Experience arts, culture and wilderness camping in the Yukon Territory with the Yukon Cultural Excursion travel package, featuring Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre.
For millennia, well-worn foot trails along the banks of the Chu Níikwän — now called the Yukon River — were lined with ancient fish camps, lookout points, hunting grounds, burial sites and meeting places.
But with the 1897 Klondike Gold Rush and the Alaska Highway construction of 1942, the Kwanlin Dün people were uprooted and their lives, drastically changed.
In 2012, the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre (KDCC) was built in Whitehorse. “The opening…marks a deeply meaningful event for our people as we celebrate the reclamation of our ancestral home along the riverbank,” says Rick O’Brien, a former Kwanlin Dün First Nation chief.
Since the centre’s construction, it has served as a spectacular meeting place to celebrate and share the history, traditions and culture of O’Brien’s people.
Now considered the Yukon’s premier conference and convention centre, KDCC currently houses the Whitehorse Public Library and a repository of Kwanlin Dün cultural artifacts, some of which are on display.
It also functions as a showcase for artists, artisans, storytellers, drummers, dancers and carvers. And every summer, an Indigenous artist-in-residence works on site. Visitors can enjoy a cultural tour, or drop in on their own.
The centre is home to a traditional sewing circle, along with workshops such as “Moosehide to Moccasins” and moose hair tufting. As well, KDCC acts as the epicentre for gatherings year round, including the Adaka Cultural Festival, Frostbite Music Festival and National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations.
Critically, the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre inspires youth to explore their culture and rediscover their proud ancestral heritage. All this while providing an important venue for elders who help ensure that traditional teachings are passed forward to future generations.
“When people visit,” says Executive Director Heather McIntyre, “it affects them in a positive way. We have a beautiful building on the Yukon River. Even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid us a visit last year. And a few years back, we hosted the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Our building is a point of pride for the entire community of Whitehorse."