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Author and Artist Join Forces to Showcase Yukon Women


May 26, 2011

It started over dinner at a mutual friend’s house. Val Hodgson, an artist who had lived in Whitehorse for thirty-five years, had begun painting an ambitious body of work that would celebrate Yukon women. Claire Festel, a writer and consultant who had lived over thirty years in the Yukon had a lifelong ambition to capture—through people’s stories—what makes this place and the people who live here so remarkable. It seemed only natural for the two of them to collaborate on a project that would eventually encompass both an art exhibit and a book.

The result is Festel’s and Hodgson’s Remarkable Yukon Women , a compelling compilation of fifty portraits and profiles of women who, whether they were “born here or came here,” embody the spirit of the Yukon. The book will be launched on Thursday, June 2 at 5:30pm at the Yukon Arts Centre, in conjunction with Hodgson’s and Festel’s multi-media art exhibit Yukon Women, 50 over 50.

Festel and Hodgson will also be making a special appearance at Mac’s Fireweed Books for a book signing on Saturday, June 4 at 1:00pm.

Together, the book’s profiles along with the painted portraits reveal much about the women, sharing insights into what life was—and is—really like for Yukon women. Featuring businesswomen, community leaders, homemakers, writers, athletes, mothers, teachers, a senator and a gold miner, Remarkable Yukon Women’s untold stories provide understanding into how and why this remote frontier adds not just colour, but depth, sensitivity and strength to the Canadian story.

Born in a small town on the scenic Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec, Claire Festel (–Briand) flew to the Yukon in 1977 in search of a summer job and felt an immediate sense of belonging. She fully embraced all the territory has to offer, from running a trap line to representing the Yukon across the country on national boards to volunteering with the world’s longest sled dog race. Claire and her husband Ed now have two homes, one in the Yukon and the other “up the mountain” outside Penticton, BC. Although she has written professionally for many years, Remarkable Yukon Women is Festel’s first book.

Born and raised in North Vancouver, Valerie arrived in Whitehorse after completing her degree in physiotherapy at the University of British Columbia, trading in a city lifestyle for a northern adventure that became a permanent way of life. Valerie still lives in the log home she moved into in 1980 and works from her studio, created from an old workshop, on the same property. There, she and her husband, Dan, enjoy an extended family and deep Yukon roots. The paintings included in Remarkable Yukon Women are part of an art exhibit titled Yukon Women, 50 Over 50 which will be exhibited at the Yukon Arts Centre Public Art Gallery from June 2-August 27, 2011.

The book launch is sponsored by Harbour Publishing. The book signing is hosted by Mac’s Fireweed and Harbour Publishing. Both events are free and everyone is welcome to attend. For more information, please call Mac’s Fireweed Books at 867-668-2434.