North

We the (Takhini) North, where a Raptors win 'would mean everything'

Longtime Whitehorse Raptors fans open their doors to the neighbourhood during the N.B.A. championship finals.

Raptors fans find home and community in Whitehorse

Emily Jarvis, left, and James Mitchell may be the Yukon's biggest Toronto Raptors fans. Every playoff game they open their home to the neighbourhood, including 10-year-old Nicholas Connell. (George Maratos/CBC)

A half-duplex on a tiny street in Whitehorse's Takhini North neighbourhood could very well be home to Yukon's biggest Toronto Raptors fans.

James Mitchell and Emily Jarvis are both originally from Ontario and they've been cheering for Toronto since the team entered the N.B.A. in 1995.

Every Raptors game this playoff run they open the doors of their Whitehorse home and invite in any neighbours who want to watch the game.

The viewing parties have become so popular that the neighbourhood is now referred to as Jurassic Park Takhini North.

Mark Connell lives next door. When the Raptors are playing his four kids are usually at the neighbors watching the game. (George Maratos/CBC)

"Last series I walked into their house, it was like second quarter, and there were seven neighbourhood kids, like unknown kids in there, watching the game on the big screen ... totally awesome," said Mark Connell, who lives next door.

"I have four kids, all of them big basketball fans, they're over every game and we're not there," he said.

"They're watching the game and then James comes out with them at halftime and they shoot hoops."

Connell's 10-year-old son Nicholas is one of the regulars watching the game with his neighbours.

"I just like it because I can just go over and ask if I can watch the game with them," said Connell. "It's always a bit of intense energy but everyone is so happy."

These neighbours are like our little cousins- Emily Jarvis, Raptors fan

The open door viewing policy is just one example of how much the couple loves the Raptors.

They named their Subaru Nav, after Raptors superfan Nav Bhati.

Both own an assortment of Raptors gear, including a vintage Vince Carter jersey and an autographed jersey of former Raptor Demar Derozan.

Emily Jarvis has been cheering for the Raptors since 1995. She followed the team closely while living in South Africa and met most of her first Yukon friends over a shared love of the team. (George Maratos/CBC)

Bonding Through Basketball

The love of the Raptors actually acted as a gateway to their first friendships when they moved to Whitehorse.

While Raptors fever has gripped the nation now, in 2016 it was a challenge to even watch the game in Whitehorse.

Jarvis and Mitchell would have to crowd around one tiny TV at a local bar. 

"That was the only place that would play basketball, every other TV was playing hockey games," said Jarvis. "People would just come and be like 'hey are you watching the basketball?' and we'd be like yeah we're watching the basketball ... believe it or not."

Jarvis says they really enjoy keeping a community around a shared passion for the team.

"People just come from the whole cul-de-sac and we just watch the game together," said Jarvis. "We don't have kids but these neighbours are like our little cousins, it's the best just to see all these kids getting excited about it."

James Mitchell sports a signed Demar Derozan hockey jersey. Just one example of his love for the team. Him and partner Emily Jarvis also named their Subaru, Nav after superfan Nav Bhati. (George Maratos/CBC)

As for what a Raptors first championship would mean to the longtime fans?

"It would mean everything ... I see it as a win for the little guy and a win for diversity and a win for the kind of joy that can bring different people together," said Jarvis. "When you look at the difference in the crowd when it comes to Toronto fandom, that's what makes me so happy."

And for how Jurassic Park Takhini North would celebrate a Raptors title?

"It would blow up, said Jarvis. "It would blow up."

About the Author

George Maratos

Associate Producer

George Maratos is a reporter and associate producer at CBC Yukon with more than a decade of experience covering the North.

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