38th Annual Yukon Heritage Awards to be presented

WHITEHORSE, YT - The Yukon Historical & Museums Association (YHMA) today announced the 38th annual Yukon Heritage Awards ceremony, during which five awards will be presented to a total of eight individuals and organizations. On Tuesday, March 29, 2022, Yukoners are invited to attend the ceremony in person at the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre or livestreamed on the YHMA Facebook page. The event will commence at 7 pm; doors at the Beringia Centre will open at 6:45. Those attending in person will be required to wear masks and maintain physical distancing.

“We are incredibly excited to be able to hold the awards ceremony in person this year, while also offering an online option. The contributions of the award recipients to Yukon heritage are immense. We look forward to being able to recognize and celebrate them with our community,” says YHMA Executive Director Lianne Maitland. “It is important to take the time to honour those who have worked so hard to ensure our territory’s heritage is preserved and shared.”

Prior to the awards presentation, documentary filmmaker Andrew Gregg will kick off the evening with a special talk, The Power of Objects. Gregg’s latest film, Skymaster Down, explores the mystery of a US troop plane that went missing without a trace in the Yukon. In this talk, he will discuss some particular artifacts and the emotional connections we forge with them, from the old wrecked bush planes recovered and restored by Bob Cameron, to Andy Hooper’s old CMP truck he used to move houses in Whitehorse, to the SS Klondike on display downtown. The Yukon is rich with historical relics, but there is one big one missing: that USAF C-54 Skymaster airplane.

A posthumous Annual Heritage Award will be presented to Art Johns. Art called the mountains of the Carcross/Tagish traditional territory his home, and was extremely generous with his knowledge of its geography and resources. He provided immeasurable assistance to the Yukon Archaeology and Historic Sites programs, leading them to outstanding discoveries that will endure as monuments to Yukon First Nation land use and culture, including a number of ice patches. Art believed in maintaining the integrity of his territory, and he understood that required being responsible not only at camp, but in the decisions made in the board room as well. He was an enthusiastic contributor to many management initiatives on behalf of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation, most recently serving as the designated Elder to the Conrad Historic Site Steering Committee. Art helped Yukon’s archaeologists and historic sites staff understand and interpret the places and artifacts they study. He was proud of his people’s history and he shared his sense of place with all Yukoners.

The History Makers Award will be presented to Bruce Mitford and Beth Hunt. The Lansing Post Historic Site, situated at the confluence of the Stewart and Lansing Rivers, has a rich heritage that reflects the culture and history of the Na-Cho Nyäk Dun as well as the economic history of fur trading in the Yukon. Since 1979, Bruce and Beth have trapped in the area and for the most part lived at the heritage site while raising their two daughters. Respecting the integrity of this remote site, they have cared for the historic structures, kept the area clear, and added new structures that do not detract from the site’s heritage character. The Lansing Post Heritage Management Plan was approved by the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun and Government of Yukon in 2018. Bruce and Beth were active participants in the management planning process, sharing their understanding of the site and providing information about their time there. These two remarkable individuals have been diligent stewards of this historic site, while writing their own chapter and generously welcoming all who venture there.

Kaitlin Normandin will be receiving the Helen Couch Volunteer of the Year award. Kaitlin’s dedication to Yukon heritage is clear from her ongoing volunteerism. After joining YHMA in 2016, Kaitlin stood for election to the board in 2017 and upon her success accepted the role of Treasurer. The following year she moved into the role of President and remained in that position for two years. Not only did she take on these important offices, but Kaitlin also joined the Yukon Heritage Training Fund Adjudication Committee and served as the YHMA representative on the Tourism Industry Association of Yukon board, for which she filled the roles of Secretary and Chair, Human Resources Committee as well. Following her terms as Treasurer and President, Kaitlin remained on the YHMA board as a director until early 2022. She continues to volunteer with a variety of other local heritage organizations, including the Yukon Council of Archives and Hidden Histories Society of Yukon. Most recently, Kaitlin has extended her volunteer work to the national stage, becoming Secretary of the Association of Canadian Archivists in 2021.

This year’s Innovation, Education, and Community Engagement Award will be presented to the Yukon Transportation Museum (YTM) and Janna Swales for Yukon Spin. Yukon Spin is a digital wellness offering that combines the history of Yukon biking, at home exercise, and interactive digital tourism. The pandemic had a significant impact on YTM, which closed for large swathes of time. YTM's Executive Director Janna Swales, who had videotaped her bike rides in previous years for personal use, recognized the potential for a digital offering for YTM's local and global audience during the pandemic, and beyond. Over the summer of 2020, Janna recorded several high-quality, first-person point-of-view cycling videos on routes all over the territory. With the help of Strategic Moves' Inga Petri and local video editor Heather Von Steinhagen, the museum used these recordings to produce six videos and made them available through the Canadian streaming platform PPN. Each 45-minute video includes a timer, elevation and route maps, and facts about Yukon history. The project demonstrates great creativity in response to the challenging circumstances of the last two years, opening up a new revenue stream for the museum as well as a new, accessible way for the public to engage with Yukon heritage.

The Heritage Conservation Project of the Year Award will be presented to Jamie Toole and Anne Morgan for their conservation of the MV Sibilla in Carcross, Yukon. The Sibilla is one of the few largely intact British Yukon Navigation Company (BYN) vessels remaining in the territory. It was built in 1932 and was in BYN service until 1955, when it became a private yacht. The vessel had been hidden from view and set on an inadequate rotting trailer beside the Carcross Barracks since 1998, but through diligently following the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada, Jamie and Anne have successfully relocated the Sibilla to a prominent site on Tagish Avenue. Before the vessel was moved, extensive documentation occurred to ensure that the heritage character and value of the Sibilla were not harmed during its relocation. In addition to now being visible to the public, the vessel’s hull has been stabilized, arresting deterioration. Further conservation measures are being evaluated. This project took a key element of Yukon’s navigation history, made it visible once more, and secured a future for it. This award is sponsored by the Department of Tourism and Culture, Government of Yukon.

Award descriptions can be found here.