The staff who work at the Haines Junction Visitor Information Centre (VIC) believe it’s all about location.
After all, who wouldn’t enjoy arriving at work each day knowing that they could wax eloquently about one of the most spectacular places in the world, sought after by hundreds of visitors who come to explore a region rich in culture, tradition and history?
Haines Junction is known as the Gateway into the Kluane region with its dramatic scenery and spectacular vistas. The St. Elias Mountain Range is a backdrop to the community of less than 1,000 residents and is home to the largest sub-polar icefield in North America.
Elaine Chin, who has worked at the Centre for 20 years, said, “One of the simply must-do activities is to take a flight-seeing trip into the icefields. It’s a once in a lifetime experience that is almost like being transported to another planet.”
But try to capture that spectacular beauty by camera or video and you simply can’t do it justice. “You really have to see it for yourself to realize what an incredibly breathtaking natural phenomena we have in our own backyard.”
Ask the VIC staff why they love their jobs and they all respond in unison: “We have a thirst for knowledge!” Chin shared that the staff learn something new every day, whether it’s discovering new things about Kluane or new things about other areas of the Yukon.
“We even learn about different cultures because of our interactions with the many visitors we see daily. Overall, the interaction between us and the visitors is the most enjoyable and rewarding part of the job.”
Collectively, the six Tourism Yukon staff in Haines Junction have a combined knowledge-base adding up to 90 years of experience. They share the facility with Parks Canada and, between them, they offer services in English, French and German.
“The Centre opened in 1980,” Chin said. “We double as a venue for local businesses to promote their businesses. Also, on a more grassroots level, several of our staff volunteer at various community and school events throughout the year.”
The Haines Junction VIC is a beautiful building that blends its enormous glass windows and architectural symmetry with the natural beauty of its surroundings. There are walkways, picnic tables and benches outside and pamphlets, brochures, maps and memorabilia inside.
The Centre has played host to a number of students and professors from the Arctic Institute of North America, offering the scholars the unique advantage of using the theatre for their talks that entertain and educate.
“We certainly feel that our community is really unique, a gem in the Yukon,” Chin said. “There always seems to be a ‘function in the Junction’ of some kind, and we hope more and more people will come to visit. We would love to see them and to share this beautiful locale that is certainly unique in all of Canada.”
Alicia Debreceni and Karen Keeley are communication officers with the Department of Tourism and Culture. This summer series will introduce readers to the Visitor Information Centres throughout the Yukon.