Culture centre stage
Whitehorse had it all

Michele LeTourneau
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Mar 20/00) - It's a wrap.

Four Gala evenings at the Yukon Arts Centre, almost 50 daytime performances at a dozen venues, a full-scale professional visual art exhibit, an active art studio and an evening of performances at Haines Junction, an hour and a half outside Whitehorse ... slip into the collective history of almost 30 years of Arctic Winter Games.

The cultural program of the Arctic Winter Games 2000, held in the Yukon capital, touched all the bases and fulfilled all expectations.

From the opening ceremonies, raw with the energy of a two-year project finally coming to fruition, to the closing ceremonies, marked by "a different mood, one of exhaustion and elation," as cultural manager for the games Julie Wills said it -- the talent and flair of the cultural delegates shone through from March 5 to 11.

"There's a real fullness about the program," said Wills during those final hours leading up to the closing ceremonies.

"And there's a whole range of talent."

Wills sadly noted that two teams weren't able, finally, to send their cultural delegates. Alaska's Nagsragmiut Inland Eskimo Dancers and Chukotka, Russia's Folk Dance and Song Ensemble could not attend.

"That was disappointing," she said.

But seven other arctic regions sent delegates. Alberta North sent Fancy Dancer Stan Isadore and Hoop Dancer Petie Chalifoux -- both had their audiences in awe of their prowess and the beauty of their dances.

Greenland's cultural envoys consisted of a folk quartet of talented musicians and NAIP, a dance group that keeps alive the old Dutch folk dances learned long ago from passing whalers.

From Northern Quebec's Nunavik came heavy metal energy in the form of Angava and two lovely throat singers, Akinisi Sivuarapik and Evie Mark.

Celtelic, a duo comprised of a young pianist, Katy Westberg, and a young fiddler, Randi Austring, represented the Yukon home team.

And, finally, the Tuktoyaktuk Drummers and Dancers, along with the Kicking Caribou Theatre Company from Arctic Bay and throat singers Leslie Qammaniq (Pond Inlet) and Stephanie Ashevak Adams (Rankin Inlet) added the culture of the NWT and Nunavut to the rich mix of artistic gifts.

About 100 Yukon performers joined in to round out the program.

All cultural delegates received platinum Ulus to recognize their excellence in their chosen art-form.