Dawson City, Yukon Friday, June 20, 2003

Graduation exercises were held at Diamond Tooth Gerties this year. Photo by Dan Davidson

Feature Stories

RSS Grads Are Not Gambling on the Future
Mammoth Scientists Salute Placer Miners
Rec Centre Arbitration Postponement Was Not at Dawson's Request
Museum's AGM
School Council Opposes Education Cuts
Women's Shelter: A Summer Update
A Familiar Voice for the Summer Season

Welcome to the June 20, 2003 edition of the online Klondike Sun, which reproduces a selection of the photographs and articles that were in the June 17 hard copy edition. We are catching up with our online postings after a hiatus. Our webmaster has been on vacation. Unfortunately, he returns to duty the same week that our editor heads off for a month. The rest of July will have to wait until August.

The hard copy also contains Doug Urquhart's famous "Paws" cartoon strip, our homegrown crossword puzzle, the Fraser's Edge and obviously, all the other material you won't find here.

We encourage viewers of this website to consider subscribing to the Sun. It would help us financially and you would get to see everything closer to when it's actually news. Since we went online in March 1996 our counter has crashed a number of times. The first counter logged about 25,000 visitors. The second one, which crashed recently, logged about 51,000. The current counter went online in April of this spring and is currently sitting at 5700. Apparently people have been logging on and looking for a new issue.

Anybody Got a Loonie?

If every person who logged onto this website would send us a loonie, we'd be able to pay off the lease on our new laser printer in just a few issues. Seriously folks, since the beginning of this year there are more of you reading this digest edition of the Sun than there are reading the real thing on paper. A second online reader has made a contribution to our printer fund. More on that in a few weeks.

RSS Grads Are Not Gambling on the Future

by Dan Davidson

As solemn an event as graduation is supposed to be, several of the speakers at this year's Robert Service School Commencement Exercises were unable to refrain from commenting on the irony of the venue for the event.

This year, the ceremony took place in Diamond Tooth Gerties Gambling Casino.

MLA Peter Jenkins sounded a note of warning as part of his address.

"I certainly appreciate you selecting the venue of a gambling casino for your graduation, and let me assure you that gambling casinos weren't built by winners."

Member of Parliament Larry Bagnell was a bit more upbeat.

"I do wonder how I'm going to explain when the national media ask me why this is the only graduation in Canada in a casino. But you're probably the luckiest kids in Canada."

Principal Denis Gauthier began the ceremony with a short trip through some of the changes that have taken place in Canada over the last half century, the age of many of the parents of the graduating class.

School council chair Jack Vogt, recalling a recent trip to Quebec on which he was one of the chaperones, noted that the bonds of friendship seemed to help members of this grad class feel comfortable where ever they went.

"The next chapter of your lives will hold many challenges," he said. "Look them straight in the eye. You've got the resources that you got from Robert Service School. Face those challenges. Continue to learn. Help others that you meet."

While he brought the audience to laughter many times during his speech, Councilor Byrun Shandler had a serious message at the core of his talk.

"I'm very happy and proud, on behalf of council, to be here to share with you and your families, your friends and this community, this further step in your growth and development and acceptance as fully responsible adults. This is a rite of passage ... in a culture that has very few rites of passage.

"We have shared in your achievements, take pride in your growth and your progress. Change is a constant in our society and all of us are constantly learning new ways of increasing our knowledge of who we are. We all make mistakes, but the important thing is to acknowledge these mistakes and take responsibility for them. Nothing is unforgivable. With time and work there will be acceptance and forgiveness. That is what your friends, family and community are for."

Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in Chief Darren Taylor celebrated the hard work it takes to make it through grade 12.

"Today represents a personal victory of your hard work and sacrifice. That sacrifice will not go unrewarded. Setting and achieving goals will reward you with a great sense of accomplishment and the confidence of knowing that you are capable of great achievement.

"With your education you have been provided with the skills and the knowledge that you will use to build the foundation for your future careers and for the improvement of yourselves and the lives that you have touched in your community.

"Strive to live by the principles of honesty and you will earn the trust of those with whom you choose to live and work."

Peter Jenkins extolled the virtues of a good education.

"The best that we can give to you as a society is the opportunity for an education. Take that. It's something that no one can take away from you. it will mean a lot as you go down the road. It's of critical importance."

Jenkins also presented the Klondike Riding of the Yukon Party's Bursary of $500 to Jennifer Touchie, who had picked up the Mary Gartside Award of $250 as the top student in the class a few days earlier.

Larry Bagnell echoed many of the earlier congratulatory comments and challenged the class to protect the golden heritage of Dawson City in their future endeavors.

"We need you. We all need you in the Yukon and in Canada."

Director of Learning Carol McCauley spoke of the power of story telling at times such as this, and how the retelling of these personal histories, whether they be happy, sad, inspirational or embarrassing, factual or exaggerated, will form the collective story of this graduating class.

"It is the stories which transform the school experience and the framework of Kindergarten to Grade 12, bringing colour and vibrancy into your whole school life. Your stories are a gift awaiting you at the end of today."

McCauley presented the Department of Education's $250 Valedictorian's to Lynette Peterson, who said farewell to her classmates in a humorous address, even though she broke down in tears part way through. Her mother was on hand to rescue her and her ten classmates lent support from behind her.

Vice principal Maggie Mann and Principal Denis Gauthier presented certificates to Miranda Adam, Tatiana Fras, David Fraser, Douglas Johnson, Isla Jordan, Lynette Peterson, Carmen Roberts, Krystle Roberts, Leon Sidney, Mary Russell and Jennifer Touchie.

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Mammoth Scientists Salute Placer Miners


Mammoths were the topic of the week in early June. This statue is by local artist Halin deRepentigny. Photo by Dan Davidson

The Klondike Placer Miners' Association (KPMA) has been recognized by the third International Mammoth Conference for "more than a century of substantial and ongoing contributions to the study of Ice Age mammals."

At a ceremony in Dawson City on May 28, Klondike MLA Peter Jenkins presented the award to KPMA president Tara Christie, M.A.Sc., on behalf of Tourism and Culture Minister Elaine Taylor.

The award is a reproduction of a rare Beringian lion jaw recovered by a Klondike placer miner in the 1990s. The recovered fossil was radiocarbon dated at 32,750 years old.

"The award underlines the positive impacts of the placer industry and its importance to international science and the preservation of Canadian heritage," Jenkins said.

On behalf of the industry, Christie welcomed conference attendees to the Klondike goldfields. She also expressed the industry's enthusiasm for ongoing collaboration with the scientific community.

The goldfields are one of the world's major sources of woolly mammoths and their fauna. For years, placer miners have been unearthing bones and making them available to the scientific community for study.

"I have heard many scientists say that, without the placer industry, this treasury of Ice Age bones would remain undiscovered and the opportunity to study them would be lost," Christie said in a statement Friday.

"In spite of our current difficulties with regulatory issues, we remain optimistic that the placer industry will continue to be viable in the Yukon, and we look forward to providing researchers with opportunities to find and date bones, frozen tissue, and DNA to use in their research."

Christie thanked the scientists and researchers for bringing their knowledge back to the community.

"I'm pleased to say that most of the scientists who have come to the Klondike to find bones have come back to tell us what they have learned. This conference, with experts from around the world coming here to share knowledge with each other, the miners, and the public is greatly appreciated and is an excellent example of how researchers can work with communities and industries for mutual benefit."

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Rec Centre Arbitration Postponement Was Not at Dawson's Request

by Dan Davidson


The arbitration hearings for Dawson's arena project, seen here in use during the Gold Show in late May, have been moved to the fall. No one is allowed to say why. Photo by Dan Davidson

After a clear announcement at the May 20 meeting of council that he would be out of town by June 9 in order to attend the arbitration hearings scheduled to clear up outstanding issues between the City of Dawson and TSL Contracting, Mayor Glen was nevertheless in the chair at the June 10 meeting, and restrained by an arbitrator's order from offering much in the way of an explanation was to what had happened.

It was true, Everitt said in response to questions from local contractor Wayne Rachel during delegations, that the hearings had been rescheduled until September.

Rachel wanted to know if the rumors were true. Had the town requested the postponement? When was this all going to end?

"It has been rescheduled to September," Everitt said, "and will run into October. Unfortunately, the parties are bound and aren't allowed to speak about it. We're not even allowed to say what caused the move.

"What I can tell you is that the city was ready to go on June 9."

However, since neither side of the dispute is supposed to be talking about it, Everitt says that any coffee shop conversation would have to be nothing more than rumors, "That's all it is, is rumors."

"We had tickets booked," said councilor Byrun Shandler, jumping into the conversation, "hotel rooms booked."

"We had witnesses booked," Everitt continued, catching a cautionary glare from city manager Scott Coulson. "I think I can say it was just as much a surprise to you as it was to me."

With the new date, the time frame for the arbitration hearing has been extended from three weeks to five.

Everitt says he believes the order was an attempt to remove the political nature of the dispute, which has engendered a lot of name calling, accusations in the legislature and street level gossip over the last two years.

"The city has expressed concern over continuous media stories being run being detrimental to the process we were trying to accomplish. We requested that the arbitrator stop this from happening. The arbitrator did the order and put it on both parties."

What the mayor could talk freely about was the fact that the city has begun its legal action against the engineers and architects, Ferguson Simek Clark, the firm in charge of the design consideration on the town hall renovations, the new swimming pool, and the recreation centre, the three projects which were launched, one right after the other, during the last year of Everitt's first term as mayor.

As has been reported previously, this council made strenuous attempts to have all the issues related to these projects dealt with in one venue, with all the parties present, but this move was rejected by the courts. So now the arbitration will proceed in the fall, followed by a court case the next spring.

"We didn't want two processes," Everitt said, "... but the courts quashed our attempts, so now there are two cases."

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Museum's AGM

by Palma Berger


Museum president Fred Berger receives a donation from the General Store's June Mather. Photo by Palma Berger

A small crowd gathered for the Annual General Meeting of the Dawson City Museum. The meeting was called to order by President Fred Berger. After the motions of approving the Agenda, and the Minutes from last meeting, the Financial Statement was discussed.

Treasurer Steve Touchie explained that one of the challenges of operating the Museum, "is that every time we had to look for funding, it had to be for a specific project."

He also explained that this is a large facility to manage. One is appreciative of the grants, but the $23,500 that is awarded the museum annually has not changed since it was first decided on back in 1985. (The $23,500 was broken down at the time of its creation, into $14,500 for O&M and $9,000.00 for wages for the Director/Curator). As Touchie pointed out expenditures still increase, and no one works for 1985 wages anymore. The funding for the future will be on a three year basis, and that is why the museum came up with a new five year plan. If the Heritage Department approves of this plan the Museum will get the funding on a three year basis, and the museum can set their priorities for their use of the money.

As a new beginning this year, the Heritage Branch gave one lump sum, instead of dribbling the grant money to the museum, and the museum can use the lump sum in any way they wish. This money includes O&M and most of the grant monies applied for. The Museum has to match the money they receive, by fund raising. Last year they raised $14,214.00. As Touchie pointed out, this is a large amount to get from a small town like Dawson City.

From the audience, Barb Hanulik pointed out that you have to work so hard for every bit of cash needed for expenditure.

Everyone was reminded of how difficult it is to operate within their limited budget, as when they had to lay off last year's Director/Curator for a number of months as there was no money to pay him.

Talk went on to the Collections. The Museum will be keeping their storage shed in the Bear Creek compound. The other hitch here is that the Collections Manager had to be paid by grants each year, and one loyal worker of the past, has yielded to the temptation of a full time, year round job, instead of a 6 months or so job that depends on if the museum gets a grant or not.

The Museum Curator/Director Julia Pike said she will be in charge of Collections, as Collections Manager is part of her job description. But she will have to apply for money to hire a qualified person to work on recording and documenting the many items that are waiting to be added to the collection of the Museum, and whom she will supervise. Berger also pointed out that we need the Collections Committee to be reactivated. Pike explained that in the meantime, she and Louise Ranger can work on the value of the Collection.

The other position in the Museum is Administrator, and this is Cheryl Thompson's job.

The gift Shop, under Linda Thompson, has done well, and has a large variety of items.

In 2002 the Museum provided employment for 19 people, with a payroll of $195,537.00. This is a good amount to add to the community.

The newly elected directors for this year are: Fred Berger, Steve Touchie, Christopher Satay, Wayne Rachel, Myrna Butterworth, Jim Archibald, Louise Ranger, Freda Roberts, Joyce Caley and Ken Snider.

They all appear enthusiastic despite the ongoing financial tribulations of this underfunded museum.

Ken Snider had one last concern. He was afraid we were losing tourists to the 'moat' that runs beside the sidewalk. His suggestion of putting the moat under the sidewalk will be passed on to the City.

Delicious snacks and a video were delightful rewards for attending. The video was of "Dawson in Minus Forty", an amusing sight of managing cars, dogs, parkas, visiting or even clothing when the temperature hits that level.

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School Council Opposes Education Cuts

Robert Service School Councilors oppose recently announced education cuts. Council believes that education staffing is the last place government should look for balanced budgets. Investment in education is investment in a better, more productive future, for individual students and for all of us. It is of paramount importance that all efforts are made so that each student is readied for every level of learning.

In announcing budget impact in the Education Department, Colin Kelly, Superintendent of Schools, has stated that decisions would be made in consultation with Principals and School Councils. (Definition: Consult: "verb. To seek information and advice from...; to take counsel".) The Robert Service School Council has not been consulted about how these cuts will affect our school. Council has been informed that a .5 Education Assistant position will be lost and that the Reading Recovery program will be reduced. The overall goal is to eliminate the equivalent of 12 teaching positions around the territory. Kelly has also been quoted asserting that the goal can be achieved through retirements and resignations.

George Green, Executive Director of the Learning Disabilities Assoc. of the Yukon (LDAY) will tell you: "The first people to get hit are the ones who are the most defenseless and needy." Education Minister John Edzerza said in a statement while handing over a cheque in support of LDAY: "Literacy is a priority for this government..." The Department of Education's priorities are: Literacy, Numeracy, and First Nation Studies. The Robert Service School Plan shares these priorities. It would seem that we were all on the same page. With that in mind, we feel that our input would have been not only necessary, but essential. We need to be a part of the solution. At the very least, consultation might have avoided confusion concerning our options here. For example, John Edzerza has said (CBC Radio) that he does not "...refer to them as cuts - there's reductions." What exactly is the distinction?

Compromising the very successful Reading Recovery program is not acceptable to us. Reading Recovery is a specialized program designed as early intervention to bring students up to literacy standards at the beginning of their academic career. The lower academic performance of students in the Yukon's rural schools has been highlighted in recent news. Will cutbacks in literacy programs improve results? How will First Nation students be affected? These are questions we have for Minister Edzerza and his department officials and we will be listening very closely to the answers.

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Women's Shelter: A Summer Update

by Emmie Tsumura

To kick off the summer on the right foot, here's a head's up on some of the things going on at the shelter. A quick synopsis of the past, moving into the present, and then looking forward into July.

Charmed By the Highway Strip

May marks spring clean-up time for Yukoners. This year, ten enthusiastic volunteers and staff from the women's shelter participated in the YTG's annual "Spring Litter Program". This program, funded by the Department of Highways and Public Works, is an opportunity for non-profit organizations in Whitehorse and rural communities to bring people together, clean up the environment, and earn a little extra cash.

For the Dawson Women's Shelter, the task at hand was 4 km of the Klondike highway, stretching from the Quigley Landfill to just past Fischer Contracting. The trek and trash collection took approximately two hours, and the bags were disposed of, save the recyclables. The group re-convened at the Women's Shelter for a (lovely!)barbeque prepared by shelter staff who were anticipating ten hungry bellies.

Amongst the piles of Styrofoam, aluminum cans, bottles, chip bags, and an assortment of unidentifiables, there was one diamond in the rough. A guitar was found, still in its case, on the side of the road. Undoubtedly, it is dearly missed by someone and is available for pick up at the shelter, along with proof of purchase and identification. (A joke, a joke-just call if you think it's yours @ 993-5086)

Special thanks go out to the volunteer crew: Andrea Merschilz, Heather Schmidt, Kate Spence, Deborah Walsh, Gloria Baldwin-Schultz, Shelly Brown, Sebastian Jones, and Catherine Macdougall. Thanks for making the highway clean-up a successful event!

Community Yard Sale and BBQ

There is a community yard sale planned for every month this summer, offering clothing, books, bikes, housewares, and toys. The sale is also a good time to get rid of stuff that's been sitting, stuff that doesn't fit, stuff that you just don't need anymore, and also a chance to meet other people in the community. The booths are $10 for the weekend, or $5 a day. The next yard sale is scheduled for Saturday, June 28th and Sunday, June 29th.

Kid's Time Program

Commencing the first week of June, we will resume the summer programming hours as per last season:

Tuesday mornings, 9:30 - 12
Tuesday afternoons, 12:30 - 3
Wednesday afternoons, 12:30 - 3

Parents can sign up their kids, ages 6 and under, for one session per week free of charge. Bookings for each week's sessions start on Sunday of that week at 10:00 am. Reserve a space early, as there is limited enrollment for each time slot.

The coordinator for this summer is Emmie Tsumura(hey, that's me). I am a Trent University graduate from Peterborough, Ontario. It is my third summer in Dawson, and my second year working at Kid's Time and the Women's Shelter. I am looking forward to meeting everyone, and the upcoming season at Kid's Time.

The Annual Walkathon

Keep your calendars open for July 5th! We'd love to see you at this event-it's our biggest one of the summer. It has been a wildly successful event in past years due to overwhelming support from the community, and we hope to continue this tradition. The pledge forms are available at Bonanza Market and the River West Café. After the walk, there will be a barbeque and open mike at the gazebo-bring your banjos, drums, saxophones, tubas, and turkey-baster wind flutes. We are in need of volunteers to assist in baking, barbequing, children's crafts and face painting, and general set-up and clean-up. If you are interested in volunteering for this event, please contact Emmie or Andrea at the shelter. See you there!

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A Familiar Voice for the Summer Season

by Anne Tyrrell, Student Intern


Anne Tyrrell has moved from office manager to summer reporter. Photo by Palma Berger

Although the name looks familiar the job is different. I have accepted the position of Student Intern. For the past academic year I attended school full time at the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture and worked in the evenings, part time, for the Klondike Sun. With the experience I gained during the winter I will be moving, in August, to Kamloops to study Digital Art and Design at the University College of the Cariboo.

This summer I will be taking my knowledge of the community and will be reporting on the events happening in Dawson City. We will also be featuring the business profiles again this year.

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