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Power of the People: Yukon Arts Summit Makes Change

Power of the People: Yukon Arts Summit Makes Change

Breakout sessions brought people together to reflect and to pollinate new thinking.


By Inga Petri 

Article originally published on Strategic Moves Blog December 4, 2014 and reproduced with permission of the author. 


Over 100 performing and visual arts presenters from across Yukon gathered during four days in November to develop concrete action plans for a strong, unified arts sector. The summit was designed to create a space where all participants would shape the outcomes – at once encouraging collaboration and inviting each person’s leadership. It was remarkable to be a witness – and contributor – to this process.

The energy in the room was unlike anything I have ever experienced.  The work that got done, the plans that were committed to, will transform the way the Yukon arts and cultural communities work with each other, and present themselves to their stakeholders, the rest of Canada and beyond. People here not only dream big, they make big things happen. It seems they can’t help it; it is in their nature.

The summit outcomes will prove their transformative power over the next weeks, months and years.

Several key elements came together to create a summit like no other I have ever seen:

  • An attitude that set out to “Help the Best get Better” and that delivered. Indeed the best had gathered together at this summit: 100% of First Nations Cultural Centres attended, as well as 86% of the First Nations in the Yukon, and the same proportion of all the communities across the territory. All participants had a voice and used it, shared experiences, told stories and offered new thinking that could create significant change. Both performing and visual arts were actively included, and many artistic disciplines within these were well-represented. Presenters, producers, practicing artists, funders, board members and consultants all worked together throughout. Just imagine such a truly inclusive gathering of active, ready-to-work participants in BC, Ontario or the Maritimes!
  • Action-oriented summit design. There were only 5 presentations/ workshops during the summit: place-based cultural tourism, collaboration, network development, marketing and funding. Each was followed by three local responders, rather than the often used Q&A format, who reflected briefly on each presentation (what resonated, what didn’t and action items) , followed by professionally facilitated breakout sessions designed to connect, reflect and plan.
  • Deliberate creation of spaces for reflection, and spaces for action planning. This was ingenious. The summit organizers invited participants along this journey, always stretching themselves along the way, and by day 4, the work had been done to achieve agreement on several major community-led initiatives: to establish a collaborative network of presenters, create a touring network, establish a network for First Nations Cultural Centres; and to put the arts and cultural sector into the driver seat in terms of their contribution to Yukon tourism.

As an outside expert I was asked to participate in the whole conference. For me that meant there was a great deal of casual, hallway type conversation about anything that was on participants’ minds, mixed with formal opportunities to meet whether in a MatchUp program or over dinner. As a result I formed much deeper, richer connections with carefully thinking, smart people from all parts of Yukon, who were exploring how to use their understanding, new information and leadership for their communities’ benefit and the greater good. Listening and asking good questions can be much more powerful than speaking or telling.

My hope is that this new kind of close-knit, yet open network, grounded in shared leadership and personal commitments for specific actions, will become a beacon for established and new networks elsewhere.


Inga's work is nationally recognized for the landmark study on The Value of Presenting:  A Study of Performing Arts Presentation in Canada (©2013) commissioned by Canadian Arts Presenting Association (CAPACOA) and for providing strategic insight, championing contemporary marketing practices, and delivering practical training in the arts sector.

To view the original article written December 4, 2014  please follow this link.

Artwork Wednesday: Shane Wilson

Artwork Wednesday: Shane Wilson


Candle Ice, 1999, Yukon Arts Centre Gallery Permanent Collection, photo courtesy of Shane Wilson.


My intention is to create beautifully original sculpture, ethically and sustainably, directly from nature in found antler, horn, ivory, bone and bronze—the carving suggestive of a way forward for our rapidly changing planet, one in which we’ll create beautifully original solutions, ethically and sustainably, directly with nature

–Artist Statement,



Organic and non-organic forms and materials co-exist within master carver Shane Wilson’s powerful carvings of horn, ivory, antler and bronze. The carvings are abstracted, sleek and refined, yet his materials, such as mammoth ivory, might be up to 40 000 years old and their original shape is rough.

Formerly based in the Yukon for many years, residing in Whitehorse and Faro, Wilson’s work is held in the Yukon Government Permanent Art Collection, the Yukon Arts Centre Permanent Collection, the Haines Junction Permanent Art Collection and the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto Contemporary Art Collection amongst others.

Wilson’s signature duality is evident in the Yukon Art Centre’s Permanent Art Collection piece Candle Ice, a smooth moose antler carved into jagged triangular shapes that resemble daggers of ice like those found alongside a frozen river. The smooth precision of the carving is a transformation of the original antler, likely shed by a moose just after mating season.

Many viewers wonder if the piece is made of one solid piece of antler, or if it was created with multiple pieces of antler adhered together. Impressively, Candle Ice was carved as one individual form with geometric shapes created out of the core naturally shaped antler.

In 2012, the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto commissioned Wilson to re-create Candle Ice for the lobby of their Hotel. The following video shows the incredible transformation of raw material into spectacular sculpture, and the installation in its current location.


Where can you spot Wilson’s artwork around the Yukon?

Yukon Seasons, Yukon Government Permanent Collection, located on the second floor of the Canada Games Centre:

Canada Winter Games Yukon Torch (2007), located at the Canada Games Centre, overlooking the Flexihall and the Soccer Field: 

Photo courtesy of Shane Wilson

Candle Ice (1999) located in the Lobby of the Yukon Arts Centre:


The Shooting of Dan McGrew by Shane Wilson and Dwayne Cull, located in the MacBride Museum of Yukon History. This piece is made of mammoth ivory, mahogany and gold nugget:

Photos courtesy of Shane Wilson


Gaiaa (2009) from the Skullpture Series, made of moose antler and bronze. This piece is on display at the St. Elias Convention Centre in Haines Junction along with a collection of bronze sculptures from the same series, as part of the Haines Junction Permanent Art Collection:

Photo courtesy of Shane Wilson 

Learn more about Shane Wilson and see more of his artwork at his personal artist website,