As the face of the Council of Yukon First Nations, Peter Johnston strives to balance the serious side of his work with lighter moments. “We have to take the time to celebrate not only our achievements but also celebrate our time together as First Nation people,” says CYFN’s Grand Chief. Johnston turns his eye to the next generation. In a world with more open lines of communication, First Nation youth must rise up and take a leadership role in Canada’s future, he says. And for any youth who want to chat with him, Johnston is available to provide mentorship. Johnston turns his eye to the next generation. In a world with more open lines of communication, First Nation youth must rise up and take a leadership role in Canada’s future, he says. And for any youth who want to chat with him, Johnston is available to provide mentorship.
When I think back to that summer in 2009, I cannot sum up the experience in a few short words. I can say that it was life changing and empowering, but that still wouldn’t be enough.So, instead I want to take you back to the beginning, when it all started. The journey began with one man who had a vision. An idea to create the first dugout canoe in the Yukon in over a hundred years; this man’s name is Andrew Finton. Back in the days when Northern Cultural Expressions Society (NCES) was known primarily as Sundog carving studios, I was part of a group of young emerging artists that worked every day on improving our carving skills. As time went on, Andrew brought master carvers in to work with us. It was one of those master carvers that made him think of the possibility of a dugout canoe. This master`s name is Wayne Price. Hailing from Haines, Alaska, he has been carving and designing dugout canoes for over thirty years.
The first time we met Bobbi Rose was the day we set off on the River Nation: “JourneyThrough the Bloodlines” canoe trip. “What a nice, but shy girl”, we thought. However, during the two-week canoe expedition from Whitehorse to Dawson City showed that our initial impression of her was all wrong. As soon as she was on the water and in her comfort zone; Bobbi-Rose changed completely. That was when we witnessed a strong, reliable, caring, warm-hearted and commanding leader. Our trip would have been a very different experience without her expertise and guidance. What follows is just a taste of Bobbi-Rose’s story to date.
There were four of them in the past they say, a time previous to this story. They were friends in an unforgiving wilderness, family as it were. As odd as it may seem, they each had their unique quirk and quack that echoed across the valley and down the Yukon River that runs north towards Dawson City. They lived on the edge of isolation next to Kirkman Creek in a house that surely inspired Jim Rob’s art and paintings. As time usually does, and as nature always stays true to nature, three of the four ducks met their own extraordinary, untimely and unimaginable deaths. One was taken by an eagle; and the two others, on separate occasions, were snatched by wandering foxes that could not or would not pass up the opportunity of an easy meal. As luck may have it, the surviving one of the four domesticated ducks stood the test of time, defied the odds and waddled his way out of countless, perilous situations that would have ruffled the feathers of even the most seasoned of sourdoughs.
Imagine this: All of your favourite characters: Ness, Mario, and Sonic, or Spider-man, Hulk, and Doctor Strange, all joining forces, or even duking it out. These are the things that you thought of while playing with your actions figures in the sandbox as a kid. (back when people actually took them out of the box). Then, you sit down in front of the TV and see that wonderful advertisement, showcasing all of your childhood heroes joining forces for an Ultra Exciting TV Special! “X-men fighting Spiderman? What!? They’re not even from the same comics!” Or maybe it’s a video game that allows you to fight your friends as your own respective video game hero of choice…
The purpose of the Black & White album project was to bring youth in Whitehorse together. It was meant to act as a common ground where they could put their differences such as age, money, race, where they come from, aside and make some good rhythmic music. The musical talent in this town often goes unnoticed. With that in mind, we decided to go looking for underground artist in the Whitehorse area. It did not take long to find some incredible people who never had the chance to record in a professional studio. While we were hard at work, we also had a lot of fun, making it less work and more of a passion, which is needed in today’s society. Each and every artist that partook in the project agreed that they needed more music in their lives.
When in Whitehorse, where can children and youth, or those who may have concerns about the young people in their lives, go during hard times? The youth assistance landscape in the Yukon is not so barren. For years organizations such as the Skookum Jim Friendship Centre, the Boys & Girls Club, BYTE: Empowering Youth and the Shakat Journal’s own Youth of Today Society, have been providing necessary services and support to youth at risk. One service provider in town that many may not have heard of is the Yukon Child & Youth Advocate Office which opened in 2010. This office is located in downtown Whitehorse across from the old library. The mission statement is a simple one: