There are times in life when everything seems to be going wrong and only a major change can revive the oxygen-starved flame inside us. That was how Pascal St-Laurent was feeling when he left Sherbrooke, Quebec, for a long trip.
The 29-year-old teacher set out with his bicycle, his snowboard, and most importantly his guitar as his only luggage. In his van, he planned to travel from one side of the Americas to the other.
His trip started and ended in the North. This is where the adventure of his life began.
“I met Vero (his partner and now the mother of their three adorable boys), and then I met Alain and Marie-Maude,” who with St-Laurent form the core of Soir de Semaine, one of the longest-together music groups in the Yukon.
“The Yukon is full of artists who earn a living doing something else. Yukoners love listening to music and being entertained, so musicians have plenty of opportunities to perform, record albums and improve,” explains St-Laurent.
To earn a living, the teacher went back to the classroom where he has gradually become a specialist in the intensive French school programs. At night, he turns back into the guitarist of Soir de Semaine and along with his friends hosts the legendary parties that invariably result when the group takes the stage.
“Here, musicians share, collaborate and help each other,” he says, and this contributes to a culture of openness that can be felt in public places and at the many festivals. But the Yukon is small, so Soir de Semaine tries not to wear out its welcome. The members of the group always try to find something new to offer the public.
During the many shows that make up the cultural programming in the Yukon each year, you might have a chance to meet St-Laurent.
If you don’t see him on stage, he could well be backstage, as he is very generous with his time, helping other artists develop their careers.
If you stop at a campsite in the summer, keep your ears open and explore the surroundings. A little off to the side, there might be a gathering of 20 or so people singing around the campfire. Chances are St-Laurent is the guitarist for this impromptu show.
And if you are really lucky, maybe you will meet the other members of Soir de Semaine. Now, that would be a party!
This article is excerpted from the third edition of a tourism brochure created by Association franco-yukonnaise (AFY). You can get a copy of the brochure (in French) at the Centre de la francophonie in Whitehorse or at the tourism information centre in your community.