Dawson City, Yukon Friday, February 4, 2000

Karen Dubois and Paula Pawlovich serenade the arrival of the Haggis. Photo by Dan Davidson

Feature Stories

An Evening with Rabbie and Robert
Two Dawson Men Receive Bravery Awards
Darlene St. Pierre: Ambushed by Ambiance
Catch Me Doing Something Right: A Mentorship Profile
Program Notes from the Klondike Institute of Arts and Culture
Odds and Ends from the Odd Ball
City News: Open Letter to the Yukon Conservation Society
Editorial: How to Get into the Klondike Sun

Welcome to the February 4th on-line edition of the Klondike Sun. This is the abridged version of our Feb. 1st hard copy edition, which was 20 pages long, containing 27 photographs and 19 news stories, the cartoon strips "Paws", and "City Snickers", our regular homemade Klondike Krossword puzzle and an installment of Albert's World. Getting a subscription (see the home page) is the only way you'll ever see it all.

An Evening with Rabbie and Robert

by Dan Davidson

Jack Fraser recites the "Address to a Haggis", as the master of the feast. Photo by Dan Davidson

With Robbie Burns born on January 25 and Robert Service on January 16, the first month of the year could become stuffed with celebratory parties without a little judicious combining. So it is in Dawson, where the second "Double Bob" night was held on January 23.

The lounge in the newly opened Bombay Peggy's was the setting for a evening of verse and worse as the couple of dozen people in attendance outdid themselves in picking appropriate poems to present to their peers.

But first came the food. In fact, first came the haggis, serenaded by fiddlers Karen Dubois and Paul Pawlovich, carried by Berton House writer-in-residence Darlene Saint Pierre, addressed (with Burn's "Address to a Haggis") and carved by elder Jack Fraser, and served up at the bar with everything else that pot luck could bring to such a feast.

(The haggis, by the way, was the real article, imported for the occasion by Bonanza Meats. There were several of them, and organizer Kim Adams says the rest were sold to excited Dawsonites that same night.)

Then came the recitations, of which there was a lot more Service than of Burns, the latter being harder to come by hereabouts and much harder to pronounce. Most of the readers tried to make some connection between their choice and the times.

Your scribe read the "The Ballad of Blasphemous Bill" in honour of National Non-Smoking week. A well-rounded Dr. Suzanne Crocker, quite into her second trimester, read "The Battle of the Bulge". Michael Gates recited most of his personal favorite, "The Spell of the Yukon", while the Rev. Ken Snider gave up "The Ballad of the Ice Worm Cocktail", along with the story of how it came to be written, once told to him years ago by a man who was there when Service tasted his.

Other readers included John Gould, Jim Kincaid, Bonnie Nordling, Myste Anderson, Al Rudis, Anne Tyrrell Darlene Saint Pierre and Russell Jones, who sang the only other Burns of the evening, "O, My Luve is Like a Red Red Rose".

Kim Bouzane, co-owner of Bombay Peggy's, and barkeep Steve Kurth were kept busy throughout the evening. The very intimate atmosphere of the restored historic building contributed greatly to the success of the evening.


Two Dawson Men Receive Bravery Awards

WHITEHORSE (January 6, 2000) - On Sunday, January 9, 2000 Commissioner Judy Gingell hosted a special millennium levee at the Yukon Arts Centre in Whitehorse to present the Commissioner's Awards to the 1999 recipients. The ceremony began at 2 p.m.

The Commissioner honoured two recipients for the Public Service Award, four recipients of the Bravery Award and 10 students receiving the Governor General's Academic Medals Award.

Special this year is a presentation to former Commissioners and their spouses. "This year's Commissioner's levee is an opportunity for all Yukon people to celebrate the territory's entry into the new millennium," Gingell said.

Public Service Awards:

Commissioner Gingell presented Public Service Awards to two Yukoners for their significant and enduring contribution to the economic, social, academic, political or cultural life of the Yukon.

The recipients are:

Kathy Kishniruk for her commitment to the people of her community through care, compassion, advice and guidance to young and old, First Nation and non-First Nation. Kishniruk is a member of the Champagne Aishihik First Nations who worked to keep Southern Tutchone traditions alive and meaningful in the lives of Yukon people by reviving the Southern Tutchone language and restoring cultural ties.

Rose-Marie Blair Smith for her dedication to improving the lives of Yukon people. Blair Smith is a member of the White River First Nation who has been actively involved in the programs of the Skookum Jim Friendship Centre. She was once vice-chair of the Council of Yukon Indians. Under her guidance the areas of health and social development grew for Yukon First Nations.

Award for Bravery:

The Commissioner's Award for Bravery honours citizens who have demonstrated acts of courage and determination, at great personal risk to save the life of another.

The recipients are:

John Mitchell, a Sergeant with the Canadian Rangers, for saving the life of six year old Corey Taylor of Dawson who was attacked by two rottweilers.

Dave Calnan, a Dawson City landscaper, for saving the life of 19-year-old Nova Scotian Carrie Fair, who was attacked by a 350-lb. black bear July 9th, 1999. With a log Calnan fought the bear off Fair and then threw his own body over hers, saving her life. Fair had to undergo 11 operations and received over 600 stitches.

Thane Phillips, of Whitehorse, who on June 19, 1999 jumped into the confluence of the Takhini and Yukon Rivers to rescue three people whose canoe had overturned. Noticing one person was starting to drown Philips focussed his attention first on him as the other two clung to the canoe. He managed to get all hypothermic victims to shore and administered first aid.

Gary Pettifor, a Whitehorse Fire Fighter, who on December 5, 1995 rescued a person 100 feet off on the treacherous ice of the Yukon River. With a rope and a ladder Pettifor crawled to the victim in -16 C temperature and 15 km/hr winds, and physically got the individual on the ladder and hauled the victim back to shore.

Academic Medals:

This year's recipients of the Governor General's Academic Medals are: Shari Klassen, FH Collins; Robert Lowder, Del Van Gorder; Crystal Carrell, Vanier Catholic Secondary; Jesse Butler, Porter Creek Secondary; Jeffrey Prankie, Watson Lake Secondary; Leonard Charlie, Tantalus; Katherine MacIver, Robert Service; Neal Allison, St. Elias; Médéric Boucher, École Émilie-Tremblay; Denise McDiarmid, JV Clark.


Darlene St. Pierre: Ambushed by Ambiance

by Dan Davidson

This Vancouver Island journalist, sailor (she says "boater") and aspiring novelist is the first writer-in-residence to experience Dawson from Christmas to Quest. Photo by Dan Davidson

Darlene St. Pierre actually got in touch with Pierre Berton before she thought of coming to Pierre Berton House. Earlier in the process of writing her first novel, one of the people who was reading her initial draft suggested that Pierre might be a good fellow with whom to discuss the creation of a western Canadian story.

She was nervous at the time, just coming out of a marketplace where editors tended to want to send her off to cover flower shows and fashion events, just because she was a woman, and a small woman at that.

She had resisted that typing.

"I was doing music reviews, automotive reviews, test driving cars, written about motorcycles and had a motor sport column."

"Go write about shopping, please, Darlene," was not something she wanted to hear, although she had done that kind of work.

One editor, Harvey S. Southam, had given her a free rein, and it had led to a award winning piece on helicopters for Equity magazine.

"So I felt I was going in the right direction, writing about things that appealed to me. He used to tell me to follow my heart."

That led to writing a novel. Which led to asking Berton for advice. Which led to his suggestion of a particular reader in B.C.

It was perhaps this Berton-consciousness which led Darlene's mother to notice an article about the Berton House writer in residence program which ran in the Victoria Times.

"My first reaction was that I didn't need to go to Dawson City to write - and my husband especially thought that."

Still, the fates seemed to be moving that way. In another letter to Berton she mentioned the trials and tribulations of getting her final draft done at home and the next thing she knew an application form arrived in the mail.

At first she was afraid that not being an "author", in the book writing sense of the word, would keep her from getting a berth, but after about three months she learned that out of 25 applicants for the year 2000 season she had been accepted for the winter portion of the program if it suited her needs.

Since she and her husband have a couple of acres to manage on Vancouver Island and boat to sail in the sailing season, winter fit her needs exactly.

The book she's working on is an adventure story called Forces of Nature. It's set on the west coast and the north and includes some time in a little northern cabin. It's been though two drafts, but she's here to work at it a bit more.

"I was at a point where I was going to give it up and put it in the drawer," she says. She'd put two year's work into it and she was thinking that perhaps it was time to get back to a "real" writing job. Winning the residency was the shot in the arm that her flagging purpose needed.

"I was just thrilled, honoured, titillated and scared - but I felt very privileged."

There have been some adjustments to make. Even living for a number of years on a houseboat in Vancouver didn't prepare her for the number of strange noises a Yukon home can make in the night at 40 below.

It takes some doing to adjust to the relative dryness of the winter air, both indoors and out.

After just a few weeks, however, Darlene's judgment was clear. She's been ambushed by our ambiance. "I think I've fallen in love with this little place. I'm head over heels. It has a lot of soul."

People who know that she's looking to pack lots of northern experiences into her two and a half months have been going out of their way to look out for her.

"The fact that a barmaid would call me last night after midnight, 'cause she knew I wanted to see the (northern) lights... Well, unless you're up and about in the wee hours, you're not going to see them. So she called up ... from the Pit. She told me it was very cold out and I should bundle up before I went out to watch them.

"So I pulled on the long johns, pulled on the parka and went out and stood in awe for about 15 minutes."

She's keeping a daily journal - in pencil, so she can fix the spellings and names of things later. As a working journalist she's also found herself intrigued by the local volunteer paper, contributed three items to the most recent edition of the Klondike Sun and has sold a couple of items to the other Whitehorse paper.

Winter in Dawson is fascinating for her, though she's not sure she would like the place as much in the summer when all the tourists are around.

"You can't help but be inspired being right across the street from Robert Service ... and just a block from Jack London, whose stuff I just admire, especially The Sea Wolf. I'm a sailor after all.

"As a writer, this is just an awesome place to be."

It can inspire unexpected creative leaps. Attending the local writers' group in December she found herself writing three little poems in response to the evening's exercise, things about the spirit and ambiance of Dawson. She's always been a prose person, so it was a bit of a surprise to her.

Like a lot of other things about this residency, it's helping her to follow her heart. If the novel finds a home she has more in mind, because her project is a trilogy. She thinks that parts of it might even have some potential as a computer game.

Meanwhile, Darlene is attending all the local winter festivities - the Oddball and the second annual Double-Bob dinner - and will even be able to see the Yukon Quest as it comes through. In addition, she's putting together a writing contest at the Robert Service School, with one of the prizes being that the winning items will be published in the Klondike Sun dated February 29, 2000.

"This would be kind of different ...for them because it is a special thing being a leap year issue and all."

Aside from that, she's working with public librarian Kim Adams to assemble a public reading at Bombey Peggy's on February 13 and farewell open house at Berton House on February 20.

And the book, she says, is coming along fine, though she doesn't mention when she's found any time to work on it.


Catch Me Doing Something Right: A Mentorship Profile

by Barb Connellan

"Catch me doing something right" is a phrase that makes Andrea Mansell laugh. "It was a joke between me and the local kids at the Rec. Centre ... kind of a half -full versus half-empty look at things." So popular, the slogan, that it ended up permanently on the wall of Iqaluit's arena. "It's a good motto, it makes good sense."

A recent addition to Dawson from Iqaluit, on Baffin Island, Andrea is the Programmer at the Recreation Centre. She's well-known to both the parents and youth of the community.

When asked about Dawson's at-risk youth, Andrea is quick to point out; "I'm not a fan of that term ... there really isn't a single group of 'at-risk youth'; growing up is risky business for everyone. Today, there are way more issues to contend with then ever. We're all in the same boat."

Andrea's comments about mentorship programs and mentors, "You can't give them an unattainable role model, they won't buy-into it. Mentors can make big changes but you need to be able to recognize the little stuff, the little successes ... it's not something you can easily put into words."

Andrea has been on both sides of mentorship. "I was mentored by an Elder. She knew so much about ... life, about self. She showed me what was important and what wasn't ... she gave me a lot just by being there".

Recently, while reading the paper Andrea came across a very familiar name, a name she hadn't heard for six years. The article was detailing the Appointment of a Territorial Youth Chair Coordinator.

The appointee, Brian, not his real name, had been one of eleven Jr. Leaders in a recreation program for troubled for youth, a program that Andrea oversaw. "At 14 he (Brian) had so many strikes against him; a poor student, bad home life, a few run-ins with the law for drugs and theft, things didn't look too promising. I guess that's why I felt so proud when I saw that article ... he's come such a long way ... he's a Star."

Asked if she felt she had a hand in his success, Andrea pauses, "I'd like to think I had a little something to do with it ... sure. But really he discovered his potential, I just provided a healthier environment." Shaking her head, she says, "Look at what he's accomplished ... he's now become the role model."

A recent study conducted by Big Brothers/Big Sisters showed that young people with mentors were 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs, 27% less likely to begin using alcohol, and 53% less likely to skip school. While mentoring programs cannot remove all of the obstacles, they can have a large, positive impact on Dawson's youth.

Author's Note: The Dawson City Group Conferencing Society is compiling research on mentorship programs. We'd like to include your thoughts on this topic. Call us at 993-5060 or write Box 1139, Dawson. Send e-mail to: conferencing@dawson.net. Our thanks to those of you who have shared your views with us.


Program Notes from the Klondike Institute of Arts and Culture

Prepared by Karen Dubois

Upwards of 60 students are enrolled in the winter program at the Oddfellows Hall; ongoing courses include Photography, Drawing, Woodcarving, Printmaking, Caribou Hair Tufting, Adobe Photoshop, Dreamcatchers, and Ballet. We hosted our first visiting instructor, watercolour artist Rosemary Piper, for a workshop on the weekend of January 21 to 23.

A few updates to the schedule:

The Exploring Acrylics course has been rescheduled to February 11, 12 and 13. We are bringing artist Neil Graham in to instruct this workshop - if you are interested, please stop by the Oddfellows and see some samples of his work.

Piano lessons will be starting on February 7th. Gwen Bell will be instructing from beginning to grade six students using the Royal Conservatory program. She is taking students on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursday. Barnacle Bob will also be instructing at the Oddfellows. Bob teaches basic reading technique with an emphasis on playing by ear and improvisation. He will work with students who want to learn a particular style of popular music. Bob is teaching on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

With the exception of Ballet for 2 to 6 year olds, performing arts programming is scheduled to begin after the Oliver production on February 4th and 5th. One addition to the program is an Acting course for 12 to 18 year olds which will be held on Wednesday nights starting February 9th. Chuck MacLeod will be instructing. This course is a joint project between the Dawson City Arts Society and the Recreation Program; we hope to see more of these in the future.

The Puppetry workshop will be held February 12 and 19. There is still room for a few more registrants. Adults and children are welcome.

The Art Quilt weekend has been moved ahead one weekend (March 31, April 1 and 2) to accommodate the many soccer parents who were going to miss it. Detailed course packages will be available soon. Carol Pettigrew's slide show on the evening of March 31 on finding inspiration for quilting in the Yukon landscape is open to the public.

Other Happenings at DCAS

A call for submissions for the New Beginnings art exhibit went out this week. This show is open to all Yukon artists; it is being held as part of the opening of the gallery on March 7th. Dawson artists who wish to submit work please get in touch with us for details.

Planning is underway for Dawson's first annual International Short Film Festival, scheduled to take place April 21 to 23. In conjunction with the festival, a film/video workshop will be held the weekends of April 1st and April 8th. Youth and adult groups will actually make short films that will be screened as part of the Short Film Festival. We are looking for donations or loans of video equipment for this project.

The Grand Opening of the Oddfellows Hall is being planned for April 14, 15 and 16, so keep those days free on your calendar - there are going to be lots of fun activities.


Odds and Ends from the Odd Ball

The Odd Ball may go down in history as one of the most fun, and most supported by the community, New Year's Eve events ever to have been held in Dawson. A few details that got missed in the excellent reports in the last edition of the Klondike Sun:

Costume Awards:

Oddest costume - Dave Curtis (Sir Real Eggbeater)
Prize: Water Cannon, a painting by Mike Yuhasz.

Best female costume - Kirste Wallace (platinum blonde vamp)
Prize: fee course at KIAC

Best male costume - Kendra Wallace (Andy Warhol)
Prize: free course at KIAC

Most creative noise maker: Willy Fellers
His prize was a wood engraving by Greg Hakonson

Best couple costume - Karen McWilliam and John Overell (Queen Elizabeth and Sir Francis Drake) 
Prize: Carrots Silk Painting by Shelley Hakonson

Door Prizes:

Sharon Edmunds silver pin - Fran Morberg
Raku dish by Joanne Vriend - Russell Jones
Liza print by John Steins

50/50 Draw Winner: James Koyanagi


City News: Open Letter to the Yukon Conservation Society

Attn: Christine Cleghorn, Executive Director

Dear Ms. Cleghorn,

Thank you for taking an interest in the water license of the City of Dawson. Based on the letters sent to Minister Nault, Mr. Ferguson, and Mr. Enns, the City of Dawson feels the Yukon Conservation Society should take another look at the information the City provided to the Yukon Territorial Water Board.

While it is the right of every Canadian to intervene on applications put forward to the Water Board, it is advisable to gather as much information as possible about the application before launching opinions. YCS plays an important role in guarding the environment and to do this without ruining credibility, accurate testing and data analysis must overcome preconceived bias. This is difficult to do particularly when one's beliefs are challenged; possibly this is a hurdle faced by many organizations acting on general principle rather than relevant available data. The history books show several examples of heretics who dared to reject conventional conclusions in favor of new observations.

The City of Dawson, in cooperation with the Yukon Medical Health Officer, has offered some data through the research of extremely qualified environment scientists. An independent lab was hired to research the situation, identify any problems, and make recommendations for solutions. City Council felt that it was necessary to investigate the best use of funds for the health of the community, be that sewage treatment or recreation facilities. The extensive research done by the City to date indicates that the effluent does not cause significant environmental damage. Another three to nine years of study would be ideal but it does not appear that this opportunity will be afforded. Thus given the current data it would seem that the large expense of construction and operation of a secondary sewage treatment plant in Dawson at this time would not be the most prudent us of public funds. In light of the decision of the Water Board it is all the more disheartening when evidence illustrating harm to the environment is yet to be produced.

It is not the wish of the City of Dawson to harm the ecosystem. In fact we have taken a number of environmentally friendly steps to improve the situation in and around Dawson. The City is currently involved in a partnership with YTG and with your sister organization, the Conservation Klondike Society, in providing an affordable, effective management facility and recycling program. This project is considerably advanced compared to most similarly sized communities in Canada. Recently we spent several tens of thousands of dollars cleaning up waste petroleum-based fuel that was on a site of a former ship fueling station on the Dawson waterfront. We are currently developing a program to reduce the impact on the environment and public health of the accumulation of detritus, animal feces, etc. that inevitably builds up in a community of this size. We have done little things such as using an environmentally friendly biological mosquito control system instead of common chemical control not so friendly to birds and beneficial insects.

Perhaps what is needed is a dose of perspective. The Yukon in general has several environmental and public health issues needing to be addressed. Improvement in the handling of recyclables and environmentally damaging solid wastes, particularly after they are collected and segregated is needed. Other fuel - contaminated sites requiring clean up exist. Many communities, like Dawson, are powered by diesel generators and also face high levels of wood smoke. And let us not forget that a poor economy and high unemployment can also add to environmental and public health problems; if you are struggling to get by, stewardship of the planet somehow gets a lesser priority.

Of course we could do more if the resources were unlimited but we know this is not the case. Municipal government has to choose the allocation of limited funds carefully and the choice should be what best serves the community. This is a small community and this further limits the flexibility of choice.

I would encourage the Society to reread the submission to the City of Dawson and to reconsider it position presented to the Minister of DIAND and the regional departments of Fisheries and the Environment. In addition, please feel free to contact the City or Conservation Klondike Society about the progress of our landfill site, recycling project and other environmental efforts


Glen Everitt


Editorial: How to Get into the Klondike Sun

by Dan Davidson

From time to time (not often enough) people (not nearly as many as we would like) wonder how we decide what gets to go into the Sun and how we make our decisions about what to publish. The following items are in no particular order, but have developed over the years.

So, if you have a yen to do something here - the doors are open that the space is yours. We're only too happy to move over and make room.


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