Song Crafting at Historic Fort Selkirk

“It will be a special week in a very special place. Lots of one-on-one time with mentors and

lots of cowriting,” says singer-songwriter Kim Beggs.

That special place is Fort Selkirk, on the Yukon River, about half way between Whitehorse and Dawson City. Kim Beggs’ first trip to Fort Selkirk was in the summer of 1999. “I love Fort Selkirk. I go there as much as I can,” she says.

This summer, she is hosting a weeklong song-crafting workshop from Monday, July 13 to Sunday, July 19 at Fort Selkirk. Adult emerging songwriters will gather with a group of mentors to write, learn, and share their skill with river travellers stopping in for the night.

Fort Selkirk, a Yukon historic site, has a long history as a gathering place for both First Nations people and those of other cultures who arrived in the Yukon over the last two centuries. For the participants of the workshop it is a 431 km downriver paddle from Whitehorse, or a half-day, 38 km paddle from Minto Landing, the closest upriver launch site. The less adventurous will catch a motorboat to and from the site from Pelly River Ranch Farm.

Once there, it will be a week of relaxing, learning from national and internationally recognized songwriters, and writing songs — all in a peaceful setting with no road access, no internet, and no cell phone service. The workshop is set up so that participants have daily time with each of three experienced songwriters. Along with coordinating the workshop, Kim Beggs, who has been writing songs for over a decade and is preparing to record her fifth solo album, is one of the mentors.

Ed Peekeekoot, a multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter and storyteller from the Ahtahkakoop Cree First Nation in Saskatchewan, is the second. Peekeekoot, now living in Carcross, is also working on his fi fth album and has had his work nominated at the BC Country Music Awards and the Aboriginal People’s Choice Music Awards.

The third mentor is Dana Sipos; a musician originally from Yellowknife that The Bluegrass Situation says “is going to be huge”.

Guest speakers Frederick Johnny, known as “the piano man from Pelly” and Nicole Baugerger, an established visual artist, poet, and emerging songwriter herself, will also be on hand to share their experiences and skills.

The workshop won’t just be for enrolled participants. The public is welcome to listen to daily presentations and there will be campfi re singing each night. River travellers who have a little extra cash or something interesting to trade might even find CDs for sale.

If you are not a river traveller, you can visit Fort Selkirk on Parks Day, July 18, when the Selkirk First Nation and the Yukon Government Historic Sites branch will collaborate from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. to provide the public with a free boat ride and a self-guided tour of the Fort Selkirk Historic Site. The Selkirk Spirit Dancers will be performing and workshop participants will showcase their new works. The public is asked to pre-register for these events by calling 667-5386.

The registration deadline for the workshop has passed; however, if this is exactly what you have been waiting for, contact Kim Beggs immediately at 334- 8696 to see if late registration can be accepted.

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