|The Yukon River was clear of ice by Sunday, May 9th, though no one knows exactly when the ice began to move, stopping a clock to announce a winner for the IODE Ice Pool. See story below. Photo by Dan Davidson|
Welcome to the May 14 edition of the Klondike Sun Online. The hardcopy editon occupied 24 pages. There were 22 articles and 22 pictures. We included new fiction by Jack Fraser and a new Albert Fuhre cartoon.
by Dan Davidson
The ice in the Yukon River began to move sometime before the fire alarm went off at 10 o'clock on Saturday morning (May 8), but no one knows just when.
The IODE's Joyce Caley arrived to check the clock secured to the Han Cultural Centre shortly after the siren sounded and discovered, to her consternation, that it had not stopped. That makes it impossible to declare an official time, or to award the prize from the $2200 ice pool fund.
The tripod, which had been leaning over the night before at about mid-night, had clearly shifted several hundred metres downstream. The cable has separated from the clock and keen eyes were able to spot the orange marker flags at the edge of the ice pan, which had rotted quite some distance from the shore line. Along the shore was a bit of thin jumble ice, a sign that the pan had travelled north during the night.
A slowly growing number of people were assembling along the cultural centre's boardwalk and further down the dyke, but word seemed to have gotten out that nothing terribly exciting was going on. There was more excitement when the weekly fire drill alarm sounded during the restorative justice meeting on the previous Wednesday.
By mid-afternoon the river had begun to flow and the tripod had cruised out of sight around the bend. Helicopter flights up and down the river had already begun by that time, although emergency measures coordinator Pat Cayen indicated that there didn't seem to be enough water anywhere to cause any concern. Of course, he added, that's what they thought last year, too, and back surge caught everyone off guard, though it didn't amount to anything.
Caley says the clock has failed a few times in the past and the usual practice has been to hold the funds in the account and add them to the next year's pot. If Lotteries Yukon agrees with this approach, then the year 2000 ice pool could be a big one.
Ed Note: After the hardcopy Sun appeared a winner was declared after all. Mrs. Mary Kogler of Vernon, B.C., won a pot of $2,277.62. For how and why this happened, you'll have to come back next issue.
by Dan Davidson
Members of the Klondike Visitors Association might have been forgiven a momentary need for a reality check at their April 27 annual general meeting as they listened to executive director Denny Kobayashi recite the list of superlatives which he used to describe the fiscal year they were just wrapping up.
There was a record number of visitors to the community. Out of the 36,000 seats that could have been filled at the Palace Grand, 31,600 were. There were record revenues at Gerties. The association handled $2,652,870.25 in revenue and managed a profit of $217,921.
Perhaps it was more accurate to sum things up the way chair Dick Van Nostrand did in his report: "It was a banner year...and a year of challenges."
The public may recall that this is the same organization that was forced to drastically revise its budget in the middle of last summer and make all sorts of cuts in order to meet its commitments.
In fairness, revenues were up last summer, but were nearly $200,000 less than the organization had budgeted for and they had to reevaluate in mid-season. That they pulled their chestnuts out of the fire in time is actually to their credit.
The KVA is being far more conservative in its projections this year, estimating that revenues may actually drop below last year to around $2,586,200. On the other hand, expenses are expected to increase and the association expects to clear only $75,683 on its operating budget.
On the capital side the KVA expects to need to dip into its equity to the tune of just over $10,000 to do all that needs to be done. Major expenses include paying down its debenture to the City of Dawson ($25,000), handling the mortgage on Berton House ($5,000), new tables ($10,000) and the Klondike Marketing Plan ($50,000).
The KVA also plans to upgrade the seating, change the bar decor, paint Diamond Tooth Gerties and buy some new lighting. Not all of these are annual expenses, but some years you have to spend more.
The debit card machine at Gerties will become an ATM this summer at a cost to the association of $25,000, which it expects to gains back in user fees over time.
Finally, the association's total debt load is down by $150,000 since last year, putting it in a much better financial position.
Kobayashi pointed out that the KVA managed last year to raise $167,000 in revenue which was not generated by its attractions, by means of grants and other programs.
The association has an annual payroll of about $600,000, invests $500,000 in local contracts and publishing and enabled community groups to earn $50,000 in donations through its special casino nights last year.
In addition, the KVA has made possible the grand plans of the Dawson City Arts Society by transferring to DCAS the responsibility and eventual ownership of the Oddfellows Building for a nominal fee.
Election of new board members took place without more than a touch of arm pulling. Newly elected or reelected members are: Marlene Braga, Brenda Caley, Gail Hendley, Peter Jenkins, Rosalind Vijendren, Steve Touchie and Paula Pawlovich.
The KVA board feels that the association has been successful in keeping the Klondike on the world stage over the last three years, and especially last year. As it moves forward into its new year, it is looking at doing things a little differently, forging partnerships with the City of Dawson, the Dawson City Chamber of Commerce and the Klondyke Centennials Society to make sure that each group has specific targets and is not doing work which unnecessarily overlaps that of the other organizations.
The meeting was held in the mini-theatre at the Han Cultural Centre, a venue which proved very useful for this sort of thing.
by Dan Davidson
The Guns and Ammo building, said by many to be the most photographed building in Dawson City, is due to come down before freeze-up this fall. The decision was made last week, bringing years of agonizing to an end.
To hear the discussion at the annual general meeting of the Klondike Visitors association, you might be fooled into thinking that the most important topic of the evening was the fate of the Gun and Ammo Shop.
This might seem odd. The KVA will have revenues of close to $2.5 million this year, even if its profits will be way down. That's a lot of money, and yet the most intense discussion of the evening was about this ramshackle old store that looks as if it ought to fall down in a stiff breeze.
In actual fact, it might just fall down, and that's exactly the problem faced by the association. It inherited the building years ago, after a mammoth effort by local artist Albert Fuhre saved it from destruction. In all that time, the KVA has never been able to do anything substantial with the place.
It's not quite as decrepit as it looks. A crew from Klondike National Historic Sites braced the inside a long time ago and those buttress beams on the outside wall aren't the only thing holding it up.
The KVA has spent money too. The building has all its entrances boarded or screened. There are signs posted all over the place reminding people how dangerous it could be to go in there. Once the roof collapsed the interior and all the support beams were open to the weather, and the consensus is that they are rotting away.
The floorboards on the second floor could go under the weight of a child's body. An interior wall could fall down.
None of those considerations prevent young people from doing what they have done since before Pierre Berton's childhood: exploring old ruins, defying authority, declaring by their actions that nothing bad can happen to them.
This is the KVA's concern about the Guns and Ammo. Someone is going to get hurt. Someone may set the thing on fire. The association may get sued for reckless negligence.
There is no question about being able to salvage the building as it stands. Experts have said that this might have been possible 15 years ago -but not now.
The discussion revolved around a number of topics. The first one was the mystery of the attraction the place has for individual tourists and their tour guides. Do they care what it was? Does it matter that it is more properly known as Strait's Auction House and that it was probably somewhere else in town to begin with?
Or are people simply reacting to the look of the place, its Leaning Tower of Pizza defiance of the laws of gravity?
If that's the case, then what would you do to replace it? If it were to be rebuilt, would it need to be reproduced as it was when new, or as it was when it first became an oddity - except with a roof to keep out the elements?
Would it even have to be located where it is now? Does the location, across the street from Kinsey Manor, really matter? Could a replica (lots of discussion and opinion on that topic) be set up somewhere else?
What might the KVA do with the half-sized city lot the shop now occupies? Could it be sold to raise money for the restoration project? Should it be made into a small park with a photo display to commemorate the building?
Several things emerged from the meeting. The first was a general agreement that the building had to be removed before it removed itself. The second was that a park was a bad idea. The third was any significant architectural features of the building should be preserved and an extant recording of the place be made against the day when the KVA, or someone else, could afford to do something more.
This is not a new discussion. It was just last spring that Albert Fuhre, acting with permission from the KVA, mounted a new campaign to raise money to save the Guns and Ammo. Fuhre reports that after a year of trying, he hasn't been able to raise any money, and he concedes, sadly, that it's probably time to give up.
by Paul Gowdie
On May 5, 1999, the Yukon Government education minister Lois Moorcroft was in Dawson City to announce a $200,000 contribution towards a training trust fund for the Klondike Region. The City of Dawson will administer the trust fund.
On behalf of the region, Mayor Glen Everitt, members of the Dawson Community Campus advisory committee, and Art Christiansen of the First Nation, were present to receive the good news and the cheque.
The trust fund will support employment-related training, retraining, upgrading, and improving the occupational skills of the residents of the Klondike area.
In accordance with the agreement struck between the YTG education department and the Dawson City Council, an official training committee will have to be established to manage the fund. This committee will be comprised of five to seven representatives, including a chairperson. Within six months of start up, the committee will be responsible for allocating the funds to various training programs, which have yet to be determined.
The eligible and supportive training costs will include: the establishment of training programs, administrative duties and costs, rental of facilities for instructional purposes, purchase or rental of equipment, and instructors' wages, to name a few.
Chairperson for the campus advisory committee and City Manager, Jim Kincaid states that a committee will be selected within a month or two to manage the aforementioned agreement. In order to avoid any conflict of interest with the campus advisory committee, which was responsible for spearheading the training trust fund agreement, the training committee positions will be publicly advertised.
"I encourage members of the Klondike region to get involved," said Mayor Everitt. "We can make this a truly community-oriented fund."
Penny Soderlund, a long time member of the campus advisory committee believes that the training committee should represent a good cross section of the community. Only then, she says, "can we expect to try to balance the needs of the community."
As in most communities, the workforce is an important factor in meeting these needs. The major employers and revenue generators in the Yukon are the mining industry, the tourism industry, and government. In recent years, the two industries mentioned have been undergoing significant changes.
The mining industry is the highest fiscal generator in the Yukon, but it is by no means the largest employer of its residents. Work in the mining industry is also not easily accessible without the appropriate training, especially now that hard rock mining is becoming more predominant. Hard rock mining requires employees with specialized skills, and is much more profitable than placer mining.
Analysts have noted that the tourism industry is developing the Yukon as a favorable vacation destination, which will invariably increase employment opportunities and revenue to the region. However, the industry is still developing. Outdoor and wilderness recreation operations are expected to be a main attraction, providing employees have acquired the necessary knowledge of the territory's cultural, historical, and environmental concerns. To add to their knowledge, they will have to incur the training and skills to promote their products, and the Yukon. One area that needs attention is the sustainability of tourism as a year round economic contributor. Winter adventure tours promises a lower turn over and involuntary lay off rate than other jobs in the Yukon, but a strategy has yet to be established.
The government employs a significant number of Yukon residents. It also offers many funding opportunities, such as the Training Trust Fund, to communities, industries, and groups to manage their ventures, providing of course, there is intent, a plan of action, and involvement in decision making.
Back on the home front in the Klondike region, Dawson City is developing a promising artistic community. Dawson City Arts Society (DCAS) will be venturing into uncharted territory with their plan to open a school of Fine Art in the fall of 1999. Curriculums and programs are still in the development stages, and its members will have a say as to what type of training they want to feel, hear, and see that represents the Klondike region.
The health and social aspects of the community, especially in the restorative justice area, is under review for solutions to the youth crime problem. The young offenders that are guilty of victimizing local businesses are unfortunately victims themselves, victims of a rehabilitation system that does not seem to be working.
Entrepreneurs within the community are also in need of direction. As it stands now, business courses are only offered to Employment Insurance recipients. It's not fair, says some residents who are not E.I. eligible. They believe they are being left out in the cold without any guidance or support.
These are just a few of the economic, environmental, and social dimensions that will be affecting the region in the years to come. How the residents of Dawson City choose to develop these aspects through training programs with assistance from the Training Trust Fund is an issue that will require careful consideration. To stress Mayor Everitt's invitation, community members are encouraged to share their ideas, and initiatives with the training committee to create and fund programs that will be beneficial to the people of Klondike region.
by Dan Davidson
Coming to Dawson City to talk about restorative and alternative justice systems may be a little bit like shipping coals to Newcastle, or gold to the Klondike. The community has, after all, just been through a two year exercise in setting up its version of restorative justice, called Community Group Conferencing , and there have been 18 such conferences over the last year, with generally good results.
Still, as Michael Winstanley announced at the beginning of the meeting, that was the subject of the evening, and it took Justice Minister Lois Moorcroft and RCMP Commander John Spice at least half an hour to realize that they could depart from the script, so to speak, skip the preamble, and get down to the meat of the evening session at the Tr'ondek Heritage Centre.
In a great many ways, the community is past the point of debating whether or not a variety of approaches to the traditional justice system might not be better ways to do things. For most of the audience of 30 or so, that seemed to be a given.
Those who spoke up were willing to conference where it is appropriate, willing to work on community policing when it seems the thing to do, and willing to try diversion, wilderness camps and all manner of methods to deal with crime, including the courts.
For this audience, those things weren't the issue. The issue was: what do you do when you've exhausted alternative possibilities, turned to the courts and found that they aren't working?
The audience agreed with John Spice when he said that the "crime is just the tip of the iceberg"?, but they also agreed with Wayne Potoroka, Community Education Liaison Coordinator with the Tr'ondek Hwech'in, when he said (to change the metaphor) that the community needs to get to the root of the problem, attack the causes and keep the latest generation of elementary age children from following the crooked paths taken by their elders.
A great deal of the talk in the meeting focussed on an unnamed 3 to 6 youngsters between the ages of 12 and 16 who are responsible for most of the nuisance crimes and B & E offences in the town. This isn't a matter of local opinion. It is substantiated by charges and the recurrence of names on the circuit court docket. Even though provisions of the current Young Offenders Act prohibit the publication of names, most people in Dawson know who the problems are.
Potoroka noted that two of these individuals are out of town and at camp for the foreseeable future. Business people and community leaders were relieved to hear this, but wanted more.
Mayor Glen Everitt spoke of three core groups of younger offenders in town. Some are in their early 20s, some in their late teens and some in their early teens. The older groups are role models for the younger ones. Everitt, who spent some years working with various youth programs before going into politics, said that most of the ones he's seen do work with most of the kids that you try them with, but there always seems to be a group with enough distilled nastiness to resist almost anything.
He advanced a farm analogy from his youth: when there was a bad pig in the litter, it got removed so that you could work with the trainable ones.
Boyd Gillis, of Northern Superior Mechanical was equally blunt: "Being gentle, being compassionate with these people doesn't work. I mean, these kids who're just 14 years old shrug their shoulders and walk away."
Gillis and others pointed to the dysfunctional family situations from which some of these kids come, and of the pointlessness of making such families responsible for home supervised curfews or other remedial action.
Angie Joseph-Rear, a Han language instructor at the Robert Service School and a leader among the Tr'ondek Hwech'in, spoke at length about the need for parents to assume responsibility for the actions of their children and for steering their children into appropriate behavior.
She cited a personal case in which one of her children was involved in an assault in Whitehorse. The family made the young person own up to what had been done to someone else and take the consequences.
Spontaneous applause broke out in the room after her speech.
Joanne Van Nostrand, town councillor and Downtown Hotel owner, spoke of the need to have a conference in which all the people who have been affected by a particular individual get to sit down with that person and lay it on the line with them.
Cheryl Laing, the new coordinator for the CGC project, said that something like this has happened at least once, in a case of vandalism, and could happen again.
Van Nostrand told how direct action by her - going into the school and confronting certain individuals - had pretty much put and end to a problem she labelled as "dining and dashing."
Romy Jensen, owner of Wild 'n' Wooly, spoke from another perspective.
"I'm a victim," she said intensely, " and it hurts painfully." She spoke of the outcome of investigations into the activities of an adult offender over a year ago, someone who took $25,000 in goods from her store. Out of all that she has seen only a few hundred dollars in restitution, even though the man was captured later on as a result of other burglaries.
She wondered why it did not seem to be possible to force people who commit crimes to pay their victims back. "As long as you don't make them pay back, they're just going to do it again."
Stuart Whitley, with the Yukon Justice Department, said that most of the problem there lies with the federal government.
"They make laws, and they say they consult with us, but they don't listen to us. The argument that we made 5 years ago was to make sure that people can be forced to account for their own actions. The federal government didn't agree with us. They felt that we shouldn't be using jails at all for collecting money. They likened it to the debtor's prisons of the 19th century.
"All we're saying is, there's a clear option, get a job and pay back the money and you don't go to jail. If you can't get a job come to a judge and explain why you need more time."
The meeting could easily have exceeded its two hour time limit, but the visiting parties had a plane to catch. They have promised to be back in one form or another, but as Moorcroft noted, "This community really doesn't need the minister of justice present to figure out what to do."
As usual at this sort of event, there were more questions than answers, but one very good point was raised by both Al Rudis and Cheryl Laing (married minds think alike?).
It is pointless to assign community hours to malefactors unless there is a system in place to organize their lives in such a way that the work gets down and gets done properly. That whole system of social compensation, whether assigned by the courts or a conferencing system, breaks down at the point of supervision, and something needs to be done about that fairly soon. There was general agreement from the room and from the table on this point.
by Cheryl Laing
Coordinator, Dawson Community Group Conferencing Society
During a consultation with Justice Minister Lois Moorcroft, Chief Superintendent J.R. (John) Spice, Commanding Officer of M Division, RCMP, and other visiting officials, Coordinator Robert Thompson and members of the Board of Directors of the Society had a chance to report on the first year success of the conferencing program.
Thompson reported that twenty-two cases were referred to the Society by the RCMP during its first year of operation. Eighteen of the cases were conferenced, two are on hold, and two were returned to the RCMP as unsuitable. Additional cases were referred by the Robert Service School, where a pilot project using conferencing as an alternative to the school disciplinary process for harassment and fighting is in place.
Mr. Thompson went on to explain that the Society is tracking the success of the process in several different ways. Victims and offenders are surveyed before and after the conference, comments made by victims and offenders and their support group after the conferences are noted, successful completion of items required to repair the harm is monitored, and the rate of re-offending is tracked. Thus far, by all measures, the program has been very successful.
Of particular importance to the Society is the high rate of victim satisfaction with the process. Several victims and supporters have come into a conference with a great deal of skepticism about its worth. A common comment is that conferencing is a "soft" approach to offenders. After experiencing the conference for themselves, these same victims have become some of the Society's most enthusiastic supporters.
And what is planned for the next year of the program? Robert Thompson will be stepping down as Program Coordinator, and will continue with the program as a volunteer facilitator. Cheryl Laing will assume the position of Coordinator May 16th, with Jon McDade as the Assistant Coordinator. Laing and McDade have both been trained as facilitators, and have participated in cases during the last year. The Society has just moved into office space above the CIBC, in space formerly occupied by Viceroy.
In addition to continuing the work of the conferencing program, Cheryl and Jon will be researching other successful restorative justice programs from around the world for ideas to present to Dawson businesses and citizens. The focus will be on programs to address Dawson problems that the traditional justice process and conferencing cannot solve.
The Conferencing Society is committed to the view that any new program should be the result of the same type of collaboration between the interested parties that led to the development of the Community Group Conferencing Society.
Thus City Government, the RCMP, Social Services, the School, business owners and operators, Tr'ondek Hwech'in, parents, and other citizens, as well as territorial justice, education , and social service departments will be hearing from Laing and McDade in the upcoming months. If you have ideas for programs that are successful with troubled youth and adults, please contact the Society's office at 993-5060.
As of April 1, 1999, there is no longer always a doctor on-call in Dawson for after-hours emergencies which require physician expertise. If you have a medical emergency after-hours, you should call the Nursing Station (993-4444). As has always been the case, the nurse will assess your situation and will treat all emergencies within their skill level to treat.
If there is no doctor on-call in Dawson and the nurse requires advice from a doctor, she/he will call the doctor on-call in the Whitehorse Hospital Emergency Department. If it is determined that you require the assessment and/or treatment of a doctor, and your condition will not allow you to wait until the Dawson doctors are in the clinic, then you will be medivac'd to Whitehorse.
Please direct any concerns you may have with this decline in health services to: Mr. David Sloan, Minister of Health, Box 2703, Whitehorse, Yukon Y1A 2C6
Fax:(867) 393-8424 Phone: 1-800-661-0408.
A letter from Craig Moddle
Technical Director, Yukon Arts Centre
Well Dawson City, you should've been here. Whitehorse, for the Rotary Music Festival. The members of the Robert Service Choir & Bands were, and I have to say they were a real treat to have around. Like The Who said so eloquently years ago "Yeah the kids are alright!" Talented, enthusiastic, and very well behaved.
Let me say, they are all welcome at the Arts Centre any time. And I'm sure I don't have to tell any of you, but boy, are they ever growing up fast!
Now in all honesty, they weren't always the most talented or most polished in their various categories, but let me hasten to add, they were always, always, darned good! (It's kind of unfair to compare the RS Band of around 15 members to the assembled band from Whitehorse that had over 45!) And there are a couple of kids that are absolutely brimming with talent.
I wasn't able to attend all the individual performances, but I did catch some, and of course the final concerts. Every time I did see them, they gave spirited, enthusiastic, and sometimes awe-inspiring performances. This old cynic's eyes were damp on a couple of occasions. Dawson City, you should all be very proud of these kids and their efforts. I certainly am.
Ed. Note: Craig's company was the contractor for the Gaslight Follies for a number of years in the mid to late 1980s and he was known for his boisterous rendition of Arizona Charlie Meadows. He knows Dawson and its students well, having spent one winter as a custodian at the school. His letter seemed a good way to introduce this next section. This material on student awards and school doings actually took up about 4 pages in this issue, but we'll just give you the highlights.
Student Awards and Kudos
As noted in Craig Moddle's letter, our students have done well lately in Whitehorse. The Rotary Music Festival results are reprinted here from the Sourdough, the Robert Service School newsletter.
Rotary Music Festival
Betty Davidson, Shelley Rowe and Gwen Bell with over 40 students from grades 4-12 representing Robert Service School took part in the Rotary Music Festival in Whitehorse April 21-24 the results are as follows:
1. Vocalists were:
All beginning singers performed well.
2. Choir comprised of 30 students was successful and sang at final concert.
3. The concert band comprised of 14 students from grades 8-12 played very well and were awarded a "gold level" standing.
Thanks to our chaperones: Sharon Touchie, Madeleine Gould, Rose Margeson and Bob McCauley.
The next week was the time for the annual territorial Young Authors Conference in the city. Ye Editor, in his persona as a high school English teacher, travelled to the festival with five young writers. One of them, Michael Davidson, picked up the territorial award for the best short story presented to the conference. (Disclosure - Yes, he is the editor's son.)
* Tim Bradley
Student's Choice Award K-3 (Horse Back Riding Trip)
* Heather Mayes, Natasha Burian
1. Honourable Mention: Grade 7 Physical Science
2. Best Chemistry Project: Grades K-12 (Mousepads)
* Stephanie Matchett
Silver Medal: Grade 7 Life Science
* Jennifer Touchie, Jodie McLaren
Silver Medal: Grades 8-12 Life Science
* Leah Adam, Kristen Cook
Honourable Mention: Grades 8-12 Life Science
* Troy Blanchard, Ben Rudis
1. Gold Medal: Grades 8-12 Life Science
2. Student's Choice Award 7-12 (Rafting Trip)
3. Best Life Science Project in the Fair (6 months free InterNet)
Project considered for selection to the Canada-Wide Science Fair
* Rhiannon Juniper, Jenny Russell
1. Gold Medal: Grades 8-12 Biotechnology
2. Best Project Related to Work Place Safety ($100.00)
3. Best Biotechnology Project in the Fair (6 months free InterNet)
Project considered for selection to the Canada-Wide Science Fair.
Bronze Medal: Grades 8-12 Life Science
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