A junction of mountain film, culture and science in Kluane country

Like any person who’s ever driven into Haines Junction, the Kluane mountain range will take your breath away with its sheer beauty. Its residents live year-round in the small community that has had over 50 years of scientific research conducted in and around the park.

The Haines Junction Mountain Festival is in its third year and is a celebration of the United Nations (UN) International Mountain Day (IMD). The festival is sometimes reflective of the UN’s mandate or theme, but can often be related to what’s relevant and important for Yukoners and for the North.

In its first year, the festival hosted a number of scientists and speakers to talk about glaciers, and in its second year (after the strong earthquakes in the Yukon), they focused the weekend around earthquakes, and all while using local knowledge and resources. “It’s a hybrid between mountain film, culture and science festival,” said Michael Schmidt, co-founder of the festival. “[There are] presentations and events that respect these things. We’ve had scientists and First Nations present, [and we’ve] sponsored community events.”

The General Assembly of the United Nations endorsed IMD, in 2003, and encouraged the international community to organize events at all levels, on December 11, to heighten the importance of sustainable mountain development. But to try and ensure enough people could attend, with Christmas and conflicting events, the festival is run earlier in the month in Haines Junction.

“In terms of community, it’s a way to increase events in the winter and bring an economic impact to a quieter season,” said Schmidt. “It’s a really really neat event. [There is] development and youth development, making it mountain village, partnering with first nations. We have adventure, we also have artists, photographers … we are trying to bring together art, language, culture and science together with natural surroundings.”

This free mountain festival celebrates the Yukon’s mountain lands and culture through First Nations and mountain cultures, in all of their forms—storytelling, outdoor adventure, research, traditional knowledge, workshops, arts, live music, film, dance and shared meals.

The festival will be held from November 30 to December 2, in Haines Junction, with the Friday being held at the St. Elias Convention Centre; and Saturday and Sunday at the Da Kų Cultural Centre. The festival schedule will be updated with additional details as they are finalized. Visit www.yukonmountainfest.ca for details.

Haines Junction Mountain Festival Highlights:

Western Canada premiere of the Indigenous People’s Atlas of Canada and associated Floor Map – December 1, 1 to 3 p.m.

Feature presentation: The Mountains of Canada, by Chic Scott, world-renowned mountaineer, author and historian – December 1

Mount Logan Vignettes: diverse experiences of climbing Mount Logan. Speakers include Chic Scott, Eva Riedwyl, Ron Chambers (CAFN citizen), Julie Bauer and Scott Stewart

First Nations Culture in Kluane – Details TBA

Science in Kluane – Details TBA

Mountain films on Friday and Saturday night

Workshops include Bush Arts, by Sharon Kabanek; Kicksled Demonstration; and Dezadeash River Hike/Snowshoe

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