Canada's 150th party kicks off in Yukon with music and fireworks

Yukon's year-long celebration to mark 150 years since Confederation begins with a bang in Whitehorse on New Year's Eve.

Yukon's celebration to mark 150 years since Confederation begins in Whitehorse on New Year's Eve

MP Larry Bagnell says Yukoners will be treated to two fireworks shows in Whitehorse on New Year's Eve as part of the kick off to Canada's 150th birthday celebrations. (Philippe Morin)

Canada's 150th birthday celebrations begin with a bang - literally - in Whitehorse on New Year's Eve with two fireworks shows and live music.

The first fireworks display is at 9 p.m., says Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, to mark the beginning of a year of special events in the capital, Ottawa, and across the country. There's a second show at midnight.

Yukon's 150 events actually start earlier in the day at the Canada Games Centre and then move to Shipyards Park early in the evening, he says.

Classified is headlining a varied musical lineup at Shipyards Park on New Year's Eve. (
 "There will be all sorts of bands, of festivities,  and hot chocolate and then there will be fireworks at 9 o'clock to match when Canada 150 starts in Ottawa, and also for the kids so they can go to bed  and then we'll have fireworks again at midnight for those who have stayed up and kept the party going," says Bagnell.

So far there are three other major events planned over the course of the year, he says.

Don't expect to see any recreation centres or town halls built to mark the year, says Bagnell. There are other programs for infrastructure, he says, Canada 150 is about the party.

"The theme this year is not infrastructure, it's more celebrations of our culture, of our people, of our history."

They include a series of concerts, a unique play using the words of Yukoners about life in the territory and the building of four traditional watercraft. Bagnell says other smaller projects will be held throughout the year in various communities.

North: A pan-territorial celebration

Calls have gone out for performers, visual artists and Dene/Inuit sports from all three territories.

The airplane game tests a competitors upper body strength. (Bo O. Kristensen/AWG2016)
Their production will be staged in Whitehorse, Yellowknife, Iqaluit, Montreal and Vancouver over three weeks in October and November. The evening performances will be supplemented by daytime outreach activities.

Traditional Watercraft Project

Four traditional watercraft will be built near the S.S. Klondike waterfront museum in Whitehorse over the month of June says the project's coordinator Anne Mease at the Yukon First Nations Culture and Tourism Association.

"So it's pretty exciting, we're just in the beginning stages, we've pretty much got a lot of things laid out, we'll be out there in the next little while looking for donations, and sponsorship."

Mease says they are: a dugout canoe built by Ray Natraro assisted by carvers from the Northern Cultural Expressions Society; a mooseskin boat built by Doug Smarch Sr. and Doug Smarch Jr.; a seal, or other, skin kayak made by Darrel Nasogaluak and apprentice Cole Felix; a birchbark canoe built by Halin De Repentignay with apprentice Joe Migwans.

Halin De Repentignay's birchbark canoe at Yukon College. He will build another this summer to mark Canada 150. (Michael Vernon/Yukon College)

De Repentignay donated a birchbark canoe he built to Yukon College in 2011. His dedication seemed to anticipate the 150th celebration.

"Not long ago, Canada's founding peoples - First Nations, French, Metis, the Scots and English - travelled from Quebec to Yukon in canoes just like this. I built this canoe as a reminder of those times of exploration, of discovery and the birth of our nation.

Anne Mease is coordinating the Traditional Watercraft project for Canada 150. (Anne Mease)
"It's also a reminder that our nation grew strong because of our differences, and that we had to rely on each other's skills, talents and traditions.

"Unfortunately those lessons of the past are often forgotten or taken for granted."

Mease says the boats will be finished in time for the Adaka Cultural Festival and then eventually displayed in various Yukon communities.

Busted Up: A Yukon Story

Open Pit Theatre is presenting its play Busted Up: A Yukon Story.

Its members spent two years recording more than 60 interviews with Yukoners in Ross River, Teslin, Carcross, Keno City, Dawson City, Mayo and Whitehorse for the Yukon Verbatim Project.

From left, Caili Steel, President Open Pit Theatre, Geneviève Doyon, Co-Artistic Director and Yukon MP Larry Bagnell at the Canada 150 announcement. (Larry Bagnell)
A release about the project says the interviews were intended to gather a broad and accurate range of perspectives and were done in "all sorts of locations; wall tents, yurts, log cabins, outhouses, conference rooms, offices, and coffee shops."

Playwright Geneviève Doyon combined the interviews into a "exciting and unique play; showcasing both the harmonious and conflicting views existing in the Yukon today." 

The performances are going to take place at The Old Fire Hall in Whitehorse from Sept. 15-23. Additional performances will follow in Dawson City pending financing, says Jessica Hickman, co-artistic director.

Geneviève Doyon records an interview in Keno City with one of the Yukoners quoted in Busted Up: A Yukon Story. (Jessica Hickman)