Rugged Apprentices pilot program completes three voluntourism projects in Yukon communities

Rugged Apprentices volunteers helping with enhancements to the Merv Tew Park in Carmacks. Credit: Government of Yukon/ Andrew Strain.

From September 7 to 9, 33 volunteers from across Canada worked on a tourism-related community project in one of three Yukon communities as part of the Government of Yukon’s Rugged Apprentices pilot program. This program offered volunteers a unique opportunity to experience the Yukon, while also helping to improve tourism infrastructure and local attractions.

In Dawson City, volunteers helped maintain the Crocus Bluff Disc Golf course by clearing small brush and laying out gravel on the paths. Merv Tew Park was enhanced in Carmacks with new picnic tables, benches, flowers and trees, and in Watson Lake, Rugged Apprentices beautified the Signpost Forest by clearing paths and adding wooden posts for new signs. Each community arranged for cultural and overall tourism experiences for participants during their stay, including a community concert, guided hikes, helicopter tours, dining experiences and storytelling. 

The Rugged Apprentices pilot program targets the growing demand from travelers for authentic experiences and more direct connections with the people and places they visit. This concept of “voluntourism” offers attractive opportunities to promote sustainability and destination improvement. The program also supports the goals and actions of the Yukon Tourism Development Strategy and the Yukon Sustainable Tourism Framework. 

The Yukon is home to some of the world's most pristine landscapes and unique, remote communities. This initiative was set up to help conserve that beauty and improve the infrastructure within these communities so travelers and locals alike can continue to enjoy these experiences. The Rugged Apprentices pilot program offers volunteers a unique tourism experience and the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the communities they visit in supporting tourism recovery and advancing the goals of the Yukon Sustainable Tourism Framework. Thank you to all of the organizers, host communities and volunteers for making this inaugural event such a success.

Minister of Tourism and Culture Ranj Pillai

Capturing a lifetime of memories is near impossible, but the ‘Rugged Apprentices’ program presented by Yukon Tourism captured everything beautiful, organic, and genuine about a true Yukon experience for all the participants, hosts, and program supporters reflecting servant leadership in its purest form. The difficulty of expressing the positive sentiments and pride of achievement is near impossible to do so without being romantic towards the magic captured throughout this project. Visitors became volunteers, volunteers became friends, friends became locals, and locals became family. The Village of Carmacks extends their greatest gratitude for inclusion and participation in a project of such sublime and legitimate benefits.

Village of Carmacks Recreation Director Matthew Cybulski

Quick facts 
  • Voluntourism is a form of regenerative tourism in which travelers participate in voluntary work with the aim of leaving the place better than they found it.

  • Over 300 people applied to participate in this Yukon pilot program.

  • 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.

  • A post project evaluation will determine whether the program will continue in the future, and if any modifications are required.


Renée Francoeur
Cabinet Communications

Alicia Debreceni
Communications, Tourism and Culture

News release #: