Despite few COVID-19 cases, Yukon cancels sacred ceremony

The Flying Gwitch’in Fiddler Boyd Benjamin has played on many stages within and outside of the Yukon.

When not working as a pilot Benjamin can be found playing fiddle at festivals, gatherings and events. There’s one gathering in particular that he gets excited for; the bi annual Moosehide Gathering.

“That’s the gathering I clear my schedule for,” Benjamin told APTN News.

The Moosehide Gathering is a sacred event for many Yukon First Nations.

Based on the foundation of traditional potlatch, the gathering has been held about two kilometres down river from the small community of Dawson City at the village of Moosehide.

The gathering was scheduled for July 30 to August 2 but due to the COVID 19 pandemic, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Chief and Council decided to postpone the event until 2022.

“I feel that it’s sort of like a loss to our own way of life,” Chief Roberta Joseph said. “Everyone gets so excited about the gathering.

Although the actual gathering will not be happening, the celebration of culture will still go ahead through a smaller, safer ceremony.

“We’ll hold. small ceremony. A prayer ceremony. Light the sacred fire in light of the gathering year and then let it go out,” Joseph explained.

“We’ll be doing that just to ensure that we’re paying our respect to the sacredness of how much our people value the Moosehide Gathering.”