Government of Yukon hosts Youth Roots: a gathering to promote strategies for substance use prevention among Yukon youth

Press Release


The Government of Yukon hosted Youth Roots: A Substance Use Prevention Gathering to discuss and promote approaches to prevent youth substance use by emphasizing long-term, upstream solutions.

The two-day educational forum occurred in person and virtually November 16 and 17 at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre. It welcomed subject matter experts and health promotion practitioners, educators, researchers and community members from across the territory working in substance use prevention.

Goals of the event included confirming what is known about youth substance use in the Yukon and discussing, affirming and highlighting strengths and promising prevention practices. Local and international speakers shared knowledge and expertise about substance use trends, discussed risk and protective factors, and shared new approaches for promoting positive youth development and harm reduction strategies.

Keynote speakers included activist and award-winning author, Clayton Thomas-Müller, Research Manager for the Students Commission of Canada, Florence Bergeron, and Chief Analytics and Advisory Officer at Planet Youth, Dr. Ingibjorg Eva Thorisdottir. Presentation topics included healing from the violence of colonialism, plans and models for preventing substance-related harms among youth, and building positive and inclusive social and physical environments.

The Gathering was by invitation only. Keynote presentations are available on

This event was made possible in part by funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada through the Yukon Northern Wellness Project.

This was an inspiring gathering that designed to bring forward supportive solutions. By improving our understanding of the root causes of substance use, we will be able to better support youth in ensuring they can access the support they need to live happy, healthy and productive lives. There are no quick fixes in addressing problematic substance use but by developing more upstream programming and services, we can reduce inequities and work to prevent Yukoners from using substances.

Minister of Health and Social Services Tracy-Anne McPhee

Substance use is a significant public health issue in the Yukon. For youth in particular, avoiding or delaying the start of substance use can prevent a number of health risks then and later in life, so it’s a very important time in life for prevention. Education and awareness is not enough to prevent substance use; a community-wide, sustained effort at prevention is needed to see positive health benefits for our current and future generations.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Sudit Ranade

Quick facts

  • Substance use continues to be a challenge for Yukon youth and communities. The Government of Yukon declared a Substance Use Health Emergency earlier this year.
  • The Yukon government is hosting Youth Roots: A Substance Use Prevention Gathering to discuss and promote approaches aimed at preventing or delaying youth substance use by emphasizing long-term, upstream solutions.
  • Approximately 100-150 attendees attended, including health promotion practitioners, educators, researchers, policy analysts, and community members working in health, education and/or substance use prevention from across the Yukon, including those working in government, non-governmental organizations, and representatives from all 14 Yukon First Nations.
  • Trends and data suggest many aspects of youth health in the Yukon have not improved since 2010, with some key indicators suggesting further decline. This is especially true when it comes to mental wellness, which is strongly connected to substance use behaviour. More recent data suggests mental wellness has deteriorated among Yukon’s youth during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Renée Francoeur
Cabinet Communications
[email protected]

Thibaut Rondel
Communications, Health and Social Services
[email protected]


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