Yukon International Storytelling Festival

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The Yukon International Storytelling Festival was held every Summer in Whitehorse, Yukon, generally in an outdoor setting. The storytelling festival was conceived in the mid 1980s when one the Yukon's last Tagish speakers found herself going to the Toronto Festival of Storytelling to disseminate her peoples' stories to a world audience. 1987 saw the coming together of interested parties and the planning stages for the first Yukon Storytelling Festival in 1988. It later grew beyond the scope of Yukon and Canada to attract storytellers from all over the world with an emphasis on native peoples storytelling and circumpolar countries.


First decade. The first edition in 1988 proposed storytellers from 4 continents and 23 languages (including 16 native languages). In 1989 the festivals take flight and promotes attendance by schoolchildren and Jerry Alfred was one of the artists. In 1990 the festival grows. In 1991 the festival gains notoriety from a national festival reviewer and changes its name to "Yukon International Storytelling Festival". The Tagish lady who inspired the creation of the festival, Angela Sidney, died. 1992's edition experienced diplomatic problems with its scheduled Russian guests. 1993 saw record attendance and box office sales. 1994 the festival experienced severe financial losses due to a windstorm that nearly destroyed the festival tents and caused the festival to relocate. In 1995 the festival was scaled down in order to recoup past financial losses, and produced a surplus for the first time. In 1996 the festival grew once more and saw its second best attendance. The 10th anniversary edition in 1997 experienced its best attendance yet and interest from the Canada Council finally started happening.

Second decade. The 1998 edition felt a loss of attendance because of competing local events. In 1999 it proposed a new successful "Winter tour" and finally garnered support from the Canada Council. The 2000 edition was held in June and had great weather . 2001, rain did not impede the festivals popularity. In 2002 the festival gained much political support and moved into new offices with a new dynamic leader. The 2003 edition saw a successful Circumpolar Banquet and other workshops and events throughout the day. The many forest fires of 2004 created a unique atmosphere for the festival, the highlight storytellers were "Red Sky Performance Troupe" from Ontario. The largest festival in 2005 had 12 tents with many different activities. Highlighted artists were "Uzume Taiko" Japanese drumming ensemble, "Aché Brasil" performing the Brazilian martial art of capoeira and Robert Bly. 2006 was a similarly large endeavour (partnership with "Harvest Fair") and the Mongolian yurts provided cozy, warm and intimate storytelling venues. The 20th anniversary was held indoors for the first time at the Yukon Arts Center in August. Highlighted artists were SunsDrum, an interactive Inuit presentation of traditional drumming and throat singing, Jeanne Doucet Currie, an Acadian traditional storyteller and singer/songwriter, Dan Yashinsky (founder of the Toronto Festival of Storytelling) and Ida Calmagne (Tagish, Yukon), daughter of the founder of the festival.

The Festival is currently on an indefinite sabbatical.[1]

Regular local guest storytellers[edit]

Jerry Alfred - Michele Emslie - Anne-Louise Genest - Backwoods Benny

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Storytellers of Canada. "Canadian Festivals". Retrieved 29 August 2012. 

External links and references[edit]