Adäka Cultural Festival

Adäka means “coming into the light” in the Southern Tutchone language. The Festival is a gathering of many First Nations (mostly from the Yukon, but international First Nations are also featured) to celebrate their vibrant cultures. It is NOT a show put on for white people and the vibe is completely different than the wanna-be-politically-inclusive skits we see First Nation performs at official ceremonies. It's a real celebration by First Nations for the First Nations to which everybody is invited to participate. And it truly feels like an honor to be invited to such a wonderful event. 

We hear it all the time: First Nations are so proud of their heritage! But to see it in action is very different. I have had the chance to work with children from different Canadian First Nations last summer and this summer and I felt that pride more than ever in the youth. It was heartwarming to see so many young people perform as dancers and drummers. We could feel the strong connexion and the pleasure they had to be together. 

There were also 4 traditional boats being built during the festival and we got to talk for a while with a Maori carver from NZ who was working on adornments for a Tlingit dugout canoe. I loved this excerpt about that project called Dań Kwanje ’Á–Nààn: Voices Across the Water.

Our cultures were overtaken by colonization in the centuries following first contact with newcomers. We persevered in reclaiming our lands, autonomy and cultures. Today 11 of 14 Yukon First Nations are self-governing, exploring new pathways to sustainable prosperity. 

Resilient and resourceful Elders survived tough times, preserving our languages and cultures. Honouring them we are building four watercraft ~ a moose skin boat, birch bark canoe, dugout canoe and quyaq ~ for Canada’s 150th anniversary. Like the watercraft of earlier days we have arrived at a new destiny – a place of pride and celebration as independent Indigenous peoples. It is in this spirit that we join with other Canadians – young and old, new arrivals and long time settlers, to commemorate Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation. 

Dań Kwanje ’Á–Nààn: Voices Across the Water carries messages for all of us and for people around the world. We have only to listen, to learn and to share in this time of reconciliation – moving forward together safely into the waters of tomorrow. 

The 24 Hours of Light Bike Festival

Passing the bâton... or the timing bracelet.

Passing the bâton... or the timing bracelet.

Balloon popping with a partner game!

Balloon popping with a partner game!

Less than two hours to go!

Less than two hours to go!

On her last (and 9th) lap, Mara came back just 1:38 after noon and her lap didn't count!

On her last (and 9th) lap, Mara came back just 1:38 after noon and her lap didn't count!

The amazing Mountain Goats!

The amazing Mountain Goats!

Twenty-four hours is a long time. But a 24 hour bike race under the midnight sun with some good friends? It goes by pretty fast... at least when you race (not so much for the support parents!). There were only 2 junior teams this year, The Mountain Goats (our all-girl team) and School's Out (all boy team made of the brothers, cousins and friends of some of the girls!), so you can imagine that there was no competition at all!! Both teams did incredibly well and showed great sportsmanship. The 6 km junior course was pretty hilly with some technical sections. The adults (solo up to teams of 8 and a family category) had a 12 km course. Some teams came all the way from Texas, Colorado, Ontario and Alaska to participate. 

It's such a fun event, especially in a small town like Whitehorse, where most mountain bikers know each other. To spice things up, from midnight to 6 am, if you race your lap naked (and I mean COMPLETELY naked, except riding gear: socks, gloves, helmet and bike shoes), you get an extra lap for your team! Needless to say, it was darn cold by then, hold-your-beer-with-ski-gloves cold! You REALLY do not want to encounter a bear or crash your bike in your Adam suit! 

The kids stopped and slept from midnight to 5 am, then it was game on till Sunday noon. At 6 am, Mara came back from her lap with a missing shoe! She had fallen off her bike and lost her (probably not tied properly) shoe in the forest and couldn't find it! JF went back and found it later. Some girls were getting too tired to ride more than one lap on Sunday, and Mara was the last one to go just after 11 am and when she came back from her lap nobody wanted to go again so in a snap decision she went out again with less than 26 minutes to go before noon. She needed to pull a fast lap to make it, but that second lap in a row this late in the race made her miss the cut off by less than 2 minutes. As usual, she finished with a smile. Aïsha won the prize for the fastest lap by a girl on the youth course.

This was the girls first experience of a longer race with a team and they had a blast. Soon they will be hammering down the full course by themselves and won't even need to freeze their bum to ride many laps. To many more fun events like the 24 HOL. 


Hiking White Mountain

Wild Orchid (Cypripedium montanum) also called Mountain Lady's Slipper

Little Atlin Lake

On Father's Day, JF and the girls went hiking to White Mountain. The view towards Little Atlin Lake was very hazy because of the many forests fires that are now ravaging the territory (there are 80 active forest fires in the Yukon right now...). On their way up, they met two couples from Alaska who had just finished a 9-day kayak trip on Atlin Lake all the way to the glacier. They said it was incredible! They also pointed out to them the wild orchids along the trail by leaving little cairns for the girls to discover.

All pictures taken by JF.

Market day joy

It was seeing familiar faces come back for energy balls and the amazement of people at finding out that something so healthy could be so delicious. It was the fishing in the river in shifts. It was catching up with old friends. It was the bartering with other sellers that left everybody happy. It was the clapping at the end of the market to celebrate another great day of hard work. It was the swim in the ice-cold lake on the way back home and the dance party around the bonfire late in the night with roasted fruits on sticks. It was seeing the moon disappearing behind the mountains. It was falling asleep with Mara in my arms with her hair smelling of wood smoke.

A table at the Farmers' market!

Our friend Amanda and the children have had a table at the Fireweed Farmers' market for a few year. This year, they sell raw ice cream (made simply with bananas and other fruits in the Champion). When I asked Amanda if we could sell some of our favorite raw energy balls, she said yes right away. This week, Amanda was also giving a workshop on rhubarb. If you have read my bio page, you know how much I love rhubarb! You should have seen how proud Mathilde was to join in the preparation of rhubarb chutney, rhubarb iced tea, rhubarb ketchup, rhubarb lentil curry, rhubarb jam, fig and rhubarb compote and my favorite, spicy rhubarb pickles!

The market is open from 3 pm to 8 pm, so we arrived at 2 pm to set up our tables. It was windy and cold and our friends who were selling ice cream were quite bummed, because of course, ice cream don't sell really well when it's freezing outside. By 6 pm, all our energy balls were sold! The girls were thrilled with the experience (and loved that they could use the money they made to buy what they wanted from the other tables!). Finally, the sun showed its face and we had to strip down to t-shirts, and the ice cream started selling like crazy. The girls helped their friends to make it, and Mara and I had to run to the grocery store to get more fruits. 

The rhubarb workshop was a big hit too. People were excited to see how creative they could get with rhubarb (it is still rhubarb season up here and there is tons on it!!).

The market is such a social venue, it was fun to catch up with all the people I hadn't seen in a long time, and it was such a great experience for the girls! They want to do it every week while we are here!