As Northerners encounter the peak of the winter festival season across the territories, it is important to celebrate Northern culture with critical mindfulness of what is being celebrated, and why. With the goal of seasonal celebrations aimed at bringing a community together during difficult winters, having only settler culture and history at the forefront of community celebrations impedes the ability to achieve that goal.
Modernly referred to as the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous, the largest Yukon Territory winter festival began in 1945. The post-war era created a need to celebrate and solidify a national and Northern identity, and a wintertime celebration further solved the need to break up the monotony of the cold and dark months.
While the identity and mandate of the festival has evolved during the second half of the last century, it notably takes place in the middle of winter when temperatures range from -10C to -40C. The wide range of events commemorate the fashion, entertainment, and athleticism of Yukon’s historic gold rush. The overarching theme for the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous festival is commemoration of the history and struggle of settlers.