|The Carnegie Library in Dawson City is on the move. See story below. Photo by Dan Davidson|
Welcome to the June 9th on-line edition of the Klondike Sun. This is the abridged version of our 28 page June 6th hard copy edition. Getting a subscription (see our home page) is the only way you'll ever see it all.
by Dan Davidson
The Carnegie Library is on the move. This is nothing new for buildings in Dawson, which routinely pull up stakes and either block the streets for a time or move to totally different parts of town.
In this case, the library building is getting a face lift, starting with a foot job. The relocation to the middle of Queen Street is so that its foundation can be rebuilt. After that, other wonderful things will happen all over the 96 year old structure.
The library was built in 1904 with funding from the Carnegie Foundation. It served as the town's library and was said to be the envy of other Yukon towns for the 20 years that it was in service. Stan Cohen's Queen City of the North records that there was a fire in 1924 which nearly destroyed the building.
In 1934 the derelict structure was taken over by Yukon Lodge #45 of the Masonic Order and the upper floor has served as their meeting place ever since.
Over the years the building has been proposed for a number of uses, including a spirited discussion in the late 1980s about restoring it to its original use as a library. The establishment of the joint public/school Dawson Community Library in 1989 put that discussion to an end, but now the building will see new life thanks in part to money from the Community Development Fund.
by Dan Davidson
Graduation Day in a small town has a different character than in a larger one. It is a personal affair. Such was the case at the official commencement exercises for Robert Service School, held in the Palace Grand Theatre on May 27.
Principal Denis Gauthier was emcee to a packed house of relatives and friends on this special day for this group of sixteen students, most of whom were just beginning kindergarten when their now familiar school building was in its planning stages.
Helen Winton, chair of the school council and mother of a graduate celebrated her daughter's class: "Your impact on the school community is indicated by the large number of people here today in your honour."
She continued with a series of famous statements about life and personal development, one of which was "Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best"
Vice Principal and town councillor Shirley Pennell, speaking on behalf of council, said that these youth are the community's future, and while they may travel and learn things elsewhere "they will still be called Dawsonites."
"They may secretly wish to get out of here as fast as possible, but in the overall picture they will likely return to their roots, family and friends, richer, one hopes, for the experience."
Chief Darren Taylor brought greetings on behalf of the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in first nation: "Over the years the graduating classes seem to be getting larger, which is very encouraging."
Klondike MLA Peter Jenkins congratulated the grads on their political foresight, which had enabled them to invite him to address this gathering long before the recent election was even called.
"Otherwise, you would have waited until after the election to send me the invitation to speak."
Jenkins announced the establishment of a new Klondike Riding educational bursary of $500, which he will present as long as he is in office and he hopes any successors will carry on after. The first award was presented to JayJ Flynn.
"The education that you have just received from the Robert Service School will be invaluable in your career choices in the future," Jenkins told the students.
To celebrate the event the school choir, led by Betty Davidson and accompanied by Gwen Bell, sang "Like An Eagle." The song speaks of spreading one's wings and soaring above the clouds.
Valedictorian Simon (Spruce) Gerberding spoke of the opportunities and the challenges of the years to come for the first "First grad class of the new millennium." He presented a class history of amusing events over the years, and concluded with a word of thanks.
"On behalf of the graduating class of 2000 I want to thank our parents for always being there with love and support; the teachers, for instructing us not only about English and science, but also about life. I want to personally thank my classmates for all the good times."
Carol McCauley, Area 3 Superintendent, former principal of RSS, and also the mother of a graduate, presented the Valedictorian's Award of $250 to Gerberding.
She spoke of a quiz she had recently seen which asked people who they thought had had an influence on their lives. The first list was full of celebrities of various types, few of which she found she could remember well. The second asked the person to make a list of teachers, friends and mentors.
"The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, or the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones who care, and by caring they touch your life. The people who have come to your graduation today are people who have come because they care about you. Among those who happen to be here are your first teachers and your parents - and I happen to be one of them."
McCauley noted that this day was very similar to the way that most parents felt when their children first went to kindergarten: "Today (as then) you seem so young to be off on your own, and we are not sure what the next phase of life will hold for you - and that worries us a bit."
The lessons that today's graduates need to continue in life have not changed, McCauley said, even though the world of technology and communication has expanded exponentially since they began school 13 years ago.
"You will need more than ever to keep in mind some of the important lessons from your time in school: the value of friendship, the need to be able to work together towards a common goal, a sense of responsibility to other people, the importance of respect, the benefit of good humour and the ability to be able to appreciate others for their skills and talents."
The Audrey McLaughlin Bursary of $250 was presented to Anna Vogt by the vice--principal. Vogt also received the Chamber of Commerce Award of $100, present by Michel Dupont, the president of the Dawson City Chamber of Commerce.
Commencement exercises concluded with the presentation of grade 12 certificates by Mr. Gauthier and Miss Pennell.
Graduating activities continued in the evening with a dinner in the school gymnasium. Highlights there included a serenade of their peers by the duo of Michael Davidson and Craig McCauley, the slide show history of the grade 12 class, and an open mic session in which school secretary Bonnie Barber read to them letters which they had written to their future selves when they were in grade 4.
The big day concluded with a closely supervised "aftergrad" party, organized by the grade 12s and their parents and held at the area known as Strachan's Farm out near the airport. It was a chilly night, but there were lots of warm feelings.
by Tara McCauley
On May 31st, the last day of school, the halls were bustling with a hushed anticipation as students scurried around finishing last minute tasks, cleaning out lockers, gathering report cards, saying good-bye to teachers, and reflecting back on the year. With another school year under the belt and summer on the threshold, the anticipation of change added a certain electricity to the atmosphere of Robert Service School.
Also marking the last day of school was the year-end Awards Day Ceremony. At 1:30 p.m., Dawson Standard Time, parents and community members joined students and teachers in the school gym to acknowledge student accomplishments of the past year.
The ceremony began with the singing of "O Canada" led by Betty Davidson on the piano. Following her, school principal Denis Gauthier greeted guests while he extolled the benefits of recognizing hard work. He explained the importance of recognizing student accomplishments in that giving this "pat on the back" builds confidence in students, which in turn makes them want to work harder and achieve even better results. In the end everybody benefits.
The program continued with the choir singing a lovely rendition of "Like an Eagle", directed by Betty Davidson and accompanied by Gwen Bell. Mrs. Davidson then presented awards to the members of the choir. She also presented awards to two performers who had done particularly well at the Rotary Music Festival in Whitehorse a month earlier, but had not able to receive their awards at that time. Michael Davidson received the Top Vocal Award, which included a trophy, medallion and a $300 scholarship to further his voice training. Monica Nordling, won a CD in special recognition of her vocal efforts at the festival.
Miss Rowe presented the Student Council Recognition awards to those who had been involved with Student Council for the entire school year. These students included: Heather Mayes, Danielle Mayes, Kayla Purington, Amy Ball, Bianca Beets, Kaitlin Reynolds, Melinda Margeson and Michael Davidson.
Mrs. Webster, on behalf of the Recycling Club, presented a cheque to Mr. Gauthier in the amount of $313.05. This group, made up of grade 5 students, donates money it raises each year to go towards various school projects. This year the money will go towards the purchase of photographs for the "Student of the Week" photo display for the elementary classes.
The newly in place Breakfast for Learning program at Robert Service School honored one of its most hard working volunteers, Sean Dominque. For his efforts, which included waking up extra early to come into the school and help out, he received a cash award and letter of reference.
This year, students have been assisting the RCMP by reworking several bikes used for the Community Bike Program. The RCMP Appreciation Award, presented by Constable Dave Wallace, went to the all-smiles Jimmy Smarch, who has assisted immensely.
Marjorie Kormendy then presented the YTEC (Yukon Tourism Education Council) awards. Ten high school students participated in the YTEC program, which aims to give youth work place skills and increase their hireability. They were Jessalyn Donnelley, Daniel Mason, Matt Morgan, Rosealee Smarch, RJ Nagano, Sean Dominque, Sam Cayen, Philip Johnson, Adam Roberts and Shawna Kormendy.
The Robert Service School Citizenship Award is given to a student who has made a contribution to the school above and beyond the average expectations. This year that award was given to Ashley Bower and Natasha Burian.
Ms. Vijendren, then presented the award for Career and Personal Planning to her entire grade 8 class.
Mr. Betts presented a special certificate to Axel Nordling for improvement. Teachers presented Hard Worker Awards to Miranda Berglund (gr. 4), Samantha Berglund (gr. 5), and Nicole Lam (gr. 6). Mabel Henry presented the Native Language Award certificates to the grade 4 class and high school students: Kyle Isaac, Troy Taylor, Daniel Fraser, and Jim Smarch.
The Governor General's History Millennium Award is a new award and is given to the top history student at the senior level. This year it was presented to Jennifer Russell.
Another new award this year, the Versatile Glass Scholarship Award, is in the amount of $350, and awarded to a grade 12 student who will be continuing their studies in a trade related career. This award has a life of three years and was created by local businessman Hank Birendse, in honor of his many years here in the Klondike. Doug Fraser was the recipient this year.
The Pioneer Women of the Yukon Award is given to students who are not necessarily the top academic but work hard to obtain their goals. This award went to Kylene Perry (gr. 4-6), Bianca Beets (gr. 7-9), Philip Johnson (gr. 10-12).
Top Male Athlete went to Trevor Rudniski and Top Female Athlete went to Hannah Dewell.
The subject awards are awarded to students who have a minimum average of 75%, but behaviour and attitude can also be a deciding factor.
English: Heather Mayes (gr. 7-9), Bonnie Vogt (gr. 10-12);
Social Studies: Nicky Ball (gr. 7-9), Jennifer Russell (gr. 10-12);
Physical Education: Hannah Dewell and Cody McLaren (gr. 7-9), and JayJ Flynn and Rhiannon Juniper (gr. 10-12);
Science: Natasha Burian (gr. 7-9), Bonnie Vogt and Spruce Gerberding (gr. 10-12);
Math: Nicky Ball (gr. 7-9), Craig McCauley and Spruce Gerberding (gr. 10-12);
Art: Natasha Burian (gr. 7-9), Daniel Mason (gr. 10-12);
Home Economics: Natasha Burian (gr. 7-9), Tish Lindgren (gr. 10-12);
Band: John Vogt (gr. 7-9), Craig McCauley (gr. 10-12);
Shop: Kyle Brendon (gr. 7-9), Nathan Wolfe (gr. 10-12);
French: Jennifer Touchie (gr. 7-9), Spruce Gerberding (gr. 10-12);
Computers: Bonnie Vogt (gr. 10-12);
Acting 11: Craig McCauley and Michael Davidson (gr. 10-12);
Accounting: Tyler Hunter (gr. 10-12).
The Scholastic Honour Roll lists students from grade 4-6 with an average of 80% or better in the 5 best academic subjects over the year. In grade 4: Mindy Anderson, Sydney Larson, Liza Perry; Grade 5: Ashley Bower, Jessica Burian, Tamara Jim, Patricia McLeod, and Brian Naef; Grade 6: Noel Roberts, Kevin Beets, Caitlin Gammie, Robyn Touchie, Colleen Taylor, Alex Derry, Gemma Gould, and Laurie VanBibber.
The Academic Honour roll for grade 7-12 lists students with a 86% average of 5 academic subjects. The only students to receive this distinction are Heather Mayes, Monica Nordling, Natasha Burian, Hannah Dewell, all in grade 8 and Bonnie Vogt in grade 10.
Top Academic award is given to one student in each grade who receives the highest average overall. These students are: Mindy Anderson (gr. 4), Ashley Bower (gr. 5), Caitlin Gammie (gr. 6), John Vogt (gr. 7), Natasha Burian (gr. 8), Nicky Ball (gr. 9), Bonnie Vogt (gr. 10), and Jennifer Russell (gr. 11).
The final award of the day was the Mary Gartside Award. It is given to the top grade 12 student who obtains a minimum overall average of 70% in 4 core academic subjects. This award, which includes a cheque for $200 and was presented to Spruce Gerberding.
by Tara McCauley
The "virus de grande espace" is how Francis Mayet describes the fever for the great north that he and his student have caught. For the past two weeks, Mayet has been travelling around the Yukon with a group of 27 students and 3 teachers from Poitiers, France. Organized by the Association Franco-Yukonnaise and École Emilie Tremblay in Whitehorse, this exchange marks the first between the Yukon and Poitou County, located southwest of Paris.
For most of these 14 year old students, it is their first time leaving France or travelling at all. Coming to the Yukon is a big first step, but an exciting one that they have been looking forward to. For months now, these French students have been learning as much as possible about the Yukon in preparation for their trip. They have also been corresponding with their Whitehorse billets through mail, e-mail and video conferencing. As well they have been raising funds through various activities including a fashion show, a raffle, and approaching organizations and businesses for support.
During their two weeks in the Yukon they have crammed as many things as possible into the agenda, including trips to Skagway, Haines, Haines Junction, Kluane National Park, Silver City, Whitehorse and now Dawson. In a roundabout way they have followed the path that gold seekers took to reach the Klondike.
During their two day stay in Dawson they took in a number of things, including the Museum, a walking tour of the town, mining for gold, the panoramic view from the Dome and a reception at the Oddfellow's Hall. When asked what their most vivid memories of the Yukon would be, several students agreed that the landscape, wide open space and light were the most spectacular for them. Others remarked the differences between the school systems and the different vocabulary spoken the French-speaking students in the Yukon compared to home. One answer by a particularly enthusiastic young man was, "GOLD!"
They are a tired but happy group. Enthusiastic about this unforgettable trip that is so far removed from their own experience. Several students are eager to return one day. They may not have struck it rich in the goldfields but the experiences they gained here will definitely enrich their lives.
by Heather Robb
Amidst the late May chill, Yukon's mining community stepped out to show its finest wares at Dawson's fifteenth annual gold show. Among miners, businesses affiliated mining, and the community in general, a buzz of support resounded, while the question of the survival of mining in the Yukon chimed in everyone's mind.
The event was organized jointly by the Klondike Placer Miner's Association, the Klondike Visitor's Association, the City of Dawson and the Dawson City Chamber of Commerce. According to chief organizer Renee Mayes, there were 68 booths this year in comparison to the 75 to 80 displays of the show's early years.
Local placer miner Noreen Sailor suggested that a primary concern for miners this year is the attainment of permits: "Mining season is really only a hundred days, and permits are taking a long time because of a new set of government regulations."
Klondike Placer Miner's Association President Stuart Schmidt's comments echoed Sailor's concern. "Permitting is supposed to take thirty days and instead it is taking up to six to eight months for some."
According to Schmidt, miners are uncertain of the reason for lengthy waiting periods. "Why not let people work at their mining operations without the piece of paper while they wait for the piece of paper?"
The gold show is significant, according to Schmidt, because "it is an opportunity to get the
Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs up here."
"If the gold show accomplished nothing but that," he added, "then its worth it." Given recent changes to mining related policy, Schmidt insisted that the major issue for the KPMA this year is its relationship with the Ministry.
Currently another sore spot for miners is recent amendments to the Mining and Land Use Regulations pertaining to the storage and transportation of fuel. According to Schmidt, a policy guideline was agreed upon last October, after two years of negotiations between the Ministry and miners. The guideline was distributed along with permit applications in a pamphlet entitled "Facts on Fuel." Then, according to Schmidt "[the Ministry] rescinded in January with no consultation-- because of an internal policy change."
Frustrated by such changes, Schmidt suggested that the government is enforcing fuel handling policies more strictly upon mining operations than on the general public. Schmidt is pushing for a "phase in" period to allow miners to adjust to new fuel storage policy, which he currently describes as being embroiled in "an incredible amount of upheaval."
Another concern for miners, according to Dave Tenney, the Director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines, is the reduction of land available for exploration. "We're losing the land base to single use purposes such as parks and protected areas. There are twenty three regions in the Territory scheduled for protection."
Tenney commented that such land protection plans are "discouraging for the mining industry-- we're so uncertain of where its going to be in a few years."
by Dan Davidson
Premier Pat Duncan went out of her way to make sure that placer miners would feel good about her government during her address at the opening breakfast of the Dawson City Gold Show.
She traced her involvement with miners and Dawson back to the days when she was the manager of Maximilian's on Front Street, "when gold was at a considerably higher price per ounce than it is now."
She has spent time in the past lobbying on behalf of the industry in the early 1980s, she said. She has continued to support mining while in politics, first as part of the third party in the legislature, then as the leader of the official opposition and now, as the leader of the government. She emphasized that her basic orientation has not changed in all this time.
"I have a long history, and I've maintained my interest and affection for working with all of you."
"The placer mining industry is the Yukon's family farm," Duncan told the room full of delegates. "Even in these difficult times, placer mining plays a critical role in the Yukon's economy. Last year production (was)in excess of 71,000 fine ounces of gold worth $28 million."
Last year's figures are, of course, low compared with earlier years, but placer miners have contributed over half a billion dollars to the Yukon's economy over the last decade. Duncan said that such figures made it "clear that the contribution of this industry is substantial and it continues to be very important."
Duncan said she realized that the new mining land use regulations were of concern to many placer miners, especially the cost involved in complying with them.
"Unfortunately, they are still under the control of the federal government."
She said that this issue was on her list of things to discuss with Bob Nault, the Minister of DIAND, later that day, and that, "it is my hope that we will be able to work together with industry in ensuring that the new regulations are implemented in a manner that is fair and balanced, with the last amount of disruption to your business."
This was one of the reasons why she planned to ask Nault, and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to extend Al Kapty's term as chair of the Yukon Placer Committee (see related story).
She also praised the work of Mike McDougall, the past president of the Klondike Placer Miners Association, for his hard work representing miners.
"I would like to assure you, and ensure, that there is no doubt of anyone leaving this room today of my support for the mining industry in the Yukon."
Duncan indicated that she had already been meeting with members of the KPMA and the Yukon Chamber of Mines, including Stuart Schmidt, the former Liberal candidate for the Klondike riding, about issues related to mining.
"We've discussed some of the solutions to some of the problems that the industry is facing, and rest assured that we will be continuing to work together and, what's more, we're looking forward to it."
During a later session with the media she said she had much to discuss with the federal minister.
"I want him to hear, first hand, what I hear from the placer mining industry about the need to work collaboratively (with) levels of government and the industry in dealing with such things as the new mining land use regulations, fuel tank regulations and all sorts of issues."
Regarding the issues surrounding the Tombstone issue Duncan said it was not really under her jurisdiction, but she would be clear in making the YTG position known.
"My views have not changed," she said. "My point has always been that there are legally staked claims and the issues around the creation of the park and so on ... the land should have withdrawn (from staking)."
She wanted it clear where the responsibility for the confusion lay.
"This is an issue that the NDP, when they were in Opposition, and then in government, did not follow up on. You can't deal with everything the NDP did in four years in less than two weeks in office."
by Dan Davidson
What does Dawson City have that Whitehorse doesn't? Locals might come up with many answers to that question, but the one applicable to this article is that Dawson has four Service Canada outlets, the most public of which was opened at the offices of Klondike Outreach during the recent Gold Show.
There will actually four of these sites in Dawson, including one at the offices of the Chamber of Commerce, one to be established in the Dawson Community Library and a final site which the local steering committee will identify later this summer.
Service Canada also has sites in Watson Lake.
A Service Canada site is essentially a computer workstation complete with telephone, fax, scanning and colour printing capabilities. The computer is linked via the InterNet to a cluster of federal and other government web sites. The 110 sites across the country are predominantly in rural areas, with the thought of balancing their access to information which can already be obtained in urban locales.
This $13.5 million pilot project is intended to make it easier for people to "find out what information is needed for a passport, where to go to apply for unemployment insurance, information about income taxes or GST rebates, government finding programs or even information about the armed forces."
Features of a service centre include the following:
The Klondike Outreach site in the Federal Building on Fifth Avenue was the site of the official ribbon cutting by Mayor Glen Everitt, with the assistance of Penny Soderlund (Klondike Outreach) and Dina Cayen (Dawson City Chamber of Commerce). On hand to help coach the mayor through his experience as the first system user were federal representatives Tom Sparrow and A.J. McKinnon.
Users who have become familiar with the operations of the site can access the same information from their home computers, linking to Service Canada at "www.canada.gc.ca" or via the toll-free telephone number.
Service Canada is a joint agency project which includes the cooperation of Human Resources Development Canada, Canada Post, Canadian Heritage, Canada Customs and Revenue and Industry Canada.
by Kim Adams
All the seats in the bright airy mezzanine area of the Tr'ondek Hwech'in Cultural Centre were filled by curious and committed fiction fans. We gathered to meet and listen to Eden Robinson, a young Haisla author who has been working for the past few months in Whitehorse as the Yukon Public Libraries and Archives writer-in-residence. Two of her books have been published, her novel "Monkey Beach" (from which she read excerpts), and "Trap Lines", a short fiction collection.
While her compelling stories deal with serious even grim lives and events, Eden herself is anything but serious or grim. Indeed, her frequent bursts of spontaneous glee are contagious, and the respectfully silent crowd often erupted into laughter in response to a remark or giggle by Eden.
Everyone was especially entertained by her singing the beginning of an opera she's begun to write in Haisla. She had us singing along as the operatic chorus.
I'd like to thank Eden, the Tr'ondek Hwech'in, and the attentive audience for a wonderful reading. The potluck open house afterwards at Berton House was also a success. Thank you, Kelley Aitken, for being a great hostess to Eden and the rest of us.
by Kim Adams
Nearly 40 people came out to Klondike Kate's Sunday afternoon May 21 to hear Berton House writer Kelley Aitken, and several local writers. We all sat in the enclosed patio at the rear of Kate's. Many of us ordered from the excellent offerings on the menu.
Kelley book-ended the readings, by beginning and ending the session. She first read excerpts from "The River" one of the stories in her fine short fiction collection Love in a Warm Climate. These short stories of Canadian women in Ecuador, were published in 1998 by Porcupine Press.
After the reading Kelley autographed and sold a number of copies of Love in a Warm Climate to eager listeners. Kelley closed the afternoon with an insightful and lyrical piece she wrote about Dawson during her stay here. (Later this summer the Klondike Sun plans to publish the full, revised text of this piece and others from the reading in a literary supplement). For excerpts from the novel Kelley was writing while at Berton House, see the April 25 and May 9 issues of the Klondike Sun. Thanks to Klondike Kate's for hosting the event, and to Kelley and everyone else who came and read.
by Kim Adams
Welcome to the newest Berton House writer Sally Clark. Sally arrived last week on the taxi and I safely transported her to Berton House without incident. Within days of her arrival she was already hard at work volunteering for the Commissioner's Ball. Sally is a visual artist turned playwright and film maker who will be working on a novel from this June through August at the Berton House Writers? Retreat. Look to this column and about town for future announcements about her upcoming reading.
by Dan Davidson
Jacqueline Faye Olsen likes to get physical with her art work She describes herself as laying a work in progress on the floor of her small studio and massaging it around until it takes the shape she wants it to assume.
Her current show at the ODD Gallery in Dawson City is called "Wënkà Wëni'" or "Spirit Face". It features her colourful renditions of the faces and personalities of nine of her friends.
These are big pieces, nearly two metres on the side, and constructed of a variety of elements, including "acrylic, hand-made paper, beads, feathers, gold and silver foil, natural found objects", all bonded with the cotton material which is the base of each creation.
That these are cotton may surprise you, since they look, at first glance, and until you get up close, as if they are created of delicately formed, brightly coloured metal fabrications, folded and pushed into ripples and curves.
The centre of each mixed media creation is a face mask decorated with all manner of highlights, including many of the items already mentioned.
The show here opened on May 18, to tie in with the annual Gold Show. Jackie presented a slide show retrospective of her career on opening night, describing how she accidentally side-stepped into the artist's role while actually intending to study the marketing of art.
She find in art a way to express the blending and the dichotomies inherent in her mixed racial heritage.
"I was born and raised in Dawson City," she says, "my father Danish and my mother Thah- Gwich'in. I feel very fortunate in being of two cultures, but in our society I am continually facing the realities of society's attitudes.
"There, in part, lies the layering of the self-building of walls. This layering is evident in all my works as an important part of my being. Creating my work is one was of exploring and breaking through the walls of illusion built up over a short lifetime of experience."
The slides show development of an art which often uses faces as a theme, and has moved from paint to modeling, to collage and back to paint. She actually says she may want to try water colours for a while next, and maybe even work within the constraints of stretched canvas in more traditional rectangular shapes.
by Angie Rout
It's been a week since two representatives from Russia have been in the Yukon to research our political system, and they say that they have plenty to take back home with them.
Nickolai Livson and Alexei Novorodskiy of the Kortkeross Region were able to take time out of their busy schedule to talk to me a little about their trip. They have both come as head administrators of their respective regions, in order to study the framework and practical functioning of the municipal government framework. The trip was sponsored by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and began with a initial visit by the Mayor of Dawson (as part of a large delegation) to Russia.
Now it is Nickolai and Alexei's chance to reciprocate the exchange. The exchange occurred through interaction between the State Committee for Northern Development of the Russian Federation and the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
The topics of particular interest to the Russians were the prominence of First Nations Peoples and the notion of municipal "self government". Where they are from the community is divided into larger regions and the local communities have little control. This is different in practice from the system which was in place during the Soviet regime, where the local regions were given power on paper but were actually controlled by the national Soviet government.
Since the democratic movement in Russia in the 1990's there has begun a movement towards more active local governance. In 1996 a Law of Local Governance was passed in Russia and in 1999 there was action to implement it.
The study of Canadian political structure gives insights into the functioning of such a system. Even though the population is far higher where these representatives are from, and the representation of indigenous peoples is a higher percentage, they will be able to bring back what they have learned about election of Local Municipalities and First Nation Government.
I would suspect that they will probably keep to themselves what they leaned from the dancing girls at Gerties! Nickolai and Alexei had a busy week, visiting Watson Lake, Whitehorse and Dawson, and will be meeting in London, Ontario, at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Conference. Nonetheless, of this they have been able to squeeze in a few extracurricular activities such as, golfing, a visit to the Palace Grande, stage dancing at Gerties, and look forward to a personal tour of Niagara Falls conducted by our own Glen Everitt.
Even though they have been busy, they have enjoyed their stay in Dawson and are impressed by the solutions we have developed for housing in the Northern climate. They noticed the methods of insulation, our construction methods and interior design.
Perhaps the house they were most familiar with, was the one in which they stayed: the Bonanza House Bed and Breakfast, with which they were both very impressed. As a follow up to their trip they hope to maintain connection through a proposal by the Dawson Mayor to set up a twin city between Dawson and one in Russia. The proposal suggested a more grassroots relationship, involving exchange between schools and local projects. Perhaps this will be a way for us to continue assist one another, long after Nickolai and Alexei return home.
by Palma Berger
When Dawson City Arts Society was formed members were delighted that they could lease the Oddfellows Hall from the Klondike Visitors Association. However, in the lease agreement it stated that DCAS could fix the building up, and when they were given the Occupancy Permit they could then 'purchase' it from K.V.A. for the princely sum of $10.00.
This lease took effect on September 1, 1999. Of course all had been verbally agreed upon earlier, which meant that the fund raisers were already hard at work getting the necessary funds to bring it up to standard for occupancy, and starting the work.
KVA had done a lot of the work of stabilizing this building, but the interior, heating, electricity, plumbing had to be done.
Through the great efforts of many people funding was finally put in place, people were hired to work, people volunteered to work; and work they all did, right through the winters.
Work was completed in time for the Ball of the Century (as far as DCAS was concerned), when they had the grand Millennium Ball. The Odd Gallery was officially opened by our Governor General on March 15th, 2000. It was occupied all right, and had been busy for many months.
On May 20th people gathered in the ballroom for the handing over of the $10.00 to Dick Van
Nostrand, Past President of KVA, in exchange for the title to the building.
The usual refreshments were there, and some of the people representing the organizations or levels of government or organizations who had contributed the needed funds such as Glen Everitt representing the City , Mary McCullough and Carol Arntzen from Lotteries were present. The one representative missing was from the previous government who had given the DCAS such tremendous financial support. Dick and Mary McCullough gave their speeches.
Greg Hakonson, President of DCAS, is noted for his brief speeches, and he didn't disappoint. His energy goes into the tremendous job of overseeing the completion of the building, and towards fundraising also.
Director Gary Parker read out the list of contributors to the completion of the building, especially the former N.D.P. government, whose reinstatement of the Community Development Fund made so much of this possible. So many gave so much in time or money or general help that the list was long. Barnacle Bob was at the piano ready to strike the appropriate chords forte or fortissimo depending on the size of the donation whether it was in time or money.
The table size cheque was finally brought out and Greg and Jackie Olsen (treasurer) added their signatures. Dick graciously accepted it on behalf of KVA., wondering if the bank would actually cash it.
Officially, the Oddfellows Hall now belongs to the Dawson City Art Society - and that building, says DCAS, is just the beginning.
by Dan Davidson
Plays are affected by many things besides the words which the writers put on the paper. Every production also has to take into account the talents and personalities of the actors who perform the parts and the director who decides just how they will do that.
A bare script, with minimal stage directions, leaves a lot of room for interpretation.
Another thing that can affect a play is the stage itself. The one at the Han Cultural Centre is quite a bit smaller than most of those on which Sixty Below has been performed during its Yukon tour. Patti Flather and Leonard Linklater, who managed to make it to the Dawson performance of their play, said this required the cast to reblock their actions and compress them to fit what was available.
The set, mostly made up of artfully hung white cloths, a bed, some chairs and a table, has to do multiple duty: two apartments, a bar, a river side and a forest have to be conjured out of those meager elements.
Sixty Below is a play about personal redemption which expresses itself through the lives of five living, and one dead, first nations individuals who are all related through family and friendship.
The central characters are Henry (Glen Gould), a recovering alcoholic, and Rosie (Janis Johnson), his girlfriend. Interacting with them are Henry's friends Big Joe (Jackson Crick) and Dave (Wayne Lavallee), who were also close friends with the dead man, Johnnie (Daryl Clark), who is Rose's brother and the husband of her good friend, Ruth (Sharon Shorty).
It's a tight little group. Both the love and the pain go round and round in what could be - what has been - a very nasty spiral.
When we meet Henry he is just arriving home in the Yukon from Matsqui Prison. He is looking for answers, searching for a more spiritual life and determined to avoid alcohol - he is a mean drunk and has been serving time for it. He wants to start by completing his education.
Rosie has been waiting - not entirely faithfully - for the man to whom she feels closest. She has finished her grade 12 and can't quite figure out how to tell him where her dream of writing might take her next.
Big Joe and Dave can't wait to have a beer with Henry, and fiercely resent his resolve not to indulge. Joe has just lost his wife and kids, and Dave can't think beyond the next bottle. These are not great companions for a guy who wants to stay straight.
All of them are still in mourning for Johnnie, who died in what we are given to understand was a hunting accident almost exactly one year before, on the longest, coldest night of the year.
Ruth, who knows things she has never told about that night, is still in deepest pain, and blames the three guys, who were with him when it happened, for her husband's death. Rosie still misses Johnnie terribly as well, and some of what she has to learn is that he was never as perfect as she thought.
Then there's Johnnie. This could be a tough role. The actor has to stalk about the stage looking alternately puzzled and malevolent, dance the Northern Lights (where souls with unfinished business are trapped) and be himself in the flashback sequences which finally, by the end of act two, tell us what really happened a year ago.
As is often the case is situations like this, the path to perdition is paved with primrose promises. The primary conflicts are between Rosie and Henry. Readjusting to each other would be hard anyway, but family and friends just keep getting in the way. The situation gets worse and worse until finally the truth (no, I'm not going to tell you) comes out.
And the truth does set some people free, even if it hurts like hell.
This is not a "happily ever after" kind of story, though it might be "hopefully ever after" I suppose. There are two closing soliloquies in which Rosie and Henry address us directly. They speak of ... possibilities. They speak of healing.
"Life," says Henry, "is a long journey."
The play has had quite a journey too, beginning as a response to the challenge of a 24 hour playwriting competition in 1989, building on Flather's work as a journalist, and Linklater's experience with Gwichin culture. It's taken ten years, many workshops and two previous stagings for the script to reach the form in which it appears in Staging the North (Playwrights Canada Press).
The actors and the director (Floyd Favel) have taken it in what the writers say are some interesting new directions. Some of these were discussed in the question and answer session which followed the play.
by Dan Davidson
Our coverage of events related to the Commissioner's Tea and Ball will come to you in our next issue, but the fooforaw surrounding this year's edition of the event seems to call for some immediate comment.
Will there or won't there be a Ball next year?
The straight answer is that we don't know yet. What has been announced is that this year's event, held last Saturday evening, was the last of its kind in that particular format, and that the whole concept was up for reevaluation as of a few days before the event.
The problem seems to be one of burnout, a theme I have touched on more than once in these pages during the last year. People were "up" for the key years of our centennial celebrations. There were balls then which may not be equalled for years to come. Certainly those balls ran deficits which cannot be equalled in the foreseeable future.
But, and this is where the rub can be felt most, these balls also involved lots of volunteer help, and this year, I'm told, volunteers were a bit thin on the ground. In fact, most of the organization for the ball fell to the hired staff at the Klondike Visitors Association, and this really isn't what most of them were hired for. They all have jobs, things to do which keep them busy, and this event, with its very low ticket sales and marginal return, wasn't a priority.
Where was everybody when they were needed? Probably busy doing something else that needs to be done. It is a fact that a lot of what happens in this town is the end result of work by a relatively small number of people. They make us look good - but they can only keep it up for so many years before they need a break.
There is a cycle of boom and bust which seems to hit most volunteer groups, especially those whose activities involve just one key even per year. Regular enterprise like the Sun can seem to coast on momentum sometimes, but then we produce 26 "events" a year, so the psychology is different.
I am reminded of the Discovery Days celebrations, which almost died away completely a few years after I moved here and have since been revived.
It will be interesting to see what develops out of the community discussion surrounding the Commissioner's Ball. If there is no discussion, then maybe it is time to let it go.
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