First Indigenous president of Yukon University resigns to take over Indspire


Michael Degagne, the first Indigenous president of Yukon University, has resigned after working just two months in the position to take over the Indspire charity.

“It is with a heavy heart that I have made this decision. Yukon University is a fantastic institution,” he said in a Sept. 16 press release. “There is much to be proud of here. Yukon and Canada are fortunate to have such dedicated faculty, staff and executives working hard to make a difference for students, northerners and all Canadians.”

DeGagne told APTN News last month he was excited to join the university.

“It’s a wonderful time to be a part of this,” he said.

“The university is an opportunity for the Yukon to really take charge of its research, and of course, all the training and skills development that we’ve developed for the university here in our territory, (as well as) open us up to the rest of Canada.”

It was announced Friday that Degagne will soon be joining Indspire as its new president and CEO.

Indspire is Canada’s largest Indigenous charity, and is the second largest funder of Indigenous post-secondary education after the federal government.

Outgoing president and CEO Roberta Jamieson said in a release Degagne’s “determination to Indigenize education will help Indspire realize its goal of having every Indigenous youth graduate within a generation.”

Originally from Animakee Wa Zhing 37 First Nation in northwestern Ontario, DeGagne is Ojibway, and has a PhD in Education from Michigan State University.

He previously served as the founding executive director of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, which responded to the legacy of residential schools in Canada and its associated community health repercussions. He also lectures on  Indigenous governance and reconciliation.

He is best known for holding a seven term tenure as director of Nipissing University, from 2013-2020.

During his tenure, he took a leading role in Indiginizing Nipissing’s role in the post-secondary education sector, helped grow its graduate and undergraduate programs and oversaw a 70 per cent increase in research funding.

Yukon University’s board of governors has appointed Vice President University Services Maggie Matear as interim president and vice chancellor.

Sara Connors is originally from Nova Scotia and has a Journalism degree from the University of King’s College in Halifax. After graduation she worked in South Korea for two years as an English Language teacher and freelance journalist. After she returned home in 2019 she worked behind the scenes at CTV Atlantic in Halifax before joining APTN's Yukon bureau in July 2020.