Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Society calls for ‘stop to the hate’ after name change

The office of the Yukon Rendezvous, in Whitehorse. The Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Society is calling on Yukoners to ‘stop the hate’ in response to feedback it has received about its rebranding of the Whitehorse winter carnival. (Paul Tukker/CBC)
The Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Society is calling on Yukoners to “stop the hate” in response to feedback it has received about its rebranding of the Whitehorse winter carnival.

Last week, the society reported it would rebrand the event as the “Yukon Rendezvous” — dropping “sourdough” from the name.

In a news release sent Wednesday night, the board of directors said it wants to “clear the air” after the news was met with mixed reactions.

“Our rebrand was not an attempt to erase our history, only to refresh our public face, give ourselves a less formal name … and to continue to promote openness and inclusivity within our festival, and our community,” the release states.

There is some negative connotation surrounding the term “sourdough,” which refers to people who came north during the Klondike Gold Rush. Sourdough was a staple, allowing them to make bread without the use of yeast or baking soda.

The festival’s president previously told CBC that it received feedback suggesting it was a throwback to a colonial era in Yukon. The society’s name itself, however, has not changed, keeping “sourdough” in the title.

‘Unacceptable and frankly frightening’

The board says it encourages respectful discussion and debate, the actions of a few people within the community over the past week have been “unacceptable and frankly frightening.”

“The hate, bigotry, threats of vandalism and bullying are uncalled for and will not be tolerated. There will be no forced resignation of our directors, our president, or our executive director.”

Many of the comments the board says it has received highlight other changes that have taken place in Yukon over the past two decades.

“The festival has evolved as the years have, it has changed to meet requirements of an ever changing world, and it has developed according to the values of those who put in the hard work to make it happen and those who chose to attend and offer feedback,” the board said.

The release also acknowledges that Yukoners may feel passionately about the rebranding and the perceived lack of public consultation about the change.

The board says it will conduct a public survey after this year’s festival in response to feedback it receives.

“We’ve heard you Yukon, now it’s time for you to hear us. We are calling on all Yukoners to stop the hate and put your passion into practice.”

The Yukon Rendezvous will be held Feb. 12 to 28.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Publisher in Arctic Canada putting Inuit-language books online amidst COVID-19 closures, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Walt Disney Animation Studios to release Saami-language version of “Frozen 2”, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: Can cross-border cooperation decolonize Sami language education?, Eye on the Arctic 

United States: American cartoonist says his new book on Canadian Indigenous history helped decolonize part of himself, CBC North

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