Man prates, but gold speaks
Every year, the men who moil for gold converge on Dawson City to socialize, network and reflect on how a shiny element has sustained an otherwise illogical northern community for more than a century.
It’s Dawson City’s 23rd International Gold Show, an annual gathering under the auspices of the extremely valuable, mostly useless metal that binds us all.
Faces are unshaven, clothes are flannel and old friends reunite under the spectre of the coming gold crop.
For gold-seeking newbies, the gold show is a critical introduction to the Yukon placer mining lifestyle.
Look out Guinness Book of World Records, the Dawson gold show is the largest “industry and consumer trade show for the placer mining industry in Northern Canada,” tout organizers.
Friday and Saturday in Dawson City.
Fie, fie, you puppet you!
In recent years, hand puppetry has fallen by the wayside, relegated to the realm of children’s show sidekicks or sex-education tools.
Not so in the hands of Whitehorse’s Brian Fidler.
Apprenticed under the blacklight puppet theater of the Mermaid Theatre group in Nova Scotia, Fidler has crafted a unique — albeit wordless — narrative, using only his nimble hands and a set built out of three open suitcases.
Legs is a headless hand puppet with dreams of appearing on the cover of DJ magazine — a seemingly unattainable feat considering his disability.
He befriends Cam — a used brownie camera — and together they embark on a journey rife with betrayal, redemption and a guy dressed all in black breakdancing with his hand (pretend he’s not there, it’s called ‘suspended disbelief.’)
Cam and Legs’ Whitehorse restaging comes right before the show is whisked down to Victoria for the Uno festival.
At the Old Fire Hall. Friday at 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m..
Tickets available at the Yukon Arts Centre box office, Arts Underground and at the door.
Screening to the choir
Anybody who’s traveled to Milwaukee or watched a recent interview with Michael Moore is well aware North America has an obesity problem.
Like a biblical plague, food abundance has become the largest cause of death, disease and disability across Canada and the US.
Want to learn more?
On Friday night at 7:30 p.m., the Alpine Bakery will screen Eating, a documentary detailing the perils of modern food consumption.
Spring has cleared the snow and city officials have cleared the empty sherry bottles.
Time again for LePage Park to usher in a new season of Arts in the Park.
The first performance is at noon on Tuesday, and on every subsequent weekday until the end of summer.
Catch the All City band on Tuesday, Steve Slade on Wednesday, the Whitehorse Community Choir on Thursday and the Whitehorse String Ensemble on Friday.
Let your hair down
It’s always easier to focus on environmental issues when you’re surrounded by a bunch of extinct things.
On Wednesday, drop by the Beringia Centre for Environment After Hours, a closing-time gathering to promote “meaningful communication” between Yukoners and environment officials.
The event features local artist Marten Berkman.
Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Beringia Centre.
Stick around afterwards to meet with some actual Environment Yukon staff.
Like you have something else to do
Hold onto your moleskines, because it’s time for another poetry night.
At Brave New Words, amateur poets are invited to take the microphone and riff on any topic they want with questionable enthusiasm or temporal regard.
Thursday at 7 p.m. at Baked Cafe.
I know Kung Fu
Awesomeness has a name, and that name is Ron Baulne.
On Saturday, Baulne — the second-most accomplished martial artist in Canada — will strut his stuff before a rapt audience at the Canada Games Centre.
Baulne will fight off six simultaneous attacks from local martial artists.
Then, he will defend himself from two armed black belts.
If there was ever a guy not to be mugged, Baulne is it.
Saturday, 1 to 3 p.m. at the Canada Games Centre.
Celebrate Canada’s other language
Every year, the government honours four per cent of Yukoners for “helping to make our territory the wonderful place it is.”
At 10:30 a.m., file into the Yukon Legislature and grab some free fruit as Glenn Hart, minister responsible for French language services, honours francophone culture.
Then, watch the raising of the Franco-Yukon flag.
In the 1980s, Francophone communities across Canada embarked on a vigorous campaign of flag creation. The Yukon was, of course, no exception.
A contrast to the fireweed and malamute of the Flag of Yukon, the Franco Yukon flag is an asymmetrical fusion of blue, white and gold.
“It does not rely on quaint symbols to identify the people it represents,” said flag creator Cecile Girard.
HOLIDAYS AND COMMEMORATIONS
Queer, not crazy
Incredibly, it was only 17 years ago this Sunday that the World Health Organization ruled that homosexuality was not a mental illness. Only five years before that, the American Psychiatric Association had completely
removed homosexuality from its list of treatable illnesses.
Throughout history, tens of thousands of gays and lesbians have been subjected to “conversion therapy” — misguided and often brutal medical procedures aimed at changing an individual’s sexual orientation.
Castration, genital mutilation, lobotomies, electrocution, and hypnosis were all, at one time, bandied as “cures” to homosexuality.
Iceland has elected the world’s first homosexual head of state. Gay marriage is permitted in seven countries, but the myth of “conversion” is still strong.
When potatoes kill
In the seventeenth century, English explorer Sir Walter Raleigh brought some mysterious tubers back to Britain to plant on his Irish estate.
The locals got hold of the plant, and soon the highly-nutritious, easy-to-grow potato had swept across Ireland, quickly becoming the be-all, end-all of Irish agriculture.
In 1845, a damaging fungus hit the potato, and instantly stripped millions of Irish of their primary food source.
Throughout the famine, the English continued to import Irish cattle and grain from the starving country.
One million died, and one-and-a-half million emigrated, desperately searching for a life beyond their hunger-ravaged homeland.
Despite killing one quarter of their population, the Irish harbour no ill will towards the potato, and still feature it prominently in their national cuisine.
If pork gets around to killing us all, hopefully we’ll have the same civility.
May 17 is National Famine Memorial Day in Ireland.
Obdurate to the end
In the spring of 1980, the picturesque Mount St. Helens started emitting jets of flame and shaking the surrounding countryside with minor earthquakes.
Geologists were convinced an eruption was imminent.
Lodge owner Harry Truman, who lived right on the slopes of the volcano, dismissed the geologists’ claims as “overexaggerated,” and resisted all calls for evacuation.
Some call Truman a martyr to tenacity. Others; a parable to modern ignorance.
Either way, on May 18, 1980, Harry Truman was buried alive under 50 meters of volcanic debris.
Contact Tristin Hopper at