Christmas cheer and improving health care

The 15th annual Northwestel Festival of Trees will kick off on Thursday, Nov. 23 with the Business After Hours (BAH) Humbug event at the Yukon government Main Administration Building foyer. The annual fundraising event for Yukon health care concludes on Dec. 2 with the Alkan Air Grand Ball, a formal seated dinner that is already sold out.

The event captures the Christmas spirit and is built around the beautiful trees that are on display at the Main Administration Building from Nov. 23 until Nov. 28, and later available for auction at the final dinner.

Each year, a variety of local businesses design and sponsor a tree package that includes the tree itself and special items.

“This year we have about 17 tree sponsors,” said Yukon Hospital Foundation President Karen Forward. “We’ll have about 12 trees on display in the (Main Administration Building) foyer. Some of the trees are just too difficult to set up and move when we transfer them to the convention centre.”

Forward said they’d like to make sure the public has as much opportunity as possible to view the trees while they are on display in the Main Administration Building and be a part of the festival.

“We’d really like children to have a chance to see the trees and have made the Skookum Asphalt Santa Breakfast on November 25 a big event,” Forward said. “Families can enjoy pancakes and pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus. There will be additional activities like face-painting, a family-friendly performance from the Sourdough Rendezvous Can-Can dancers, and a storytime lady in the children’s corner. This year, we will also have a photographer on site to take photos for parents.”

Air North will also have a cookies with Santa on November 28 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Main Administration Building foyer. Guests can have a cookie with Santa and see the trees on display.

However, Forward notes that the event isn’t just about the trees and the fun holiday events. Behind all the festivities is a charitable cause: supporting health care.

“The Yukon Hospital Foundation has a goal to enhance health care,” Forward said. “It helps support beyond what government can provide.”

The foundation has recently launched a new fundraising campaign to develop a simulation centre. The concept includes interactive dolls that can simulate symptoms and reactions and a dedicated training space with software and IT infrastructure to simulate medical scenarios.

“Our medical professionals often go Outside for training and it’s not tailored for the North,” Forward explained. “With a simulation centre in the Whitehorse General Hospital, they can provide Yukon-specific training that integrates all front-line workers at the same time.

“Often doctors would only train with doctors and nurses with nurses. This way we can have all workers, including Emergency Medical Services responders or mining medics be part of the training simulation.”

Forward added that part of the program will be mobile and available to be transported to hospitals and nursing stations in rural Yukon to simulate scenarios they may experience on location.

The concept was brought forward by doctors at the hospital who had undertaken simulation training Outside.

“Dr. Ken Quong, who is the doctor’s rep on the foundation’s board, brought forward the doctors’ desire to have a training mannequin and the idea evolved into the actual space,” Forward said. “The doctors will actually be doing a presentation on the simulation centre at the BAH Humbug. I understand they have something special planned.”

The Festival of Trees has a variety of events for the whole family. For the full schedule, and to find out more about the foundation, visit their website,


Goldcorp BAH Humbug Cocktail Party – Nov. 23 Yukon Government Main Administration Building

Skookum Asphalt Santa Breakfast – Nov. 25 Yukon Government Main Administration Building

Air North, Yukon’s Airline Cookies with Santa – Nov. 25 Yukon Government Main Administration Building

Save on Foods Seniors’ Soiree – Dec. 1 Yukon Convention Centre

Alkan Air Grand Ball – Dec. 2 Yukon Convention Centre

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