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Advancing Yukon First Nations today and for future generations: Meet 2024 Outstanding Alumni Award winner Regional Chief Kluane Adamek

March 20, 2024

SFU is proud to recognize Regional Chief Kluane Adamek (Aagé) with an Outstanding Alumni Award in the Service to the Community category for exemplifying values-driven leadership and acting as a global voice for environmental action.

A graduate of SFU’s Indigenous Business Leadership Executive MBA, Kluane has served as the Assembly of First Nations Yukon (AFN) Regional Chief since January 2018, advancing the priorities of all 14 Yukon First Nations.

As the AFN’s lead on climate change, she has established environmental action as a top priority for the organization. She has served on the Net-Zero Advisory Body to the Minister of Environment and most recently, was appointed as a board member of WWF Canada.

Kluane is a citizen of Kluane First Nation, and is from the Dakl’aweidi Clan. In 2023, she and her family welcomed their daughter, Tayāna Copper-Jane.

What stands out as a highlight of your career?

An incredibly powerful moment for our region was the development of a Yukon First Nation Reconnection Vision and action plan to address the impacts of climate change and identify solutions to move forward.

It reflects not only what Yukon First Nations people can do, but how all human beings can respond to climate change.

Some of the most profound learning has come from a bidirectional exchange with elders and young people. This work has led to an incredible plan that is developed and guided by young people, supported by elders and endorsed by the chiefs.

How did SFU impact your career?

For so many years, Indigenous peoples weren't able to take their rightful space and place in post-secondary institutions. Many would fairly argue that they weren’t created for us, and certainly not by us.

How do we reclaim the concept of lifelong learning that is so important to us in our communities, and balance it with a Western educational approach and model?

The Indigenous Business Leadership Executive MBA brought together business, finance and marketing with real-life examples from communities across the country, case studies, challenges and lived experiences from an Indigenous lens.

Importantly, I saw experienced, knowledgeable, skilled Indigenous people in decision-making roles making change in their communities.

I stepped into an elected political role at the same time as the program and even though there were incredibly challenging moments, I always felt supported by my classmates.

What is a piece of advice you would like to pass along to current students?

I would say to any person stepping into post-secondary studies or another new opportunity that welcoming vulnerability is really important. If you live by your values, then you're always going to feel good about the work you do, because you're connected to it.

I think in this society today, we need a whole lot more of empathy, compassion and integrity, and to apply those values in everything we do.

SFU will host the 2024 Outstanding Alumni Awards at an in-person event on Burnaby Campus April 24, 2024.

Save the date and join the excitement—all alumni and community members are welcome! Early bird tickets are available through the Outstanding Alumni Awards website.