Dawson City, Yukon Friday, May 9, 2003

The Klondike River Bridge as seen from the bluff. The jammed ice around the bridge is quite visible. Photo by Dan Davidson

Feature Stories

Ice Guessing Contest Results
Klondike River Surges at Dempster Corner
Flooding on the Klondike Highway
Klondike River Flooding Going Down
Ambulance Skills Competition
Young Writers Take to the Podium and Collect Awards
Arts for Employment
A Movie Weekend
Another World Premiere at the Film Festival
KPMA President Hopes for Good Season
Goulds Receive Medals

Welcome to the May 9, 2003 edition of the online Klondike Sun, which reproduces a selection of the 23 photographs and 21 articles that were in the 24 page May 6 hard copy edition. This is the first issue of our 15th year as a publication, though we've been online for only seven.

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 about a month ago. Logged about 51,000. The current counter went online in April of this spring and is currently sitting at 2,292. About 2,000 people visited this site during the last two weeks.

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.

Ice Guessing Contest Results

Submitted by J. Caley
Coordinator of the IODE Ice Guessing Contest


Joyce Caley holds the clock which shows the official time of the break-up. Photo submitted

The Yukon River, Dawson City, broke up on May 1st at 6:01 PM. The winner is C. Dugas of Whitehorse. Ms Dugas is an employee of TA Firth Insurance, has been buying tickets at the office for many years and is thrilled to be a winner.

N.B.-The tripod is connected to the clock, NOT the siren. The clock indeed stopped at 6:01 but the siren didn't ring until someone saw the river moving and phoned the Fire Hall to activate the siren.

Thanks to ALL who participated.

The Break-up Saga of 2003

Editors Note: This year's break up was a bit more dramatic than most, with minor flooding and other bits of drama. Here, in the order they took place, are the events of that week.

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Klondike River Surges at Dempster Corner

by Dan Davidson


It was open water by mid-Sunday at the Klondike River Bridge across the Dempster Highway, 40 km south of Dawson. The water backed up into the yard at the lodge on the corner and then let go suddenly, leaving some sizable bergs behind. Photo by Dan Davidson

(April 27) The Klondike River surged open by the Klondike River Lodge at mid-morning on Sunday, bringing what appeared to be a day of tension and possible disaster to an end.

River conditions at the Dempster Corner changed dramatically between Saturday and Sunday. This reporter observed what appeared to be solid ice in that area on Saturday afternoon, and Mike Wadsworth, the lodge operator, indicated that he had been able to walk on the ice that same day.

Sunday morning was a different story, as the open water from further south raised the level of the river and pushed its way to close to the lodge.

"It was within inches," Wadsworth said on Sunday afternoon, "and I'm talking single digits here."

Heavy equipment had been sent to the site to help deal with the situation, but Wadsworth said they had no sooner arrived when the ice let go and everything flushed pell-mell down the river.

He joked that he was going to be checking his property later on to see if he'd been left any fish.

As the afternoon progressed crews from the Department of Highways and both local fire departments were out along the river, watching the progress of the moving ice and keeping in contact by portable radios at various bends in the river.

At Henderson's Corner there are at least two channels. The wide one alongside the road had plugged up solid with ice and debris by 4 p.m., but water and ice were still moving through another channel, heading towards Rock Creek.

While the river was clear alongside that community, there was a jam forming between the two hamlets, spilling over the banks of the river and filling up a roadside gravel pit as the ice backed up the water and the floes scrunched together. While it appeared that the ice was fairly rotten, it still had the power to move unimpeded through the small trees along the bank, bending them over and breaking them off as it inched its way northwest. Just north of the jam the river was clear.

By evening observers were reporting that this big jam had begun to move slowly, breaking up as it went. A constant flow of water as well as temperatures in the mid-20s during the entire afternoon and early evening had taken their toll on the ice mass.

There was little in the way of movement in Dawson at the Klondike River Bridge there. A 3 km section of the river froze, thawed and froze again there in December, caught by an ice jam near the Trans North helicopter pad. A few weeks ago this ice measured three metres thick and was blocking 80% of the channel in this area right down to the bottom of the river. There remains a concern that too much water and too much ice coming down too fast could flood the area by the bridge or actually damage the bridge's footings, essentially making it unusable.

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Flooding on the Klondike Highway

by Dan Davidson


The Klondike River rushed through a culvert that normally runs in the other direction, flooded the Bonanza Creek Slough and then attempted to get back to the river. This flood at Guggieville RV Park was one of the results. Photo by Dan Davidson

(April 28) There's flooding on the Klondike Highway just south of the Klondike River Bridge, around the industrial/tourist area comprising Guggieville, Northern Superior Mechanical, Bonanza Esso and Bonanza Gold Hotel.

When Gail Hendley woke up at 6 o'clock Monday morning the caller on the phone said he thought that the Bonanza Gold Hotel had a plumbing problem. She called out to her husband John, who said, "Nope. It's the river."

It was. The Klondike River, with jams in several places, had crossed under the highway via a culvert further south down the road and was flowing into their property and then back to itself, flooding the Guggieville RV lot as well as Bonanza Gold's extensive property (a hotel, RV park and restaurant) and the front yard of the garage and separate RV lot, Bonanza Esso, next door.

Some of the plugs along the river let go in the night, losing a flow of water that was within a metre and a half of the bottom of the Klondike River Bridge at Dawson City.

Gail Hendley said she had been told that there was talk of breaching the road and putting in a culvert to direct the flow more effectively and minimize the damage to the highway. Vehicles continued to pass still back and forth, sending up sprays of water as they went.

Hendleys worked quickly with a loader and truck to create a berm to redirect the water from their property and Gail reported that by 9:30 they were free of water.

City manager Scott Coulson said he had been up quite a bit of the night, with an EMO meeting in the middle of the wee hours as the committee tried to predict what might take place when the jam gave way.

Coulson said the worst part of the day was probably the "misinformation broadcast over C.B.C. radio", which had Klondike Valley parents phoning the city offices and pulling their kids out of school in the fear that the highway would be closed off for an indefinite period.

"It was just craziness," said Coulson,, who went to the Robert Service School himself to fill Principal Denis Gauthier in on the situation.

There is on-line access to an Environment Canada automated monitoring site near the bridge which actually showed that the water was declining during the day, Coulson said.

The RCMP did close the road around 10:20 in the morning, but Const.. Jeff Kalles reported that it was a temporary measure to allow highway crews to move some equipment and assess the situation undisturbed. By 11 traffic was moving again.

"We're playing it by ear," Kalles said around 4 p.m., but he added that they were expecting the water to rise again with the evening. Higher levels had been reported at the Dempster Corner earlier in the day and it would take most of the day for those waters to reach the three jams around Dawson.

Kalles said that there was one jam at an area called Strachan's Farm, out near the airport, another in behind the Northern Superior Mechanical garage and a third on the Dawson side of the bridge, near the Trans North helicopter pad.

Should a lot of ice come down the river all at once, it could lead to an ice dam at the bridge, he said.

In the meantime sections of Boutillier Lane, a low lying area just on the Dawson side of the bridge, have flooded, affecting a few residents there. RCMP and EMO people have been in to assess the situation and advise people as to how they might protect their property.

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Klondike River Flooding Going Down

by Dan Davidson


The extent of the flooding south of the bridge can be seen in this picture. Photo by Dan Davidson

(April 29) As of 8:45 this morning, April 29, Dawson's EMO coordinator John Mitchell is advising that the worst of the flooding from the Klondike River seems to be over.

"At this time," Mitchell e-mailed committee members, "water levels on the Klondike have dropped since the peak associated with the ice movement last night.

"The Klondike Highway is dry at this time. Flood levels at the Bonanza intersection and surrounding areas have also dropped."

There is still a large jam above the Klondike River Bridge as well as another just below it. Mitchell reports that the area by the Trans North chopper pad still has a lot of ice intact, but that the channel downstream to where the Klondike joins the Yukon River is clear.

The predicted drop in temperatures here over the next few days ought to slow the process down a bit, which Mitchell says is a good thing.

As for the Yukon River, which usually follows the Klondike by a few days, Mitchell reports that "Water Resources advises that the Yukon River also shows signs of movement and that its breakup should occur shortly."

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Ambulance Skills Competition

Submitted by Justine MacKellar


Ambulance volunteers move to help the "victims". Photo by Lorraine Kontogonis

While Dawsonites were concerned with potential flood warnings this past weekend, the Yukon Emergency Ambulance Service was hosting its 4th annual Skills Competition. Dawson City eagerly requested to host this year's competition, with 45 participants attending from all over the Territory and Skagway, Alaska.

The packed weekend began with a long bus ride, 12 hours for some visitors, on Thursday night. Friday activities included an Over the Cliff Rescue workshop hosted by the Skagway Fire Department, and a Driving Skills session taught by EMS Manager, Gord Settle. Saturday was taken up with the day-long Skills Competition held in the school. Co-ordinator, Michael Swainson, planned an entire day of real life scenarios of accident and trauma scenes for the teams to "attend to". With a car-size model, real props and professional "victim" makeup, ten hardy volunteers acted as patients for the community crews. A team of judges presided over the competition, awarding marks for medical skill, teamwork, communication, etc. One such scene had a crew responding to a gunshot victim lying unconscious in the car, with the culprit in handcuffs pinned to the ground by local RCMP Tim Ashmore. The team on call had to perform the necessary medical attention and rush the patient to the Nursing Station in the simulated ambulance. All the teams performed with professionalism and expertise, even under the pressure of being watched by their peers.

The evening gala, held at Diamond Tooth Gertie's, was hosted by Ruby's Restaurant and was emceed by Skills Competition Co-ordinator, Michael Swainson. The evening included an award ceremony and thanks to many sponsors, prizes and gifts were presented to all involved. Our Minister of Health and Social Services, Peter Jenkins, handed out the awards: First place in the competition went to Pelly Crossing, second place was awarded to Team Pope (a mother, father, son team!), while third place fell to Skagway. Dawson, and the other communities all received 4th place! D.J John Trefry then helped the crews dance the night away into the wee hours of the morn.

With fabulous weather, Dawson hospitality and dedicated volunteers, this year's Skills Competition was a rousing success. The Dawson crew would like to thank Saskia, Aedes, Justine, Andrea, Pete, Kathy, Cailin, Alyssa, Carol, Karen-Jean, John, the judges and all our "victims/volunteers" for helping us this weekend. Also thanks to Robert Service School, Danoja Zho, City of Dawson, YTG highways and the Klondike Visitors Association. Thank you, Michael Swainson - good work!

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Young Writers Take to the Podium and Collect Awards

by Dan Davidson


Mary Fraughton, seated beside guest author Annabel Lyon, received an honourable mention. Photo by Dan Davidson

(Whitehorse) Thirty of the seventy-five youngsters at this year's Young Authors' Conference took their fears by the scruff of the neck and read their work to their peers for a couple of minutes each to close off the second day of the event.

Nerves were evident but conquered as they faced the microphone after spending the first two-thirds of the day in less public pursuits: writing, conferencing with their mentor authors, and discussing their craft in groups.

The work that was read covered a wide range of genres from science fiction to mysteries to realistic fiction and all sorts of poetry. There was a wide range of language in use as well, and most readers had mastered the notion that if you shouldn't use street talk in your work unless there's a good reason for it and you're old enough not to find it a gigglingly guilty pleasure.

To close off the conference the annual writing awards were presented by conference coordinator Joyce Sward and Judy Moore, Deputy Minister of Education.

According to Sward, the members of the judging panel had a tough time making their decisions this year.

"I'm going to mention the honourable mentions along with the winners," she said, "because writing is a tough craft and you guys have done it really well."

In the Junior Fiction category honourable mentions went to Kay Thompson of F.H. Collins, Emily Tredger of Vanier Catholic, and Mary Fraughton of Robert Service School in Dawson. The winner was Joelle Ingram, a grade 9 student at FHC.

In the Senior Fiction category the judges had an even harder time. Honourable mentions went to River Walton of École Emilie Tremblay, Susie Ettie of Vanier and Sam Cashin of Porter Creek High School. But they still couldn't make a firm decision, so the award was a tie given to Kyla Fraser of Vanier and Lee Godson of St. Elias, Haines Junction.

The Junior Poetry award was apparently the easiest choice. It went to Jessica Surber, a gr. 9 student at FHC.

At the Senior Poetry level, it got hard again, though all the top students came from Porter Creek. Honourable mentions went to Sam Cashin of and Amanda Keenan, while the award was presented to Tobias Toleman.

When it came time to read at the microphone, FHC's Brandon Kyikavichik was quite reluctant to get started.

"He tells us he can't read in front of a mike, but he sure can write," said Sward as she announced he had won the Meg McCall Award for the best student writing at the conference.

"We couldn't have done it without you," she told the delegates, "so give yourselves a hand. I want you to go back to your schools and say that next year even more people should take part."

As Sward indicated, this worthwhile project would not have completed its 24th year without the assistance of the Department of Education, the Canada Council, the Writers Union of Can., the Playwright's Union of Can., the Riverview Hotel, the Westmark Whitehorse, the Yukon News and F.H. Collins High School.

Students were guided this year by Jerome Stueart, a Yukon College English teacher whose work has appeared on buses, in Out of Service and in the Yukon News; Martha Brooks, the Winnipeg based winner of the most recent Governor General's Award for Young Adult Fiction; Annabel Lyon, a journalist and short story writer from Vancouver; Lawrence Millman, an American travel writer and essayist, who says he is thinking about emigrating to Canada since Gulf War III; Mitch Miyagawa, the current playwright in residence at Nakai Theatre, whose work has appeared in a number of Yukon publications and whose play, The Plum Tree, has been staged in Calgary and Ottawa.

Delegates to the conference from RSS included Elizabeth Fraughton, Mary Fraughton, and Charles Bruner.

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Arts for Employment

by Palma Berger


A sample of the final paintings at the Art for Employment show. Photo by Palma Berger

You would not think that these were the same people who, over the past seven months, had appeared in varying degrees of stark-staring stress, exhilaration, droopy tiredness, joy, or a relieved 'we did it' look on their faces. These were the students who had samplings of their accomplishments from the Arts for Employment course showing at the Odd Gallery in Dawson City. They and the large crowd who had come for the opening were relaxed, pleased and amazed at the high quality of work they had produced.

As Gallery co-ordinator, Mike Yuhasz, said in his opening remarks, "What you see is but a tip of the ice-berg. There is much more that isn't here." He commended the students for being good students, good friends and good workers.

This is the third year that Arts for Employment has been offered. It has grown from the original four month course, to six months and now this year a seven month course, and it has proven to be a most popular programme. Karen Dubois, former Programme Director for KIAC, and now back at her old position at the Dawson Campus of Yukon College, helped get the programme together. She said that this year they received applications from the States as well as from other parts of Canada. There was even an enquiry from India.

The varied courses offered as well as their instructors are as follows, File Management and Web Design (Jorn Meier and Jan Leece), Art Foundation (David Curtis ), Adobe Photoshop, Design and Composition (Paul Henderson), Film Making (Ross Burnett),

Production Assistant (Jay Armitage), Illustrator and Computer Graphics (John Steins), Quark Xpress (Andrea Macrae), Sound and Lighting and Special Events Management (Dom Lloyd), Photography and Career Development (Mario Villeneuve).

These instructors drew so much out of the students. As Carol Lagace said, "I discovered I had a lot of creative energy in myself." She then wondered if perhaps, "Creation can be energy. It takes control of you."

Each student shone in more than one area. Anne Tyrrell created the poster and ad for the Coffee House the group put on earlier. Her photography showed mystery. Cynthia Hunt showed her keen observation in her self-portrait and in the creatively displayed photos of her family. Carol Lagace made her pin-hole photography more interesting by curving the paper and thus creating a fish-eye effect. Jelena Antonic presented her photos in an album with each page alternating with a page of parchment on which a quotation had been written. Priscilla Clarkin's wrap for a beer was reminiscent of opulent past times. Her self-portrait needed close scrutinizing to find the many messages there.

Tekoa Predika created a funnel with self-portraits. The angst of turning thirty was on the outside and the inner portraits became happier as he said the future can only be brighter and better. Chris Pollyck's work was layered and intricate. But the film he was in showed his intent and interests pure and simple. Lianna Jost's painting also had a path of patterns throughout. Her self-portrait in oil pastels was a swirl of colour and movement and liveliness. Penny Spencer has already put her new skills to work. She has designed a website for Northern Superior in Dawson, and a brochure for her friend who owns a restaurant in Mexico.

There were examples of photography, posters, calendars, beautiful paintings, jacket designs for cds. The television played the short films the students created, and the computer allowed guests to view the web-sites created by the class.

.All students enthused over the instruction for the classes, as being very clear, very supportive, very mind-expanding, or as one student said, 'truly amazing'..

The programme has received their major funding from the Klondike Training Trust Fund, and also from the Department of Advanced Education, and from the tuition fees paid by the students. Some students on Unemployment Insurance had assistance with the fees, some had student loans, and some made it on their own.

David Curtis, present Programme Director, said that in the future they will alternate courses. One year they will offer a course heavy in technology and the next more Arts and Crafts. In 2005, again in conjunction with Yukon College they plan to offer the First Year of a Fine Arts Degree. Already what has been taught here has been counted towards the First Year of Fine Arts, as in the case of past graduates who have gone on to Halifax. Other graduates have moved on to other art institutions. Dylan Griffiths went on to co-ordinate the Trade Forum for the Vancouver International.Film Festival. KIAC borrowed him back this year to be Festival Co-ordinator for Dawson's Short Film Festival. Dominic Guillet assisted the French film crew filming in Dawson this year. Paul Henderson and Jen Leece, also past students, were instructors for some of the courses.

Karen Dubois said there were lot of people who would normally leave in the winter, but stayed to do this course. This type of course encourages people to be life long learners.

The Arts for Employment Art Show runs until May 11th.

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A Movie Weekend

by Palma Berger

The Fourth Annual Dawson City Short Film Festival shows how much this 'over a beer idea' has grown. This year the entries numbered 153 films, submitted from countries such as India, Sweden, Russia, Iran and Norway. Including the Yukon films, there were 60 films chosen. A lot of viewing and decision making for the members of the Selection Committee.

The Festival opened at the Oddfellows Ballroom with the World Premier of 'The Elvis Project". This was about Yukon's Elvis and it was shown to a packed house.

The Film Festival went on to a showing of some absolutely absorbing films. A unique connection this year is the connection with Tromso, Norway. Festival Director, David Curtis made the connection there in his plans for a Circum-polar Film Festival. The arrangement there is for the winner of the Tromso Film Festival to be shown at the Dawson City International Short Film Festival, and Tromso show each year's winning Yukon entry from the Dawson Film Festival.

It was a hard decision to make for this year's winner as there were some very fine films entered in the Made in the Yukon category. The winning entry was Allan Code's "Fitness and the Father", the story of Father Mouchet whose ski programme gave positive direction to young lives. This film will go to Tromso next year. This MITY (Made In The Yukon) award carries$1000 worth of equipment rental from Northern Film and Video Association, $250 towards a licensing agreement donated by CBC and 1/2 oz. of gold from Henry Gulch Placers.

This year Dawson received from Tromso, Patrick Eklund's ten minute movie, "One Christmas Morning". In its ten minutes it filled one with warmth, shock, horror, and the hope that its ending was poised for some goodness to come out of that brief episode of war.

The film that won the MITY First Time or student film award, was 'Flip". This experimental film was made by Andy Crowther. As well as the classy, cleverly contrived award of duct tape, snare wire and wood, he receives 40 hours of free editing time at KIAC.

Earlier this year there was a film making workshop taught by Vancouver film maker, Rob McDonagh. From this workshop the film, "Staking Claims", won the student film award. The original script by Jeremy Roht was enlarged upon and the film directed by Maureen Abbot and Andrea McCrae. This story of a placer miner ditched by his girl-friend for a hippie tree-hugger, and the resulting attempts at reconciliation absolutely won the audience over. As the actors were well known Dawson figures made the film more hilarious.

Dylan Griffiths, Festival Co-ordinator, reports that there will be a further showing of the student films at a later date. Just watch for the posters.

The films were so varied, and produced so many emotions. But it was the Norwegian film, "Disa Moves to Japan", that won the Audience Choice Award. Blonde, blue-eyed, fair-skinned Disa moves to Japan with her Norwegian mother. The film shows the adjustments and observations made by this strong little 4 year old as she fits into this new world of food, friends, language and social customs. A real delight.

The CBC has been so supportive of the Film Festival. Cathy Bolstad, Regional Director of television for CBC North, spoke of CBC's commitment to the development of regional stories by regional film makers. She has visited the Festival every year.

Sally Catto, a CBC executive in charge of production for movies and mini-series, although personally so supportive, brought the unwelcome and stunning news that there was a $25 million cut to the Canadian Television Fund. So made in Canada series will be affected.

Don McKellar happened to be in town to work with Daniel Janke on a mini-series set in the Yukon. He was in attendance.

There were also well-attended panel discussions to help any would-be film-makers.

The films were not only shown at the Oddfellows Hall, free screening of films for kids was at Diamond Tooth Gerties on the Saturday afternoon. Slipped in here earlier was "Monsters I Have Known", filmed on the Dempster Highway about the ancient animals and people who once inhabited North America.

Altogether it was a week-end well spent agreed the audience who made this a sold-out Film Festival.

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Another World Premiere at the Film Festival

by Palma Berger

There was yet another World Premier of a film at Dawson's Short Film Festival It was "The Elvis Project; A Yukon Road Documentary."

This film was about a well-known Yukon character, and the directors were Adam Green and Bill Kendrick.

It started off with the Elvis look-alike, dressed as an ordinary Yukoner walking in a wintry setting and talking about the UFOs that he has seen. Perhaps this was a good introduction to the very different life style of Elvis Aaron Presley of Tagish, Yukon.

The film follows the entertainer as he presents his Elvis Presley act on a tour of the Yukon in 2001. It is also interspersed with stories of the various court battles that Elvis has taken on, on behalf of friends, causes and finally himself.

The tour vehicle is a bright pink van with a cherub attached to the hood. Elvis and his band, the Armageddon Angels, crowd inside and the tour begins. The stop at Ross River is not without mishap. Although warmly welcomed at Ross River, somehow at the venue that evening a brawl breaks out and the guitar player ends up with a badly dislocated finger. Luckily the doctor at Faro is able to put a splint on it, and the show continues with the guitar player playing with one finger less.

On to other spots with the same warm welcome. Finally to Dawson City where he is to play at the Westminster Hotel. Here a large group, including one dog, greet him, and move the band in. The hotel owner Duncan Spriggs is warm and effusive. The evening arrives. The crowd is gathered in the bar. But the acts are a bit slow in happening. The camera moves on to another customer whose eyes are closed as she dozes . The hotelier gets a bit annoyed and has loud words, but one band member explains into the camera 'he doesn't understand the Vegas style act.' Then something else isn't right and the hotelier expresses his feelings in loud and foul language. Finally the act is over. The crowd seems to have enjoyed the evening.

Elvis is interviewed with some of his fans outside the Hotel the next day. One has also seen UFOs and points out to where she saw it above Dawson. Elvis has also verified his sanity about his belief in UFOs when, in Whitehorse, he points out the signs advertising a conference on UFOs that is taking place there.

In Dawson he goes to visit with another fan. This is Lena Christiansen. Lena makes the beautifully beaded necklaces Elvis is wearing.

The tour draws to a close, but Elvis has had ongoing battles. 'Hustler' magazine has reported on him in an offending manner. He has had to deal with them until they correct this in the next issue. His court battles have had to end as he has been deemed a nuisance. He receives a letter from the government telling him he 'shall not lay any charges against the Government, their agents or servants.'

He is unfazed.

Tagish Elvis as he is known locally has many fans, brings a certain colour into their lives. He was at the showing of the film and at the end rose to his feet, dressed in his white suit with the fringes and jewelery adorning it to receive the resounding applause from the audience.

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KPMA President Hopes for Good Season

Tara Christie, M.A.Sc.
President, Klondike Placer Miners' Association

I appreciate the difficulty that we have all had understanding why the Department of Fisheries and Oceans would decide to eliminate the Yukon Placer Authorization (YPA) in light of the progress and significant amount of money and effort that the industry has put into research, reclamation and environmental protection over the last 20 years to comply with all the new regulations.

The uncertainty that this unilateral decision has created for you and your families and service and supply businesses is unacceptable, particularly when there is absolutely no evidence that the new process proposed by DFO will have any net environmental benefit. It has and will continue to cost our businesses, the industry and taxpayers (Federal and Territorial) an inordinate amount of money to implement, manage, and maintain. If this decision is implemented as originally interpreted by the regional DFO officials, the impact on our industry will be devastating.

It is very difficult to believe that DFO and the Federal Government would be prepared to sacrifice at least half the Yukon's second largest industry when there is no scientific evidence to demonstrate any harmful effects of modern placer mining on Yukon fisheries nor any scientific evidence to show any material decline in the productive capacity of fish habitat contributing to the fisheries.

Further, the KPMA has retained experts to review studies on the effects of sediment on fish and fish habitat that other groups have put forward to show that placer mining may have harmful effects. We are advised that there are serious flaws in this "science" with respect to unbalanced and biased data interpretation, inappropriate emphasis on minor study results to the exclusion of more important findings, and no serious consideration of the statistical validity of the conclusions drawn.

Numerous existing studies, including a number by DFO scientists, clearly document the high tolerance of fish to sediment levels significantly higher than 25 milligrams per litre (lethal levels for Grayling typically range from 20,000 to 50,000 mg/l). As well, the traditional knowledge of some Yukon First Nations, that are also seriously affected by the DFO decision, confirms that modern placer mining has not had a negative effect on the fisheries and that wildlife are more abundant in mining areas.

Yukon Rivers and creeks are notoriously silty, many with background levels of sediment much higher than 25 mg/l (as high as 2,510 mg/l, with an average of 530 mg/l, in the Yukon River at Dawson). There are numerous studies that show that the levels of sediment contributed by placer mining is much less than the natural levels in many streams and contributes less than one third of one percent (0.3%) to the sediment load of the Yukon River. This was very clearly illustrated in the on-going Fifty Mile Creek Water Board hearing where the sediment from natural sources was far in excess of that which would ever be contributed by placer mining, and where the natural hydrological cycle resulted in stream flow measuring equipment being buried by up to 2 m of natural sediment and gravel.

Recent sediment effects monitoring programs by scientists at INAC and by the University of Guelph indicate that the tailings pond effluents from Yukon placer mines are being diluted by stream flows to well below the Yukon Placer Authorization's very low risk water quality objective (25 mg/l).

I am very proud of our Yukon placer miners for achieving 97% compliance in 2002, according to INAC inspections. This is a credit to our placer mining industry and to the INAC inspectors that have worked hard to encourage miners to achieve higher standards and to become world leaders in placer mining technology.

We should also be proud of our reclamation award winners. We are starting to see the positive results of our Mining Land Use Regulations with the impressive reclamation that has been achieved in the last few years.

It was wonderful to see so many miners in Dawson for Black Wednesday and I am confident that miners will remember to thank the many business that have shown their support for the KPMA by purchasing signs, joining our association, supporting the "friends of the placer mining community" and the many other creative ways that businesses and individuals in the Yukon have shown their concern over how this decision was made and the impact it will have on our industry and our Territory.

Thanks to all the miners who have written letters, and been involved in other protest actions -every bit helps us get the attention of Ottawa. The burden of fighting this could not be carried by the KPMA executive alone, your collective support has been tremendous.

As we all return to work, we are confident that miners, Governments and Yukoners will not let this issue leave the radar screens in Ottawa. I look forward seeing you all at the Gold Show in Dawson City. I wish you all a good mining season.

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Goulds Receive Medals


Madeleine and John Gould receive their awards from Peter Jenkins.

John and Madeleine Gould received Queen Elizabeth Jubilee Medals from MLA Peter Jenkins on April 4.

The medals were awarded to individuals who had been nominated by others in their communities.

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