Today’s mailbox: MAD moving and grizzly bears

Letters to the editor published July 22

MAD about the move

My name is Corinna “Blue” Johnston and I was in MAD (the Music, Arts and Drama experiential program) in 1995 and in 1996 as a teacher’s assistant.

For the last 25 years I have been working in the entertainment industry as a lighting technician, a technical director, a props builder and as a rigger. Before COVID-19 hit I was on a world tour with the pop band The Lumineers. For the majority of the last 10 years I have been part of the production team for Cirque de Soleil on eight of their various shows touring internationally. Over the past few years I have been on tour as a lighting tech and rigger with the Jonas Brothers, Erasure, Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa, Mumford and Sons, just to name a few.

I can’t even begin to tell you what an important role MAD has played in my life. In 1995 when I first joined, I was mainly focused on music and dance — I was going to become a professional dancer.

Three weeks after high school, I broke my femur in a car accident and was unable to walk for the next two years. I needed a back up plan since dance wasn’t going to be a part of my life anymore. I ended up having to stay in Whitehorse after I graduated because I couldn’t get around on my own very well. I was given the option to come back to MAD and help give the kids direction in music composition. While I was at the Yukon Arts Centre I learned technical skills from the people that ran it, then helped implement the lighting, the sound, and stage management into our productions. It’s essential to have access to equipment and spaces where you can learn and make mistakes before you get out into the real world. The value of being able to fully immerse yourself and being around other like-minded people is extremely important for the creative process to happen. The collaborative approach is another valuable skill I learned here — it has served me well in the years following and in getting me hired.

When people ask me where I got my start to get where I am now, I always say I was lucky enough to be able to start in a special school program for the arts called MAD. I explain to them that it was basically like Fame where people were always singing and dancing and writing in the various spaces so that they could be on their own when they needed to be, and be in a group when needed.

I sincerely hope you will reconsider not moving MAD — students need a fully immersive space of their own in order to be able to excel. Please do not take this opportunity away from them.

Corinna “Blue” Johnston

Calgary, Alberta

Science-based approach necessary for grizzly population management

The Yukon Fish and Game Association (YFGA) has been at the forefront of conservation in the Yukon for 75 years. The call for a moratorium on grizzly hunting by a small, newly-formed special interest group is of grave concern to the association, our members, and other stakeholder groups. Members of the YFGA feel strongly that population surveys as well as local and traditional knowledge are key components of modern, effective wildlife management practices. Drastic change to the way populations of species in the Yukon are managed, without any supporting evidence for those changes, is something that we cannot support. We remain absolutely convinced that to maintain healthy wildlife populations, management approaches must be transparent, non-political and based on sound un-biased scientific information.

The association is dedicated to ensuring Yukon game species are accessible and continue to offer harvest opportunities for future generations. Harvesting of mature boars in spring is recognized as a conservation management tool to preserve and/or enhance not only ungulate populations but also grizzly and black bear populations. Harvesting within sustainability limits can help to protect natural food sources for those Yukoners who choose to harvest wild game. Hunting of bears is deeply rooted in northern cultures.

We are very fortunate to have a recently developed Grizzly Bear Management Plan for the Yukon. The plan was developed collaboratively, with significant contributions from the scientific community, interested groups and the public.

The Yukon Fish and Game Association was part of the working group that contributed to the development of the plan for grizzly management and conservation. “The vision of the grizzly bear management and conservation plan is to ensure that there remain healthy and viable grizzly bear populations throughout their natural range in Yukon, for future generations of people and bears.” The plan includes harvest opportunities for licensed hunters and First Nations.

The Yukon Fish and Game Association recognises that in specific locations within the Yukon Territory there may be concern with bear populations due to the proximity to more densely populated areas. There are conservation methods embedded in the plan which are designed ensure populations can continue to thrive in these instances.

We are aware there is a perception that the number of grizzly bear tags sold in Yukon is an indicator of significant pressure on the grizzly bear population. This perception is not supported by the facts. We know from harvest data that the actual harvest number for grizzly bear is well within the sustainable harvest range as outlined in the bear management plan. In communicating with hunters and non-hunters who purchase these tags, it is apparent that in most instances, tags are purchased to be used only if necessary for defence of life or property.

Since 1945, The Yukon Fish and Game Association has been a champion for species conservation and the enduring availability of hunting and fishing opportunities for all Yukoners. We will continue to do so!

Bryce Bekar

Vice President

Yukon Fish and Game Asociation

Hunting and FishingLetters to the editorYukon Department of Education