34th Annual Yukon Heritage Award Winners Announced

WHITEHORSE, YT - The Yukon Historical & Museums Association (YHMA) today announced the winners of the 34th annual Yukon Heritage Awards. Yukoners are invited to attend the Awards ceremony at the Yukon Archives on Monday, February 19, 2018. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and the event will commence at 7:00 p.m.

“These annual awards honour those who have made exceptional contributions to the conservation and celebration of Yukon’s heritage, enriching our community through preservation, interpretation, and volunteerism,” says YHMA Executive Director Lianne Maitland. “YHMA is both thrilled and honoured to recognize their accomplishments.”

The Awards ceremony will coincide with the start of Heritage Week, February 19-25. In connection with this year’s theme, “Heritage Stands the Test of Time,” Dr. Brent Slobodin, Yukon's newly appointed representative on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, will give a keynote presentation on the role, composition, and history of the Board. The talk will also discuss key changes occurring under the administrative direction of Minister for the Environment Catherine McKenna, current issues before the Board, and Dr. Slobodin’s role as Yukon's representative.

The Annual Heritage Award will be presented to respected Kaska Elder Leda Jules. For over the last five decades, Leda has worked tirelessly to promote and protect the Kaska language, culture, and heritage. She has spent her life both sharing and passing on her ancestors’ ways to generations of Kaska and non-Kaska alike. This “passing on” includes keeping Kaska stories and the Kaska language alive, as well as generously sharing the knowledge she has accumulated by listening to and living on the land. A fluent speaker of the Pelly dialect, Leda has worked with numerous organizations, institutions, linguists, and academics to document and develop resources for the Kaska language.

The History Maker Award will be presented to Peggy D’Orsay, who held the position of Archives Librarian at the Yukon Archives from 1990 to her retirement in January 2017. Peggy’s innumerable accomplishments during her tenure at the Archives include advocating for and producing many special topic bibliographies, leading the Yukon Archives digital books project, and developing the Yukon Genealogy website. Peggy was also instrumental in the formation of Hidden Histories Society Yukon, coining the phrase “hidden histories” herself. She continues to be involved in the Society to this day, helping to enlarge the representation of Asian, Black, and other ethno-cultural individuals and groups in the documentation and interpretation of Yukon history.

Alice Cyr will be receiving the Helen Couch Volunteer of the Year award for her work at the Yukon Transportation Museum (YTM). Alice started volunteering at YTM in 2016, taking on the immense job of cataloguing a large collection of photographs and objects that she had donated earlier in the year. During this process, Alice worked with YTM Executive Director Janna Swales to create a dedicated collections and research work area and to pilot a new accessioning system designed to facilitate community involvement. Alice has also created a virtual exhibit entitled Paul Cyr Loved Cats using materials she donated, available on the YTM website, which will be opening as a physical exhibit at YTM on February 14.

This year’s Innovation, Education, and Community Engagement Award will be presented to writer Lily Gontard and photographer Mark Kelly for their recent publication "Beyond Mile Zero: The Vanishing Alaska Highway Lodge Community." In "Beyond Mile Zero," Lily and Mark deftly combine personal stories from current and former lodge owners and their families with stunning archival and contemporary photographs to tell the story of the Alaska Highway lodges and lodge communities. Compiled after countless hours of interviews and travels along the highway, "Beyond Mile Zero" captures the spirit those who live and have lived at the lodges, and documents both the tangible and intangible elements a disappearing highway lodge lifestyle.

The Heritage Conservation Project of the Year Award will be presented to Teslin Tlingit Council (TTC) for the conservation and restoration of the Freddie and Nina Johnston House. A TTC building in the Wolf Clan built in the late 1920s or early 1930s, the Freddie and Nina Johnston House is the last remaining frame house of its style and age in Teslin. Over the past six years, TTC has shown dedication and care in the restoration of the house. Consultations with Elders and historic photos and documents helped to inform the restoration work and ensure that the heritage value of the house was maintained. Work on this well-known historic building has often prompted members of the community to share their memories of the house and its relationship within the community. TTC plans to continue restoration of the building in 2018. This award is sponsored by the Department of Tourism and Culture, Government of Yukon.

Award descriptions can be found here.