December 13, 2012 Yukon Hansard, speech by Tourism and Uncultured Minister Mike Nixon:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of all Members of the Legislative Assembly to pay tribute to the upcoming 30th running of the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog race. This 30th anniversary celebration is a hallmark milestone in the history of the race and one that all Yukoners can be proud of.

Since the first running in 1983, many individuals and organizations have supported the race. Together we celebrate the achievements and the hard work accomplished by those who have worked hard to make this race an iconic winter event, which showcases Yukon’s legacy of sled dog mushing.

I understand that my Yukon Party caucus colleague, the Member for Lake Laberge’s sister ran in the Quest for the first time in 1989 at the age of 18 and is still one of the youngest people who have ever run the Quest.

We thank the Quest board, president Joost van der Putten, the staff and the Quest board members who provide organizational leadership. In fact, it’s a honour for me to report that Joost, the president of Yukon Quest, has just received notification, and in the coming weeks he will be presented with the Diamond Jubilee Award from MP Ryan Leef on behalf of the Queen for his hard work and dedication to move the Quest forward.

We also acknowledge the dedication of the many volunteers, sponsors, the vets, race officials, and Yukon and community organizers. Of course the race would not happen without the mushers, the dog handlers and of course the dogs. It is their willingness to embrace personal challenge that makes the Quest such an exciting event.

In September, I had the pleasure of announcing additional funding to support Yukon Quest for ongoing pre-race celebrations happening now during the next few weeks and leading up to the 2013 race. As part of that celebration on Thursday, December 13, MacBride Museum is hosting a visual tribute to the race — and that is this evening. The exhibit will feature poster images depicting the Quest vision. These images capture the essence of the race, along with information on the origin of dog mushing as a sport in the territory. From its humble beginnings 30 years ago, very few events highlight the romance of the north like the Yukon Quest. This northern spirit is reflected in the men and women who take part in the race. We see the love of their dogs through canine care and marvel at the skill it takes to race 1,000 miles across a harsh winter landscape.

For Yukon and Alaska, this special race and special relationship reflects our cross-border friendship and the recognition that our own success is tied to our neighbours’ good fortune. In addition to the cultural significance of the race, assisting the Yukon Quest with funding support is an investment in Yukon’s winter tourism product. Many media and trade familiarization tours are scheduled around the race, which offers opportunities to showcase Yukon winter travel and vacation experiences across the globe.

Since 1999, the Department of Tourism and Culture has provided over $2.3 million to the Yukon Quest Canada organization in support of the program development, cooperative marketing, foreign media familiarization tours, race administration and community outreach. The 30th running of the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race begins at Shipyards Park in Whitehorse on Saturday, February 2, 2013. It’s a chance for all of us to be there at the start line to wish our favourite musher safe travels and to share in the excitement of the dogs as they ready themselves for their 1,000-mile journey.

We wish good luck to all of the mushers and their dogs and safe travels during their northern adventure — a true accomplishment marking the 30th running of the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race.

I will mention again that there is an exhibit opening this evening at MacBride Museum and that starts at 5:00 p.m. I welcome everyone to attend. I’d also ask for the indulgence of all Members of the Legislative Assembly to join me in welcoming staff and directors of the Yukon Quest to the gallery: Joost van der Putten, the president; Rolf Schmitt, the vice-president; Clarke LaPrairie, the treasurer; and Marie-Sylvestre Belanger, the executive director. Welcome all.

[What a shameful and disgraceful speech by Mike Nixon. In a Territory as backward as the Yukon is with regard to animal welfare, the big bucks go to the exploiters, abusers and killers. How are Yukoners to get the message of spay/neuter, proper food, shelter and vet care for companion animals, when the Yukon Quest organization and racers, sled dog puppy mills and dog cullers get the royal treatment from the Territory’s politicians?]