This week shaped up to be a culturally ambitious one in Dawson City. The centerpiece of the week has been the Myth and Medium conference organized by the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in’s Heritage Department and focusing on the performing arts.
It’s not too late to take in some of the culture.
The week’s performance workshops continue on Thursday, Feb. 25, but there will also be an opportunity to take in the day-long field trip up the Dempster Highway to the Blackstone Uplands, including a film, “The Memory Trap” and a variety of talks and activities.
Also on Thursday, everyone – participants, leaders, and artists and performers – will be together in the evening for a traditional feast prepared by Victor Henry and the Moosemeat Men, followed by a performance and a community dance.
Myth and Medium features a variety of presentations and workshops, including a presentation that took place on Feb. 22 by Annie Smith, Dianne Smith and Nicole Bauberger called “Sewing Our Stories,” featuring a 10 minute excerpt from a video interview and an open ended discussion on traditional sewing and stories.
Monday evening was the opening ceremonies and there were talks on the value and importance of performance to ceremony, with performances throughout the evening.
Daytime activities have been running in tandem during the rest of the week featuring talks and presentations on various aspects of performance (Tuesday) and story (Wednesday).
Workshops and programs have been held in the afternoons led by William Wasden and the Dawson City Museum and Parks Canada.
“Part of the idea,” says organizer, Jody Beaumont, “is to have something happening to tie into Heritage Day, which is Friday.
“Last time (two years ago) we had a very big focus on visual arts. This time we’re going more in the direction of performing arts. We’ve got song, dance and storytelling and some of the more academic type stuff as well.”
For people in the heritage field, it’s a bit of professional development, but it’s also intended to appeal to just regular folks.
The week has been informed by the work of such notable guests as:
• Professor Wayne Horowitz, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
• Louise Profeit-Leblanc, recently retired from Canada Council of the Arts, currently residing in Ottawa, Northern Tutchone Storyteller; First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun.
• William Wasden Jr. – Traditional song and dance leader/performer and visual artist; Kwakwaka’wakw from Alert Bay.
• Marilyn Jensen – Traditional performer and leader of Dakhká Khwáan; educator at Yukon College; Carcross-Tagish First Nation.
• Jerry Isaac – Traditional Song Leader and former leader of the Tanana Chiefs Conference based in Fairbanks, Alaska; Upper Tanana.
• Ingrid Kritsch and Alestine Andre – Heritage Specialists, Gwich’in Social and Cultural Institute, Yellowknife and Tsiigehtchic.
• Members of Gwaandak Theatre – Yukon’s only Indigenous theatre company, which was founded in Whitehorse in 1999 by theatre artists Leonard Linklater and Patti Flather.