A decade of experiencing culture and heritage

The Yukon portion of Culture Days will happen at numerous locations around Whitehorse on the last weekend in September as part of a national effort to increase participation in arts and culture. The event was created in response to the success of Québec’s Journées de la culture weekend that first took place in 2007. Michelle Emslie is the lead for the Yukon Arts Centre, which is the key organizer behind Culture Days in the territory, and she explains that it is a valuable resource to experience things in our own town that we don’t always access.

“It started in Québec as a way to remove barriers for anyone to experience arts, culture or heritage,” Emslie said. “Virtually all events are free or very low cost.”

The Yukon’s Culture Days has been a part of the national celebration for most of its existence and is entering its eighth year of culture events and artist exhibitions. Over that period, the event has grown and evolved. The Culture Hub, the central focus of Culture Days, has been located at the Old Fire Hall, in the past, but will be moving to the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre this year. Emslie noted that they have outgrown the space and the cultural centre will accommodate the event better.

Other activities and events have been added over the years, including a parade that will be happening for the second year. It starts at the Whitehorse Visitor Information Centre on Saturday at 11 a.m. and will walk down Front Street to the Culture Hub. Those who want to participate should be at the start by 10:30 a.m., Emslie added.

“The parade is open to anyone,” Emslie said. “If you want to dress up your bike or dress up your pet, you can. And then walk in the parade.”

New this year, Parks Canada will be taking over the Old Fire Hall and hosting a planetarium. They will display the night sky above different National Parks from across the country.

As well, the theme this year is Play #OnBeat, and Lumel Studios will be creating percussion instruments made out of glass.

There are numerous different events taking place over the weekend, and the scope of Culture Days can be a bit daunting for those organizing families to attend. Emslie suggests that the Culture Hub is a good place to start and organize visits to other venues. The Hub has interactive art and music displays. And everyone also should try a piece of the Culture Hub’s famous culture cake that will be available.

One of the key elements of Culture Days is to experience things that you might not ever take in around your town. “Be a tourist in your own town,” is a tagline for the event, according to Emslie. That sense of adventure is captured in one of the activities based at the Culture Hub—the Mystery Tour.

“The Mystery Tour leaves from the Hub three times a day,” she explained. “You leave in a van, for about ninety minutes, to three secret locations of cultural significance that you normally don’t get into.

“In the past we’ve visited places like the Old Log Skyscraper, the Yukon Legislative Assembly and the operations centre for the Whitehorse Dam.”

There is an overwhelming amount to take part in, and Yukoners can find more information and get a head start on the Culture Days website at https://culturedays.ca/en/2018-activities. Yukon-specific events can be found using the search function, and families can make plans for their day.

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