In recognition of Yukon School of Visual Arts graduates

Mr. Silver:   I rise today — with great pleasure — to pay tribute on behalf of the Liberal Party and the Official Opposition to the graduates of the Yukon School of Visual Arts. I was honoured to have been invited to speak at the graduation ceremony in Dawson on Friday. As the Member for Klondike, I know first-hand just how important SOVA is to the residents of Dawson. It was incredibly heartening to hear that some of the graduates are planning to stay on in Dawson and make it their home.

As members of the House know, I have been advocating on behalf of SOVA for the entirety of my appointment as a Member of the Legislative Assembly. Our artistic community is a precious defining character in Dawson, and it has a positive effect on our image — both on the national and the international stage. This contribution is not lost on me; it’s not lost the students of Robert Service School, whose lives are enriched with programming through the visual arts school, and it’s also not lost on the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in who have been a partner with SOVA since its inception.

Showing their support for the ceremony, elder and mentor Clara Van Bibber did the opening prayer, executive director and fellow artist Jackie Olson was a keynote speaker and councillor Jay Farr was also in attendance, showing his support.

I would also like at this time to extend my congratulations to Joyce Cayley on the occasion of her receiving an honorary diploma from the school. Joyce wears many hats in our community. Most of us know her as the IODE Ice Pool lady — and I’m told that the river is about to go out at any minute right now. She’s also an educator and she’s been teaching in Dawson at Robert Service School for her complete career and most importantly, Joyce is a lifelong learner and an inspiration to many Klondikers. Joyce mentioned in her acceptance speech how accommodating the community is to people of all ages and she gave a shout out to Greg Hakonson and John Steins who were instrumental in creating the Dawson City Arts Society, through which KIAC and SOVA operate. SOVA could not have picked a more worthy recipient — a mentor to me during my teaching years in Dawson City and also a wonderful member of the community. So congratulations to Joyce.

On behalf of all Dawson residents I want to thank the students for choosing SOVA and the Klondike and for their contributions over the years to our great town. To the graduating class, you have achieved a great milestone and deserve credit for your accomplishments. With that I would like to congratulate the class of 2014: Justice Colwell, Sally DeMerchant, Danielle Desrosiers, Chantal Fraser, Ashli Green, Lindsey Johnson, Lucy Koshan, Acasea Lane, Dana Levine, Mathias MacPhee, Amy McAllister, Samantha Medeiros, Sarah Miller, Bronwyn Mundell, and Malanka Topper.