Life Association is looking to partner with Yukon so the curriculum can be shared across Canada, and the charity Jumpstart is interested in assisting and supporting the training of teachers in Yukon. This project was born in Yukon, will have sustainable and lasting results in Yukon and will also be shared with the rest of Canada as a valuable tool for teaching and supporting physical literacy across the country. Yukon was truly a "trail blazer" in this area.

YWCHSB Community Outreach and Education Team
Public Service
Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board: Natalie Thivierge, Noah Chaikel, Vanessa Stewart

A decade ago the Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board began working with stakeholders on ways to improve the health and safety of young and new workers in Yukon workplaces. As a result, the “Work Shouldn’t Hurt” high school education program was established. Since that time, the Community Outreach and Education Team’s efforts have expanded to include almost a dozen outreach programs and activities, six educational programs, and three full curricula for Yukon elementary school students. With the delivery of these materials the Board has noted a considerable drop in reported workplace injuries among young workers. This growth, expansion and measurable success is due almost entirely to the self-motivated leadership and singular vision of Natalie Thivierge and her colleagues Noah Chaikel and Vanessa Stewart. These three, known as the "LearnSafe team," are remarkable public servants who regularly exceed expectations and have a measurable positive impact on Yukoners. They are regularly in Yukon classrooms, reaching students from kindergarten through college. They visit organizations to reach workers who are new to Yukon workplaces, including immigrants and older people re-entering the workforce. They frequently develop new information, programs, and activities as they identify needs in the community. These three are exemplary public servants and they make a direct difference every day in the lives of Yukon citizens, young and old.

Recognition Criteria

Recognition criteria (general and specific) represent what government most values in public servants. Accomplishments, service and contributions that demonstrate at least one of the general criteria and at least one of the specific criteria may lead to a Premier’s Award.

General Criteria

  1. Promotes a high standard of customer service.
  2. Promotes the organization’s stated outcomes.
  3. Demonstrates commitment to continuing improvement.
  4. Provides a role model for the public sector or community.
  5. Promotes, where possible, inter-agency or inter-departmental collaboration.
  6. Demonstrates commitment to achieving value for money.
  7. Demonstrates the achievement of social, economic and/or environmental improvement.

Specific Criteria

1. Quality service. Exceptional levels of service or on-going quality service to the public and in the public interest by an individual or team which may include:

  • quality, timeliness, accessibility and reliability of services delivered;
  • creativity and innovation to meet client needs;
  • significant improvements to an existing process or program (cost savings can be a sub-element); or
  • the creation of a benefit or positive long term impact on clients, stakeholders or Yukon citizens’ lives.

2. Leadership. Exemplary leadership of a project, program or team that:

  • enhances the quality of the workplace for employees and contributes to the enhancement of diversity, safety and health, workplace culture and employee development;
  • improves workplace processes by changing existing procedures for the better, reducing costs or increasing efficiencies;
  • delivers a one-time or ongoing contribution to clients or the public;
  • demonstrates a strong “people” element (i.e. leadership is committed, involved and creates and sustains a participatory environment);
  • demonstrates well defined strategic direction;
  • demonstrates human resource planning and practices which contribute to work unit effectiveness and outcomes;
  • creates a continuous learning environment which contributes to a skilled and motivated workforce; or
  • creates employee satisfaction and results in more effective work unit performance.

3. Innovation. Development of new ideas into tangible initiatives, including:

  • use of new technology to enhance program and service delivery or improve existing processes and procedures;
  • creation of new and unprecedented programs, services​ or opportunities for Yukoners​;
  • identification and pursuit of new opportunities for Yukon; or
  • demonstration of scientific excellence or a leap of creativity in public sector management work practices or service delivery. ​


M​ore information
​Liz Sutton​
Engagement and Communications Analyst
Public Service Commission

867-667-8160 ​