The Yukon Historical & Museums Association (YHMA) will honour the six winners of the 34th annual Yukon Heritage Awards this evening at the Yukon Archives.
“These annual awards honour those who have made exceptional contributions to the conservation and celebration of Yukon’s heritage, enriching our community through preservation, interpretation, and volunteerism,” said Lianne Maitland, the YHMA’s executive director.
“YHMA is both thrilled and honoured to recognize their accomplishments.”
The Annual Heritage Award will be presented to respected Kaska elder Leda Jules.
“For over the last five decades, Leda has worked tirelessly to promote and protect the Kaska language, culture, and heritage,” the YHMA said.
“She has spent her life both sharing and passing on her ancestors’ ways to generations of Kaska and non-Kaska alike.”
This includes keeping Kaska stories and the Kaska language alive, and sharing the knowledge Jules has accumulated by listening to and living on the land.
A fluent speaker of the Pelly dialect, Jules has worked with numerous organizations, institutions, linguists, and academics to document and develop resources for the Kaska language.
The History Maker Award will be presented to Peggy D’Orsay. She was the archives librarian at the Yukon Archives from 1990 until her retirement in January 2017.
“Peggy’s innumerable accomplishments during her tenure at the Archives include advocating for and producing many special topic bibliographies, leading the Yukon Archives digital books project, and developing the Yukon Genealogy website,” the YHMA said.
“Peggy was also instrumental in the formation of Hidden Histories Society Yukon, coining the phrase ‘hidden histories’ herself.”
D’Orsay continues to be involved in the society, helping to enlarge the representation of Asian, black, and other ethno-cultural individuals and groups in the documentation and interpretation of Yukon history.
Alice Cyr will be receiving the Helen Couch Volunteer of the Year award for her work at the Yukon Transportation Museum.
She started volunteering at the museum in 2016, taking on the immense job of cataloguing a large collection of photographs and objects that she had donated earlier in the year.
During this process, Cyr worked with Janna Swales, the museum’s executive director, to create a dedicated collections and research work area and to pilot a new accessioning system designed to facilitate community involvement.
Cyr has also created a virtual exhibit entitled Paul Cyr Loved Cats, using materials she donated, available on the museum’swebsite. Last Wednesday, it opened as a physical exhibit at the museum.
This year’s Innovation, Education, and Community Engagement Award will be presented to writer Lily Gontard and photographer Mark Kelly for their recent publication Beyond Mile Zero: The Vanishing Alaska Highway Lodge Community.
“In Beyond Mile Zero, Lily and Mark deftly combine personal stories from current and former lodge owners and their families with stunning archival and contemporary photographs to tell the story of the Alaska Highway lodges and lodge communities,” the YHMA said.
“Compiled after countless hours of interviews and travels along the highway, Beyond Mile Zero captures the spirit of those who live and have lived at the lodges, and documents both the tangible and intangible elements a disappearing highway lodge lifestyle.”
The Heritage Conservation Project of the Year Award will be presented to Teslin Tlingit Council (TTC) for the conservation and restoration of the Freddie and Nina Johnston House.
A TTC building in the Wolf clan built in the late 1920s or early 1930s, the Freddie and Nina Johnston House is the last remaining frame house of its style and age in Teslin.
Over the past six years, TTC has shown dedication and care in the restoration of the house,” the YHMA said.
“Consultations with elders and historic photos and documents helped to inform the restoration work and ensure that the heritage value of the house was maintained.”
Work on the well-known historic building has often prompted members of the community to share their memories of the house and its relationship within the community.
The TTC plans to continue restoration of the building this year.
This award is sponsored by the Department of Tourism and Culture.
This evening’s ceremony will coincide with the start of Heritage Week, Feb. 19-25.
In connection with this year’s theme, “Heritage Stands the Test of Time” Dr. Brent Slobodin, the Yukon’s newly appointed representative on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, will give a keynote presentation. He will discuss the board’s role, composition and history.
Slobodin’s talk will also touch on key changes occurring under the direction of federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, current issues before the board, and Slobodin’s new role.
The YHMA is a territorially-incorporated society and registered charitable organization that works to inspire and share a passion for Yukon heritage by supporting education, networking, advocacy, partnerships, and awareness.
The doors for this evening’s public event at the Archives, located on the Yukon College campus, will open at 6:30 p.m., and the awards presentations will begin at 7 p.m.