Politics, Peel and effects of crime among year's big Yukon stories

Yukoners worries about crime in their communities one of the big stories of 2015.

Photo taken by Fanny Caritte at Takhini Hot Pool led to biggest Yukon story of year on CBC North webpage

This photo taken by Fanny Caritte at the Takhini Hot Springs was featured around the world on the internet and television. (Fanny Caritte/Takhini Hot Pools)

Yukon made a big splash around the world early in 2015 when a video and photos from the annual Takhini Hot Springs frozen hair contest hit social media.

The owner of the Hot Springs says media outlets from the world called asking for permission to use the material.

In Dawson City, a young couple credited a carbon monoxide detector handed out by the local fire department for saving their lives and the life of their unborn child. Jesse Cooke says firefighters came to the door of their out-of-the-way-home a year earlier with two of the devices.

Murders loom over Yukon communities

Grief over two murders in McIntyre village continued to weigh heavily on members of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation.

The Waugh family and supporters marched through McIntyre village in Whitehorse in May asking for somebody to step forward with information about Allan Waugh's murder. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)
On the one-year anniversary in May of Allan Waugh's murder, members of his family joined others in a solemn march through the community.

His daughter, Dawn Waugh, repeated the family's request for help solving his murder.

"On behalf of my family I make a statement, I make a plea, for anyone with information regarding the murder of my father, Al Waugh, on May 30, 2014, to please come forward. Our family needs peace, we thank you all for coming and sharing this moment with us," Waugh said.

In the death of Whitehorse teen Brandy Vittrekwa, a male youth pleaded guilty to manslaughter in December and will be sentenced in 2016.

Also in 2016 Michael MacPherson is expected to be tried for second degree murder in the death of Tanner Sinclair in July 2014. 

Facebook tips help solve crimes

People around the territory turned to social media to help deal with an apparent surge in property crimes like theft and vandalism.

Sam Oettli, a downtown Whitehorse business owner, posted information about his stolen bicycles on Facebook. The RCMP recovered the bikes in less than 24 hours.

Whitehorse business owner Sam Oettli says downtown crime seems to have worsened in recent years. (CBC)
"We've definitely noticed more and more things being broken into, you know we have sheds and stuff too, corners have been ripped open to see what's inside, and stuff like that, and that never used to happen, it's been, probably in the last five years, progressively getting worse," Oettli said.

Federal election surprise extends into Yukon

Politically the biggest shake up was in federal politics. Former Liberal MP Larry Bagnell ousted incumbent Conservative Ryan Leef joining the rest of the North in a Liberal sweep.It was also a lively election by Yukon standards.

There were about a dozen election forums, far more than in the past. Leef also made headlines during the campaign by handcuffing a woman he caught vandalizing his election signs.

Various legal and political battles continued over the Yukon's environment.

The high profile dispute over future development in the vast Peel River watershed may now go to the Supreme Court for resolution.

Local advocate for the environment Lewis Rifkind expects many of the issues may come to a head in 2016.

New Whitehorse cheese shop lauded

Rifkind is also well known for his social commentary on Facebook.

He says there have been lots of good smaller stories this year.

Lewis Rifkind says there were many good smaller stories in Yukon this year, including the opening of a more high-end cheese shop and a French delicatessen in Whitehorse. (CBC)
"There's been some new stores in town, the cheese shop and the French delicatessen, oh, take a second mortgage, but they're both wonderful. Very expensive, but both wonderful. And then it's been the sort of year where the hipsters really came to town. No offense meant to any of them, but good lord, typing workshops at Baked Cafe, hmmf," says Rifkind.

Another good story for the town of Watson Lake was the visit from current and former NHL players in August.

The players, led by Arizona goalie Mike Smith. were in the territory on a hunting trip, but spent two days teaching hockey skills to kids and meeting local people.

And students and teachers, past and present, said good bye to the old F.H. Collins Secondary School in Whitehorse, the territory's biggest high school, just before the Christmas holidays. It opened in 1963. 

Classes begin in the new school in the New Year.


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