From September 12 to 15, 49 volunteers from across Canada were in the Yukon to work on a tourism-related community project in one of five Yukon communities as part of the Government of Yukon’s Rugged Apprentices program. Volunteers received a unique tourism experience, while also giving back to the Yukon by helping to improve visitor infrastructure and attractions in the territory.
Volunteers travelled to Carmacks, Dawson, Mayo, Tagish or Teslin where their efforts helped upgrade the safety and accessibility of local infrastructure and property as identified by each community. Community partners arranged for cultural and visitor experiences for participants during their stay, including canoeing, guided hikes, hand games, Indigenous-led workshops and storytelling.
Authentic experiences and direct connections with people and places are things that more and more travellers are seeking. Through this concept of “voluntourism”, the Yukon is offering visitors an exceptional experience and the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the communities they visit. The program also supports the goals and actions of the Yukon Tourism Development Strategy and the Yukon Sustainable Tourism Framework.
This is the second year this initiative has been held in the Yukon. It has been great to see it expanded to more Yukon communities. Rugged Apprentices is an incredible opportunity, bringing long-lasting improvements to our communities, friendships and memories for all involved. Thank you to the organizers, host communities and volunteers for making this such a stellar success.
Minister of Tourism and Culture John Streicker
Yay for the Rugged Apprentices! We met and worked alongside some great hardworking individuals from across Canada while creating new friends and memories to last. Thank you Yukon Tourism for such a terrific program that we were honoured to be a part of.
Carcross/Tagish First Nation (Tagish campground project) project leader Cheyenne Silverfox-Belcher
Voluntourism is a form of regenerative tourism in which travellers participate in voluntary work with the aim of leaving the place better than they found it.
Over 300 people applied to participate in the program this year.
Accommodation, food and transportation were provided to the volunteers once they arrived in the Yukon at their own expense.
The program was inspired by a similar initiative from the Faroe Islands.
This is the second year of the Rugged Apprentices program. In 2022, projects were completed in Dawson, Carmacks and Watson Lake by 33 volunteers.
Each community identified the need for the projects and the required number of volunteers to achieve their goals. Locals in each community led and managed the projects.
- In Carmacks, volunteers continued the work started by Rugged Apprentices in 2022 at Merv Tew Park, making the area more attractive, cleaning it up and fixing vandalism.
- In Dawson City, volunteers improved the Community Gardens by replacing old garden beds and cleaning up the area.
- In Mayo, volunteers helped residents and businesses FireSmart their properties following recent wildfire activity in the area.
- Volunteers at Tagish Campground worked with Carcross/Tagish First Nation and Singletrack to Success to enhance the campground facilities, clear brush and make the area more accessible.
- In Teslin, volunteers worked to make the village's disc golf course and trails better and easier to use for both locals and visitors.