Yukon Trappers’ Association free from debt’s snare

For Jackie Yaklin, organizing the Yukon Trappers' Association's financial records seemed an ideal activity. It combined her financial skills with her passion for the environment.

For Jackie Yaklin, organizing the Yukon Trappers’ Association’s financial records seemed an ideal activity. It combined her financial skills with her passion for the environment.

A professional bookkeeper for over 25 years, she has a degree in environmental sciences. Although not a trapper, she can skin squirrels and rabbits. She grew up in the bush and knows the benefits of living close to nature. Trapping opened up the territory, and it still provides income for many people.

Putting the books in order could have been a dream. But it was really a nightmare.

“It was awful,” she said, sitting behind the Old Fire Hall on July 19. “It was terrible.”

Yaklin was one of more than 100 individuals celebrating the association’s recent payment of all their debts.

Her involvement with the YTA began in 2007 when she worked at its store on Fourth Avenue. In 2008, she went to Texas. That same year, the association moved the store to the Alaska Highway.

Yaklin returned in 2009. On June 27 of that year, she attended an association meeting. When she had left, she was aware decisions were being made that would “put the association at financial risk,” she said. But that night she learned it was not simply in danger – it was on the verge of becoming extinct. Some members of the executive were discussing declaring bankruptcy.

The association was in debt to the tune of $84,000. The “greatest stumbling block” was rent, said Yaklin. The association owed its current landlord and was still paying for space at the Fourth Avenue property they no longer used.

According to public records, the association spent just over $35,500 on rent during their 2006-2007 fiscal year.

On top of that, revenue was down. The new store had poor signage. They could no longer rely on walk-in business from tourists. Regardless, “they kept buying supplies like they were on the main drag,” Yaklin remembered.

There had been mismanagement at the store, explained Larry Barrett, one of the organization’s directors.

Barrett also attended the June 2009 meeting. It was a night of change. The president at the time resigned. Over the summer, more executive members followed suit.

A small group of individuals were left to pull the association out of debt, but things would get worse before they got better.

The Alaska Highway-location landlord padlocked the building. He, understandably, wanted his money. The association wanted to retrieve their papers and items. They went to court in August 2009. The judge wanted to resolve things quickly, recalled Yaklin. The association was granted immediate access to the property to gather its things and vacate the premises in one day. It also provided assurances that the outstanding rent would be paid. That took about a year, said Yaklin.

The association was homeless. Papers and merchandise were put in storage, photocopies of out-of-print books filled several boxes and labels didn’t match files’ contents. Organizing the papers took two months. Another two weeks were spent preparing statements to creditors. Yaklin estimates they had around 25 creditors, not all from the Yukon. Some debts were for thousands of dollars.

So the association began fundraising. “You name it, we did it,” said Kathryn Boivin, the current YTA president. Boivin was not on the executive in 2009, but was one of the members who volunteered to keep the association running. Volunteers, like her, worked from their homes and coffee shops. The association even sold furs from the back of a vehicle. Support for the association continued and one yard sale garnered $1,900, which was then divided among all the accounts. The association continued this practice with any money it raised. When some of the smaller accounts reached zero, Yaklin knew the organization was really making progress, she said.

The association also had a few easy breaks, said Boivin. Some creditors cancelled their debts, a few individuals purchased multi-year memberships and one creditor in Vancouver asked for his debt to be paid in furs instead of money.

Shortly before the “out of debt” party, the association received a letter from a trapper asking to order supplies. That someone trusted YTA to purchase items for them is “the greatest form of flattery,” said Boivin.

The organization came out of debt in June. It has approximately $6,000 – money they don’t owe to anyone, said Yaklin. According to public records, as of January, YTA’s revenues were slightly over $22,000.

“The sky’s the limit,” said Boivin.

But times have also changed since the organization began in 1973. Boivin raised two children on the income of her traplines. She said it’s doubtful that can happen today. Alex Van Bibber, 96, has been a member since YTA began. The trapline he was raised on is now a sanctuary for wild game.

The YTA executive is determined to never repeat the past. It rents from the Yukon Fish and Game Association on Strickland Street, and would like to own property one day.

There are no plans for the association to open another store. Van Bibber, for one, believes things ran better when they were simpler. But furs are still providing business.

In 2011, Jeannine Moffatt opened The Trappers Cache on Second Avenue. Moffatt previously volunteered with the YTA and left shortly before the store closed in 2009. In 2010, some trappers approached her to consider opening a store. So far, business has been good. She estimates she deals with almost half of the trappers in Yukon. She has a contract with North American Fur Auctions and is in good standing with their president.

Wild fur prices are rising. At NAFA’s February auction, lynx sold for an average of $142.23, about a $20 increase from the previous year. Mink prices increased from just over $17 in 2011 to just over $23 this year.

But Moffatt doesn’t view the revived YTA as business competition. She doesn’t see them opening another store, and even if they did, she wouldn’t be concerned.

“There’s enough room in this town for two,” she said. “There’s enough room for three.”

Contact Meagan Gillmore at

mgillmore@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

City of Whitehorse city council meeting in Whitehorse on Oct. 5, 2020. An updated council procedures bylaw was proposed at Whitehorse city council’s Jan. 18 meeting that would see a few changes to council meetings and how council handles certain matters like civil emergencies. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Whitehorse procedures bylaw comes forward

New measures proposed for how council could deal with emergencies

A Yukon survey querying transportation between communities has already seen hundreds of participants and is the latest review highlighting the territory’s gap in accessibility. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Multiple reports, survey decry lack of transportation between Yukon communities

A Community Travel survey is the latest in a slew of initiatives pointing to poor accessibility

Mobile vaccine team Team Balto practises vaccine clinic set-up and teardown at Vanier Catholic Secondary School. Mobile vaccine teams are heading out this week to the communities in order to begin Moderna vaccinations. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Mobile vaccine teams begin community vaccinations

“It’s an all-of-government approach”

The now empty lot at 410 Cook Street in Whitehorse on Jan. 19. As developers move forward with plans for a housing development that would feature 16 micro-units, they are asking city council for a zoning change that would reduce the number of required parking spaces. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Developer asks for zoning change

Would reduce the number of required parking spaces

The Liard First Nation is preparing to enter negotiations for self-governance with the territorial and federal governments. (Jackie Hong/Yukon News file)
Liard First Nation preparing to enter self-governance negotiations with Yukon, federal governments

Chief Stephen Charlie seeking an agreement separate from “dead end” UFA

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Mayor Dan Curtis listens to a councillor on the phone during a city council meeting in Whitehorse on April 14, 2020. Curtis announced Jan. 14 that he intends to seek nomination to be the Yukon Liberal candidate for Whitehorse Centre in the 2021 territorial election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Whitehorse mayor seeking nomination for territorial election

Whitehorse mayor Dan Curtis is preparing for a run in the upcoming… Continue reading

Gerard Redinger was charged under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> with failing to self-isolate and failing to transit through the Yukon in under 24 hours. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Man ticketed $1,150 at Wolf Creek campground for failing to self-isolate

Gerard Redinger signed a 24-hour transit declaration, ticketed 13 days later

Yukon Energy, Solvest Inc. and Chu Níikwän Development Corporation are calling on the city for a meeting to look at possibilities for separate tax rates or incentives for renewable energy projects. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Tax changes sought for Whitehorse energy projects

Delegates call for separate property tax category for renewable energy projects

Yukon University has added seven members to its board of governors in recent months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New members named to Yukon U’s board of governors

Required number of board members now up to 17

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your Northern regulatory adventure awaits!

“Your Northern adventure awaits!” blared the headline on a recent YESAB assessment… Continue reading

Yukoner Shirley Chua-Tan is taking on the role of vice-chair of the social inclusion working group with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences’ oversight panel and working groups for the autism assessment. (Submitted)
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences names Yukoner to panel

Shirley Chua-Tan is well-known for a number of roles she plays in… Continue reading

Most Read