Dawson City, Yukon Friday, April 30, 1999

The I.O.O.F. Building is being renovated to become the first unit of the Dawson School of the Arts. See story below. Photo by Dan Davidson

Feature Stories

Government Dollars Support Arts School Concept
Dawson's Operational Budget Produces a Surplus
Where is the Justice?
Countdown to Breakup Begins in Dawson
Writing: The Thing She Had to Do
Summer Food Bank Enters Third Year
The Pre-Festival Concert Plays to a Packed Room
Operation Egg Drop
The Circumpolar North

Welcome to the April 30 edition of the Klondike Sun Online. It's a late posting as the editor's dayjob has taken him out of town two weekends in a row. The hardcopy editon occupied 20 pages. There were 20 articles and 18 pictures. And for those of you who are wondering: it's May 5 as this is written and the Yukon River hasn't broken up yet.

Government Dollars Support Arts School Concept

by Dan Davidson

The announcement that the Yukon Territorial Government has decided to pour $400,000 into capital funding for the proposed Dawson School of the Arts is a major coup for the fledgling Dawson City Arts Society.

The money will go to putting the finishing touches on the restoration of the Oddfellows Hall at the corner of Second Avenue and Princess Street. That hall is the most visible part of the society's plans, but president Greg Hakonson is keen to have people understand that his group, which boasts around 100 members at the present time, has a lot more on its collective mind than just making that building useful.

The DCAS building is just the beginning is what the society sees as network of buildings and learning centres which might form an arts campus in Dawson, and might stretch its influence throughout the territory.

DCAS hopes to convert at least four local buildings to its purpose in due course. This one contains space for a gallery, performing arts, visual arts, studio facilities, and an exhibition area. A committee of the society is currently working on plans for programs which will, it hopes, attract students from all over, as well as instructors to teach the courses.

In addition, the society wants to tap into the changing nature of the outfitting experience, making art or cultural learning part of packages which already exist, providing a wilderness tourism experience with an arts component.

"Everybody realizes that the way this movement is going world wide hunting is probably not long for this world," says Hakonson. "This would give them a way to ease into that."

DCAS would like to coordinate with outfitters and organizations in the territory which have cultural programs to offer. DCAS would assist in developing a Yukon wide program and market this idea to places far and wide, hoping for an international appeal.

"If we were doing this just for Yukoners we'd have to think real small," Hakonson says. "If we want any hope of being economically viable we have to go after this tourism/wilderness thing and we also have to be able offer regular courses throughout the year that are or such a standard and offered by instructors of such a calibre that all throughout the world they will know. If you want to take this course, this instructor is in Dawson during these months. Make it an art Mecca."

That doesn't mean that everything of this nature would be focussed on Dawson. DCAS is looking steal anyone's thunder, but would like to coordinate the storm, so to speak. Hakonson is talking about partnerships, working hand in hand with other groups, including the local campus of Yukon College.

"Since we're the first out with this idea, we'd like to see this as the parent structure for any future developments of this type in the territory.

"A lot of the tours could originate and end here, but a lot might not."

Physically and organizationally, the idea begins with the I.O.O.F. building becoming an institute of art.

This first building will cost close to a million to get up and running, but Hakonson sees it as an insignificant investment when matched against the potential benefits to the entire territory.

"By establishing that building, that'll give us the spot to get all these summer activities up and running, things which will be all over the Yukon in places which are already established but not being fully utilized."

While he sees it as an idea with great potential, it will not necessarily be a cash cow.

"It's quite possible that we would never run in the black. But if everybody realizes that from the outset - that it won't be that building that's actually making money; it'll be the whole Yukon that's benefiting, economically and socially - then it becomes worth it.

"We're getting into the final stages and putting together a five year business plan. Hopefully we can get figures accurate enough that we'll get an indication of what those benefits could be."

With the money from YTG, the Community Development Fund and the City of Dawson DCAS sees itself in a position to begin getting its plans in order. The group would like to have an executive manager in place by the early summer to coordinate further efforts. That person would have the fall to get some initial programs in place and begin marketing. In the meantime the building would be available for local special events.

By January 1, 2000 there should be a limited curriculum in place, something to be offered within the Yukon. In the spring, if all the negotiations work out, the wilderness/art experiences could begin. That fall would see the beginning of the first full year of programs.

The most optimistic scenario sees Dawson as an art Mecca, but it might not work out. Hakonson's not concerned.

"If we don't have that big success, the worst case scenario is that Dawson's going to end up with this smaller arts education centre, which wouldn't be bad. I don't think we'll miss our mark by that much."

top.gif

Dawson's Operational Budget Produces a Surplus

by Dan Davidson

The Operational Budget for the City of Dawson for 1999 shows a number of significant changes over previous years, but the first change is not immediately visible, even though its the one that Mayor Glen Everitt found most exciting the night he discussed it at council.

Dawson's various department heads actually managed to produce a budget with a built in surplus on their first draft of the figures and brought that to council. After some further juggling, pruning and adjusting, council rendered the final draft, retaining a surplus of $43,550.00. Not a bad trick to play with a $3,784,280 total.

The real biggest change in Dawson's financial picture this year is the fact that the block grant money from the territorial government can now be spent as needed, instead of a fixed percentage being allocated to capital projects and the rest to operations. That total number has been raised by $27,000 this year, the first increase in years. The amount allocated to operations is $840,055.

Taxes are expected to be up by $169,600 now that the properties owned by the Tr'ondek Hwech'in are part of the general tax pool. That brings the total to $1,056,025.

Grants in lieu of taxes from senior governments will drop for the same reason, but not by as much since the base mil rate has been raised to 1.9 for government properties.

Business License revenue will go up by $30,000 under the new bylaw worked out with the Chamber of Commerce, but most of the money goes to the chamber in grant form. Investments remain strong an up by $23,000.

On the expenditures side there are also changes.

The communications budget will decrease by about half to $34,025 as the town moves from freely distributed on-air television to a community controlled cable television corporation.

Animal control cost are going up to $40,000 (from $32,000) as a result of the partnership with the Dawson Humane Society, but the improvement is felt to be worth it.

Increased bylaw enforcement , especially during the summer, will triple the cost of that program to $24,000.

A big line item is the projected $100,000 it will cost to do the Environmental Effects Monitoring program requested by the Yukon Territorial Water Board as part of the amendment hearings on the town's water license.

An additional cost in utilities comes from the $187,000 subsidy program which replaces the old $45,500 sewer and water grant program.

Planning services will cost $68,550 this year, partly due to an increase in the hours of the part-time planning officer and partly due to the addition of Historic Control Zone bylaw services.

Economic development climbed steeply to $98,000 (from $10,000). This includes the grant to the Chamber of Commerce plus the tourism marketing partnership the council has entered with the Klondike Visitors Association.

The budget also has committed $200,000 in some form to assist in the reconstruction of the I.O.O.F. Hall as the headquarters of the Dawson City Arts Society.

Finally, there will be increased hours at the swimming pool this summer (by popular demand) and that will dive the cost of running it up to $78,750.

Looked at another way, the town makes and spends its O & M money in seven major categories: general government services, protective services, environmental health, public health, community development and recreation services. Expenditures far outweigh revenues in all but the first of these categories, which is where the block funding and tax revenue are reported.

Dawson ratepayers will note that their taxes have gone up this year. This is due mostly to an increase in the assessment rate, which is set every few years by the territorial government. Except for residents in the Klondike Valley expansion area, base mil rates in town have not increased. In the valley there has been an increase to reflect the provision of garbage pick-up, animal control and road work to the services offered to that area by the town. The valley rate remains lower than the rate in town.

top.gif

Where is the Justice?

by Cheryl Laing

A small but vocal group of Dawson Citizens met at the Downtown Hotel conference room to hear comments by Michael Winstanley, Policy Analyst with the Yukon Department of Justice, and to voice their concerns about the justice process in the Yukon. Mr. Winstanley was here to describe the concept of Restorative Justice, to find out community views on what the main justice issues are in Dawson City, and to prepare the way for a proposed May 5th visit to Dawson by Minister of Justice Lois Moorcroft.

He received a message of frustration and discontent from the audience during the question and answer period.

Dawson business owners at the meeting and a representative of the Chamber of Commerce were very clear that they wanted something done about a small group of young people who are believed to be responsible for break-ins at numerous business locations in the City.

They felt the system hasn't dealt with these youngsters in any meaningful way. The perception of a number of people attending the meeting was that the Judge too often merely gave out community service hours as a punishment. Some youngsters owe well over 100 hours- and the hours are never done. No supervision or structure is provided to see that hours are done and this leads to a total lack of respect for the system both by offenders and victims.

Early in the meeting, Winstanley acknowledged that the traditional justice process is not working in many ways. Canada spends many billions a year on justice, many times more than is spent on education. Yet despite the money and effort dedicated to the various aspects of the criminal justice process, 85 % of offenders reoffend. One member of the audience suggested jokingly that if the money was sent to Dawson, we would figure out how to solve the problems.

Winstanley went on to describe Restorative Justice as a different way of thinking about crime and conflict. Rather than focusing on simply punishing the offender, it puts emphasis on repairing the harm done to the victim and the community, and involves community members in repairing the harm caused by crime. Many existing Yukon initiatives such as Dawson's Community Group Conferencing program, diversion programs, and community justice committees, are based on restorative justice principles.

Audience members spoke up and said that they didn't have time to do the work of the justice system as volunteers. They are too busy earning a living. They also agreed that they are concerned about a trend of off-loading programs onto communities for volunteers to run. The community can provide direction and input, but it can't take on more and more justice programs without dollars to run them.

Another discussion focused around the Dawson Community Group Conferencing program. It was pointed out that this restorative justice program has been quite successful in its first year of operation, dealing with a variety of crimes and offenders.

However it is not necessarily the best way of handling all cases. Other strategies are needed to deal with repeat offenders who are continuing to victimize this community unchecked. It was suggested that Territorial Government Departments need to look at the model used to develop the Community Group Conferencing program here. The cooperative effort between local representatives and justice system professionals was a model that Dawson citizens would like to see followed at the Department level in Whitehorse.

Justice, Education, and Social Services are all dealing with the same troubled youth, and yet some said we haven't noted Departments working together and coordinating their efforts to get the best value for the dollars spent on programs for the same youth.

At the end of the meeting, Mr. Winstanley reiterated that he was preparing the way for a visit by Minister of Justice Lois Moorcroft. She will be here to obtain feedback on ways to make the justice system more open and responsive to the Yukon people. He said he would be relaying information on issues raised by the meeting participants to her in preparation for that meeting.

The meeting with the Justice Minister is scheduled for May 5th, 1999, 6:00 p.m. -8:00 p.m. at the Tr'ondek Hwech'in Heritage Hall.

top.gif

Countdown to Breakup Begins in Dawson

by Dan Davidson


The banks of the ice-covered Yukon River at Dawson. This year the Break-up clock is attached to the Han Cultural Centre. Photo by Dan Davidson

The annual IODE Breakup Pool seems like simple enough proposition.

Plant a tripod on the ice, Attach it by cable to a clock so that when the tripod moves the circuit is broken and the clock stops. Sell the tickets and wait for the end of April. Easy, right?

Not this year.

This year finding a place to anchor the clock and tripod was almost a problem.

For most of the time since the clock has been in use it's been attached to the old CIBC building on Front Street. But the bank moved out a few years ago now, and the present owner, Mike Palma, has everything disconnected while he renovates the building this spring.

At first the IODE ladies thought they would hook the cable to the Waterfront Building, the City of Dawson owned home of the Klondike Sun, Princess Tours and Yukon Family Services Association. But that was no go. The cable is heavy and needs to be suspended from a pole before it is attached to the side of a building. At the CIBC location there was a handy power pool. There's one outside the Waterfront Building too, but it's got a high energy transformer on it, making it not the sort of pole your want to have jerked around - just in case that should happen.

For a while the IODE played around with notions of a laser sighted trigger, but its seemed likely that passing birds would set the device off, so that wouldn't work.

Never despair. The Tr'ondek Hwech'in First Nation came to the rescue with a solution that is only available for the first time this year. The Han Cultural Centre has lots of exposed study timbers as part of its aboriginal design elements and so the clock's cable has been attached to them and run down to a box mounted on the building.

Members of the Yukon Order of Pioneers - Joe Braga, Gordon Caley, Jack and Ian Fraser - erected the tripod on the Yukon River ice last week, and so things are now in place for the countdown.

The rivers are low, and said to be frozen quite far down, even though the strange melt patterns prompted yesterday's warning to parents about letting children play near the banks. The tripod's new location may make a difference to the outcome of the pool, but no one really knows. Typically, over the last decade, there is a surge which trips the clock, and then hardly anything else happens for hours or even days before the big flush comes along.

The Ice Pool tickets cease being sold on Sunday, April 25. The earliest date on record is April 28 at 1:54 p.m. That was in 1940. In 1941 it was on April 30. All the other April dates have occurred since 1989.

top.gif

Writing: The Thing She Had to Do

by Dan Davidson


Julie Brickman proudly displays her Powerbook G3. Photo by Dan Davidson

Julie Brickman was with relatives when she got word that she had received the nod for the Berton House residency for this spring. She says that she doubts any of them had seen here bounce up and down like a little girl for a long, long time, but she was that pleased about it.

Getting Berton House was a big dream for her, another vindication of the path she set herself on when she decided to give up her practice as a psychologist and plunge into a full time writing career.

Nothing about this move has been by half-measures for Julie, who found herself more and more drawn to her early love of writing even while she was building a successful practice in Toronto after years of study.

She would have moved even faster except for her practice. You can't just dump your caseload and go off to fulfill yourself without giving your patients time to get used to it and setting them up with someone else. It would be like taking the net out from under the trapeze and them disconnecting the ropes as well.

A Canada Council grant gave her the means to phase out gradually, cutting back to half-time and then, finally to no time. It also gave her a sense of validation as a writer. All during this period she was working on the manuscript of her soon to be first published novel.

As she says in her press notes, "On the Monday after I has closed my practice and was beginning my new career as a writer, Jamie Hutchinson, the managing director of Turnstone Press, called to accept my novel." It was a marvelous piece of serendipity.

A novel. No breaking in with short stories. Brickman wanted to go straight to the big stuff.

What the Birds Can Only Whisper was not her first attempt. There's a crime novel in her drawer from years before. Even this early attempt made her aware that she had a calling in this direction.

"It was the first time that the world in my mind got more alive than where I was living." She was in Paris, France, at the time, and found she was paying more attention to her book than to her surroundings. "I knew that something about writing was very powerful.

"It took a number of years before I went back to it. It also took giving up grand dreams. When I was going to write THE GREAT BOOK I really couldn't write the little pieces and appreciate them. Somehow being grandiose about it disappeared for me. The excitement of actually having a piece that I thought had something good in it took over."

It had always been there. Her first thrust at the Michigan State University was in Comparative Literature and she was involved in artsy pursuits like doing a radio show called "The Folk Show." But, as she puts it, she decided writing was to "iffy", went on to major in psychology and made a career out of it, ending up in Toronto.

The urge to write simply refused to go away. She dabbled. While the practice was interesting and the work valuable, she "found the language and concepts too distant from life."

To learn to write, she felt she needed to study writing, so she took night school classes in literature, pursued a Masters in Fine Arts at York University to go with her other degrees, did the little classroom pieces and listened to others doing theirs. Somewhere along the way it came clear to her that she didn't want to do anything else, that this was the most important, and most joyous, thing she could do with her life.

Before she finished the MFA she ended her practice. (She says, "I quit earning a living.")

Surviving as a psychologist had been, she found, partly a process of divesting oneself of passions, of not showing things you felt. "You just hear so much and it's so painful that you have to put it aside to live your own life." In her area of study, largely concerned with sexual trauma of various kinds among women, that was getting harder and harder.

You can't write articles with titles like "Female Lives, feminist deaths: The relationships of the Montreal Massacre to dissociation, incest and violence against women" (1992, Canadian Psychology, 33, 128-143) not run headlong into the dichotomy between your subject matter and the clinical approach to it.

That article was her last in the field, and she says she wrote it without any of the usual psychological jargon.

By contrast her first novel draws heavily on her background in psychology, using fiction to tell the stories that Dr. Brickman (M.A, Ph.D.) could not tell in her professional work.

The kernel of What Birds Can Only Whisper comes from an anecdote she heard from a friend about a woman who spent the night with her boyfriend and could not remember if they had actually had sex.

"This story gripped my imagination and eventually became the first scene of my novel. Kendra Quillan, the heroine, awakes next to the man she loves and almost kills him before she realizes who he is.

Why Kendra blacks out during sex and erases the memory becomes the heart of the novel. In Greek mythology Mnemosyne (Memory) is the mother of the nine muses, themselves the inspiration of all the arts. Yet the powers invoked by creative spirits down through the years had their origins in Zeus's (or Jupiter's) betrayal of Hera, his wife.

Says Julie, "Memory, its relationship to politics, to self, to love and to power, are the themes of the book."

She sees the book as transitional, a piece of fiction which mined her profession. The next book, the one she's working on at Berton House, has nothing to do with her practice so far, or even about Canada.

Called The Empty Quarter, it is set in the United Arab Emirates in the Arabian Gulf, in the Rub al Khali (the Empty Quarter) the great desert of deserts which was feared and respected even by the Bedouin who occupied the lesser deserts of the area with impunity.

She sees it as her first attempt at a more pure fiction, a complete break with her past references.

The Dawson connection is that one of the characters in this book will be from the Yukon. She wanted to come here to get the background right.

top.gif

Summer Food Bank Enters Third Year

by Father Tim Coonen

Dawson's seasonal food bank is preparing to open for its third season. Operating from the facilities of St. Mary's Catholic Church, the food bank offers emergency grocery assistance in the Spring and early Summer.

The Need

The Food Bank was established in 1997 to offer assistance to summer workers newly arrived in town. Many come to Dawson not prepared for the competition for jobs and for the delay in receiving that first paycheque.

The Food Bank has allowed many to avoid having to access the YTG Social Services office. In the past season, there were also a number of families, mostly new arrivals in town, and individuals referred from the general community who used the services of the Food Bank.

What's Happening

Groceries are gathered during a door to door drive, to be held on Saturday, May 1st. A grocery bag with an explanatory note will be dropped on doorsteps a few days before, and on Saturday (or possibly Friday night) one of a team of volunteers will stop by to collect donations.

Secondly, a soup kitchen-type meal will be provided every Tuesday evening until early June at St. Mary's School. Last year's meals were a big hit, starting small and peaking at some 120 participants.

Help wanted

Are you willing to help? There are several possible ways individuals can participate:

The Food Drive held last year was fast and easy. Volunteers are needed:

How this helps our town

These two services, the Food Bank and the Tuesday evening meals serve a number of functions: They offer assistance to newcomers who find themselves in a difficult situation, and help keep them from becoming part of the Welfare system, thereby saving tax dollars.

Secondly, the evening meals provide a forum where local agencies (such as the Nursing Station, the Conservation officers, etc.) can gather and address a large number of the "campers" who traditionally arrive in our community. And finally, these services allow us to welcome these seasonal folks who are an essential part of our local economy.

top.gif

The Pre-Festival Concert Plays to a Packed Room

by Dan Davidson


Robert Service School Band. Photo by Dan Davidson

Spring music festivals have become a tradition in Dawson over the last 13 years, even if the Robert Service School's choirs and bands have to travel to Whitehorse in order to take part in the Rotary Music Festival. The send-off at this end always includes a musical evening at home.

After a busy year of fund raising (made necessary by a bus contract that makes it twice as expensive for rural schools to travel to the city as it is for city schools to travel to the country) this final concert of the year was free to the audience of parents and well-wishers who filled the ancillary room at the school on April 15.

The full Choir, packed this year with 33 members ranging from grade 4 to grade 11, led off the evening with a rendition of Sammy Cahn's "High Hopes", directed by Betty Davidson and accompanied by Gwen Bell.

Solo pianist Angela Haftner was on hand as well, to present a mellow "Killing Me Softly", one of the pieces she will perform in the city.

Soloists from the choir were next. Christina Brady performed Lennon's "Imagine"; Anna Vogt sang Lerner & Loewe's "Wouldn't It Be Loverly"; Michael Davidson presented "Jolly Roger" by R.R. Robertson.

Amy Ball and Melinda Margeson took the stage next, with a duet of Buddy Kaye's standard, "A, You're Adorable".

Angela Haftner returned to the piano with a much tougher task, the interpretation of Chopin's "Waltz in C# Minor".

At Michael Davidson's vocal level there is a requirement to sing a song in a second language, which explained why he sang Schubert's "Horch, Horch, Die Lerch" in German.

Heather Touchie performed "My Favorite Things" by Rodgers & Hammerstein.

The test piece for one of the girls' categories was Anderson's "Summer on the Prairie". To spare the audience the repetition (however lovely it might have been) the five girls in that vocal class - Christina Brady, Anna Vogt, Natasha Burian, Monica Fras and Monica Nordling - sang it as a quintet.

Many of the solo performers are coached and played for by choir director Betty Davidson, but Dawson boasts a number of vocal instructors, including Pat Henman, Linda Moore and Father Tim Coonen.

The senior Band 8 -12 class, led by director Shelly Rowe, mounted the stage to present "Variations on an English Folk Song" by Claude T. Smith, "Balladair" by Frank Erickson and "Swashbuckler's March" by Mark Williams.

Vocal soloists returned to the limelight then, with Natasha Burian singing Burton Lane's "Look to the Rainbow", Melinda Margeson singing Sherman & Sherman's "The Age of Not Believing", and Robyn Touchie's singing Sherman & Sherman's "Winnie the Pooh".

The Band 7 isn't going to the festival but they were on hand to show how they were progressing with McGinty's "Manchester March".

Then it was back to vocals, with Amy Ball doing Strouse's "You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile", Monica Nordling doing Lerner & Loewe's "I could have danced all night", Monica Fras singing Boubil & Schonberg's "Castle on a Cloud" and Michael Davidson blowing the room away with his rendition of Gershwin's "Fascinatin' Rhythm".

The Robert Service Choir closed the evening with "Can't Help Falling in Love" by George David Weiss.

The trip to the Rotary Music Festival was to begin on the morning of April 22, when they boarded their bus at the unearthly hour of 5:30 a.m. One can only assume that these young people really do have some dedication to music in their hearts.

top.gif

Operation Egg Drop

by Laurie Betts
Kindergarten teacher, R.S.S.


Three girls reap the benefits of Operation Egg Drop. Photo by Ron Ryant

For the Science Fair this year at Robert Service School, the Kindergarten students were given a project to design a package that would protect a raw egg from breaking when dropped from a second story height. The project was entitled "Operation Egg Drop".

Students invented their packages at home with the help of their parents and families and then brought them to school to be tested in the stairwell and the library.

The results of their hard work were amazing. The packages were all sizes and shapes, using everything from marshmallows, bread and Jello for protection, to plastic bags and helium-filled weather balloons for a slower descent. All of the students loved the "testing" part of the experiment and had a great time watching their friends' packages fall to the ground.

Predictions about which would break and which would survive were very interesting! Out of the 22 eggs dropped in the school, only 2 needed the assistance of "the king's men" to put them back together. The results and the packages were on display for the public to view during the Science Fair on March 31.

With great thanks to Sally Derry for her ingenuity and creativity, we were able to extend our "Operation Egg Drop" to include a Phase II.

Sally asked Adam Morrison if he would be kind enough to drop the student's packages out of his HELICOPTER if, by any chance, he was going for a test run.

Only in Dawson, would one even think it possible! Adam was wonderful enough to agree and Phase II was in operation.

On Wednesday, April 7, the egg drop packages were again put to the test over the Demolition Derby site at the bottom of the Slide. Adam recruited Stan Patay to throw them out of the helicopter to the great delight of all of the Kindergarten students and their buddies from Grade 4 who were watching from below.

The results were not quite as remarkable as they were in Phase I, but nevertheless very impressive - 12 eggs survived and 10 were scrambled. Some of the survivors can be seen in these pictures.

The Kindergarten students and Mrs. Betts wish to extend their gratitude and thanks to Adam Morrison and Stan Patay for giving their time and energy to give us such a thrill. We would also like to thank Sally Derry for her idea and initiative, Ron Ryant for volunteering his own time to drive us back and forth to the site and for the great pictures you see here, and our parents and families for helping us with our projects.

top.gif

The Circumpolar North

by Palma Berger

This was the blanket title of the "Focus on the Future - Building Sustainable Communities" of the conference that was held in Dawson City this past week.

The Chair was Audrey McLaughlin. Workshops were held during the day, but at her luncheon speech Ms. McLaughlin touched on the many things that the countries touching on the Northern Polar region have in common.

We live in an area where the climate is warming up and this will affect all of us in the future. The resourceful people of these areas do a little bit of everything to make a living. The areas are heavily subsidized from the capital city. Pollution does not take long to get around in our fragile environment. We are of great interest to science.

There is an Arctic Council made up of polar countries such as Sweden, Canada, Norway, U.S., Finland, and Iceland, to overseer our mutual interests. It decisions are recommendations worked out by consensus, but are not binding by law.

As to the countries, Russia is the best example of absolutely bad decisions. They have made bad political, environmental and development decisions. Environmentally they have few regulations and do not enforce these; so they are a haven for big companies to go there and exploit the land undisturbed. They have dedicated and very highly educated scientists whose hands are tied.

Canada had an Arctic Forum to promote scientific studies of the North, but their budget has been cut to such an extent that Canada now follows on the coat tails of science in Alaska.

N.W.T. are ahead of the Yukon in doing business in Russia. Although Yukon has had Trade Commissions going there and Yukon Housing has been offering technical advice and help in building in the North.

Yukon College has been involved in setting up a University of the North into which citizens from all polar regions could tap, for example by InterNet. Student and Instructor exchanges are also being worked on.

Other items of mutual interest are Renewable Resources, Agriculture and Arts. When Ms. McLaughlin suggested we could have a "Circumpolar Arts Conference" maybe in Dawson City which is 'the art capital of the Yukon?' she brought enthusiastic nods of agreement from the absolutely unbiased audience consisting mainly of Dawson residents.

There is a Circumpolar Women's Conference happening in Whitehorse in the Fall at which there will be representatives from around the Polar Regions.

If Ms. McLaughlin's map of the Polar Regions failed to show how much we in this area have in common, then her talk certainly did.

Klondike Sun Home Page