Ross River bridge backer celebrates a win

Two years ago, while sitting and sleeping on an ice bridge on the Pelly River, I never would have thought I would be revelling in the fact that the Ross River bridge would be restored and repaired by summer of this year.

Two years ago, while sitting and sleeping on an ice bridge on the Pelly River, I never would have thought I would be revelling in the fact that the Ross River bridge would be restored and repaired by summer of this year. How magnificent, and what an incredible lasting legacy for Ross River, for Yukon, and for Canada.

I wish to thank everyone who talked about, supported, argued, opined, or just thought about this bridge. It is through your collective caring that this wonderful structure will remain standing and continue to straddle the Pelly River. I was asked whether the millions of dollars spent on the bridge provide an equitable value in return. Yes, it does.

This bridge provides a glimpse into the past (the historic Canol Pipeline is as fascinating as the Alaska Highway). This bridge provides a link to the future (it is a tourist destination spot as the longest suspension footbridge in Canada and the United States). This bridge provides a constant connection between the banks of the Pelly River (the bridge is important to the cultural practices of the Kaska people, as well as providing them with a link to Tu Lidlini, a place of gathering for millennia).

Priceless.

Thank you to all the Friends Of The Ross River Foot Bridge Facebook page. From its humble beginnings, to becoming a venue for various voices, it was certainly an incredible journey.

Thank you to the past and the present governments for listening, acting, and for restoring and repairing the Ross River footbridge.

Thank you to all the engineers, supervisors, workers, dreamers, and leaders for giving their time to this project.

And a very special thank you to the elders and community members of Ross River, the leadership of the Ross River Dena Council, and the caring of the Kaska people, who will continue to be the stewards of this land and daily users of this structure.

I’m hopeful that in the very near future we will be able to formally rename this bridge to Test’uze Gane Ts’ina, which translates to the sandpiper or “yellowlegs,” from the main character in a Kaska story. Test’uze Gane Ts’ina foiled Nogha Dena, Wolverine man, by dropping him into the river when he tried to cross the river on Test’uze’s legs. Wolverine man was up to no good and he was stopped from continuing on this path by the witty and feisty sandpiper. It’s a wonderful story and an appropriate metaphor for this bridge and its almost past.

Whether you were a believer in taking it down or shoring it up, we will be able to do more than stand on the opposing banks, yelling across more than 600 feet of water. We will now be able to walk on the bridge, meet in the middle, and shake hands.

How does it get any better than that?

Kitty Sperling,

Ross River

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