Dawson City, Yukon Friday, March 16, 2001

The Stephan Lake Loonies paraded about the streets of Dawson on March 10. The Loonies are all long-time trekkers, some with as many as five to their credit, and they started this little tribute run three years ago. The green t-shirts are their official parade gear. Photo by Dan Davidson

Feature Stories

Trekkers Take Over the Streets of Dawson
Sorry! No Ice Pool This Year!
Kincaid and Council Part Company
Farewell To Jim and Helen
Fulda Gets Closer to the Road
One Ringy-dingy Will Do
A Quiet Strike in Dawson City
Greetings from Moose Mountain!
The Other Side...at the ODD Gallery
KIAC Students Please the Ear
Maureen Hull: Starting a Career in the Middle of Life
Sights & Sounds Video Production Program in Dawson City

Welcome to the March. 16, 2001 edition of the online Klondike Sun, which reproduces a selection of the 22 photographs and 26 articles which were in the 24 page March 13 hard copy edition.

In response to e-mail inquiries about the lag time between the last issue and this, we actually get to blame it on someone else this month. The person at this ISP who voluntarily does this work for us was out of town. He deserves a break. Thank you, Richard, for five years of dedicated work.

We encourage viewers of this website to consider subscribing to the Sun (details on the home page). It would help us financially and you would get to see everything closer to when it's actually news. Since July 19, 2000, there have been 10,026 visitors to this website. While we realize that this includes a lot of repeat business, it's still a nice number. There had been about 25,000 before the counter tripped out and had to be reset last summer.

Trekkers Take Over the Streets of Dawson

by Dan Davidson

Dawson's visitors from Alaska took to the streets on Saturday afternoon in a small parade led by the RCMP and the Fire Department. This is the third year in a row that the contingent from Stephan Lake, Alaska, has organized a mid-winter parade through the streets of Dawson.

Annie O'Hara, organizer and five time Trek Over the Top veteran, says the parade started as a way to "try to give something back" to the people of Dawson who make these visitors feel so welcome after their long trip here from Tok.

This year a total of 611 Trekkers filled the three weekends (February 23 - March 11) of the annual event, which began in 1993. The Trekkers arrived here on Thursday or Friday and departed the next Sunday on Monday. In addition, 37 snow machine enthusiasts took on the Destination Tok trip in the other direction on February 22, the day before the Destination Dawson trips began.

Trek organizers Eric Zalitas and Laurie McCrory say they hope to increase the numbers on the Dawson treks to an even 250 per trip over the next few years, while increasing the Tok trek to 100.

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Sorry! No Ice Pool This Year!

by Joyce Caley

The warm winter has been wonderful but there is a drawback to it all. Unfortunately the Yukon River has not frozen in the crucial spots for the safe construction of the tripod this year. Therefor at the Feb. 25th regular meeting of Dawson Chapter IODE it was moved and seconded that no Ice Guessing Contest would be held this year. Hopefully the community will generously support any other fund raisers we under take.

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Kincaid and Council Part Company

by Dan Davidson


Friends and well wishers wasted no time in organizing a farewell gathering for the Kincaids, seen here receiving a handcrafted cross given by members of the inter-church choir which gathers for each Christmas Eve service at Saint Paul's Anglican Church. Photo by Dan Davidson

Dawson City's town manager is leaving. That's the only thing that can be said about the issue right now with any degree of certainty. Rumours abound and discussion of this issue has pushed most other topics out of the coffee shop and grocery aisle debates in the week since it first became public knowledge.

Since Jim Kincaid's lawyer is currently negotiating his severance package with the town's lawyers, both sides in the discussion are speaking in necessarily vague terms.

This is what is on the record.

After four and half years in his job (a year longer than the national average) Jim Kincaid and his wife, Helen (an educational assistant at the Robert Service School, a position from which she is on leave this year) are moving to Alberta in a week or so.

Kincaid will say that the town is seeking a new management style and that his services were no longer required. Beyond that, he will not go on the record.

He expected that the council's position would be to say very little, which is how he would handle it if he were in their position.

He did note that he and his wife became accustomed to moving on short notice during his former career with the RCMP.

The council, on the other hand, has stated definitely that Kincaid was not fired or dismissed. Mayor Glen Everitt said as much in the Whitehorse Star on March 5, and acting mayor Aedes Scheer repeated that assurance at last night's council meeting.

The parting of the ways was, she said, "by mutual agreement." The terms of that agreement were still being put into legal language, and the lawyers have enjoined all parties to keep silent.

Councillors Byrun Shandler and Wayne Potoroka both indicated that there was much they would like to say in response to the questions in the community, but that they could not.

Former councillor Shirley Pennell was also at that council meeting, to protest the manner in which Kincaid's abrupt departure, just days after his return from a winter vacation, had been handled.

The rumour mill, aided by speculation in an item on C.B.C. radio last Friday, has floated a conspiracy theory which has Kincaid being made the scapegoat for the budget overrun on the recreation project and the so-called financial crisis which caused the YTG to appoint a supervisor to help the town create a long range financial plan.

"CBC made forced connections in their story," said Shandler. "He's not a scapegoat and there's no conspiracy."

Scheer added that she was very disappointed in the C.B.C. account and promised that there would eventually be an explanatory press release dealing with as much of the matter as it was possible to discuss without violating staff confidentiality.

Mayor Glen Everitt was not at the meeting, being out of town on business connected with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. He will be away for much of the next month, first on this trip, then on a short family vacation and finally on an FCM sponsored trip to Russia, a follow-up to a similar exchange visit he made in 1999.

Mike Linder, the director of CBC North radio, said in an interview this afternoon that Kincaid had originally told the CBC he had been fired.

"CBC reported accurately what the people told us," Linder said. CBC was later told by Everitt that the town manager had not been fired, which the network also broadcast.

"We spoke to people directly," said Linder, adding he thinks it's unfair to blame the CBC.

(The Whitehorse Star's Stephanie Waddell contributed to this story.)

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Farewell To Jim and Helen

by Cheryl Laing & Al Rudis

Jim and Helen Kincaid were honoured by friends and well-wishers on Sunday, March 4th at the Tr'ondek Hwech'in Cultural Centre. Over punch, coffee, and delicious appetizers contributed by the participants and local businesses, memories and good wishes were exchanged.

The sadness in acknowledging the couple's unexpected move to Alberta was in part compensated by a spring-like Dawson day which flooded the Center with sunlight. Laughter, hugs, and tears abounded as youth and adults alike shared special moments with the popular couple.

Clergy from all of the local Churches joined many from their congregations in offering their good wishes and blessings to the departing couple. Ken Snider hand-crafted and presented a purple heartwood cross in recognition of Jim's continuing "vocal support" to the ecumenical Christmas choir. Harry Campbell presented a large initial "H" pin of gold nuggets to Helen to thank her for all the quiet hours of waiting and support she gave to Jim during the long and stressful hours he spent in serving the community. A series of three original wood engraving prints by local artist John Steins were given to Jim by The Yukon College Campus Committee with the realization that his work in and support for the committee will be missed. Appreciation for Helen's special work with children of the Robert Service School was shown by the presence of students, parents of students, the Principal, and teachers she has worked with. City Council Members Aedes Scheer and Wayne Potoroka stopped by to wish them both well, as did former Council member Shirley Pennell, MLA Peter Jenkins, and many City employees.

Cheryl Laing presented special Dawson gifts of gold to the Kincaids. Jim received a hand-crafted tie clasp of three Klondike nuggets on a gold chain. A single large weighty gold nugget from the Black Hills was also presented. Cheryl expressed her own and community sorrow for the couple's leaving. She noted the many contributions that they made, and in particular their years of hard work for Community Group Conferencing and other Dawson volunteer groups. She also thanked contributors to the gifts of gold, in particular to Harry Campbell, Uta Reilly, and Joel White.

Jim said that he and Helen: "were overwhelmed by the support and attention given to us. The heartwarming gifts were a complete surprise, and we especially appreciate the number of people who gave up their time on such a beautiful day to come and wish us well. We will be back for a visit this summer, and will look up as many friends as we can when we are here."

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Fulda Gets Closer to the Road

by Dan Davidson


Martin and Holger Bergold look on as Uta Reilly shows off their purchase of gold nuggets. These will be part of the prizes in the Fulda Extreme Sports tour.

The organizer of the Fulda Extreme Sports tour says that this event has even more advantages for the German tire manufacturer than it received from its association with the Yukon Quest.

Make no mistake. However much Fulda executives and subcontractors may love the Yukon, they're here for the exposure and the money. They're here to sell tires.

They were happy to do this by coat-tailing on the Yukon Quest, but during each year of their sponsorship of the dog race it became harder to tell which was the coat and which was the tail.

True, as some Quest boosters will admit, the race needed the exposure. If there were a lot of media following the most recent running it's probably due in large part to the numbers of media who got to know about the Quest as a result of the years that it had Fulda and Sorel as promoters.

There's a whole other set of Quest boosters who were worried that the race might be losing its identity and purpose, and couldn't see going on into the new century with the tag "Fulda Yukon Quest." If nothing else, it would mean they would have had to move from the "Ys" to the "Fs" in the phone book.

From Fulda's point of view, the increasing acrimony amounted to this: the Yukon Quest didn't want them as a sponsor and it wasn't worth the fight to stay on.

That's pretty much how Holger Bergold, the organizer of this year's first extreme sports tour sums it up.

"The Quest didn't want Fulda any more. That's the simple fact."

Bergold has his own business, which can be found at "www.touryukon.com" in several languages, but he has contracted with Fulda to run this year's race, and two, perhaps four or more in the future.

He's spent two years getting things this far and, while the results may resemble a social outing more than a really dangerous extreme sport competition, he's very pleased with them and thinks they will make good television.

For Fulda, he says, the idea of a car rally with off-road events sprouting from it is actually a better deal.

"We developed for Fulda an idea of a new event which is probably closer to the car than just a pure dogsled race. We will use a car - we have Jeep Cherokees - all the way up. We are closer to the tire than before."

He feels it also a better deal for Tourism Yukon, in that it highlights a range of winter events which can be done in the Yukon and hits more than just dog sledding. When you add ice climbing, ski-dooing, skiing, snowshoeing, target shooting, ice fishing and igloo building to the mix then you have a great many different activities to capture on film and video.

"It's more interesting than a pure dog race.

"Don't understand me wrong, though. The dog race was very well received in Germany. Interest for the Quest really blew up drastically. They got big, big exposure, but it was just for dog sledding.

"With the event that we have now, you attract more people, people who are interested in other sports."

In this age of reality television, where people are hooked on watching nothing more spectacular than tawdry sexual temptation or the tension over who gets voted out of the show this week, an event which visits an unusual location and features actual events - no matter how carefully staged - should actually manage to be a hit.

Bergold is sure of it and so, it seems, is his lead sponsor. They gave him a year to set it all up. He was in the territory last year with just a crew of sport celebrities, trying out the events to see if they had a buzz, deciding where things could be done.

With the European market in mind, he hired four sports celebs to jazz up his product.

Hans-Joachim Stuck is a former formula 1 driver now contracted to BMW, one of the race's sponsors.

Jutta Kleinschmidt is known as the fastest woman driver and has won the Paris-Dachar land race.

Markus Wasmeier won two gold medals in skiing at the Lillehammer Olympic Games in 1992. Atomic Ski is another sponsor.

Olaf Reinstadtler is a top ranking extreme mountain climber and head of the Italian Mountain Rescue team.

These are the coaches who train the sixteen contestants. They are part of the reason why journalists from eight countries are covering this tour, why hundreds of millions of Europeans are tuning into reports on ESPN and why TSN will be doing a one hour special on it later.

There are local economic benefits as well, as Bergold demonstrates when he heads off to Klondike Nugget and Ivory later in the afternoon to pick out some prizes for the winners. Each one will receive a large gold nugget from Dawson City, valued together at about $8,000.00.

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One Ringy-dingy Will Do

by Dan Davidson

Councillor Byrun Shandler has a problem with fire sirens. He feels they are going off entirely too often and that the entire town, not just his own north end, should get to share whatever benefits they confer.

Presently, the siren at the fire hall is not actually used to call out the fire department. The town has long since found it more effective to have the volunteers carry radio pagers. The alarm is used only on Wednesday nights, at 7:10, to signal the weekly practice and to test the system in case it is ever needed for emergencies. It is also used to announce the break-up of the Yukon River each spring.

Most if the council has no problem with the siren sounding once, but they agree with Shandler that several times each Wednesday, sometimes later in the evening, is too often.

In addition, the siren was used extensively during the Yukon Quest to announce the arrival of the mushers, some of whom arrived very early in the morning.

Acting mayor Aedes Scheer said she had heard complaints about this as far away as Mexico, where she was vacationing at the time.

Just who brought comic Lili Tomlin into the conversation is not quite clear, but councillors were soon discussing just how many "ringy-dingies" would be appropriate and at what time of day.

For Shandler, the answer is none at all, not unless the siren can be heard all over town as it used to be. Apparently there were once three siren sites which covered the town, but two of them are no longer working. He wants to see them restored or else he wants no "ringy-dingies" at all.

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A Quiet Strike in Dawson City

by Dan Davidson


The noon-hour strike shift at Robert Service School. Photo by Dan Davidson

Strike action by YTA members in Dawson City began at 8:30 and continued in four shifts until 3:30. Fortunately for the staff - and for the students who dropped by to thank them for picking a great day - the temperature ranged between -2 and +10 for most of the day. There was a stiff Chinook wind in the morning and the sun came out in the afternoon.

The line at the Robert Service School was an information line, which meant that the non-teaching school staff were able to work and the public library was still open.

For the first hour it would not have been clear to anyone what was going on, since the Courier did not deliver the strike signs until almost 9:30. After that the two messages, "YTA on STRIKE" and "YTA Seeks a Fair Deal" could be seen marching around the block which contains the school, bordered by Princess and Queen Streets and 4th and 5th Avenues.

There was much waving and honking by passersby, and a number of people took the time to stop over and indicate support for the teachers, some with words and some with cookies and hot muffins.

Teachers marched around the school building handing out pamphlets there and across the street at the Post Office during the noon hour rush.

It was a quiet day and there were no complaints.

(Disclosure - Dan Davidson is a teacher and member of the YTA's negotiating committee. No union opinions have been advanced in the writing of this article.)

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Greetings from Moose Mountain!

by Wanda Stretch

My fellow board members of the Dawson Ski Association feel that it is time that I come out of hibernation and perhaps write a little article about what's happening up at the ski hill, so here it is.

I will start things off by telling everyone that the building of the new ski chalet is progressing well. I took a little tour of this beautiful facility and it is most impressive! For any of you who have not been up to the ski hill this winter (and if you haven't shame on you) I urge you to go on up and have a look. I am not quite sure of the completion date but the way things are going we will be eating hotdogs and warming our toes in this beautiful building real soon.

We are back in the swing of things as far as the ski hill being open. The weather has been great. Temperatures have been fairly mild and best of all the sun is back. We are fairly happy with the snow conditions but could always use more. Hope all of you snow boarders are enjoying the new addition of the half-pipe. Many hours of volunteer labour and use of machinery has gone into its making. I understand that there are more snowboarding clinics being held on our wonderful mountain. Hope lots of people are signed up and ready to go.

We are planning some exciting and fun events for Thaw Di Gras: plans have not yet been finalized but I will definitely be writing another article in the next issue of this paper. Also, these events will be advertised along with other Thaw Di Gras happenings.

Until then Think Warm, Think Snow and check out that new chalet!

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The Other Side...at the ODD Gallery

by Palma Berger


Alice Park-Spurr with some of her work at the ODD Gallery. Photo by Dan Davidson

When one walks into the Odd Gallery for a look at "The Other Side" one sees no startling or strongly coloured or textured work. Instead there are works with many colours and patterns and rhythms gently fusing into one another.

The paints are not slapped on in a solid layer. Instead they are stroked on with different 'tools' to give different textures. Different colours are layered on lightly. Sometimes the shapes are scraped out of the paint. In other cases the lighter surface colour is scraped off to reveal the darker colour underneath and thus a leaf is created or a flower is made. When

lighter paint is thinly layered over a darker this can give a feeling of dimension to the object represented.

The work expresses the feelings of the artist, Alice Park-Spurr, to show how she has been moved by the wonder of nature around her. There are scenes you will recognize. But most times it is as if she has remembered a fleeting moment of a scene. She does not want to capture the scene, but the feeling it leaves her with.

Alice Park-Spurr hails from California. In the 1970's, her husband, moved by the book "Paradise Below Zero" took a trip to Alaska and Yukon. He fell in love with the Yukon, and persuaded his wife that they should build a cabin on Tagish Lake. By 1980 they both had fallen so in love with the place they moved here. As they became more settled here the cabin grew. Ms Park-Spurr was so stirred by the nature around her that she began to paint. At first her paintings were post-card copies of photos she took. But after completing

a degree in Fine Arts in California she changed her style.

This diminutive painter had been a circuit board creator for computers, so how could this organized methodical work not express itself in her style of painting. The only similarity is in that her work is flat, and has no perspective, and she has methodically worked at it until her dream has expressed itself on the canvas. As she says of her paintings..

"My paintings are visual poetry marked with colour and images. They are expressions of memories, experiences, dreams, nature, and the inner self - an inner self that is charged with fear and doubt. I paint what is natural to me both consciously and unconsciously. Sketching and planning only restricts my freedom. However, what comes naturally does not arrive easily. My painting process is an endless struggle. Only after much endeavor am I able to voice my emotions and reveal my inner self; each layer of a painting comes as a consequence of increased awareness. I work on a surface as if I were excavating something, like an archaeologist, In the end each layer documents part of my introspective experience and becomes a tangible record of my painting process.

Having spent many years living in the Yukon wilderness and seeing on a daily basis such pristine beauty, it has been natural for me to explore these visual images. The colours, the sunlight, the serene winter, the ever-changing weather conditions are etched in my mind. I find myself naturally falling into this dream world derived of nature."

This is revealed in her work such as "July" with the colours of a Yukon summer; "Ghost" with its shadowy form rising through the broken ice; "Blueviolet" a large painting of crocuses; "Reflection" with no definite shapes to it but one could swear the water is gently moving. In the smaller paintings "Teepee" is scratched from the colours on the board; "Daisy" has the petals of a daisy emerging from overlaying colours; "Emerald" shows the easily recognized Emerald Lake near Whitehorse. There are many others, but each draws one back again for further contemplation.

The pieces in this show were completed from 1994 to 2000. Ms Park-Spurr has another show of her paintings on the road. They are being shown at Dawson Creek, then onto Prince George, Manitoba and Ontario. This show at the Odd Gallery is on until April 15th. As one viewer said, "It is so serene". Don't miss it.

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KIAC Students Please the Ear

by Dan Davidson


Students and teachers pose in the ODD Gallery after the recital. Photo by Dan Davidson

Piano students at the Klondike Institute of Arts and Culture staged their second piano recital on March 6.

A capacity audience of family and friends packed the ODD Gallery to hear the 15 young people, ranging from primary school to grade 9 in age, perform the material they have been working on with their instructors over the last couple of months.

Some of the more experienced students are in the process of preparing for the Rotary Music Festival in late April and showcased more difficult work as a result of that.

Age is not necessarily a factor in determining level of difficulty Some of the older students have only recently begun their studies, while some of the younger ones have already been hard at it for a couple of years.

On of the advantages of the spread in skill levels is that the audience gets to hear everything from finger exercises and simple folk music to show tunes and light classical pieces. This makes for a good variety of music and none of the repetition which can make student recitals tedious.

The audience was very receptive to the young musicians, and can certainly be expected to return for the next installment of lessons.

Once again, a secret recital of the adult KIAC students was held safely out of the public eye on another evening at an unnamed location. Someday, maybe, the paper bag orchestra will provide us with the opportunity to hear them play.

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Maureen Hull: Starting a Career in the Middle of Life

by Dan Davidson


Maureen Hull on the steps at Berton House, enjoying the winter light and fresh air. Photo by Dan Davidson

Maureen Hull remembers writing her first short story when she was nine. Surrounded by books as a child, it didn't seem to her an odd thing to do, and so she wrote a story for her sister.

"She loved it. The feedback was terrific.

"I loved generating the stories. I loved reading them and then I found that I loved writing them, too.

"I was one of those students in school that English teachers like. I would write nice compositions and get good marks and I loved to do it. It was no struggle to get one out of me. I would always do it and pass it in on time and it would be relatively readable."

That led to more positive feedback and more stories.

When she was fourteen, however, she discovered "beat" poetry, Chinese haiku and T.S. Eliot.

"It blew the top of my head off," she says. "I got really excited about poetry and started writing that."

As far as writing was concerned poetry took up much of the next couple of decades, sidelining the fiction. So much so that when she came back to it years later, she found she couldn't do it at first.

Now she says she was overwriting, spending too much time setting up the story instead of just telling it. At the time all she knew was that she was bored by her own work and couldn't figure out why.

"Life was busy, too. I was fishing and I was teaching the girls, but I wanted more and more to write."

After a stint in theatre work at Neptune Theatre in Halifax, the Cape Breton born Hull had met and married David Harding and then had ended up living as a fishing family on Pictou Island, just off the coast of Nova Scotia in the Northumberland Strait. It's a community of some 29 people living on a five mile long island. The small school only goes to elementary grades, and after that the few children must either be sent away or home schooled with the help of correspondence courses. David and Maureen chose the latter course.

When the girls were finally old enough for correspondence courses, Maureen got around to setting down a story she'd been writing in her head for some time. Because she already knew the whole story, she was able to start it in the middle of the action, "hitting the deck running," as she puts it, and it was her first sale.

"It was another year of rejections before I got accepted again, but I did learn that when I wrote a story I basically had to tear off the first two pages and throw them away."

A workshop at the University of New Brunswick exposed her to the work of two writer/teachers whom she found quite inspirational. She credits Isobel Huggins with helping her work a lot.

David was also supportive and suggested that she apply for a Canada Council Grant. Maureen didn't believe that she could get a grant, but she did, and the six months of free time it bought her allowed her to finish and add to the baker's dozen tales in her first collection, Righteous Living (Turnstone Press, $14.95), which was published in 1999. (For a review of this book, see this week's Bookends column on Friday.)

She says her career as a writer is like one of her short stories: it has had a long, rambling start. But in the case of life, you can't just tear off the first couple of pages and start where you want to.

Sometimes she wishes she had written more earlier in life.

"If I'd kept at it, I'd be a much better writer and I'd be much further ahead. But now, if I hadn't lived the life I've lived, I wouldn't know the stuff I know, and I wouldn't have as much to write about."

Her stint at Berton House is the first trip she's taken as a writer. She says she's really enjoyed how she's been accepted as a person, invited to take part in the life of the community and still had time to write.

While in Dawson, she worked on a novel, and managed to get a first draft done. She used her initial time dislocation to her advantage and kept in the habit of getting up early and writing mornings.

A lot of her stories are about things which were not discussed openly when she was younger: sexual and physical abuse, illegitimacy, the internal workings of families and communities. She says she likes to turn around some of the stereotypes which have grown up around these issues, so sometimes it is the women who are the hard cases in her stories, because sometimes they really are.

Her novel in progress is tentatively titled A View From a Kite, and is the story of girl who is coming of age while coping with tuberculosis. She is pleased with her first draft and locals who heard some of it during one of her readings here have spoken well of it.

Maureen came to Berton House as a result of an invitation to apply written by Berton himself. Like the Canada Council grant, it was something she'd heard of, but thought she would never be able to get. Encouraged by Berton's letter, she applied and found herself on the list for this year. As her visit drew to a close she was trying to find ways to stretch out the time and make it last longer. But she did have a collection of poems waiting for her to work on when she got home, and then the next draft of this novel.

Sitting at her solar powered Powerbook on Pictou Island, she will remember winter days in Dawson City for years to come.

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Sights & Sounds Video Production Program in Dawson City

KIAC Press Release

Pacific Cinemateque's award-winning Sights & Sounds Video Production Program is coning to Dawson City. Produced in partnership with the Klondike Institute of Art & Culture, the institute will act as a hub for tow exciting video-making programs.

During the daytime students from Robert Service Secondary will learn how to create videos from beginning to end using the latest in digital camera and editing equipment.

During evenings and on weekends, adults will also be learning the techniques of video production from script writing to post-production through a series of workshops with video instructors/artists Corin Browne and Patti Fraser. The films from these programs will then be screened at Dawson City's 2nd Annual International Short Film Festival.

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