|Governor General Adrienne Clarkson and Chief Darren Taylor with Joe and Annie Henry. Photo by Dan Davidson|
Welcome to the March 17th on-line edition of the Klondike Sun. This is the abridged version of our Mar. 14th hard copy edition. Getting a subscription (see the home page) is the only way you'll ever see it all.
by Dan Davidson
The Governor General, Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, was greeted with great enthusiasm by a variety of Dawsonites as she returned to the community on Tuesday afternoon, after having spent the day travelling to and from Old Crow.
Clarkson officiated at two ceremonies on Tuesday, one on Front Street in front of the Visitor Reception Centre and the other in the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in Heritage Centre, just across the street.
The members of the Dawson Rangers were drawn up to greet the Governor General as she and her entourage walked to the VCR from the Downtown Hotel. She was greeted by Mayor Glen Everitt and MLA Peter Jenkins, as well as Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in Chief Darren Taylor.
After a further exchange of greetings between Clarkson and Ranger leader, Sgt. John Mitchell, she got down to the business of meeting each member of the troop and presenting the sixteen longest serving among them with the Special Service Medal-Ranger Bar which she has been delivering to Rangers in all the northern communities on this trip.
While about 50 people had been present for this part of the afternoon's events, the number swelled to about 100 for the next event, which took place inside the Cultural Centre.
Within, the Governor general was treated to a tour of the facility and given an opportunity to examine the displays in the foyer. Within the auditorium, the Han Singers and Drummers were warming up to put on a small production for their guest. When she arrived, they presented a selection of welcoming and celebration songs used in traditional ceremonies.
In her turn the Governor General spoke with feeling about the very positive impression she had received from her brief time in Dawson, the beauty of the Yukon River as she had seen while walking the dyke, the impressive preservation of the Goldrush era look, and the excitement of seeing the Aurora Borealis so brilliantly.
"I'm also very proud of the Rangers, whom I just decorated - sixteen of them - outside. We depend upon them in Canada, as I said to them just now. The rest of Canada understands that our sovereignty in the North is very important to us, and they are the eyes and ears of the military.
"They give advice, they also do search and rescue missions, and that's very important to all the rest of us in Canada. As Governor General I thank them personally with the Special Service Medal."
Clarkson underlined the importance of the Goldrush history to Canada, while acknowledging that the history of the region certainly goes back beyond that, to the time when the Han people were the primary residents of the area.
"You've overwhelmed us already. Today is just beautiful," Clarkson said. "I want to thank you very much for this and for being among you and your warm welcome. It's a pleasure for me to be here with you."
In the foyer, Joe and Annie Henry, soon to be designated the oldest married couple in the world by the Guiness Book of World Records, waited patiently in their wheelchairs to meet the Governor General for her final afternoon's duty.
Chief Darren Taylor announced the designation, noting that, "It's quite an honour for our first nation for these two individuals - key individuals to our community - to be so honoured."
Clarkson presented the Henrys with a framed document containing her message, which she read to them and the crowd. While the designated 79th anniversary will actually be this coming July, the family has long since noted that it is based on wedding year of 1921, and the Henrys may have been married any time between 1918 and that date.
The Governor General spoke of their marriage as the "... lasting commitment which brings with it the joy of shared memories, mutual understanding and enduring friendship ..."
Chief Taylor presented the elders with the framed certificate from the people at the Guiness Book of World Records.
After a brief time of mingling, Her Excellency was ushered outside the centre, where local musher Tommy Taylor waited to give her a short ride of a couple of blocks with his dogs and sled. Clarkson was most effusive in her thanks as she was deposited back in front of the VRC.
by Dan Davidson
Joe and Annie Henry are about to become household words all around the world. That's what happens to people who get themselves into the Guiness Book of World Records.
It will have been 79 years on July 15 since 21 year old Joe Henry was married to 13 year old Annie Mitchell, in a wedding arranged by their families.
Back in 1991, when their union was 70 years old, eldest son Percy Henry recalled talking to his mum about those days.
"I asked my mother, 'How long you and Dad go round together before you got married?'"
The answer he got was that they never did. That wasn't the way, then.
"It was almost like a shotgun wedding," Percy chuckled. "You're going to marry that girl. That's it."
The wedding took place at Moosehide in 1921, officiated by the Reverend Benjamin Totty. Love and twelve children followed in due course. They lived in the Blackstone country of their youth until the 1930s, after which they settled in Moosehide and, later, in the late 1950s, to Dawson.
When all the children had finished school and grown up, Joe and Annie retired to a cabin on the Dempster Highway where they lived all year round until Joe was in his mid eighties. At the time of Joe's 100th birthday in 1998, Percy recalled that they moved to town very reluctantly.
"Can't hear, can't see. It's no use," Joe told his son. To add to those problems, Annie had begun to suffer from brittle bones and had broken a leg.
Today the Henrys can boast of over 100 direct descendants: children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They live in a home on 6th Avenue in Dawson, though both spend periods of time under care for a variety of ailments. Annie has also lived at the MacDonald Lodge continuing care facility.
On Tuesday, her Excellency, the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, our Governor General, will meet the Henrys in a ceremony at the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in Cultural Centre. At that time they will also be presented with the Guiness certificate.
The Yukon Historical and Museum Association (YHMA) is pleased to announce that Mr. Percy Henry has been awarded this year's Heritage Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Mr. Henry was cited for being centrally involved with many heritage preservation and education programmes with the Tr'ondek Hwech'in First Nation. Among his heritage accomplishments are the creation of a Han language dictionary and lesson booklet for use in the local school. He also has been closely involved with other language preservation projects with linguists at the Yukon Native Language Centre .
As a respected elder, he has shared his traditional knowledge, serving on a number of boards and he has served other heritage oriented organizations in the wider community such as the Yukon Geographical Place Names Board, a position which he has held since its inception. He also serves on the Tr'ondek Hwech'in Heritage Steering Committee, which has been established to manage the important archaeological site Tr'o-Ju-Wech'in, (often called Klondike City or Lousetown) located across the Klondike River from Dawson City.
Notably, he has been a very important leader in the Tr'ondek Hwech'in land claims process - which is founded on the whole concept of Aboriginal heritage - and has contributed a good deal of the traditional knowledge required to support this claim and to advise other First Nations on this process.
He serves at the territorial level, sharing traditional knowledge as an elder with the Council of Yukon First Nations, and in a similar capacity with the national Assembly of First Nations. This role is focussed on ensuring that First Nations traditional wisdom guides modern political processes.
Mr. Percy Henry has a long and dedicated history of important accomplishments in the field of heritage preservation and is a worthy recipient of the YHMA Heritage Award for Lifetime Achievement.
by Dan Davidson
It's official. The art gallery at the south corner of the refurbished Oddfellows Building, home of the Dawson City Arts Society and fledgling Klondike Institute of Arts and Culture, has a name. In keeping with its origins, it has been christened the Odd Gallery.
John Steins, chair of the gallery sub-committee, says that the name was not arriving at without some discussion - argument, even - but now that it's a fact, everyone seems pleased with it.
The Governor General, Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, arrived a little bit late for the official opening ceremony. She later apologized for having been captured by the pleasure of strolling along the dyke in the evening sun. Since the ceremony couldn't really start without her, one might almost say that she wasn't late at all.
Outside the building, Clarkson scooped up several shovelsful of ceremonial snow, and then cut the sinew which was stretched across the double doors.
Inside, after allowing people some time to take in the new layout, DCAS executive director Gary Parker welcomed the crowd. The main item of the evening was to be the chance to view the art, he said, but there were a few formalities to get out of the way first.
DCAS president Greg Hakonson was second at the podium, carrying a list of thank-yous which included the YTG, the City of Dawson, the Klondike Visitors Association, the many sponsors who were listed on two large posters out in the main foyer, the many volunteers who have put time into the planning for this evening, and the staff members who carried out the dream so well.
Her Excellency opened her remarks by testifying to the power of Klondike scenery: "We lost all track of time because we were walking along the dyke and then we sort of drifted back in and there you all were. I know you're not freezing 'cause this is not cold for you. But I am sorry. It was unintentional. The place is so enchanting we can't help it.
"It's a wonderful way to open a gallery space, but cutting a sinew of somebody I don't know and also shovelling the snow, which I have known how to do since I was about seven.
"I'm really delighted to be here in my capacity as Governor General of Canada. Like all visitors here I think I've been ...captivated by the Klondike legend. It's always been a very special frontier - it's been a cultured frontier, and this gallery carries on that tradition.
She said that a picture she had seen at the Binet Centre in Mayo the day before seemed to sum up the juxtaposition of elements.
"There's been a huge flood, the river has flooded, and a man is floating down the center of it playing a piano. He was saving his piano, but obviously music and art meant a lot to people who came here. This was all added on top of the first peoples' cultural traditions, which had already existed with its particular and very special blend of the human and sacred.
"So I think you have a very blessed place where all these things have come together."
She found the use of the Oddfellows Hall for community purposes especially appropriate. "I always passed the Oddfellows Temple in Ottawa walking to school. No one ever told me what 'Oddfellows' meant. I think that now that these buildings are being converted to other uses, it would be interesting not to know, but just to keep the title."
" I think it's wonderful that you named this exhibit 'New Beginnings'. That's always a very hopeful way to talk about things, and I hope it will be a signal for a new future for art here in Dawson."
The Governor General and Greg Hakonson unveiled the gallery's new name together.
John Steins conducted Clarkson on a personal, detailed tour of the thirty-two exhibits (and claims it is a coincidence that she bought both of the etchings he had on display in the show). The displays, gathered from artists all over the Yukon, represented every kind of work from raku pottery, to wood and antler carvings, paintings, carved ivory, mixed media and quilting.
One piece, a poplar wood carving called "Expectation", by Whitehorse artist Béla Simó, seemed to express the energy which has fuelled the DCAS project from the beginning, as did Dawsonite Shelly Hakonson's embroidered "Ganesha - Lord of Beginnings".
A reception was held in the spacious ballroom on the second floor.
by Dan Davidson
When Governor General Adrienne Clarkson made her tour around the territory last week, part of her purpose was to present a special service award to long serving members of the Canadian Rangers. She was carrying out an initiative begun in October, 1999, by her predecessor, His Excellency Roméo LeBlanc, before he left office.
While the five branches of the Canadian Rangers are part of the Canadian military establishment there has never, in the 50 year history of the Rangers, been a way for the Canadian Forces to honour these special members.
LeBlanc ended that by lobbying to establish the Ranger Bar addition to the Special Service Medal. The Ranger Bar-Special Service Medal was to be presented to those who had been members for four years and participated in a minimum of three CRP exercises.
The first presentations were made to select group of 17 Rangers from all across the nation at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on February 14, 2000 by the new Governor General, Adrienne Clarkson. For the rest it was determined that her Excellency would present them during her first national tour.
During her Yukon tour she made presentations to Rangers in Old Crow, Dawson City. Mayo, Ross River and Whitehorse.
Yukon Rangers are part of First Canadian Ranger Patrol Group, which takes in the Yukon, NWT, Nunavut, Alberta, Saskatchewan, northern British Columbia and northern Manitoba.
According to Lieut. Mark Gough, Public Affairs Officer with the Canadian Forces Northern Area Headquarters in Yellowknife, "The Rangers perform the duties of providing a military presence in support of Canadian sovereignty, including reporting unusual activities, collecting local data of significance to support military operations, providing local expertise, assistance and advice, as guides and advisors, in search and rescue activities."
Aside from their actual military duties, Gough was quick to note that the Rangers also perform a number of other ceremonial and community service functions.
He stressed the Dawson patrol's involvement with the Yukon Quest over a number of years and pointed out that Rangers from all over the north had participated in the recent Trans-Canada Trail Relay, which began in Tuktoyaktuk on February 19.
Rangers escorted the water carriers from Tuk to Inuvik, Tsiigehtchic, Fort McPherson and Dawson, as well as south to Mayo, Pelly Crossing, Carmacks and Whitehorse.
In Dawson the Junior Rangers were also involved, according to Sgt. John Mitchell: "Members of our own Junior Ranger Patrol escorted the dog teams out of Dawson on (their) way to Mayo and south."
In their distinctive red hooded sweaters and military paraphernalia, the Rangers are a highly visible addition to most ceremonial events here in Dawson. What is not perhaps so readily understood is that the members are volunteers. While they are provided with the ball cap, sweatshirt & badges, and a No. 4 Lee Enfield rifle, most of their other equipment (cooking supplies, snow machines, shelter tools, etc.) is their own.
A National Defence backgrounder document notes that "As a rule, Rangers are paid only when they undergo formal military training. They receive per diem compensation for the use of their personal equipment on exclusively military missions."
As reported elsewhere in the Klondike Sun, the Odd Gallery was officially named and opened by Her Excellency Adrienne Clarkson, on Tuesday, March 7th. Thank you to everyone who helped with the event. A special thanks to the City of Dawson for their assistance with the reception. The Odd Gallery will be open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. It will also be open on Sunday, March 19th from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.
The Economic Forums program and the Dawson City Arts Society are hosting a public presentation by art educator Carol Philips, on Thursday evening, March 30th, at the Oddfellows Hall. Carol has a long list of accomplishments; for instance, she was the Vice President and Director of the Banff School of Fine Arts from 1992 until February 2000. Carol will be speaking on The Benefits of Art Education - she will address issues around creativity and culture, discerning meaning from contemporary art, learning the language of art, and traditional roots in contemporary forms of aboriginal art. Everyone is welcome.
Over 100 students have registered in courses at the Oddfellows since January. While many of the courses are winding down, there are a few new ones. Gord Polichuk will be teaching guitar lessons on Monday and Tuesday afternoons. The Art Quilt weekend with Carol Pettigrew and Glenda Armstrong Miles will be taking place from March 31st to April 2nd. Carol will be giving a slide presentation and lecture about finding inspiration for quilt designs in the Yukon landscape on Friday, March 31st at 7:30 p.m. in the classroom at the Oddfellows. Everyone is welcome. We now have three ballet courses on Thursday afternoons. The two to five year old class is full, but we are still accepting students in the six to eight year old group and the nine to thirteen year old group. The Film and Video workshops also start on March 31st and run through April 15th. The films made in these workshops will be shown at the First Annual Short Film Festival, April 21st to 23rd. Carol Geddes, a well known Yukon filmmaker, will be showing one of her films and talking about film making at the Han Cultural Centre on the evening of March 31st. Please call us at 993-5005 for more information on any of the above, or if you have any ideas for other courses.
The Dawson City Arts Society is proud to present the 1st Annual Dawson City International Short Film Festival. From the town that's brought you the Dawson City Music Festival, Diamond Tooth Gerties, Thaw-di-Gras, and the only International Outhouse Race comes an event that will add yet one more jewel to the crown of the Yukon.
In the tradition of the Klondike spirit, this festival will be a no holds barred cultural extravaganza. Three and a half weeks of film and video making workshops, guest speakers and fun will culminate in three days of screenings of short films from around the world. Festival coordinator David Curtis says, "This will be an exciting first for the Yukon. The overwhelming interest and support we've received demonstrates how important this medium is, and indicates that this festival will become an extraordinary international attraction in the years to come."
This year's festival will feature three themes: films by and about First Nations, films on a rural or northern subject, and films from circumpolar countries. There will be audience choice awards, special screenings, and plenty of beer, bratwurst, and cheesecake to be consumed while enjoying the ambiance of our main venue, the historic Odd Fellows Hall Ballroom.
So make plans to come to Dawson City on Easter weekend, April 21, 22, and 23 and take in some of the best film entertainment the world has to offer at the 1st Annual Dawson City International Film Festival. Check with your favourite Dawson hotel or inn for special festival rates.
by Dorian Amos
One Friday I was talking with the B.A.T.U.S (British Army Training Unit Suffield) division of the British army. They were in Dawson for two weeks to do a spot of Arctic training. The conversation went the usual way when a group of men are together having a beer: Snow machines, going to church next Sunday, the barmaids chest - until rugby was mentioned.
Suddenly everybody began to get a little excited, even more than when discussing the barmaids chest. So without a lot of intellectual thought I challenged the army to a game on behalf of the internationally famous Dawson Barbarians (who at this point did not exist). They accepted immediately and with great gusto, which left me thinking I might have been a tad hasty.
The game was titled "The Dawson Grandslam" and organized for Friday the 25th of February which gave me exactly six days to organize a team, train them, find a referee, make a trophy and mark out the pitch.
My first step was to visit the pit. Immediately I had forty strapping chaps. Then I went to the Eldorado and again recruited forty chaps. Now to my calculations and an abacus I made that eighty players. I only needed seven; this was going to be a breeze. Excited, I organized a training session for the following day and waited eagerly by myself for my army to show. An hour and a half into the session I got bored with throwing and catching the ball by myself. I hit the showers and resigned myself to the fact I still didn't have a team.
To get the players motivated I made a trophy, with the help of Gord Scott and we paraded it around town. The true Dawson spirit was stirred now they had something to fight for. So when I had enough men volunteering I organized a training session for the following day. This was Thursday the 24th the night before the match. I found myself again waiting patiently for the world famous Dawson barbarians to show. And finally they did: Kevin Kohlhauser, Jason Grant, Pete Johnson, Mike Samuels and Trent Kindrachuk showed for the practice. Ray Dagonsteine promised he would play but didn't need training, so I got my abacus out again and concluded that with me that made "The Magnificent Seven"
The training session went as well as can be expected when you are trying to teach an English game to a bunch of North American men bought up on watching Football on Saturday nights with a six pack of beer. But as I watched the team practice and saw their eagerness to learn I saw the Dawson spirit bursting through rules, experience and expertise. I knew we would have a good game.
The next day found me waiting anxiously in the Eldorado lounge for the Barbarians to arrive. The pitch was organized on the river, Dave Wallace of the RCMP very gallantly, though be it nervously, had agreed to be the referee. The British army were behind me having a team talk looking very big (all twelve of them) and professional in the KVA sponsored outfits and the game was due to start in five minuets. I began to panic, minuets to kick off and still no team. Andrew Van Bibber had promised to try and make it with some substitutes and I was already relying on him when Kevin Kohlhauser walked in. He took one look at the British and ordered a beer. Minutes later Trent Kindrachuk came in and did the same. Then the British moved out onto the ice in a single, fluid motion that resembled the beer going down my team mates' throats as we trudged nervously behind.
We met with Pete Johnson and Mike Samuels down on the ice and Ray Dagonsteine putting on his boots on the side line. All-be-it late the team was here and ready to play. The British won the kick off and Tiny (Yes that was his real name) charged up the field towards me with the ball tucked untouchably under his arm.
This was the moment of truth. Would the Dawson spirit overcome fear? Tiny was a formidable sight and getting closer. Suddenly all six Barbarians came flying through the air like supermen in Sorrels and bought him to the ice with a cheer from the crowd. The game was on!
The barbarians fought hard and Jason Grant on the back row was not letting much through his brick wall defences but with only seven men on the pitch and no substitutes our strength was fading as we watched the British rotate their men in a well organized routine. A try late in the first half demoralized us. The oranges at half time (donated by Bonanza Meats) refreshed us but the army were relentless in their attack. I looked back at one point and saw all the barbarians coughing and struggling just with breathing, never mind the rugby. We desperately needed substitutes.
With five minuets to go we were all cursing the day we succumbed to the Marlboro man and his vices, while the British grew in confidence with three tries totaling seventeen points. Then the cavalry arrived. Andrew Van Bibber came charging down the dike followed by a stream of substitutes. His voice boomed across the ice as they ran straight onto the pitch: "Told ya we wouldn't let you down Dorian!"
With fresh blood on our team we put up a good fight in the dying minutes of the game. Dave Wallace tried hard to keep order with his new found knowledge. However we could not quiet match the professionalism, the fitness level, the experience, and the Knowledge of the British army. The final score was 17 to 0. We had lost. Really, we had won. We had proven, with the Dawson spirit, we were game for anything and could run with the best. We just had to do it the Dawson way.
Twelve junior mushers between the ages of 14 and 17 were entered to compete in the Junior Iditarod, which was a 175 mile sled dog race between Wasilla, Alaska and Yetna Station. The race began of February 26th with the sun shining and the temperature hovering around -10C.
Dawson City musher, Kyla Boivin was the only Canadian entered in the race and was pleased to see the Canadian flag flying at the starting line, as an acknowledgment of her origin. As usual, the noise, energy, and excitement at the starting chute was exhilarating as team after team started the race at two minute intervals. Kyla left in 8th place, with the announcer commenting on the size of her animals.
Because she is determined to run the Yukon Quest, whenever she has a dog team of contention, her dogs are of a larger build than most of the other competitors who had lighter, smaller, sprint-dog-looking animals. Every year this same announcer makes some comment on the coats or the size of Kyla's dogs and every year, sure enough, these factors do make a difference in the race. This year the spring like temperatures (which rose to above zero during the day) did slow down many dog teams and Kyla's was no exception. At midway point Kyla was two hours behind the leader and keeping pace. Unfortunately, after the mandatory 10 hour lay over the second day of the race dawned even warmer than the first and even rubbing her dogs down with snow every half hour did little to cool them down. Kyla placed 11th with all of her dogs looking healthy. She carried two in her basket across the finish line, one because of a foot injury and the other because youth and inexperience caused him to power out just 2 miles from the end of the race.
It is worth explaining that many participants in this race were running dogs from their father's Iditarod dog lots, including Tyrell Seavey, Tran Smyth and Ryan Reddington (whose grandfather is called the father of the Iditarod running it 19 times and whose father ran it 12 times). Other kids were simply leasing dogs and/or equipment from renowned Iditarod mushers such as Vern Halter, Martin Buser and Charlie Boulding.
In Alaska there is much support for junior mushers by big name mushers which really helps to instill love of the racing scene into the teens. The only drawback to this scenario is that it creates two different classes of mushers within the same race - those who can afford to lease seasoned dogs from renowned mushers and those who can not afford such an expense or simply prefer to raise and train their own animals. Such discrepancies within the racing scene are politely recognized as the competitive teams and the bush teams. In Alaska there is little or no acknowledgment given to the work these 'bush' mushers must do to put together a team on a shoestring. As usual the fame, glory, and prestige are heaped only on the winner thus enforcing the idea that winning is the only thing that is important.
What I discovered when meeting with some of these 'bush' team families was that they very often exemplify many values similar to our own. Working with dogs, training them, doctoring them and tending to their needs helps to instill the value of responsibility into a young person. Dealing with financial shortages helps with the development of initiative and sometimes dogged determination in the desire to make ends meet. And running a dog team that has been raised and trained personally certainly instills a fierce sense of pride and loyalty to their animals in these young people.
Although it is true that these 'bush' competitors may not cross the finish line first or receive even the slightest mention in the local newspapers for their efforts still it is obvious that if these teens have made it to the finish line then they are most assuredly NOT losers! These young people are running the race because they think they can win and the hope, drive and determination that powers them also flows freely into their animals. It is a pleasure to be a part of such a situation and to watch the end results at the races. Only one person wins the trophy, to be sure, but the thrill of competition and the excitement of the 'just-maybe' feeling runs through every musher's veins. This enthusiasm is contagious which explains why the large band of volunteers who have organized the race for the past 23 years continue to devote their time year after year to its betterment.
Ryan Reddington won the race in 13 hours 10 minutes, with Tyrell Seavey right on his heels at 13 hours 20 minutes. Kyla was happy to shave 5 hours off her finishing time from last year's race and despite the heat, to finish 11th in a time of 18 hours 44 minutes. She would like to again thank the Westminster Hotel, all of the people who donated items to the fundraising auction and all of the people who made bids on each and every item.
She would also like to acknowledge all the sponsors who donated material goods or money to support her cause. Once again, without this support she would not have gone to the race.
These sponsors include: Whitehorse Motors, Air North, Beaver Lumber, Dawson City Hardware, Goldrush Campground , City of Dawson, North of 60 Petro, McKenzie Petroleum, Klondike Kates, Arctic Inland Resources, Gammie Trucking, John Overall, Brian McDonald, Mike and Janine Morrow.
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