The Yukon First Nation Culture and Tourism Association is looking for artists, artisans, musicians and performers from the Yukon and abroad to be part of the seventh annual Adäka Cultural Festival, which takes place at the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre from June 30th to July 6th.  

“We generally reach out to the well-established group of artists in the Yukon every year, but we’re always looking to find people that we haven’t had the opportunity to get to know yet,” says Charlene Alexander, the Executive Director of the Yukon First Nation Culture and Tourism Association. “We’re hoping to pull some of those new and emerging artist into the festival.”

Submitting work to such an established festival can be intimidating for an emerging artist, Alexander adds. “ Our application process is really meant to be friendly and if anybody has any trepidation, we have staff who are here to help.”

The festival accepts applications from across Canada and Alaska. “Our goal (in bringing national artists) is to find a real diverse selection of senior, established artists that are bringing something to the Yukon and inspiring our artists,” explains Alexander.

“We try to get artists from every Yukon community here. For artists outside of the Yukon, it is a juried process,” she says.

Categories include visual artists and craftspeople, storytellers, performing artists, and filmmakers. “We are looking for culture-bearers and knowledge-keepers,” she says.

One of the growing aspects of the festival is the cultural presentation program, which happens throughout the day.  This includes language labs and talks on the porcupine caribou.

“It doesn’t (just) have to be traditional knowledge, it can be current things that are happening in communities,” says Alexander. “There are a large number of artists trying to preserve the more traditional (aspects), but then there are young artists bringing their current lives and a more contemporary approach to their artwork and that is a very important part of art and culture… Art changes and grows and the artists need to reflect their realities in their artwork.”

There is going to be an addition to the program this year, under the working title, ‘Traditional Watercraft of Canada’s North’ says Alexander. Four boats will be designed and constructed throughout June at the SS Klondike. They will be moved to the festival where they will be painted and launched after a ceremony.

The deadline for artist application is March 4 for those requiring sponsorship for travel from outside of Whitehorse, and April 15 for those arranging their own travel.  Applications are available at www.adakafestival.ca, or call The Yukon First Nation Culture and Tourism Association at (867) 667-7698.