Dawson City, Yukon Friday, February 16, 2001

Just before this issue came out, the Yukon government announced that there would be no official ice bridge this year (see story below). Things do change sometimes. Check next issue for more on this subject. Photo by Dan Davidson

Feature Stories

Peewees Win Gold at Yukon Championships
Dawson Ice-Bridge Unlikely This Winter
Dawson City Office Raid Was Appalling, Says Councillor
Dawson Staff Told to "Back Away from their Computers"
Tri-Continental Gives Dawson the Blues
The Double Bob Bash
Dawsonites Getting Back on Line
Editorial: Knowing We Are Not Alone

Welcome to the Feb. 16, 2001 edition of the online Klondike Sun, which reproduces a selection of the 19 photographs and 25 articles which were in the 24-page February 13 hard copy edition. This Feb. 23rd posting is late due to the collapse of one of the Yukon's internet service providers. Our next on-line issue should be on time.

Peewees Win Gold at Yukon Championships

by Paul Marchand

Our Peewee players cleaned up at the Yukon Championships. Photo by Paul Derry

The story reads like a Hollywood manuscript. You know; the one where a rag tag bunch of hicks from the sticks walk in to a big tournament and win it all, against all odds, a real Cinderella story as it were.

This dream happened in reality January 28 in Haines Junction for the Dawson/Teslin Outlaws. Six kids from Teslin, five from Dawson, and two underage all stars from the Junction who had never even met, much less played hockey together, teamed up at the Yukon Peewee Hockey Championships and walked away sporting gold medals and an impressively large trophy.

The Outlaws started off strong, despite zero game experience this season, beating Mt. Lorne in the opening game of round robin play 5-1. Alexander Derry won the "Hustler Award" for his stellar performance, and Aaron Johnston was voted Most Sportsman Like Player.

On Saturday morning, the team faced its toughest opponent, Frizzel Petroleum, a strong positional team from Whitehorse. The chemistry was beginning to show in the youngsters, as they peppered the all star goalie with shots, to no avail. Frizzel won 3-2.

The Outlaws finished off round robin play against another Whitehorse team later in the day, squeezing out a 3-2 victory in the last 24 seconds of regulation time to earn a berth in the semi final against Yellow Cab, also out of Whitehorse.

Yellow Cab gave the Outlaws a strong game, but thanks to efforts from Donald Russell in front of the net and the Campbell brothers from Haines Junction, the Outlaws won 2-1. This meant they could sleep in Sunday and play in the final. This also meant they would face the winner of the next game: either the host team from Haines Junction, or the team that beat them earlier, Frizzell Petroleum. The Communities were allowed to be proud, as no Whitehorse teams would play for gold on Sunday. Haines Junction showed the strength of their minor hockey program, and promised to give the Outlaws a challenge.

The fun for the day was not over. A skills competition took place late Saturday night including a pylon race, speed race, shot accuracy test, and breakaway and hardest shot competitions. Official individual results were not published as the award went to the team with the most points, but some of the Dawson stats were heard during the competition. Kyle Isaac registered a 96 km/h slap shot to take third place in the hardest shot competition, while Karl Knutson shot a respectable 86 km/h. Donald Russell showed some good moves to score countless times against every goalie at the tournament. David Gammie fared well in the pylon race, winning one of two tries, and Alexander Derry stopped all but three breakaway shots against the territory's best snipers.

Sunday's Final was as good a peewee hockey game as we are ever likely to see. The hometown fans come out in droves with noisemakers, signs and plenty of intimidation for the Outlaws. The first period saw both teams playing a good defensive with Reid Campbell and Teslin's Cole Hunking keeping the Junction's star centre at bay. Things opened up for the rest of the game, with a five goal effort from Kyle Isaac, many spectacular saves from both netminders, and strong defence from Karl Knutson and George Sydney. Dawson/ Teslin won 7-4, and walked away with a new group of friends to go with their medals and trophy. The whole tournament was well run with many thanks to Yukon Amateur Hockey, the Host Village of Haines Junction, Frank Thomas for getting the Teslin crew together and teaching this coach a few tricks behind the bench and Paul Derry for sorting out the details, driving and acting as chaperone. Congratulations boys, well done!


Dawson Ice-Bridge Unlikely This Winter

WHITEHORSE - (February 2, 2001) People who live in Dawson are unlikely to have an ice-bridge across the Yukon River this winter.

"The weather this winter has not been cold enough to allow for construction of an ice bridge," said Pam Buckway, Minister of Community and Transportation Services. "It is simply not safe.

We have looked at all possible routes for construction of an ice bridge, but so far we haven't found a safe route."

There are a number of areas of open water in the Yukon River and the ice that has formed is not thick enough to safely support trucks or other motor vehicles.

Test drilling indicates there is only about 11 inches of weak ice on the river. About 42 inches of solid ice is needed to ensure the safe transport of trucks and heavy equipment.

The Yukon's Director of Transportation Maintenance, Robert Magnuson, estimates 2 to 3 weeks of minus-30 degree weather is needed to enable crews to build a safe ice bridge. By mid-February the sun starts to degrade the ice making construction difficult if not impossible.

Officials from the Department of Community and Transportation Services will continue to monitor the situation and explore all possible solutions.

In the meantime, warning signs have been posted along the shoreline telling people that the ice is unstable.

People who do choose to take their vehicles on the ice do so at their own risk.


Dawson City Office Raid Was Appalling, Says Councillor

by Dan Davidson

"They could have just asked us for whatever they wanted," said Dawson councillor Joann Van Nostrand in the wake of a raid by federal officials on Dawson's town offices on Tuesday, January 30.

Van Nostrand, who had just returned from holidays, was not at the office when officials with the Department of the Environment, escorted by RCMP officers, arrived at the office on Tuesday afternoon, but town staff have filled her in on a raid which she says was conducted like some sort of a drug bust.

"Their conduct was appalling," Van Nostrand said of the federal officials. "All that was missing was a demand for everyone to lie down on the floor."

The unwelcome guests, who numbered well over half a dozen, presented three warrants to town staff, demanding access to everything that had anything to do with the city's water and sewer system. They covered the City Office, Public Works Building and the Pumphouse.

"They were to seize all documents, computers and materials related to the water and sewer issue."

"They weren't RCMP warrants," Van Nostrand said. "They were from the Department of the Environment."

Staff were instructed to leave their desks, touch nothing on them, leave the phones unanswered and depart the building while the search was conducted through filing cabinets and hard drives. Some computers were actually removed from the building, but were returned the next day.

"The question we're asking is why are they doing this when it's public knowledge that we're building a treatment plant," Van Nostrand said.

She said the action seemed to be based on the single water test which the city failed last summer. That test was the result of a complaint filed by an unidentified organization and carried out under RCMP supervision at the Fifth Avenue screening plant the day that the town began to allow the dumping of educted residential sewage after an early summer ban.

Van Nostrand says this particular test, called a "grab sample", was carried out shortly after an eduction truck had visited the plant. The town passed all of the more rigorous scientific testing (such as the regular LC50 tests) during the summer of 2000.

She notes that there have been many years, especially during the three dry years preceding 2000, that the town failed far more than one test, but nothing like this has happened previously.

What the investigators did not know was that territorial employees were also in the office that day, consulting on the sewer project with the town, and Van Nostrand says they told her they were disgusted by the way the raid was carried out and will be taking that message back to their territorial bosses.

"We'll certainly be asking (Premier) Pat Duncan to talk to the feds about this," said the irate councillor.

Information about Dawson's sewage situation is pretty widely available. The Department of Indian and Northern Affairs is well aware of Dawson's current plans and has been consulting with the town in order to help guide it through the regulatory maze connected with the treatment plant. Just last month Mayor Glen Everitt and City Manager Jim Kincaid reported to council about the friendly atmosphere at these meetings.

Van Nostrand also indicates that by far the majority of the documents relating to this issue are public anyway, having been filed with the Yukon Territorial Water Board over the last two or three years.

"We could easily have provided copies if they had just asked. The manner this was carried out is just unacceptable."


Dawson Staff Told to "Back Away from their Computers"

by Dan Davidson

City of Dawson staff and administration are saying that it was Environment Canada's representative, George Balmer, who was the most objectionable member of the four person federal team who, along with four members of the RCMP, staged a raid on the town's offices on Tuesday.

There were also officials from the Department of Fisheries.

The warrants from the Department of the Environment were apparently based on the town's failure of a water sample test taken last August. While a spokesperson for the environmental protection branch has said that the August 2000 raid was in response to a complaint about sewage seeping into the Yukon River, the samples taken at the time were from the screening plant on Fifth Avenue.

Joanne Van Nostrand acknowledged that the town has been without a valid water license for a year now, but noted that this was not the community's fault. The recommendations forwarded by the Yukon Territorial Water Board to the federal DIAND minister, Robert Nault, arrived on his desk shortly after New Years, 2000, and he took until after the May 2000 Gold Show to respond to them.

His response was that he could not approve them as they were written. That left it up to him or the Water Board to call some sort of new hearing to decide what to do about Dawson's situation, and that has never been done.

No doubt, said Van Nostrand, the reason for this is that the council had already announced that it was going ahead with the construction of a secondary sewage treatment plant. Those plans won't meet the deadlines in its previous water license, but no one seemed to mind that, and federal officials with DIAND have been assisting the town in putting its plan into place as recently as just before Christmas.

Van Nostrand says that when the eight person team arrived they "basically asked everyone to back away from their computers. Then they drew a floor plan with the desks so they could put everybody's name on whose desk it was. They told everybody not to use the phones and told everybody to leave except for Dale (Courtice the town's treasurer), who was allowed to stay.

"They had RCMP officers with computer experience and they went through everyone's computer. They backed up the server, actually removed a couple of the computers and then brought them back the next day."

Balmer is the official cited as having the most objectionable manner of anyone on the team by city staff, one of whom was angry enough to offer to contribute a stool sample before leaving the building. The staffer prefers to remain anonymous. Van Nostrand said the RCMP officers, one of whom was a former member of the Dawson detachment, behaved quite professionally.

The town administration will be filing complaints about this action and how it was carried out.

The warrants don't explain any reason why they were there, exactly what they were after or who made the complaint in the first place, though Vic Enns, acting manager of environmental protection, has said that full disclosure would have to come if charges were laid.

Van Nostrand and Mayor Glen Everitt (with whom she has been in contact) are still puzzled as to what the rather expensive raid could have netted that the town would not have been willing to hand over if they had only been asked.

Responding to the Yukon Conservation Society's defence of the raid and the suggestion that it simply shows the seriousness of the sewage problem in Dawson, Van Nostrand pointed to a thick scientific study which demonstrated that Dawson's total daily effluent discharge was equal to fifteen seconds worth of the natural silt and animal waste already to be found in the Yukon River.

She said that any suggestion that Dawson's sewer outfall made a significant contribution to the decline in the salmon run, as suggested by a YCS comment on CBC radio on Thursday, was ridiculous.



by Palma Berger

Migrations is the theme of the latest show at the ODD gallery. Photo by Palma Berger

The theme of the current art show at the Odd Gallery is "Migrations" . Let's take a look. What, where are those large sized paintings beautifully framed? There is nothing but smaller and (except for one display) unframed creations. Small enough to fit in a 9" x 12" envelope and smaller, and "creations" because they are created out of every and any thing.

This, as explained to me, is Mail Art. To find out what Mail Art is I went to Paul Henderson who came to Dawson this winter just to take the course on "Arts for Employment" program offered at the Klondike Institute of the Arts and Culture.

Paul explained that Mail Art originated in the 50's and 60's as a reaction against the status quo when Art was controlled by Big Business, Big Galleries, Big Name artists and Big Pictures were the vogue. Alternate art forms began to develop as in street theatre. An exchange of fun ideas began with Mail Art. People with no great talent but an enthusiasm of ideas could partake. Kids loved it. You created your own little creation out of anything at hand, slipped it in an envelope, and mailed it off to a friend or pen-pal. They received something from you which could be fun, deliver a message, was different, and was not to be found in any Art Gallery. Thus bypassing the major Art Centres such as Toronto and New York, and reaching other countries and out of the way places in this country. It has become an international phenomenon. And is more personal than the internet.

It is an exchange of fun ideas with no real monetary value, and artists began taking back their own space.

At the showing of Mail Art in Dawson's Odd Gallery there are about 70 pieces made out of photographs, collages, some quilting, fibre and beads, colour copy of a watercolour, cartoons, white glue and markers, poetry, a message written on acetate placed over a photograph, the remnants left from a trip on the Stewart Highway. If you can imagine it is there. None of this work is juried. All that came in for the request for Mail Art was accepted.

'Migration' was in the ants (beads) moving across ground, vegetation migrating across a road, migration of people, winnebagoes migrating north to see the midnight sun, someone migrating south because there is no work in the Yukon.

The titles were intriguing - "Original Values Transformed by Relocation" was a plastic bag full of little junk. "We are just recycled dust of a Super Nova" (that migrated to earth), From New Mexico, "I have been there and back."

There was work from New Mexico, Alaska, Virginia, Yukon, Quebec, British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, and right across Canada.

This assembling of this Mail Art exhibition is the brainchild and work of Stephanie Burchell and Sandra St. Laurent of Whitehorse, both of whom have training in art, have traveled widely , and are experienced in Mail Art. They are pleased with the response from so many places and seeing so many ideas expressed.

They chose "Migrations" as the theme as the Yukon has experienced so much of this.

Any of you who have felt the urge to add an extra squiggle or decoration to an envelope or to the letter inside, are really a Mail Artist in the making, and add to the joy of the recipient who may be so tired of the everyday letters or forms.

P.S. On the same night upstairs, was the movie "Touched" with an absolutely marvelous performance by Vanessa Redgrave as an aging hard-drinking cafe owner with her raspberry red hair flying off in all directions. A film with not the usual characters, but so honest it telling it like it is, but with enough humour so you are not weighed down. If you missed it here, and get another chance to see it, don't miss it.


Tri-Continental Gives Dawson the Blues

By Palma Berger

Madagascar Slim, Bill Bourne and Lester Quitzau in concert. Photo by Mario Villeneuve

Tri-Continental, the group that performed at the Oddfellows Hall last Thursday were at first warmly welcomed, then wildly received.

These musicians offered their blues which have evolved from a background of Celtic, blues, folk and Malagasy rhythms.

The members came from different backgrounds and continents. Bill Bourne, well known and loved in Dawson City has roots in Iceland where his great grandfather was Poet Laureate.

He has played with a Scottish group, paired up with Alan McLeod to perform as Bourne and McLeod. He has also been welcomed back to Dawson as plain Bill Bourne with his Celtic/folk style music.

Lester Quitzau began with a "solid blues apprenticeship in the funky working-class bars of Edmonton." He is noted for his slide guitar. Honesty and integrity count very much with him and his music.

Randriamanajara Radolfa Bestata Jean Longin was born in the capital of Madagascar. Thankfully he has adopted the stage name of "Madagascar Slim". Slim he is not, but his music honestly reflects his origins. He came to Canada in 1979 to study accounting but fortunately, his love of music took over. He has created a new sound, the 'Malagasy Blues'.

Between them, they have received 3 Juno awards and 9 Juno nominations.

The show opened with the song, "One Heart" with Bourne's easily recognizable voice. The whole group, with guitars joined in and they soon had the audience giving out loud Yahoos, and clapping and whistling their appreciation. That set the mood.

In "Dance and Celebrate", an old Bourne and McLeod song, the audience joined in the toe tapping and the vibrations could be felt through the floor. The conclusion was almost drowned out by the cheers and the clapping.

Bourne told the crowd, "It is good to be back in Dawson". Slim added, "But it is cold." To warm us up he brought us a song from warm Madagascar. It was quieter and warmed our hearts.

The audience remarked on their great keyboarding, the slide guitar, their use of chords, their complex rhythms. As local musician Joe Vigneau enthused , "This was totally different. I loved the variety of language as well as the variety of music. This was so unique."

The friendly rapport between the musicians showed they were also friends as well as musicians. When Lester Quitzau remarked on the beauty of the snow when traveling up here, and the thrill he experienced when given a ride with a dog team. Slim had to dryly remark, "To each his own." But Quitzau pointed out that it was just that Slim didn't like the exhaust from the dogs. Slim suffered a little from adjusting to the cool climate as well as from the friendly digs from his fellow musicians.

Quitzau went into "Waiting" showing his inclination for a good gospel sound in his music. At the end the crowd again erupted in appreciation.

Slim explained that his Malagasy sounds have influences from Africa. Africa being only 400 miles away from his island, they can easily pick up Africa on the radio. As he commenced his song, he was joined in his language and with the guitars of the other two. The crowd was quiet and engrossed to the end, then broke out into their wild applause.

At one stage when Bourne asked the audience. "Do we have blues lovers here?" the roof nearly came off in response.

The whole evening went over so well that when the musicians presented their last piece and then exited, the audience would not have it. They stood, clapped, cheered and stomped their feet and carried on until the group came back. The audience was rewarded with three extra pieces, and the group were finally allowed to go.

Tri-Continental were brought to Dawson by Dawson City Music Festival with Dominic Lloyd at the helm. On their return to Whitehorse they will be performing at Frostbite.


The Double Bob Bash

by Dan Davidson

Berton House writer Maureen Hull (left) and Bonnie Nordling (right) parade in with the haggis during the Double Bob Bash. Photo by Dan Davidson

The Library Board organized this year's celebration of the lives of two poets, Robert Service and Robert Burns, who happen to share the month of January. It moves around, but this year it returned to Saint Mary's old school classroom on January 27, where devotees of the bards provided a pot luck dinner, desserts and good cheer.

The haggis itself was somewhat deflated, having exploded while it was heating. The puir, wee, reconstructed guest of honour looked rather like a flattened Yorkshire pudding surrounded by a salad. It was paraded in by Bonnie Nordling and Berton House writer in residence Maureen Hull. The address, by a sword swinging Bonnie, was rather violent, but Father Tim Coonen survived the onslaught.

Real enthusiasts had been practicing Celtic folk dancing under the instruction of dance master Neil Procop, for a couple of weekends and took to the floor for a few turns.

What would such an evening be without poetry, and a number of people contributed to readings of poems by Service and Burns. If Service somewhat outnumbered hi predecessor, it was because of the school students, many of whom had recently participated in the territorial Service Recitation, and so were ready for this event too. Everyone did a good job and it was a fun evening.

Someone has noted that Bob Marley's birthday also falls in this month. Can't you just imagine a Triple Bob, with highland flings danced to a reggae beat and people dressed in kilts and dreadlocks?


Dawsonites Getting Back on Line

by Dan Davidson

A tired Jorn Meier wraps up a two-hour internet instruction session in the Downtown Hotel conference room. Photo by Dan Davidson

Dawson City is getting back on-line as quickly as possible, though the disruption caused here by the collapse of Internet Yukon has been great. The Whitehorse based internet service provider had established a working relationship with the Dawson City Chamber of Commerce and the Klondike Visitors Association which made using that service an attractive option for many businesses and individuals in town.

The only internet option in Dawson was the service offered by YKNet and they just weren't ready to handle the sudden influx of new customers.

Fortunately there was a business in Dawson which could help them out. At Klondike Infotech Jorn Meier and his small staff of two and a half people had put in sixty hours working on YKNet hookups between Jan. 24 and 29, with an exceptionally heavy load once Clay Perrault made his historic announcement on January 26.

"I lost my weekend and pretty much all of my business days to this," he said last Monday evening.

Meier was out on Monday night trying to make life a little easier for himself by talking 5 or 6 users through the internet set-up process in various version of Windows 95 and 98, while few Macintosh users sat around and tried to translate to process from what they were seeing on the chamber's digital projector.

"I'm trying to move as many people as possible as quickly as possible," said that tired Meier.

YKNet didn't really have the technology base in Dawson to handle the load it had to assume, but Meier said they had moved in an additional 8 modems to bring their total up to 24, and had plans to install another 8 stand-alone modems soon.

Initially, however, YKNet was stuck trying to handle twice its regular customer load on the same number of modem connections it had been using up until last week, and that made for some frustratingly slow connections.

As it stands, a typical Dawson user with a 56 k modem who had been enjoying a data transfer rate of 36800 kilobytes per second is now putting along at 26400 and will be for awhile. It does get up to 33600 on some connections and the lab at RSS enjoys a blazing 57000.

"I expect a pretty tough situation for the next few days," Meier said, but he noted that YKNet has expanded the bandwidth it uses to a greater size than Internet Yukon was using, so speed will improve.

Klondike Infotech does web site development and hosting for a number of Dawson businesses, but does not have its own dial-up service yet. Does the Dawson computer entrepreneur think he would ever get into the dial-up business himself?

"I'm certainly going to go for it at some point," he said, "but this is way too crazy for me right now."


Editorial: Knowing We Are Not Alone

by Palma Berger

W. O. Mitchell once said of government cutbacks to the arts, "They think that Arts are a luxury," he said. "They are not. They are how we know we are not alone."

A letter writer to CBC This Morning further added, " It (the above) seems to explain what it is about art that can reach inside us and squeeze a flash of soul to soul communication into our being. Art equals the presence of humanity."

This can explain why perfect strangers can pause at the sound of some music and look at each other and smile. Each knows the other has been touched the same way by that piece and, together, even for a moment, they share it.

The same thing happens to people who gravitate towards one painting in an Art Show. It is in the cluster of people gathering after a play or performance. They know they share something for a short while before their busy lives take over.

If they don't share the same ideas that is fine. Each is inspired in his own way. If they find someone inspired the same way that is great. If not, this then provides the opening for more discussion and further sharing of ideas. Ideas if not immediately agreed upon offer the stimulation to further develop other ideas.

Arts are also a business. Albeit the creators and caretakers are underfunded, but the arts generate so much business in our communities with the purchasing of material, the sales people to sell the product and so on.

Another thing about our art and our culture, it is the business of ideas. Our culture is what we have evolved into. Which is why we have museums. They preserve for us the history of where we came from. If we don't know where we came from, we don't know how we got here, then how do we know where we are going?

They in short, give us direction as well. They also preserve for us ideas that were started, and then abandoned for some reason. The preservation of these ideas ensure that they will be there for someone to pick up on again in another time.

Arts and Culture are about ideas. This is why the artists and writers are the first to be hounded by authoritarian governments.

That is on the political side. On the more personal side and more intimate side it is ideas and inspirations that fuel our personal gas tanks. The task of making a living, the cares and strife of life can really drain, but it is the stimulation provided by ideas and inspiration and keeping in touch with our humanity that refuel us.

As W. O. Mitchell said, "The Arts are not a luxury."


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