Dawson City, Yukon Friday, September 26, 2003

High school students gather on the dyke to run for Terry Fox. Photo by Clair Dragoman

Feature Stories

Incumbent Councillors Declare Their Interest
Last Day at the Ice Cream Shop
Dimming the Footlights at the Palace Grand
Dawson Invitational Volleyball Tournament
Songs of Shär Cho is a Growing Experience
YOOP Renovations Raffle Enjoyed Popular Support
Book Fair Time
Letter In Praise of the Highway Angel

Welcome to the September 26, 2003 edition of the online Klondike Sun, which reproduces a selection of the photographs and articles from the September 23 hard copy edition.

The hard copy also contains Doug Urquhart's famous "Paws" cartoon strip, our homegrown crossword puzzle, 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. The only thing you would not get is the colour photo at the beginning of the on-line issues. We can't afford to print in colour.

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 in late March 2003, logged about 51,000. The current counter went online in April 2003 and was sitting at 11,441 on September 10, 2003.

Printer Donations Are Coming In

The Sun would like to thank the following readers for their donations: Jane M. Lund, Erik Knoph, Wayne Rachel (Callison Waste Management), Laura Massey (and to Laura for her encouraging words... "Hang in there - you remain some of the best journalism around.") Note to Torfinn D: We don't have your land address. We'd love to send you a tax receipt for your contribution, but we can't do that without it.

Incumbent Councillors Declare Their Interest

by Dan Davidson

Four of the five members of the current Dawson City Council have indicated that they will be running to fill their own seats in the municipal election next month. There has been some talk around all of them for the last month or so, with several changing their minds back and forth over time, but for four of them, at least, it's now final.

Mayor Glen Everitt has see-sawed a bit on his position over the last year, having even stepped down to take an unsuccessful run that the MLA's position in the last territorial election. From the time of his reelection to the presidency of the Association of Yukon Communities it seemed quite certain that Everitt would run for either council or mayor once again, and that has proven to be the case. Should he win it would be his third full term. He took on the job mid-way through the previous term when Art Webster stepped down.

So far he is opposed only by Guy Chan, the owner of the Rio Grill on Front Street. Chan has no previous political experience in Dawson. Other potential candidates have been rumoured to be considering, but no one other Chan has been willing to say so publicly.

Councillor Byrun Shandler has been the most off-again-on-again during the last year. At one point he was clearly NOT running again, but he has changed his mind, saying that he feels an obligation to finish some of the projects with which he has been so intimately involved over the last year. Shandler works for Parks Canada in building maintenance and security.

Wayne Potoroka has struggled with the amount of abuse that this council has had to absorb from various quarters, and this was almost enough to get him to call it a day at one point, but he has finally decided to stay the course, for much the same reasons as Shandler. Both of them have been sitting on the project management team for the secondary sewage treatment plant, and he feels the need to see this through to whatever conclusion it may reach. Potoroka works for the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in as director of their Heritage Department.

Joanne Van Nostrand has not said a lot about seeking a third term on council. Nor has she said much about hanging up her nameplate. On September 16, however, she indicated that she had taken out nomination papers. Van Nostrand is co-owner of the Downtown Hotel.

Debbie Nagano is still in the process of making up her mind, sounding out her constituency before deciding, though she is leaning towards running. Nagano came of council mid-way through this term when Aedes Scheer stepped down. She works as the Elders Coordinator in the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in Department of Health and Social Programs.

So far only one other candidate, Bill Holmes, has declared an interest in a council position. Holmes works for the Klondike Visitors Association at Diamond Tooth Gerties.

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Last Day at the Ice Cream Shop

by Dan Davidson

There are many answers to the question "When is summer over?" For a couple of hundred Dawson school kids, however, the answer, for the last six years has been: "It's over when the Creamery gives ice cream away!"

This was proven true once again on September 8 when owner Jane Reid threw open the doors of the Klondike Cream and Candy at 3:30 and let the hordes in.

Reid says that what is now an annual tradition began six years ago when she was new at the game and needed to get rid of her remaining stock at the end of the season which, for her, is from early May until just after Labour Day.

It began quietly enough.

"We never let anybody know," Reid says. "We just opened the doors and would give it away free just to get rid of our stock."

Something like this - the word has to get around.

"It got bigger and bigger as each year went by. Now it's an annual thing and they announce it at school. Even the school buses come. So now we prepare for it."

This means ordering in enough late season ice cream and pop that there's something for everyone: a cone, a sundae, a milkshake, a slushie or a float. She's not exactly sure how much extra.

"We enjoy doing this. It's our way of thanking the community for its support during the summer and the kids look forward to it."

And so they do. The lineup of students from grades 1 to 12 stretched back to the intersection, while kindergarten (a morning class) and preschoolers arrived with their parents.

The store actually had its last day on September 7, assuming that the summer crowd that often arrives after the Gaslight Follies would probably not bother at 10°C in the dark. September 8 was this year's Free Day, after which the owners, who operate a candy store and a restaurant in the same part of the block, begin the task of packing it all away for another winter.

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Dimming the Footlights at the Palace Grand

by Dan Davidson

The end of an era is always a difficult thing to witness, even when the thing coming to an end is something as ephemeral as a theatre production. As the actors strutted and fretted their hour and a half upon the stage of the Palace Grand Theatre on September 8 it seemed clear that everyone in the building knew this was more than just the season ending. This was THE END.

After this show, the Gaslight Follies would be no more.

If the show had had regular attendance like it had that night, perhaps there would have been no need to ring down the curtain, but Holland America's decision to pull its couch and boat passengers out of a production that had been increasingly modified to suit its demands over the last decade guaranteed that it would come to a sad end. Walk-in traffic wasn't enough to make up for the 80 or so guaranteed seats that the old arrangement brought to the theatre, making up at least a third of the 200 plus spectators that were needed each night to make the show break even.

Some final shows have been more on the burlesque side of things, with the mild double-entendres that are always part of such a show stretched to uncomfortable extremes. After all, the actors are doing the last night of a production they've played for 19 weeks, and even if it's a top notch script, they're all a little sick of it after 132 shows and ready to have a little fun with the program.

There was some of that on the final night, but not as much as might have been expected. More of the changes had to do with breaking the fourth wall and actually interacting with the audience, stepping slightly out of character and camping up the interpretation, or making critical asides about certain actions and speeches. Fittingly the script had several places that spoke of the end of an era - the departure of Arizona Charlie Meadows, the announcement of the next rush to Nome - and those segments seemed to play with a little more pathos than usual.

One clear break with tradition - and Parks Canada rules - was the presence of glasses of punch at the bar at the end of the evening, providing an opportunity for both locals and tourists to have a drink to the passing of a Klondike tradition.

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Dawson Invitational Volleyball Tournament

by Jessica Joinson and Elizabeth Fraughton

Volleyball has always been the most popular sport in Dawson. When Bob Sutherland of Dawson and Peter Cassidy of Mayo started organizing volleyball tournaments between each other's schools, they had no idea that the two original towns participating would soon be playing with 28 to 32 more teams, within the next 25 years. At first only Mayo and Dawson senior teams played against each other, but after a few years, Old Crow, Pelly, Carmacks, Faro and Ross River were invited to the tournament. Whitehorse and Haines Junction (etc.) came later. For about 2 or 3 years, Inuvik participated. The first tournament was in 1979, and was meant to be a learning experience for the students, but it was also a social gathering. Students met and mixed with other students from all over the Yukon.

One of the past team players from 1983, Tarie MacKenzie, presently. Mrs. Castellaran, the grade 6 teacher, told us, "It was very competitive." She remembers that almost all of the high school attended, with coaches like Ms. Webster, Mr. and Mrs. Dragoman, and Mr. Sutherland. (see coaches picture) "One year there were even cheerleaders." she said. Mrs. Castellarin is glad to see that past players and locals are currently coaching students.

Mr. Sutherland has coached ever since the beginning, he retired from the job 2 years ago, but remains general manager for the 11/12 girls team, with Kathy Webster as coach. He is passing the job of organizing the DIVT (Dawson Invitational Volleyball Tournament) to Cyndi O'Rourke, who already has major plans for the future years.

Ms. O'Rourke herself played for 4 years, and spent 6 years coaching grades 9 to 12, In Alberta and New Brunswick and Dawson. When asked what the hardest part was, going from a player to a coach, she says "It's tough because you can't play."

For this year, the tournament is on October 23, 24 and 25, (Thursday afternoon, Friday and Saturday). Teams will be coming from all over the Yukon to play. Ms. O'Rourke is planning a dance on the Friday night for all high school students and players. On Saturday evening there will be a banquet and an awards ceremony. There will also alumni games for people who have played volleyball between 1979 and 1989. There will be a slide show and of course, the volleyball games, then there are the pep rallies, to get the rest of the student's school spirit up. Ms.O'Rourke is also planning on selling t-shirts and temporary tattoos for fundraising. Her hopes for the Friday is that all the high school students would be doing something for the tournament, such as playing, score keeping, refereeing, selling t-shirts, working in the concession, etc.

RSS volleyball program is still needing volunteers for cooking, chaperoning the dance, building bleachers, etc. Please contact RSS if you would like to volunteer, your help would be greatly appreciated. If you would like to play volleyball in the alumni games, please contact RSS at (867)993-5435.

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Songs of Shär Cho is a Growing Experience

by Dan Davidson


The sinewy movements of this dance are the fish. Photo by Dan Davidson

For the final performance of "Songs of Shär Cho" on Discovery Day weekend, creators and performers Michelle Olson and Kim Tucson faced a little extra pressure. Sitting out in the front row of the audience was the respected Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in elder, Annie Henry.

They needn't have worried.

"She had on a big smile," Tuson said, "and it was fun just to give the show to her, to have her be responding in such a happy way. Singing the song, well, I was nervous. Me, a French-Canadian/Celtic, singing in front of an elder. But I looked over and she had the biggest smile on her face."

The song, a traditional Hän "Moosehide/Eagle Song", had been a risky choice for the pair when they began creating this year's version of their dance performance. Their decision had to be approved by the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in elders' council. Initially it was not certain that they would be able to use it in the show anywhere but in Dawson, but the elders have decided that they can take it with them when they travel.

The six week schedule in Dawson included 32 performances between July 1 and August 18, a long season for a strenuous dance production. Elsewhere a dance show might rehearse for six weeks and then put on a dozen shows.

"It's a little bit of wear and tear on the body," Tucson said. "We started doing five shows a week and had to drop to four after I popped a rib and got a pinched nerve in my arm.

"We need a chiropractor in Dawson - at least in the summer."

"Songs of Shär Cho" is subtitled "a cross-cultural collaboration". It began in 2002 as the brainchild of Michelle Olson, a Hän native, and Kimberly Tuson, a one-time dancer at Diamond Tooth Gerties and the Palace Grand Theatre (That famous can-can girl on the logo of the Klondike Visitors Association is modelled after her.)

Several things made Shär Cho possible. First was the fact that the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in have been reviving their store of songs and stories over the last decade. Then there was the creation of the Dänòja Zho Cultural Centre, with its small stage and auditorium. Finally, there was the fact that Olson chose to study dance and developed a connection with her first nation's town.

She grew up in Alberta, but visited Dawson quite often in her youth.

"I've just started in the last eight years coming up and working on projects," she said.

"The situation for myself is that my first nation has a theatre and has offered it up to me to produce work. That has been a really great situation. It's like an aboriginal residency. There's stuff like this happens at the Banff Centre for the Arts. There's different aboriginal organizations happening that way. But I feel like this is one of the first projects (within a first nation) and it's probably going to be the model for a lot of other projects across Canada. This is a very unique situation.

"I think it would be good for Dawson City to know, and for the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in to be proud, that this exists here. This work that Kim and I have created is going to go far. We're already performing it in Vancouver and there's total potential for touring it in Canada and around the world. This piece is what it is because of Dawson; is what it is because of the land; and is what it is because of the first nation."

This year's version of Shar Cho is about 20 minutes longer than last year's. Structurally, the pair perform a series of stylized dance routines to recorded music in front of oversized (and slightly fuzzy) projected film footage. Over the winter they explored ways of incorporating caribou (wëdzey) motifs into the piece and came up with an extended dance full of antlers and pawing hooves performed in front of video footage from Karoven Films' "Nomads of the Yukon."

"The Origin of the Wind" sequence is the tale featuring the bear (Shär Cho), which is told first in dance and mime and then retold in words.

"This was a structural decision," Olson said, "because of this whole idea that you hear stories over and over again. So we thought let's say it over in the ways we know how."

The final segment of the show uses the annual migration of the salmon to symbolize the return of the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in to Tr'ochëk, the settlement site that was their annual fishing ground for so many generations. The video shows lots of river shots, while the dancers mime fishlike movements.

"It's about coming back to fish camp and reclaiming it after all that has happened," said Olson.

"It's about the songs as well, reclaiming the songs. In the images we had Chief Isaac, who took our songs to Eagle. The next image is Laura Sandford, the woman from Alaska who is teaching us our songs. She's coming back up the river too."

The music used in the performance is quite eclectic in source, but has a world beat, aboriginal feel for the most part. It includes drumming, aboriginal women's voices (from a Banff Centre CD called "Heart of the Nation"), Peter Gabriel's "Long Walk Home", Elvis Presley singing "Peace in the Valley" and some live drumming on stage, as well as the live performance of the Hän "Moosehide/Eagle Song".

Annie Henry wasn't the only person who was pleased with the show. At the other end of the age spectrum, the kids from the Trinke Zho Daycare were a great audience.

"I was so incredibly excited about the response from the kids in the community," Tucson said. "The kids in the daycare came once, and then they came again and again. And then they started coming in costumes. They sat quietly, and that's a pretty sophisticated show for four year old."

Finally, Kim and Michelle thought they should greet their little fans and were amazed to find them using the Han words from the show.

"They were all inspired to dance so then Michelle went and taught them a couple of classes at Tr'inke Zho."

Olson is eager to continue working with her non-aboriginal partner and was keen to address any potential criticism of their working arrangement. Not that there has been one, but it has been an issue in other parts of the country.

"Kim and I are beginning to understand another layer of working, being from different cultures, coming together to create something. There's room for her in the piece even though she's not first nations. I think I'm beginning to understand the need to work with other cultures as well. The piece is about us working together and understanding who we are as people.

I understand peoples' fear if there is a non-aboriginal person working in a situation like this, but I know what's safe, I know what's healthy and I know what's good. Our relationship is a great working relationship. The way she works with me and the way I work with her - we're on the same level."

It's been an exciting season for both dancers, and it looks very much as if they will be on the little stage again next summer.

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YOOP Renovations Raffle Enjoyed Popular Support

by Dan Davidson


Wayne Rachel shows off the new access ramp and stairs on the front end of the YOOP Hall at King Street and 2nd Avenue. Photo by Dan Davidson

Recent renovations at the Yukon Order of Pioneers Hall on King Street were the direct result of the generosity of the many people in Dawson and elsewhere who purchased the 8,000 tickets sold for this year's Gold Poke Draw.

The recent work by Wes Peterson Construction involved replacing of the exterior stairs and relocation of the access ramp to the front of the building, where YOOP secretary Wayne Rachel said the organization felt it would better suit the needs and the look of the building.

"We had to do some repairs to the side wall - just wear and tear like Father Time does to all buildings in Dawson," Rachel said. That King Street wall included the old access ramp, which went up when the 1987 addition was constructed to extend the original building, which was donated to the YOOP in 1957, but is older than that

"It was either repair or replace, so we chose to replace."

The money to do the work was raised through the annual Gold Poke fund, the raffle which has been the club's main fund raiser for the last 40 years. While the prizes were originally in the form of pokes of raw gold, as the name suggests, Rachel says the YOOP switched to using wafers two years ago, and it seems to have gone over well.

"I can't say enough about the tremendous support we get from the citizens and businesses throughout the territory, but especially in Dawson City."

Stores around town are very good at pushing raffle tickets for the YOOP and other organizations through the year, and members from other lodges have spread the tickets throughout the territory.

"We're very pleased, and this is the result of this year's efforts."

There's always more to do, of course, and next year's project will probably be to repaint the building, and also to do some work on the Eighth Avenue YOOP Cemetery.but that's a decision for the lodge members to make in the future.

Prizes for this year's raffle went as follows: 5 oz. to Jim Hunt of Medicine Hat, Alberta, 2 oz. to Terry Sweetman and Patrick Meates of Dawson, 1 oz. to Brandi Willman of Dawson.

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Book Fair Time

by Dan Davidson


A prospective buyer surveys items at the book fair. Photo by Dan Davidson

Twice each year the Dawson Community Library echoes to the sound of students getting excited about buying books.

The fall and spring book fairs are the work of teacher-librarian Betty Davidson, who uses the money raised to supplement the Robert Service School's library budget to buy books, posters and prizes for special events.

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Letter In Praise of the Highway Angel

Dear Editor,
"Highway Angel"

We are 4 women who were traveling the Dempster Highway for the first time on September 10th, 2003. We had a flat tire!! — (approx. at 8:15 pm 200 km from Eagle Plains.) One lug nut was impossible to remove. Realizing we only had 1 hr. of day light remaining — We were hunkering down for the night in the car - & possibly being "bear bait." Along came our "Highway Angel." It took 3 hours and a lot of creativity on his part to get us back on the road. This was not an easy task.

This courtesy was so very much appreciated & his sense of humour kept our spirits high.

CLAYTON WILSON you are our hero.

Marie, Jennie, Deb & Dottie

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