On the trail of a good yarn

For the last 15 seasons, the Gwaandak Theatre Company has been taking to the stage to tell northern stories. Gwaandak means storyteller in Gwitch'in.

For the last 15 seasons, the Gwaandak Theatre Company has been taking to the stage to tell northern stories.

Gwaandak means storyteller in Gwitch’in.

“We’re a Yukon theatre company that showcases indigenous and northern voices, and we really see all kinds of storytelling as being at the utter heart and core of any theatre,” said managing artistic director Patti Flather, who co-founded the company with her husband Leonard Linklater.

On Thursday, the company’s latest event will showcase that early form of storytelling, the kind of off-the-cuff personal tales still heard around a campfire or your family’s kitchen table.

Tales of the Trails at the Yukon Transportation Museum will feature more than half a dozen storytellers spinning their own personal yarns for anyone who wants to listen.

Beyond that, Flather can’t say much about what stories are going to be told that night.

That’s the nature of working with these kind of natural storytellers, she said: you’re never certain exactly what story they’re going to tell.

“Whenever I talk to all these wonderful people even on the phone or in person as we’re just jamming about the night, they come up with so many interesting stories,” she said.

“It’s like, ‘I want to hear that one, I want to hear this one, but you have 10 minutes, so…’”

Flather said she intentionally left the theme for the night as open-ended as possible.

A trail could be anything, she said: maybe a road, or a path, or a river. Stories could be about the trail itself or ones told on the trail.

“I want people to tell stories that connect with them, that they’re passionate about, for them to choose them,” she said.

“I think the impulse first, in any kind of art or storytelling, it has to come from that person.”

Some of the voices scheduled to speak on Thursday will be familiar. Ruth Carroll is probably best know for her years as the host of the CBC radio programs Nantaii and Voice of the Gwitch’in. Carroll grew up around a trail of sorts: the water flowing through the Peel River watershed.

Ellen Davignon lived along a trail of a different kind, in her case the Alaska Highway. She grew up while her parents built a highway lodge at Johnson’s Crossing.

Award-winning Tlingit storyteller Sharon Shorty is also telling a tale. So are Ukjese Van Kampen, a Southern Tutchone artist and storyteller, and historian Michael Gates.

Scheduled presenters also include Pat Joe and David Neufeld.

The night will also feature an open mic portion so anyone can come up and share.

The idea is to create a setting where people can feel connected, Flather said.

“I hope the audience will be enchanted, will be entertained, will perhaps come up with some new perspectives and new knowledge about some of the people who make up our community.”

The Yukon Transportation Museum will be its own character of sorts that night, she said. Storytellers will be able to move to its various nooks and crannies – among old trains, sleds, boats, planes and cars – if they think it better suits their tale.

The entire evening is a fundraiser for Gwaandak’s new play being developed.

Map of the Land, Map of the Stars is still in its infancy, Flather said. When it’s done, it will be a play that explores “Yukon’s past, present and future through different kinds of trails and intersections on those trails,” she said.

The plan is to get it done by 2017 in honour of the 75th anniversary of the construction of one of the Yukon’s biggest trails, the Alaska Highway.

Aside from stories, Thursday’s event will also feature music by Sally Lutchman, appetizers, door prizes, a silent auction and a cash bar.

Tickets are $30.

The show is meant for ages 19 and older. Doors open at 7 p.m. Storytelling starts at 7:30.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

A proposed Official Community Plan amendment would designate a 56.3-hectare piece of land in Whistle Bend currently designated as green space, as urban residential use. Whitehorse city council will vote on the second reading of the Official Community Plan amendment on Dec. 7. (Courtesy City of Whitehorse)
Future area of Whistle Bend considered by council

Members set to vote on second reading for OCP change

The City of Whitehorse’s projected deficit could be $100,000 more than originally predicted earlier this year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City deficit could be just over $640,000 this year

Third quarter financial reports presented to council

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speaks during a COVID-19 press conference in Whitehorse on Oct. 30. Masks became mandatory in the Yukon for anyone five years old and older as of Dec. 1 while in public spaces. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
As mask law comes into effect, premier says $500 fines will be last resort

The territory currently has 17 active cases of COVID-19

Crystal Schick/Yukon News file
Ranj Pillai, minister of economic development, during a press conference on April 1.
Government rejects ATAC mining road proposal north of Keno City

Concerns from the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun were cited as the main reason for the decision

asdf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Dec. 2, 2020

The new Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation council elected Dec. 1. (Submitted)
Little Salmon Carmacks elects new chief, council

Nicole Tom elected chief of Little Salmon Carcmacks First Nation

Submitted/Yukon News file
Yukon RCMP’s Historical Case Unit is seeking information related to the unsolved homicide of Allan Donald Waugh, 69, who was found deceased in his house on May 30, 2014.
Yukon RCMP investigating unsolved Allan Waugh homicide

Yukon RCMP’s Historical Case Unit is seeking information related to an unsolved… Continue reading

A jogger runs along Millenium Trail as the sun rises over the trees around 11 a.m. in Whitehorse on Dec. 12, 2018. The City of Whitehorse could soon have a new trail plan in place to serve as a guide in managing the more than 233 kilometres of trails the city manages. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
2020 trail plan comes forward

Policies and bylaws would look at e-mobility devices

Snow-making machines are pushed and pulled uphill at Mount Sima in 2015. The ski hill will be converting snow-making to electric power with more than $5 million in funding from the territorial and federal governments. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Mount Sima funded to cut diesel reliance

Mount Sima ski hill is converting its snowmaking to electric power with… Continue reading

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Most Read