Research Assistant Reflection: Katherine Ahlf and Dawson City as Community

My name is Katherine Ahlf, and I worked as a research assistant with the Dawson City Museum Project over the summer. 

My work was primarily focused on writing an annotated bibliography for a paper that would expand on critical events that shaped the development of Dawson City, which, in turn, affected the museum and its role in the community. I focused my timeline from the 1950s-2000 and concentrated on information related to the government and community action that led to the drastic transition of Dawson City from a ghost town to a tourist town, finding resources that helped show what life was like for the community during this time. To understand when a source was valuable for this project or not, I first needed to educate myself to create a foundational knowledge of the museum and town’s history and what parts were missing from the project’s previously completed work. 

This foundational work took some time as there is an overwhelming number of sources on some subjects, but shockingly little on others regarding Dawson City’s history and development within my planned timeline. This ebb and flow of information was particularly challenging to work with at first. In my previous academic writing experiences, there was little space for speculation. Concrete factual information was all that was permitted on relatively short timelines. However, I learned that with this kind of in-depth research project, sometimes you must start with speculation and go down a few long rabbit holes. With time and after looking in some surprising places, I found resources with the information we needed! 

What did I find?

What stands out to me the most from my research is how incredible the community involvement in the town of Dawson City has been throughout these decades of adaption and transition from the iconic Gold Rush town to what we know today. For decades, this isolated community faced dramatic population declines and economic challenges, meaning it became a ghost town. Still, there was a consistent belief that what the town could offer was special and worth fighting to preserve. 

Developing the town into what we see today took the community several failed attempts to launch the region as a tourist attraction. There were also several instances where the town continued to push on despite decisions by the territorial and federal governments that limited or isolated the town further. Eventually, Dawson City was recognized as a worthwhile investment to preserve and promote tourism by these governments. Their intervention has drastically shaped the Dawson City experienced today. However, after my summer researching these events and timelines, I know the driving force for Dawson City’s success was a community that believed their home was worth working to save despite the challenges. An excellent resource sharing more information on this is A. A. Doiron’s thesis titled “Tourism Development and the third sector: a case study on Dawson City, Yukon.” 

Hopes for the Project Moving Forward

As I end my time as a research assistant with this project, my biggest hope for the future is that the information gathered and meticulously compiled by Robin and the other researchers involved in the project is thoroughly utilized by the museum. I believe that policymakers having a clearer understanding of the organization’s previous experiences and choices can provide a lot of information that will enrich and guide the museum’s future decisions. I also hope that the work completed with this project reaches more people in the general public and helps spurn a curiosity to know more about Dawson City than just during the years of the Gold Rush.

Working to Connect: The Dawson City Museum in the 21st Century

The Dawson City Museum project asks – How has the Dawson City Museum evolved in relation to government policy and community action? 

We are taking two approaches to answering the question. First, we are considering the data chronologically to discuss the evolution of the Museum over time. Second, we have developed key themes related to policy and community. To solicit feedback, I will post a series of working papers that consider the data in these two ways – that is, chronologically and thematically. These papers will inform the final report for the Dawson City Museum and podcast miniseries.  Past Papers include:

Providing the fifth and final chronological consideration of the data, this working paper asks – What are some key moments, influential policies, and community activities that defined the Dawson City Museum’s development in the 21st century?

After summarizing the answers and outlining our research approach, I give a short overview of the Museum’s development in the 21st century. The overview outlines a significant change from the 1990s when the Museum was a community hub to the 21st century when successive Directors have struggled to connect with the local community. I consider significant policies, focusing on the decline in support for the Museum despite an increase in operational funding and support for an ongoing renewal project.  Then, a section on community activity describes the significance of the establishment of other nonprofits and the departure of key people from Dawson City. The paper concludes the period is defined by a struggle to connect with the local community given limited resources and related inconsistencies despite significant investment in expansion or renewal projects due to a persistent need for increased support to operational costs like salaries. 


What are some key moments, influential policies, and community activities that defined the Dawson City Museum’s development in the 21st century?

  • Key Moments
    • The Museum experienced financial difficulty in the early 2000s and had to lay off staff. 
    • The Director changed in 2002, 2007, and 2015, contributing to inconsistencies in operations. 
    • There were significant expansion or renewal projects during the period. Thanks to support from the Lind family and project grants, the Museum opened the Lind Gallery and new storage facilities in the early 2000s. In 2021, the Museum reopened with renewed exhibitions. 
  • Influential policies
    • Policies considered in previous chronological considerations continued to be influential. In particular, the territorial museum policy, project grants from both the federal and territorial levels, student employment funding, relationships with federal actors, and the use of the Old Territorial Administration Building have ongoing significance.
    • The 21st century is also notable for the policies and programs which are no longer significant to the Museum’s operations, such as employment funding related to unemployment. 
    • In 1998 the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in negotiated its land claim and self-governing agreement. As a self-governing First Nation, the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in became more active in heritage management. As a result, the Dawson City Museum’s relationship with Indigenous Peoples evolved during the 21st century. 
    • Reliance on project funding in the 1990s encouraged a growth model despite a lack of support for ongoing operations, contributing to financial difficulties in the 21st century. 
  • Community activities 
    • Several people who had worked on contracts for the Museum from the 1970s or 1980s into the 1990s left Dawson City.
    • There were new organizations established in Dawson City, redirecting some volunteer labor. 

Research Method

The working paper relies on the research conducted as part of the Dawson City Museum Project, including archival research and a document analysis of digitized records. Interviews with fifteen people included interviews with two directors, a curator, and student employee who worked in the period examined as well as a board member and volunteer. 

Two RAs – Christine Leroux and Katherine Ahlf – provided valuable feedback on the paper.


As discussed in “A Community Hub,” the 1990s was a decade of increased funding for the Dawson City Museum related to territorially significant centennials (e.g., the Klondike Gold Rush) and a variety of employment programs. As an active institution and major employer with an engaging and well-liked Director, the Dawson City Museum became a community hub. However, the role was unsustainable.

The 21st century has involved significant changes for the Museum.  On the one hand, the period starts with an expansion and ends with new permanent exhibitions, demonstrating growth as a professional institution. On the other, financial and staffing challenges once again began to define work, contributing to inconsistencies in both the Museum’s operations and relationship building within the community. As a result, the Dawson City Museum became an institution struggling, but consistently working toward connecting with its community.

Financial difficulties re-emerged for the Museum in the early 2000s when they failed to receive a grant partway through a project. As a result, the Director / Curator was laid off for 20 weeks and the Museum was forced to borrow money through a personal line of credit on at least two occasions (DCM AGM June 6, 2002; See documents available in O&M correspondence, 29b, Dawson City Museum Archives). As the Director from the period described:

We didn’t get the grant, and that put us in a very tight operating funding position. We ran out of money, and that’s why I had to lay myself off, so I could keep at least one other staff member full-time in the building over the winter.

Interview 3

Despite the financial challenges, Museum staff at the time ensured the Museum continued to grow and develop. They applied to designate the Old Territorial Administration Building a national historic site and the bid was successful. They also opened a new storage facility and the Lind Gallery focused on pre-Gold Rush history (DCM Newsletter vol. 18 no. 2). Further, the Museum Director spearheaded an advocacy campaign for increased operational funding starting in 2002 (See documents available in O&M Correspondence, Box 29b, Dawson City Museum Archives). Importantly, the Dawson City business community wrote letters in support of the Museum’s ask, showing ongoing community support for the institution in a time of crisis (See “Community Mobilized“). 

Responding to calls from the DCM and a consultation for a Museums Strategy, the territorial government eventually increased operational support to community museums, which shifted funding from project grants, and implemented multi-year agreements. Articulating a need for the change, the Director who worked at the Museum in 2001-2002 noted,

There’s a need for multi-year funding… that’s why I had to lay myself off. I couldn’t plan for a year because I had to rely on incoming project grant money, and if I didn’t get that grant money, we couldn’t operate.

Interview 3

The operational funding increase and multi-year agreements helped provide the consistency the Dawson City Museum needed to fund staff from year to year, addressing the perennial question of how the Director would get paid. 

Despite having the funding for a director position from 2003 onward, the Museum continued to shift away from its role as a community hub. In 2007, the Director wrote:

DCM is recognized as one of the most important heritage attractions in the community yet we have few volunteers, locals rarely attend our special events and financial support is nil.

Pike 2007

Notably, the Museum’s role as a community hub in the 1990s intersected with its role as a major employer (see “A Community Hub”). There was a core group of staff who worked at the Museum on contracts from the 1970s, providing consistency. These individuals left Dawson City and/or found permanent positions elsewhere at the end of the 1990s or beginning of the 2000s, which coincided with the decline in project and employments grants the Museum had used to fund their work. 

The loss of these key individuals highlighted the need for permanent staff to provide consistency and ongoing labour at the Museum. As articulated in a Canadian Conservation Institute report on the Dawson City Museum’s performance:

lt is imperative that key staff be hired on full time status … without key, full time staff, the Museum’s operational profile will fall to levels which will question its ability to continue to operate as a museum.

p. 22 qtd in DCM Director Curator Report June 19 2002

Despite the recommendation and the aforementioned increase in operational funding, there has been insufficient funding for key staff, leading to inconsistencies in operation. For example, the Museum experienced significant backlogs in registration with the departure of the collection manager in the early 2000s (DCM Report to Board for June 19 to July 22 2003). While there has been a Curator engaged in collection management since 2014, the 2000s and early 2010s involved a series of projects to address a backlog followed by a period without staff dedicated to the collection, leading to more backlogs (See “Dawson City Museum, 2000s” and “Dawson City Museum, 2010s”). 

The inconsistencies are due to different staffing priorities as directors utilize their limited budget and project grant availability. Within this period, the Museum has typically had one year-round, full-time position in addition to the Director with some attempts to hire a third employee. However, the operating budget cannot accommodate a third permanent and full-time employee over the long term. As a former Director noted:

When I took over in 2015, the Museum had three permanent, year-round, full-time staff. That number is – it was then and is today – frankly more than the Museum can comfortably afford.

Interview 1

The Director quoted then prioritized the curator position over an archivist position when he had to let someone go. The previous Director had briefly prioritized programming with the creation of a Program Co-Ordinator position in 2008, which led to more activities focused on local audiences such “A Night at the Museum” and other programs for school children (DCM Annual Report 2008). These school programs were necessarily suspended when the program manager left (DCM Annual Report 2011-12). The Director then prioritized curation due to a planned exhibition renewal project. The Curator, who started in 2014, had to manage the aforementioned backlog of donated artifacts because collection management had not been prioritized with a Program Co-ordinator as the second full-time position. She described the situation as follows:

When I first arrived, there was a backlog of donations that hadn’t been processed… [Also] a lot of items within our database hadn’t been touched in a while and by that, I mean – had not been seen. So, we did not know if it existed because we [could not] find it.

Interview 6

The changing staff thereby presented a challenge to the growth and development of the Museum with inconsistencies in the museum functions accomplished.  

In addition to prioritizing different staff positions over time, the Directors have taken different approaches to engaging with the local community. Starting in the early 2010s, one director began an events approach, aiming to increase the Museum’s presence by hosting activities for the local community. For example, they began an annual comedy show and movie nights for locals. Despite providing some connection to the local community, these events and activities cost the Museum money and had limited (or no) connection to Klondike heritage. As such, when the Director changed in 2015, he initiated a process of “finding the floor.” As he explained:

The phrase I use with the curator, and its sort of a guiding philosophy of mine, is finding the floor. When I started in 2015, one of my first tasks was to pull off a Comedy Festival that was partly, substantially funded by Lotteries Yukon that ended up costing $50,000. It was not very successful. It was a great event… and a lot of people liked it a lot, but the $50,000 event only raised, including Yukon Government funding, $40,000. So, the museum literally paid $10,000 to treat paying clients to a comedy show. And if we want to spend ten grand out of our pocket to show people a good time, I think we can do better than that.

Interview 1

Rather than focus on creating events for the community to increase the Museum’s presence, the new Director redirected efforts toward increasing the Museum’s physical presence at existing community events and fostering positive relationships with other groups. As a former board member noted:

And the Museum has tried to just be partnering with other groups too I notice. They may be just sitting as part of another group or being in the parade or something like that. Those are just small things, but they give the Museum a presence.

Interview 15

For example, they expanded participation in activities hosted by others within the community, such as the Walk for Truth and Reconciliation (DCM 2018 Annual Report).  Museum Staff also began to more actively consult and develop a relationship with the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in. Consultation on the Museum’s Exhibit Renewal Project, which started in 2014, provides a key example of the shift from inviting community to events to actively engaging in relationship building with community. As the Executive Director explained:

When I took over in 2015, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in had not been approached about our plans. The Museum was planning this huge major renewal. Our curator had started in 2014 … and so halfway through the three-year exhibit development process, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in had not been approached. 

The curator and I spent too much time handwringing about that. How could we have gotten this far, and no one’s been contacted? How can we go to them now, at this stage? Eventually we got over ourselves and did and it went really well. But as an example of a shift in priorities? There we go. Fewer comedy festivals, more engaging with important stakeholders.

Interview 1

The Curator similarly describes a more community-oriented approach to the Museum’s work post 2015:

We want to work in the community… [and] have community relationships. I think it’s changed a lot. Our past director, maybe, wasn’t as open to making those connections. I would say, [the current Director] definitely is. 

Interview 6

The Curator’s reflection highlights the Director’s role in fostering these relationships. The Director from 2007 to 2015 was not as friendly and open to relationship building as the Director who took over in 2015. As an Interview Participant remarked:

We felt somewhat disrespected and lost a little bit of interest in the Museum. We’ve been more than happy with having [the Director and Curator from 2015] working there now because they are just amazing. 

Interview 5

In short, staff is key to Museum operations and shape what the museum is able to accomplish. After a decade of growth and increased community engagement with the Museum, the 21st saw the DCM struggle to connect with the local community. The difficulties relate to financial challenges and staffing changes, which led to inconsistencies in the Museum’s operations.  However, a shift from an events approach to a more community focused orientation has begun to redress the issue. The Museum staff hope to continue engaging with the community, using their new exhibitions as a starting point. 

As noted above, the Museum began work on a major exhibit Renewal Project in 2014, using funding from the Community Development Fund (DCM 2016 Annual Report) and the government of Canada. The exhibits opened in 2021 and represent a significant change for the institution. As explained by the Executive Director at the time:  

We wanted the Museum to tell a more focused story… The thesis of the new exhibitions is the people of the Klondike persevere and prosper through adaptation and change. 

And we wanted it to be more inclusive… We knew that in the new exhibits, we wanted the exhibit to better reflect the continuity… the primacy, the priority, and the centrality of the Indigenous Peoples of the Klondike – the Gwich’in and Hän. That was a distinctly important piece of a new inclusive exhibit that we wanted to create.

Interview 1

Similarly, the Curator discussed the new exhibitions as a shift in the Museum’s activities to better reflect and respond to the community. She noted:

With the new exhibits going up, we definitely are making a more concerted effort to be more reflective, and maybe responsive, to our community…

When I think about the current exhibitions, I think, what we’d really wanted them to be is reflective of our community. That sounds really general, and not specific. The voice that speaks in it, we wanted to be a voice of the Klondike. 

Interview 6

I visited the Museum in November 2021 after the exhibitions opened and, as such, their re-opening is the chronological end to the research. The exhibitions have clearly provided a more inclusive foundation for the Museum’s operations, shifting the focus from Gold Rush history to the community itself. However, at the time, it was still unclear what the Museum’s plans were moving forward.


In the 21st century, we continue to see the influence of established policies, including student employment programs, the use of the Old Territorial Administration Building, partnerships with federal and other actors, and the territorial support program targeting museums. 

Although there is some continuity, there were changes in how programs operate with a decreased emphasis on supporting museums. For example, in “A Community Hub,” we discussed the $10,000 Municipal grant received to subsidize student employment at the Museum. However, without support from the anniversary funding the territory provided in the 1990s, the municipality was unable to sustain funding to the Dawson City Museum. Other notable challenges include barriers or reductions to student employment, the development of a territorial museum strategy, some decline in the Museum’s relationships with Parks Canada, and a reduction in services from the territorial advisory service.

Employment Programs

As seen since the 1970s, the Dawson City Museum used short term grants for staffing. However, in the past, there were a variety of programs accessed, such as those connected to unemployment. In the 21st century, the Museum has relied primarily on student and/or youth positions. In particular, the Museum accessed the Human Resources Development Canada’s (HRDC) Summer Career Placement Programme, Canada Summer Jobs, and Young Canada Works (YCW) students through the Canadian Heritage Foundation, the Canadian Library Association, the Canadian Museums Association, and the Canadian Council of Archives.

These programs are incredibly significant to the Museum’s operation because of their influence on the human resource capacity of the institution. As a Curator explained:

When I have someone in the archives, especially in the summer because of the amount of research we get from visitors, let alone, maybe local requests, to have someone to be able to respond, and help our visitors is very important. If [the Director] and I have to do that, it really takes away from something else, particularly, when we talk about being involved in community activities and events. So, the Truth and Reconciliation, we were able to do that because there was someone in the library helping our everyday visitors with their research. The YCW funding is very important in that sense. 

Interview 6

Similarly, a student employee from the period described the summer program:

Because of the Young Canada Works granting when I was there, they had a lot of historical Interpreters available, and that meant that they had quite a robust programming schedule that did run on repeat during the day.

Interview 13

Notably, the student and youth programs provided fewer work hours in the 21st century than the 1990s. For example, during the 1990s, the Dawson City Museum received funding for five students for eleven weeks from one program. However, in 2000, the Museum received funding for five students for only ten weeks from that program (Thistle 2000).  Then, in 2003, there were additional cuts to the funded summer student employees from all sources, reducing the number of positions, number of hours and number of weeks funded (DCM Newsletter vol. 19 no. 1). The reduced hours and weeks then contributed to students leaving partway through the summer, further undermining the program’s effectiveness (Pike 2003). 

In addition to declines in funding amounts, the Museum has experienced significant difficulties hiring summer staff due to fewer applicants and applicants turning down interviews (DCM ED Report May 16, 2017). As a former Executive Director described:

There used to be a larger force of transient summer staff and that transient summer labor force has shrunk. It has caused recruitment and retention problems at a number of businesses in Dawson. The Museum among them. As it’s become more difficult to recruit and fill our summer staffing positions, the Museum responded chiefly by cutting the positions, by managing to do more with fewer students.

Interview 1

According to the Executive Director quoted the shrinking number of students relates to the loss of a tent city, growing awareness of the housing shortage in Dawson City, and growing competition for wages as other provinces increase their minimums. Discussing the housing shortage, a former YCW student noted:

There [were] definitely a lot of housing shortages, and we knew coming in that it could be a real challenge… I used to guide canoe trips, so I had come well prepared for this, and me and my partner actually just slept in a tent the whole summer. We were in west Dawson in a campground that had no running water, and that was fine for us, but definitely not for most people.

Interview 13

Additional issues with student employment funding program shifted how the Museum interacted with audiences. In 2007, the Museum received late notice for student employees. So, students stopped providing guided tours of the exhibitions and developed a self-guided booklet instead. The students also developed new performances, which became key summer activities. They conceived and wrote the Miner’s Meeting where an audience member was accused of something, and the audience voted on their guilt (DCM Final Report Summer 2007). By 2011, the students were providing three short skits for audiences and giving a pre-written guided tour of the train shelter, which was also developed by a summer student (Interview 1). 

In short, employment programs continue to be important and shape what the Museum can accomplish. The Museum now manages with far fewer students, changing what can be offered during the summer and reducing its role as a community hub for the transient summer population. While only addressed briefly herein, student / youth employment programs are discussed in more detail in other posts (see for example: Reduced Student Positions or Students and Employment).


There continued to be significant partnerships with government actors. For example, Parks Canada provided the Museum with space for staff housing, addressing a significant problem in the Museum’s use of student employment programs – that is, the aforementioned challenge of finding them places to live (DCM ED report September 15, 2015). We also see new partnerships with the Tr’ondek Hwech’in. For example, the Museum partnered with Tr’ondek Hwech’in and Parks Canada on a school program titled “Secret Life of Artifacts,” which aimed to help students develop a better understanding of the role of heritage organizations (DCM Newsletter vol. 20 no. 1). 

Relationships with both the Tr’ondek Hwech’in and Parks Canada change during this period. Notably, the Museum has focused on strengthening its relationship with the Tr’ondek Hwech’in, but its relationship with Parks Canada became more tenuous as the federal government implemented cuts to its Dawson City program. These cuts undermined the presence of a robust heritage community that the Museum had relied on and participated in since the late 1970s. Both relationships will be discussed in more detail in their own thematic papers.  

Territorial Museums Policy and Programs

Although the territorial government has not re-articulated a policy for community museums, they have implemented significant changes in the 21st century. Most notably, they developed a Museum Strategy and redefined the granting programs. Some of these changes, such as a shift from project to operational funding, involved consultations and official announcements. Other changes, such as the elimination of a Museum Advisor position, involved shifts in practice that are not reflected in the articulated museums policy or strategy. From the Dawson City Museum’s perspective, these changes have had both positive and negative effects. 

Part one: A shift from project funding to operational funding

In 2000, the Minister for Tourism articulated an intent to develop a Museum Strategy based on consultation (Source). The Territory hired consultants who released a discussion paper (DCM Newsletter vol. 17 no. 3) then a draft Museum Strategy Report in 2002 – Strategy for Maintaining Yukon’s Museums (see documents available in Strategy for Yukon museums, Box 29a, Dawson City Museum Archives).  Yukon formed an advisory committee to draft a strategy from the Report (YHMA 2002, Summer), demonstrating a commitment to consultation. 

The Strategy outlined desired results and guiding principles for the territory’s approach to supporting museums. Most importantly, it explicitly expanded museums’ definition to include First Nations Cultural Centers, which began to receive funding under the museum granting program. The document also called for increased funding for community museums and greater flexibility in that funding. 

At the time, museums received money through both an operational grant and project grants, but the number of programs for projects was relatively high. As a result, a large percentage of the funding available was tied to new activities and expansion rather than ongoing operations like costs for permanent staff. For example, in 2002-2003, the Dawson City Museum received seven grants from Yukon’s Heritage Branch. Six of those grants were tied to projects, including gift shop development and a walking tour booklet. Although the operational grant was only 23,500, the Museum received an additional 85,000 for the projects As an Executive Director noted:

The problem with the territorial government when I got there was – there was way too much project money because all museum people were doing was being grant jockeys.

Interview 3

In addition to being more limited than project funding, the operational grant application was annual and not part of a multi-year agreement. As a former Director noted,

There’s a need for multi-year funding. We need to understand exactly how much operational funding [there is] – that’s why I had to lay myself off. I couldn’t plan for a year because I had to rely on incoming project grant money, and if I didn’t get that grant money, we couldn’t operate.

Interview 3

Moreover, the grant program involved a significant administrative burden due to intersecting government policies. In particular, in 2001, the Finance Administration Act led to a new accountability regime for the Community Museum Operations and Maintenance program, causing delays in receiving funding (See documents available in O&M correspondence, 29b, Dawson City Museum Archives). These accountability measures created additional labour for those receiving the funding. As a former Director explained:

I ended up standing at my xerox machine photocopying my check stubs for the territorial government. It was that kind of thing.

Interview 3

While not an explicit museum policy, the Finance Administration Act shaped museum policy in practice. It contributed to complaints about the funding program’s administrative burden and inflexibility for a relatively small amount of funding. 

Yukon Government responded to the call for increased flexibility and long-term stability in funding with an increase in the operating grant and multi-year funding agreements (Taylor 2003). The overall increase to the Dawson City Museum was moderate because there was a corresponding decrease in the project funding. For example, in 2004-2005, the Museum received an 80,000 operating grant and 37,500 in project funding from the Heritage Branch, which is only a 9,000 increase from 2002-2003. However, the change was important because, as discussed above, it provided sustained funding for a director position at the Museum and decreased the human resource cost for the Museum when applying for grants. 

Part two: A growth in funding and flexibility

After the release of the Strategy the government’s museum support program continued to evolve in practice. In 2006, the Minister of Tourism and Culture announced 200,000 in new funding to museums (DCM Newsletter vol. 22 no. 2), which led to operational grant increases endorsed by a Museums Advisory Committee. The Dawson City Museum remained in the highest category with a 20,000 increase for a total operating grant of 100,000. Yukon also increased the flexibility of its project grants, consolidating programs for exhibits, conservation and security, as well as artifact inventory and cataloguing into one special project grant category. 

Notably, increases in operational funding and greater flexibility in the programs targeting museums did not completely address the issue of how to pay staff.  The use of the Heritage Branch’s project grant – the Special Projects and Capital Assistance Program (SPCAP) – is shaped by the availability of staff to supervise and implement projects. As a former Director explained:

It’s also only possible for our staff to oversee so many SPCAP projects. If we wanted to use two programs to purchase specialized equipment, that wouldn’t take a lot in the way of management resources. But some projects that we’ve undertaken (like large-scale inventories or donor records reconciliations) in the past couple of years, you can only do one of those at a time. 

We don’t have the personnel to do it… Our ability to take advantage of a more generous special project grant program, like SPCAP, is limited by the time that our permanent staff have to manage the project.

Interview 1

Though promoted as flexible, like many project grants the SPCAP funds could not be used to pay permanent staff salaries. As explained in an interview:

I kept being told that SPCAP funds couldn’t be used to pay staff wages. And I was like – where in the program guidelines does it say that? And it doesn’t. But I kept being told this.

Interview 1

The Museum was told to use contractors instead, which is expensive. Especially in a rural community in the Yukon. 

Moreover, the reliance on project funding contributes to the inconsistency in museum operations due to uncertainty. As one director wrote:

Planning from one year to the next is difficult as we never know if the funds are going to come through.

Pike 2007

As such, changes in the granting program have been positive. However, the continued need to justify projects for part of the annual funding remains a hurdle for the institution. 

Part three: Standardization?

The program came under review again in the 2010s, starting with a request in 2013 from a Museums Roundtable – that is, a gathering of Yukon community museums – for standards. The request prompted the release of the Funding Allocation for Yukon Museums and First Nation Cultural/Heritage Centres Options Paper (Cole 2013). The paper presented three possible options to improve the existing program – a modified status quo, investment based on standards/merit, or a redistribution of existing funds.

The government considered a combination of the modified status quo and investment based on standards. While the modified status quo recommended increasing funding to both the DCM and MacBride Museum, in 2015, the Territory made a separate higher tier for the MacBride Museum (DCM 2016 Annual Report). They also (Cambio 2015):

  • considered a new hybrid funding model that would tie some funding to standards.
  • committed to a two staged increase to operational funding of 10% a year for two years. 
  • proposed a 10% increase in the third year dependent on standards adherence and taken from the Special Projects Capital Assistance Program funding. 

Due to concerns from the First Nations’ Cultural Centres, the hybrid model for funding was reassessed during the 2016 Roundtable. As a result, the third-year funding increase was no longer tied to meeting standards (Cambio 2016).  

It is important to note, the standards were not implemented in large part due to the inclusion of the First Nation Cultural Centers in the grant program in the early 2000s. Their inclusion reflected the Umbrella Final Agreement Chapter 13, which noted Yukon First Nations would be provided with an equitable division of program resources for heritage. The agreement does not tie these resources to standards achievement. As a former Director described:

When the staff at Tourism and Culture started talking about tying to standards compliance, there were First Nations who reject that that premise. Their funding was tied to their umbrella final agreement, and it was not acceptable for staff at Tourism and Culture to decide that it was also going to be tied to standards that they decide to impose on their clients. Since then, it’s kind of been dead in the water.

Interview 1

Part four: Museum Advisory Service

As previously discussed, Yukon Government’s museum program includes an advisory service. The availability of advice and assistance through the museum advisory program changed both without few articulated rationales. Notably, the Museum Advisor became increasingly unavailable to museums in the early 2000s. Illustrating the change in a 2001 report to the board, the Director wrote:

We are still waiting to hear about the success of the exhibit grant and the security grant. Just before the long weekend, I called [Museum Advisor] about this and he said we would know by early the following week.  As is becoming common, I didn’t hear anything. So, I followed up with another call and he gave me the same promises, but nothing has been received yet.  I will continue to pester him until we know.

DCM Report to Board for July 23 to August 26 2001

The Museum Advisor position was eventually eliminated. While there continues to be a conservator, the Museum’s use of the conservator has also declined. More recently, the Curator described the work of the territorial conservator:

We do have links with the territorial Conservator, but her tasks are more limited in nature. Obviously, she doesn’t have the resources, in the sense of time, to address a lot of our problems. 

Interview 6

The conservator became less available due to an increase in the number of organizations seeking help and the territorial agencies (see Providing Help or Being Helpful?). Moreover, the Museums and Heritage Unit merged, resulting in challenges as staff had limited time to do everything (Hemmera 2019).

In short, the basic tenants of the territory’s museum support program – that is, operational and project grants – have remained. However, the program underwent several important changes that influenced the Dawson City Museum’s development in the 21st century. There was a shift towards more flexibility in funding as project funding was reallocated to operational funding, leading to increases and multiyear agreements. The project grants were consolidated into one purportedly more flexible project grant, which continues to have significant limitations in how it can be used to pay staff. Finally, there was an effort to implement standards tied to funding, but the effort was thwarted by the First Nations Cultural Centers, which were added to the support program following their inclusion in the museum support program. Finally, the advisory service has become less useful for the Museum.

Old Territorial Administration Building

There are a number of factors related to the OTAB that significantly influenced the Museum’s work during this period. One example is the pipes for the fire suppressant system, which burst in 2012 and caused damage to the collection. The landlord – that is, the territorial government – still has not replaced the system a decade later placing the collection and the building itself at risk. Please see “Territorial Interest and Investment” for more information. 


The DCM has experienced some challenges to engaging with the local community since its financial difficulties in the early 2000s. As outlined above, different directors have taken different approaches to addressing the issue. Attempts have included holding and participating in events as discussed above, but also some more creative solutions, such as making mannequins of local residents in order to use in the exhibitions (Source). The Museum continued to have some temporary exhibitions, which at times invited community participation. However, these efforts to foster community relationships have had varying success. The lack of money for adequate staff and reduced advisory services from the territory provide a partial explanation for the shift from being a community hub in the 1990s to struggling to connect with the community in the 21st century. Two changes in the community add to the explain the explanation – that is, changes in what people and organizations are part of the community. 

People in Dawson

Within “Territorial Interest and Investment,” we discussed museum staff as both staff and community members. Their dual membership meant the museum was well integrated in the community. In the 1990s, there were several contract staff who had worked at the Museum and had been part of the community since the 1970s or 1980s. The Director for most of the 1990s was also described in several interviews as an active member of the community. However, in the 21st century, the distinction between museum staff and community member became more distinct.  

Due in part to reduced funding, the Museum stopped being a major employer in the region. The individuals hired on contracts since the 1970s and 1980s left Dawson, becoming less available. Importantly, these people often filled out or helped develop grant application to fund their own jobs. Further, they helped the director at the time with their institutional knowledge.  As Interview Participants described:

At the time as well, there was this amazing group of people who had been involved with the Museum for quite a long time… So, there was this corporate knowledge and energy that was there as well. Just because of happenstance, most of those people ended up getting Yukon government jobs and moving to Whitehorse kind of at the same time.

Interview 10

They were experienced people who we could just call them up, and they could come in the next day and sit down and talk about what needed to be done, and we could contract them to work. We could supply them work in the winter.

Interview 3

These people had been important to both consistency and ongoing relationships with community members. Without their ongoing contribution to institutional knowledge, the Museum’s operations became more inconsistent. Further, they had been community members. New employees were less established within the community and did not have the same relationships. 

Demonstrating the importance of consistency in staffing to community relationships, the shift from an events approach to a focus on fostering relationships discussed has only been possible due to consistency in the two full-time, year-round staff positions from 2015 to 2021. The curator described:

With [the Director], and I … we have the benefit of our institutional memory, which … was lacking because of the transience of other staff. Maybe the director was here quite a bit, but every year everything was being re-learned and re-taught. Now we’ve learned and we’ve hopefully internalized what we learned. [We] can continue to grow from that, take in other people’s opinions, follow trends locally, or even nationally, and kind of adapt our practice to it. In terms of the mentality that we want to work in the community, that we have community relationships.

Interview 6

As the Curator’s quote suggests, long term stability in staffing seems to be central to the Museum’s engagement with the local community, helping to explain the successes seen in the 1990s and the struggle to connect with the community in the late 2000s and early 2010s. 

In short, the Museum lost consistency, knowledge, and relationships with the departure of community members from Dawson City who had worked for the Museum on contracts. Further contributing to a change, the heritage community in Dawson became less robust when Parks Canada experienced cuts in 2012. The Museum had relied on this community for knowledge and expertise and their departure undermined the Museum’s ability to access expertise through relationships with community members. Who is in the community has an influence on how the Museum does and can operate.  Notably for the Museum’s future, the Executive Director from 2015 – 2022 recently left, but stayed in the community. It is unclear what the effect of this change will be. 

Organizations in Dawson

The establishment of new organizations in Dawson City had both positive and negative effects on the Museum. Most notably, the Dawson City Arts Society (DCAS) formed in 1998. They obtained and renovated historic building, opening the Klondike Institute of Arts and Culture (KIAC) and launching its first show in 2000 (Klondike Institute of Art & Culture 2021). KIAC became home to the ODD Gallery, Dawson City International Short Film Festival, Yukon Riverside Arts Festival, and the Youth Art Enrichment Program.

On the one hand, the new organization is a valuable partner for the Museum. For example, in 2006 the Museum partnered with KIAC and Musicfest on an application from the federal Cultural Investment Fund to redesign their websites. Moreover, the organization is important to Dawson City, providing a home for the artistic community. As an Executive Director observed:

Ever since the year 2000, when the Dawson Arts Society opened the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture, I think there’s been less and less collaboration with artists in Dawson. The artists in Dawson flock to, they crystallized around, are more involved with, and active in the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture unsurprisingly.

Interview 1

Rather than hosting regular art exhibitions in the courthouse, the Museum began supporting and participating in events. For example, the Klondike Institute of Arts & Culture (KIAC) began the Yukon Riverside Arts Festival in 2000 with the Museum participating as a stop.   As a result, human resources are diverted from the Museum. As a former employee noted:

There were a lot of people who were also involved with the Arts Community. A lot of the people who worked very hard to establish the Dawson City Art Society and the Klondike Institute of Arts and Culture had been either employees or on the board of the Museum and worked very hard in that capacity.

Interview 10

In short, the Museum relied on the community for some labour and activities. With the development of the Dawson Arts Society, the attention of individuals who previously organized around the Museum to host temporary exhibitions and foster artistic creation was diverted toward an organization more focused on their needs. The Dawson City Museum gained a valuable community partner but also lost some community participation and attention. 


Due to the availability of funding for projects and the devotion of staff, the Dawson City Museum continued to grow and develop in the 21st century. The period starts with the opening of a new storage space and gallery. It ends with the opening of new permanent exhibitions. However, the period has also involved significant challenges and the Museum is no longer the community hub it once was. There are a variety of intersecting explanations for the change, including:

  • The loss of a director who was well liked and integrated in the community. Then, inconsistencies in operations due to the changing priorities of subsequent directors.
  • The loss of contract workers who had provided consistency in operations since the 1970s and had helped with applications for funding to support their work. 
  • The ongoing need to access project funding to sustain even basic museum activities like collections management. The project funding had encouraged a growth in operations despite insufficient operational support. 
  • The development of new organizations in Dawson City, which may have redirected labour and attention from the Museum.
  • Insufficient operational funding to sustain staffing levels. 
  • A decline in funding sources, such as the funding available for anniversary celebrations that had helped the municipality subsidize employment at the institution. There were also changes in the availability or accessibility of particular employment programs, contributing to a reliance on student / youth labour, which increases human resources during the tourism season. 
  • Reductions in advisory services and expertise available to the Museum from both the territorial government and Parks Canada. 

Notably, the current museum team has been praised for the work to rebuild and foster relationships with the community. Further, a decline in its role as a community hub has not negated the institution’s importance within the community. The Dawson City Museum continues to be recognized as an important heritage site and tourist attraction.


What do you think? Are there issues I should be paying more attention to? Do my explanations for change make sense?


Cambio. 2013, October. Yukon Museums & Cultural Centers: Annual Roundtable Workshop. 

Cambio. 2015, October. Yukon Museums & Cultural Centres Roundtable.

Cambio. 2016, November. Yukon Museums & Cultural Centres Roundtable.

Catherine C. Cole & Associates. 2014. Funding Allocation for Yukon Museums and First Nation Cultural/Heritage Centres Options Paper. Cultural Services, Department of Tourism and Culture, Yukon Government. 

Davidson, Dan. 2012, May 30. “Council Reacts to the Cuts at Parks. The Klondike Sun. P3.

DCM – internal documents from the Dawson City Museum

Glynn-Morris, John. 2017, October. Museums and Cultural Centres: Dawson Roundtable. 

Hemmera. 2019, November. Museums and Cultural Centres 2019 Roundtable Report. 

Klondike Institute of Art & Culture. 2021. “About.”

Pike, Julia. 2003, August. Letter to the Museum Advisor. Correspondence. Box 39a. Dawson City Museum Archives. 

Pike, Julia. 2007. Report.

Thistle, Paul. 2000, July. Letter to the Minister of Human Resources and Development Canada. Correspondence Director. Box 27b. Dawson City Museum Archives. 

Thistle, Paul. 2001, September. Letter to the territorial conservator. O&M Correspondence. Box 29b. Dawson City Museum Archives. 

Thistle, Paul. 2001, October. Letter to the Deputy Minister of Tourism. Lind Gallery Phase III. Box 28a. Dawson City Museum Archives. 

YHMA. 2002, Summer. “Museum Strategy Working Group.” Yukon Historical & Museums Association Newsletter. 5

Interview Analysis: Providing Help or Being Helpful?

As part of the Dawson City Museum Project, I conducted fifteen interviews with people associated with the institution historically and today. Most of the transcripts have been approved. So, my Research Assistant and I are analyzing them now. The Interview Analysis series considers this analysis and the insights people have provided.

Within this post, I consider commentary on the Yukon Government’s advisory services for museum collections. I argue there has been a shift from a service seen as helpful to a service that provides help, which is not necessarily responsive to the Dawson City Museum’s needs.

Being Helpful

As described in Territorial Interest and Investment, Yukon Government started an advisory service for community museums in the 1980s with a museums advisor and a conservator position. Interview Participants who worked at the Dawson City Museum in the 1980s and 1990s described these individuals as both helpful and responsive to the Museum’s needs.

Here are some examples:

The conservators were fabulous people. They had a series of them. They were just so supportive and excited about the collections, and happy to come in and spend long periods of time working on the collections.

Interview 7

As somebody who was starting on as a registrar or collections manager, most of my training related to managing the records came from the Museums’ Unit and all of my training and expertise related to how to care for that collection came from the conservator.

They spent a lot of time, if it wasn’t in person – and I don’t know how many weeks per year we had full access to them in person – but they were both always at the end of the phone which they still are. So I was in conversation with those people as a resource on a weekly basis to do my job.

Interview 10

[It] was really good that we had access to a Conservator, and we used her lots, especially when we got into fabrics…I just remember her coming up, and like I said, with textiles in particular, because I had no idea that you had to put stuff in to puff out the sleeves or the cotton would all collapse. Things like that.

Interview 11

As these quotes demonstrate, conversations about the Museums Unit and, in particular, the conservator position were overwhelmingly positive when talking to people who worked for the Dawson City Museum in the 1980s and 1990s.

Providing Help

As described in Declining Role of the Museum Advisor, the Museum Advisor became less available to the Dawson City Museum by the end of the 1990s. In the 2000s, the position was eliminated. However, the advisory service still exists and there is a conservator position. The Dawson City Museum continues to benefit from the conservator position and staff value the assistance provided for collection management. However, they begin to describe the advisory services as providing help rather than being helpful in a responsive way.

An Interview Participant working in the 2010s and 2020s described the relationship differently than those above. While grateful for the conservator’s assistance and advice, she noted:

It’s a bit frustrating because they’re coming from a well-staffed, well-funded unit, and their suggestions become a bit tone-deaf in understaffed, under- resourced museums, particularly tone deaf when they know the funding they’ve given us is very much. We can’t do the re-org they’re suggesting if we’re also working on a temporary exhibit, or there’s only two of us here and one of us has to do this or that. The luxury that they have with resources in terms of money, people, time in their own unit is not reflected in the community museums, and often they seem to forget that.

When they do come up, they’re very focused on a small task, that is absolutely needed, but maybe isn’t the most effective for a museum with this size of collection, with this many responsibilities.

Interview 6

The priorities of the staff within the Heritage and Museum’s unit then shape museum activities in ways that do not always align with museum staff’s priorities. Describing the implementation of the new collection management software, the curator notes it was a good idea, but at the same time it was not responsive to the Museum’s need. She stated:

With the database specifically, it’s absolutely something we want. It took a lot of time on my behalf to prepare that stuff for them, so a lot of time out of our available resources. It was not something we were necessarily compensated for, not that we were looking for that, but it seems very much like a YG project that they wanted to achieve.

We benefited from it, without a doubt, but it has also created a number of problems that has almost nullified, sometimes, the inventory we did. We’ve lost a lot of pictures, pictures are being switched over, the numbers have been switched over, there’s a lot of reconciliation that needs to happen through that. There’s obviously the learning curve of adapting to a new database, and it was just before our new exhibits. Trying to find the locations for certain things have changed, and the new database was introduced when we were moving items as well. It was really not the best timing.

Interview 6

She went on to say:

It comes back more to the feeling that they want to do certain things, and we are asked to participate as opposed to being responsive to the things that we really need.

Interview 6

In other words, the Museums Unit provides help in ways that impose obligation on the Museum’s time rather than respond to the Museum’s needs to extend its capacity. Providing another example of a failure to address Museum needs, the Participant described visits from the territorial conservator as follows.

And say we have a territorial conservator visit, they may focus on cleaning one statue, because they’re very focused on it, and that’s fantastic because we could not have done otherwise, but we really need, I don’t know, the 50 other things [to have] a light dusting or something like that. This is not a specific example, it’s just more of a general example about the focus that they offer [it] isn’t necessarily as useful as a more general support could be.

Interview 6

In short, the Museum’s Unit has shifted from a service that is helpful and responsive to one that provides help, which is not necessarily responsive to museum needs and can impose obligations that challenge the human resource capacity.


The shift toward bring helpful to providing help is an example of policy change in practice that does not reflect an explicit or articulated change. Interview Participants identified a number of factors that contributed to the change:

  • The Museums Unit was combined with heritage.
  • There is no longer a museums advisor position.
  • Yukon Government staff have more responsibilities associated with Yukon Government heritage-related sites (see The Beringia Centre as Competitor)
  • An increase in the number of museums and cultural centers receiving assistance.

These unarticulated changes are significant because they alter how the Dawson City Museum staff experience policy. Rather than relying on the advisory service to extend their resources and knowledge, the service begins to extract a more pronounced human resource cost, which influences what the Museum can accomplish and when.


What do you think? Have I understood the significance of the described changes?

New Article on the Heritage Minutes!

Chris Gunter and I recently published a piece on the Heritage Minutes titled “Producing the Past: The Changing Protagonist of Canadian Heritage.” Here is a summary:

The Canadian private sector contributes to the heritage commemoration landscape by working with the government and accessing support programs. Arguably, one of the most impactful contemporary examples of the private sector’s heritage commemoration involvement are the Heritage Minutes (Minutes), which are sixty-second videos depicting historical narratives of events and people from Canadian history. Given their notoriety, the production and story selections for each Minute raises questions about the Canadian heritage landscape: who and what is represented or missing, and what are the implications? By examining these questions, this article aims to hold these Minutes—financed and authorized by government—to account and to understand what themes and messages these vignettes aim to impart on and authorize as ‘commemorative worthy’ to the Canadian public. This article focuses on examining the Minutes and documenting their thematic trends with a specific emphasis on identifying how marginalized groups are represented in the Minutes.

It is available here. If you do not have access and would like to read it, please let me know. I am happy to email a copy.

Reflection: Students and Employment

In past posts, I discussed student employment programs from the perspective of the Dawson City Museum (e.g., Reduced Student Positions).  Within this post, I consider my own experiences as a student employee as well as the student perspectives expressed interviews and archival material for the Dawson City Museum Project.

Self Reflection

As someone who benefited from student employment policies, my perception is biased. I have had both positive and negative experiences with Young Canada Works, which are important to acknowledge. Notably, these experiences reflect student perspectives articulated in the material analyzed for the Dawson City Museum (DCM) project.

The Positives

Working in collections management at the Moncton Museum (now Resurgo Place) through the Young Canada Works program was one of my favorite jobs. I was trained in collection management by a wonderful supervisor. She helped me develop the skills I needed to do my job, trusted me to do the work, and reminded me to enjoy interacting with the artifacts. It was a great summer that led to my enrollment in a Museum Studies Minor. In some ways it is responsible for my current career.


Despite my positive experience and my gratitude for the employment program, I have had more negative experiences working as a Young Canada Works (YCW) student.

For one job, I was hired to manage a historic site where my supervisor worked at a different location. He gave me complete freedom with little supervision aside from occasional meetings. Everything worked out …. but it was hard. I was not qualified for the job I was hired to do and was not given appropriate training. I had to manage to employees, which I had never done before. We offered tours and public programming while also serving tea and snacks in a small cafe. I had never provided a museum tour before, developed public programs, or managed a cafe. Although I could ask for help when needed, the impetus was on me to reach out. I am extremely grateful for the experience because I learnt so much, but I was not set up for success.

For another job, my supervisor did a lot of problematic things. For example, she told me the reason I was successfully managing a project was because I sounded like an attractive young woman on the phone. She made a series of racists and sexist comments, creating a toxic work environment. Feeling helpless, I reached out to the Board. From my perspective, they did nothing and I felt unheard. Next, I reached out to the organization running the grant to let them know what was going on. I also clearly outlined the issues in the reports I was asked to submit to the granting organization. They continued to fund my position the next year.

In short, I have had amazing experiences with student summer jobs funded through programs like Young Canada Works. However, the number of negative experiences out number the positive. In both negative examples, there were issues with how the positions were managed. I am learning that this is not an unusual experience.

DCM Project Examples

As noted above, I have seen some of my experiences with student employment programs reflected in the archival and interview data for the DCM project.

The Positives

Like me, several people attributed their current careers to their experiences as Young Canada Works students with the Dawson City Museum. For example, one Interview Participant noted:

Well, you know, the availability of funds through Young Canada Works in Heritage is the reason that I’m still working in the field I’m working in. It provided the on the job training that introduced me to the realm of Heritage and the work that I still get to do today. So it was, you know, a pretty important fund.

Interview 10

In addition to introducing them to the realm of heritage, student positions at the DCM have provided valuable learning opportunities in a supportive team environment. In their final reports, students wrote:

  • “Wonderful people and dynamic learning environment” (2008).
  • “I really enjoyed my job as the Education Program Coordinator at the museum. I think the summer staff was great and everybody worked really well as a team” (2006).
  • “Everyone was more than wonderful to work with” (2003).

The Negatives

Student experiences at the DCM were not universally positive. In particular, a feeling of overwhelm and frustration about a lack of appropriate training or supervision is mentioned in several reports. Here are some excerpts from a guide and the program coordinator in 1994, which was a particularly challenging year:

Very little direction was given to me when I started. Worked with [the Director] for one đay when he shared his ideas and thoughts and then I was on my own as he left for a 3 week vacation. Having only vague guidelines was both good and bad. I was able to use a lot of my own ideas and creativity things would have been better had [the Director] been around. A little more direction was required, as was the availability for someone to answer questions.

Summer 94 (see Dcm; box 39j; Program coordinator final report 1994)

It would have benefitted everyone to have been told at the beginning of the summerabout the different holidays that occur in the Yukon and the means by which they are paid to the staff. This knowledge would have saved a great of confusion and hassle.

Summer 94 (see Dcm; box 39j; Program coordinator final report 1994)

It was necessary for the performer/guides to spend many hours outside of work in the study and organization of historical information and figures. This was done happily at first; however, the lack of interest in our work on the part of administrative and curatorial staff, coupled with the approaching deadlines, perverted our own feelings toward our work.

At this point the museum director was away on a 2 week absence and we had been left, pretty-well from the beginning then, with the responsibility of completing the few productions expected almost completely without direction or suggestion. Initially thrilled with this freedom we were soon dismayed and frustrated.

Summer 94 (see Dcm; box 39j; Program coordinator final report 1994)


I often discuss student employment policies as implicit cultural policies with advantages and disadvantages for museums. They are also valuable policies for the students gaining employment and experiences. However, museums have limited human resource capacity. Student both extend this capacity and have a human resource cost. Where organizations do no properly plan for training and supervision, they risk failing to meet policy goals related to student training and experience.

The limitation highlights an issue with using students to address gaps in human resource capacity – existing human resource capacity is needed. As such, some organizations will benefit disproportionately from the funding.


Do you have experience as a student employee or employer? How do the positives and negatives outlined compare to your experiences?

I am struggling to articulate the significance of these negatives and positives – do you see something that I missed?

Loving Dawson: A Poem

In I Love Dawson, I considered people’s affection for Dawson City and how that may have influenced the Dawson City Museum’s development. In this post, I have revisited the data and created a poem.

Why? I am not sure.

I keep coming back to the statement’s people made about the City and community. I find them compelling and think its beautiful that there is a shared experience around falling in love with a place.

The poem brings together different quotes from interviews. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed assembling it.


I love Dawson City.

She reports the same inexplicable attraction, writing:

I did indeed fall in love with Dawson.

It was a wonderful place to live.

It was just a very loving community, close knit.

There were some really great people up there.

There were lots of Heritage workers there, crying on each other’s shoulders and helping each other.

They welcomed us with open arms.

That’s the world we lived in.

I don’t think any other place else in Canada would hire you if you told them you had a history degree.

So, it was a great opportunity for me.

I then had an opportunity to move.

It’s a hard place to leave behind.

I only know that I stayed because I think I love it.

It’s just such a special place to us and I guess just leaves that impact.

Reflecting on Indigenous Music in Canada: An Interview with Robin Cisek

By Nicole Da Costa

One of the central themes discussed during the creation of A Walk-Through Indigenous Memory: A Student Exhibition was maintaining the presence of Indigenous excellence. To honor this theme alongside the exhibit’s central goal of sharing the names and histories of Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island, I sat down with alt-pop Metis musician, Robin Cisek, to talk about her recent experiences in Canadian music. 

I was excited to go for coffee with Robin Cisek after she returned from Toronto, to discuss her trip attending the Juno’s rehearsals and what her overall thoughts are as a rising Indigenous music star in today’s industry. A transcript of our conversation is as follows:


Nicole: So, you recently attended the Juno 2022 rehearsal day as a part of your experience with Canadian Music Incubator (CMI), where you were one of 7 Indigenous artists chosen from across Canada to participate in the Indigenous Music Accelerator. What was your experience attending the Juno Rehearsals as a part of this program? 

Robin: So, when I attended the Juno rehearsal day, I was actually allowed to go thanks to the Canadian Music Incubator- they scored us some tickets. I went with my friend Kara that I met during the program, she goes by “TheRa1 1n”, we attended together, and I also brought my mom along as well, because she comes with me to a lot of these things. 

I was invited to take part in the Canadian Music Incubator program called the Indigenous Music Accelerator, and I was one of 7 artists chosen from across Canada, which was- I just felt so spoiled to be picked, it was an honor. So, for a lot of CMI programs you get invited to the CMI building which is located in Toronto, and you go there, and you meet with mentors, and you kind of talk about the music business, and then try to learn from that. I got to connect with some amazing people, people that I now call friends and can work with in the future, um, I’ve made some amazing contacts! I have emails to people who have worked in the music industry for years and years, and I’ve been able to sit down with them, and kind of get their opinion on things such as, like, radio pitching, and just general music business things, all the things that happen kind of behind the scenes. So, that was super cool! We also made a lot of content too, so I’ll be having some new photos coming out, and a live recorded performance of one of my new songs that isn’t released yet. So that was really cool, and that was one of the first times that CMI has done a program like this where they made content and specifically focused on Indigenous music. So, all 7 artists that joined me were Indigenous artists as well. So yeah, then we ended up attending the Juno’s showcase’s, a few of them, and we ended up attending the Juno rehearsals as well. So that wasn’t really apart of the [initial] program, it was like an added bonus that CMI was able to give to us. Luckily, I had planned some extra days to do some fun things around Toronto, and kind of be ‘tourists’ with my mom and connect with the other Indigenous artists, so I was able to go to some of those programs as well, um so I just, I got really lucky and they kind of just wanted to give me all of the opportunity that I could get, and this was a great opportunity to connect with people.

So, [The Juno’s Rehearsal] was a really cool experience, I got to watch the Snotty Nose Rez Kids perform, and I thought their performance was amazing. It was really cool to be involved with the rehearsal process to kind of see behind the scenes and how the music industry kind of makes these events go on. We really got up-close and personal with industry contacts because we also got invited to a lot of the showcase events as well, so I got some really cool photos of a lot of the celebrities that were there, like the host, Simu Liu, and also a lot of the performers too. It was really, really, cool and I just feel super spoiled to have been able to even go.   

Nicole: You previously created a music video for your song memories with the help of 2 other metis creatives. I know you have a new song coming out on June 3rd, and I wanted to know if you have been able to continue to work with Indigenous creatives throughout your music career, whether that’s recording, videos, editing, promos…. I’m sure you do a lot of work! Have you faced any struggles to include Indigenous co-collaborators in your work as a rising Metis pop-musician? 

Robin: The music video that I created for my song ‘Memories’ was created with the help of two other Metis creatives, and one of those Metis creatives was a guy who goes by the name Strenneth, and he is a local Edmonton Metis Director, and we also had a lot of production help from my mom who is also Metis. At the time, we were dealing with a lot of covid restrictions, so we wanted to be really respectful with that and keep the crew really, really small and be able to social distance and that sort of thing and wear masks, because of course when I am recording, I can’t wear my mask, so we wanted to make sure that people were really safe. 

So, in my opinion, not a lot of Indigenous peoples are in places of power and that is pretty consistent with the music industry, uh, right now I see that that is beginning to change and allowing me to make more connections and being able to collaborate more with more Indigenous people, especially with the program through the CMI. I’m really hopeful for the future to be able to continue working with Indigenous people and to collaborate with new artists that I haven’t met before, um, and it really means a lot to me to be able to see these Indigenous people taking up these positions of power and being able to use their art to propel their voice and to help represent the other Indigenous people from our community.

Nicole: That’s awesome to hear. So- with the struggle to work with other Indigenous artists, is it because you are finding a lack of Indigenous people to collaborate with or is it hard then, if they’re found, to collaborate with them in terms of resources- like getting them to you or finding payment, or things like that? 

Robin: Yeah, I definitely think that there are roadblocks for Indigenous people, uh, in the sense of being able to find those outlets and being able to um, put together the ability to collaborate. I think a lot of Indigenous people do work, um, when they do collabs they do it for free; they work together for free and then they put out music together or they put out artwork together. I think that’s super cool- but being able to see a lot of Indigenous people now and being able to create a home studio for themselves to come up with more professional recordings and that kind of thing, is kind of a little bit new, because a lot of those [Indigenous] people don’t have access to those kinds of things or the funds to be able to get those kind of things to them, and I have been super spoiled as a Metis person to grow up in Sherwood Park, my family makes money, so I have been able to kind of follow my career and follow my dreams in that sense, but not a lot of Indigenous people have that opportunity. So, I think it is important for me to be able to represent the Indigenous community [through music] because of my own privilege.

Nicole: So, If I’m hearing you correctly, you are saying that for Indigenous music artists it is difficult to find spaces to be platformed, and now, Indigenous artists have finally been able to sort of have their own recording studios and things like that, but even that itself is a really big struggle- to get those spaces in order to let other Indigenous people in?      

Robin: Yeah, that’s very true, and you know, when you’re saying that, I’m thinking that like even a lot of non-indigenous people when they’re hearing the words Indigenous music they’re thinking strictly powwow, they’re thinking very, very traditional drumming, singing, in the sense that when you go to ceremony you would see Indigenous people performing prayers and that kind of thing. And that’s interesting to me because the indigenous community in music is actually a lot more contemporary than people think that they are, and they’re kind of expanding into these different places where they’re able to expand on their culture but also bring in this contemporary sense of music, and that’s with me as well. I like to talk about the things that affect me, and effect my community and my music, but I put it underneath a lot of contemporary, very mainstream ideas as well. I think that’s another reason why we kind of have to make our own spaces- is because of this misunderstanding of what our music actually is, because if I am a white person owning a music studio maybe I don’t see the value in bringing in an Indigenous artist who makes traditional stuff- but there are a lot of Indigenous artists making contemporary stuff.

Nicole: So, after attending the 2022 Juno rehearsal and participating in the Indigenous Music Accelerator, what do you see for the future of Indigenous music in Canada? Do you see it headed in a certain direction, are there any common themes emerging? Is there anything that you think needs to be done?

Robin: Personally, I see a very strong generation of Indigenous people using their voices to represent other Indigenous people and making it more acceptable for other Indigenous people to do the same. I see a lot of indigenous artists also adopting more contemporary music styles but infusing it with culture and tradition which I think is beautiful. I also see Indigenous music moving more and more in that direction which in my opinion is helping our culture and tradition become more acceptable in society, and more common for non-indigenous people to see and appreciate and I think that will help non-indigenous people become more comfortable around indigenous tradition. I think when they embrace the more beautiful sides of our culture and tradition then they’ll start to open themselves up to seeing the harder sides, like, the residential schooling and those hard histories and that kind of thing. So, I think that this is a really good movement into that direction. If I’m thinking about anything that needs to be done, personally, I think encouraging those voices, and supporting Indigenous artists- whether you’re a non-indigenous or apart of the community is super important to help them to use their voices and lift them out of the less-advantageous positions in society. I think that is super important.

Nicole: That’s really awesome to hear. Do you have any recommendations on meaningful ways to do that? Are likes, follows, and shares really helpful? Does that make an impact, or are there different ways to contribute?

Robin: Yes, I totally was just going to say that! The most simple way to do that [helping artists] would be to follow people on Instagram, to like youtube videos, to just be able to help the videos and content [gain popularity] that these artists create in the social media realm is huge, because that lifts it up and makes it more relevant for other people to see. I think that’s the easiest way that you can do things without spending a whole lot of time or money into it. So, that’s usually what I recommend for non-indigenous people to do, or for people who are apart of the community. The other thing you can do for supporting indigenous artists is attend art shows, attend music shows that are local too, um, do some research and figure out if you really connect with Indigenous artists, or who you like and why you like what they create, and what parts of their history are included in their artworks. I think that that will really help people to understand the history and the cultural significance between the artwork they create.

Artist Bio

Robin Cisek Biography: Indigenous Superstars’ 2022 Best Emerging artist, Robin Cisek is a Metis singer/ songwriter who creates melodic electro-pop. Robin Cisek emerged into her music career after years of struggles with health problems.

Robin released her first commercial song with the guidance of grammy-winning producers in NYC. Since her first song release, Robin has been on the Indigenous Music Countdown a total of four times. Robin’s single, “Waiting on You” claimed the #1 spot on the IMC. 

Indigenous Excellence: A Re-cap of the 2022 Juno Awards

By: Nicole Da Costa

One of the central themes discussed during the creation of A Walk-Through Indigenous Memory: A Student Exhibition was maintaining the presence of Indigenous excellence. To honor this theme alongside the exhibit’s central goal of sharing the names and histories of Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island, here is a re-cap of some, but definitely not all, of the Indigenous excellence featured at the 2022 Juno Awards.  

Indigenous musicians are eligible to be nominated in any music category at the Junos, with two categories reserved exclusively for Indigenous music, Indigenous Contemporary Artist of the Year, and Traditional Indigenous Artist / Group of the Year. 

This year Indigenous artists took home multiple wins, including Fawn Wood who won Traditional Indigenous Artist of the Year. Indigenous Contemporary Artist of the Year was taken home by DJ Shub, and Inuk singer-songwriter Susan Aglukark received a special Humanitarian Award Presented by Music Canada.

You can check out the biographies of this year’s Indigenous winners and some of the nominees below.


JUNO Winners

Fawn Wood– Born into the respected multi-generational traditional singing Wood family, Fawn Wood’s singing reflects her Cree and Salish tribal lineage. At an early age Fawn would sing her heart out at pow-wows alongside her mother and father. In 2006, Fawn was the first female to win the Hand Drum contest at the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow. In 2009 she opened the show at the 11th Annual Native American Music Awards (NAMMYS). In 2010 she sang with her partner, Dallas Waskahat for the opening of the Aboriginal People’s Choice Music Awards in Winnepeg, Manitoba.

Dj Shub– Considered to be the Godfather of PowWowStep, DJ-producer Shub, whose real name is Dan General, is a Mohawk of the Six Nations reserve located in Ontario, Canada is also a husband and father. Since the creation of PowWowStep, he has grown more aware of the Indigenous way of life through his music and merged his heritage with his craft, something most musicians aren’t able to say they’ve done. DJ Shub has had music featured in TV, film, and advertising. Shub has stood on his own since winning a Juno Award with A Tribe Called Red in 2014 – performing all over North America and inspiring other artists. 

Susan Aglukark– During a career that has spanned more than 25 years, Susan Aglukark’s journey as a singer-songwriter has led her to reflect on who she is, where she comes from and the importance of discovery – discovery of history, culture and self. Susan is the first Inuk artist to win a Juno (3) and a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for lifetime artistic achievement, she is an officer of the Order of Canada, holds several Honourary Doctorate degrees and has held command performances; but Susan also acknowledges the path has not been easy.“Here I was, living a life I never imagined, but I was struggling to understand who I was. There was no opportunity growing up to learn about who we were, the Inuit, from our own perspective. In essence, we were institutionalized by being told who we were, how we would live and when you are told a story for so long, you learn to believe it,” explains Susan. For Susan, art has played a significant role in her healing journey and in the re-writing of her narrative, she believes it plays an important role for indigenous youth who are dealing with contemporary identity issues today.

JUNO Nominees 

Adrian Sutherland – Indigenous contemporary artist / group of the year 2022 nominee. Adrian Sutherland is a roots-rock recording artist with heart from Attawapiskat First Nation on the James Bay in Northern Canada. He’s a singer, songwriter, musician, speaker, author, and advocate. He’s a father of four, a grandfather to four, a traditional knowledge keeper, and respected cultural leader, fluent in Mushkegowuk Cree.

Jayli Wolf– Indigenous contemporary artist / group of the year 2022 nominee. Jayli is an Anishinaabe / Cree, LGBTQ+ artist born in Creston, B.C. She has released a solo EP entitled “Wild Whisper” about her personal history, along with the Single “Child Of The Government”  which exhibits her family’s experience during the Sixties Scoop, where the Canadian Government and Catholic Church were responsible for taking or “scooping” more than 20,000 First Nation, Métis, and Inuit children from their families and communities in the 1950-90s. The children were placed in foster homes, adopted, or sold into non-Indigenous families across Canada and beyond. Many experienced sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, and along with the loss of cultural identity, the government changed many children’s true ethnicity on file. Wolf’s father was one of these children. The single arrived alongside a short film that was directed by Wolf herself. The short film won ‘Best Music Video’ at Venice Shorts and the single hit #1 on CBC and Indigenous Music Countdown charts.

Shawnee Kish– Indigenous contemporary artist / group of the year 2022 nominee. Shawnee is a proud Two Spirit Mohawk artist who has achieved significant career growth during the past 18 months. Named the 2020 winner of the CBC Searchlight national talent search, Shawnee followed up this breakthrough by releasing her debut self-titled EP in June 2021. A highly-sought after collaborator, in 2021 Shawnee worked with the National Arts Centre and the NAC Orchestra to create a ground-breaking show called Undisrupted (CBC Gem), where she functioned as curator and vocalist for the NAC. She also travelled to Dubai to perform and represent Canada at the 2021 World Expo. Shawnee is an outspoken advocate for Indigenous youth and LGBT2Q+ communities. Her extensive work for organizations such as We Matter and the Kids Help Phone continues to confirm that her passion and career is driven by empowering young people.

Snotty Nose Rez Kids– Indigenous contemporary artist / group of the year 2022 nominee. Formed in 2016, the duo released back-to-back albums in 2017. Notably, “The Average Savage” was shortlisted for Polaris Prize, and Juno nominated. They followed up with TRAPLINE (2019), scoring WCMA and Indie awards and another Polaris Shortlist. They concluded 2019 performing 100 shows in Canada, US, Mexico, Europe and Australia. In 2020, SNRK joined Amazon Music’s Rotation North playlist launch, were listed in Complex’s ones-to-watch and booked their first headline US tour. Derailed due to Covid, they wrote their next album, Life After. SNRK rebooked their US tour with 13 dates in fall 2021 to coincide with the release of “Life After” and released four advance singles, with stand-out Uncle Rico’s music video landing in rotation on MTV and BET. To date, they’ve accumulated over 16,000,000 streams worldwide. The group have their music in ‘Inconvenient Indian,’ Syfy’s ‘Resident Alien,’ & CBC’s ‘Trickster,’ ‘Diggstown,’ ‘Eaux Turbulentes,’ and ‘Pretty Hard Cases.’ They have multiple #1’s on the IMC Chart and were selected as guest curators for the Indigenous playlists for both Spotify and Amazon Music.

The Halluci Nation– Electronic Album of the year 2022 nominees. As they enter a new cycle, Bear Witness and Tim “2oolman” Hill of A Tribe Called Red are reintroducing themselves as The Halluci Nation, to reflect the evolution of their music and mission. The late artist, poet and activist, John Trudell, coined the expression the Halluci Nation to describe the global community who remember at their core what it means to be human, and live life in line with Indigenous values. Trudell recognized the connections between what he’d accomplished, and what ATCR did intuitively through music and art that helped these ideas to resonate. Trudell’s voice will be the first heard on The Halluci Nation’s upcoming record, One More Saturday Night, a genre-oblivious homage to the Electric Pow Wow gatherings launched at Ottawa’s Babylon nightclub in 2007 by the DJ crew. 

Joel Wood– Traditional Indigenous Artist / Group of the Year 2022 nominee. Joel is a Plains Cree artist from Maskwacis, Alberta who is no stranger to the music industry as he’s also been a part of the widely recognized powwow, round dance drum group, Northern Cree, which was co-founded by his father, Steve. Now pursuing a solo career, his debut solo album titled Singing is Healing came as a result of his work in 2020 when he participated in various online virtual music contests. Some of the events required participants to provide original work, which helped start the creation of his project. After winning Hand, Drum, Fiddle, Instrumental Album of the Year at the 2021 Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival, he’s hopeful the spotlight on himself and fellow artists will help his Indigenous community take pride in their identity and cherish their roots. “It’s not only representing my community, I feel like I’m representing all First Nations across Turtle Island,” he stated. “Having our style of music be recognized at such an event in the category of Traditional Indigenous Artist or Group of the Year, I can’t say enough how proud I am to be representing our people. Our music is beautiful, our music has medicine, our music has a spirit to it. There’s nothing like it. It’s just so much bigger than me…”

Manitou mkwa singers– Traditional Indigenous Artist / Group of the Year 2022 nominees. Manitou Mkwa (Spirit Bear) hand drum singers are from the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. This is a family that have been established and singing their whole lives. They sing traditional songs and have been comprising their own songs for over 10 years. They are also traditional dancers and sing around the Big Train drum group and travel all over Northern and Southern Ontario. Their songs are sung and composed with the intent to uplift the spirits of the people.

Nimkii & the niniis– Traditional Indigenous Artist / Group of the Year 2022 nominees. Nimkii is backed up by the niniis, who all come from world class drumming groups. 

Young spirit- Traditional Indigenous Artist / Group of the Year 2022 nominees. Founded in 2001 in the Frog Lake Cree First Nation, Alberta, Canada, Young Spirit (oskiyak kīsik in Plains Cree) has quickly become one of the most in-demand and respected groups on the Pow-Wow trail and the Round Dance circuit. The group was created with the goal of empowering Indigenous/Native American/First Nations youth with music and language. Noted for extensive use of the Plains Cree language in their Round Dance and Pow-Wow songs, Young Spirit view its music as a dynamic catalyst for sustaining Indigenous culture and sharing its importance with the world. Amongst the many singing championships Young Spirit has won over the years, the drum group earned the 2013 and 2018 Worldwide Championship title at the Gathering of Nations Pow-Wow in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Their album Mewsinsational – Cree Round Dance Songs earned them an Indigenous Music Award for Best Hand Drum Album in 2018. The same album received a nomination in the Best Regional Roots category at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards. Young Spirit created a viral media sensation when they performed one of their acclaimed Round Dance songs live on the Grammy red carpet, taking Indigenous music to a place that it had never been shared before.

Comment Response: The Lord Report

In response to “Territorial Interest and Investment” Paul Thistle (I highlight recommend his blog – Solving Task Saturation for Museum workers) left the following comment:

Re: “New Territorial Museum Policy . . . not in place until 1989-1990” section, In this light, I believe it would be worthwhile to investigate the following report & its background: Lord, Gail Dexter & Lord, Barry. 1986. Yukon Museums Policy and System Plan. Whitehorse, YT: Government of Yukon. My related questions would be: i) Why was it commissioned & what were the goals of this research project? ii) How much local research was carried out? iii) How was this accomplished? iv) What was the ultimate impact of the EXTERNAL consultants’ report on the new policy? & vi) Was what happened ‘on the ground’ after the implementation of “new policy” effective and/or worthwhile for DCM? [NOTE: Paul’s definition of “policy” is: what ACTUALLY happens ‘on the ground’ in the real world for the museums being ‘governed’ by the policy directives.]

Paul Thistle

My response in the comment section got far too long so I have decided to create a post directly responding instead.


Yukon Museums Policy and System Plan is a two volume report prepared in 1986 by Lord Cultural Resources Planning and Management Inc with Lori Patterson Jackson and Linda R. Johnson. I will refer to the report herein as the Lord Report.

Unfortunately, I cannot post the Report due to a 50 year copyright on government publications. However, if you are looking for a copy, please send me a message… I have tried to summarize the main points below.

Report Summary

Volume one outlines a proposed support system for Yukon community museums. Broadly, they proposed a policy whereby

Heritage Branch will endeavour to assist the provision of decentralized access to Yukon’s heritage wherever consistent with cost-effectiveness.

Lord Report, Vol 1, x

To that end, they recommended standards with requirements for different grants, which included operations, capital projects, salaries, training, and publications.

Supporting the recommendations, Volume one outlines the context for museums in Yukon, including the territorial geography and actors supporting the sector. Volume two compiles background papers that provide in depth information about Yukon museum development, legislation and policy, as well as comparative museum systems

Research Limitation

Before answering the questions provided, it is important for me to acknowledge a major research limitation – I was not able to interview the Museums Advisor who began in the 1980s and worked in that capacity into the 2000s. As a result, I am missing a key perspective that may have changed my analysis of the Lord Report and its influence.

Why was it commissioned? What were the goals of this research project?

The Yukon Heritage Branch commissioned the report with the following goals:

1. Formulation of a long term (systems) development plan for Yukons present and future museums.

2. Formulation of a draft Yukon Museums Policy.

Lord Report, Vol. 2, 108

The terms of reference asked the report to address:

  • historic museum development in Yukon
  • individual museum assessment
  • legislation and policy analysis
  • museum model review

How much local research was carried out?

The short answer is: a lot.

Most importantly, two Yukoners helped write / research report – Lori Patterson Jackson and Linda R. Johnson – and the Museums Advisor supervised the study, responding to questions as needed. The research also involved:

  • document analysis
  • interviews and public meetings in Yukon
  • the circulation of a study prospectus with an invitation for written submissions
  • comparative visits to Yellowknife and Alaska
  • interviews with federal actors

Consultation was incredibly important. Reflecting the importance, volume two of the report provides a six page list with the 262 names of those consulted on the project.

How was this accomplished?

The consultants had the support of and funding from Yukon government.

Importantly, the resulting museums policy was branded with “Yukon 2000.” Yukon 2000 was an initiative to consult the public about Yukon’s future. It involved a significant time, staff, and financial commitment from the government to consultation.

What was the ultimate impact of the EXTERNAL consultants’ report on the new policy?

The report recommended:

  • new legislation
  • mechanisms to encourage existing museums to develop policies and procedures
  • a requirement that new museums fill a mandate that is not being met and show community support
  • the formation of a collections committee to reduce the unnecessary duplication of efforts
  • the inclusion of future Indigenous centers into the museums program
  • a training policy
  • The development of a museum service center with:
    • a conservator who would approve capital projects
    • the authority to negotiate the return of Yukon artifacts
    • the ability to assume responsibility for archaeological finds
  • Funding:
    • A capital program requiring detailed plans approved by Heritage Branch Staff
    • a commitment of 20% of operational expenses for the operation and maintenance grant
    • an extension of the salary assistance program

Most of the items on the list above did not occur, but there were some related changes to Yukon’s museum support program. Notably, Yukon government did not develop a specific service center for community museums with a conservator and collections committee. However, they hired a conservator and someone who helped museums with collection management.

Personally, I think the discursive impact was more significant than the recommendations in two ways:

  • The report provided the language to support the continued development of the existing support program. Although, they recommended a model with a museum service centre, the report did not recommend the development of a territorial museum. Instead it support a decentralized approach whereby the territorial government supported dispersed community museums. This approach was then enshrined in the articulated community museum policy.
  • The report also provided the rationale for an expanded museums advisory program:
    • The report identifies two areas of need – conservation and collection management. The Heritage Branch went on to hire a conservator in 1988 and then an advisor who helped museums with collection management in the early 1990s.
    • The report argues Yukon was not accessing federal funding available to museums. After the release of the report, Yukon government began more actively seeking funding for its programs. In particular, the conservator and collection manager were both originally hired with federal funding.

Was what happened ‘on the ground’ after the implementation of “new policy” effective and/or worthwhile for DCM?

I believe the most important influence of the “new policy” was the institutionalization of existing support. The policy provided a rationale for a community museum support program that positioned community museums as more than tourist sites. Once institutionalized it becomes more difficult for governments to cease support and provides a foundation for an expansion of the program.

In terms of the effects on the ground at the Dawson City Museum (DCM), interview participants highlighted the role of the conservator and collection manager in the late 1980s into the 1990s. As discussed in “A Community Hub,” the collection manager helped the DCM standardize collection management and digitize records throughout the 1990s. As discussed in “Territorial Interest and Investment,” the conservator helped with preventative conservation. In particular, her assistance was needed after the Old Territorial Administration building was renovated. When the building was cold year-round with ice in the basement, there were fewer pest concerns. After the renovations, the building had proper heating and those involved needed to learn about pest management.

When considering the archival data, I see fewer policy effects on the DCM. Financially, there does not seem to be a significant change in the Museum’s budget. While the Museum budget increased in the 1990s, the increase relates to a combination of grants and is (seemingly) not attributable to the Yukon museum policy. However, I could argue that the new policy institutionalized the operational and salary support, meaning the Museum’s core funding became more secure and the Director was able to focus on accessing other grants. The museum project grants became increasingly significant and the DCM was able to fund a number of intersecting projects over the next decade.


Thanks so much for the questions Paul! I hope I have answered them fully and look forward to engaging with additional questions as I finish the working papers.