Sun City Resident Art “Karts” Huseonica, 72, is locked onto his goal this summer of paddling the Yukon River out to the Bering Sea.
Delayed since 2020, he’s laser-focused on completing the 2,020-mile expedition. Twice delayed due to Canada’s COVID travel restrictions, Yukon Territory’s border closures and again last year due to 100-year event flooding, Huseonica is determined to finish what he started.
“Nothing will stop me this year. I always complete what I start,” he said.
Huseonica explained there’s a very small weather window on the Yukon River in Canada when the ice melts and the summer flooding begins. He hopes to squeeze through that window. Last year, he was three days too late and had to quit in the community of Carmacks, Yukon Territory, after paddling almost 300 miles.
“The First Nations hold the river sacred, and see it as a connection to all life,” Huseonica said. “To continue on last year would have disrespected that belief and bring discredit to me and the expedition. They’d given me the nickname ‘He Who Paddles on Clouds,’ which I fully embraced and do not want to tarnish.”
Huseonica won’t be alone all the time. He’ll have guest paddlers, some of whom are from indigenous groups in the Yukon Territory and in Alaska. This includes First Nations, Metis Nation and Alaska Natives.
Rebooting the expedition at Carmacks, Yukon Territory, Huseonica will be joined by Ian “Bruce” Jobin, 44, a member of the Metis Nation of Canada. Also on the expedition to paddle from Carmacks to Dawson City, a distance of 250 miles, are two other international paddlers that Huseonica will introduce later.
Jobin is an experienced watercraft user and competes in the Yukon River Quest race, the world’s toughest paddling race of 444 miles. He’ll be competing again this year with one of his daughters. In addition, he’s competed in the Canadian Death Race and the Yukon Artic Ultra race. He combines these interests with his passion of being a nature photographer. At home in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, he’s a painter, artist and talented cook.
“I’m so humbled to be joined by someone of Bruce’s caliber,” Huseonica said. “He brings to the expedition an enhanced level of expertise on the water and information for me about the Metis heritage and culture.”
During last year’s attempt, Huseonica had paddlers join him from the Carcross/Tagish First Nation and the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council. The expedition is frequently referred as the “Kindness Expedition” because of how Huseonica wants inclusivity of team members and his desire to learn more about indigenous peoples of Canada and Alaska.
Unique this year is the fact that Huseonica is dedicating his expedition to his brother, Joe Huseonica, who died Christmas morning.
“Joe will be on the river with me, guiding and protecting me with every stroke of my paddle,” said Huseonica.
Special decals will be on the expedition canoe to help memorialize his brother, who was always a supporter of Huseonica’s adventures and encouraged him to push the limits. The expedition’s documentary film will be dedicated to Joe Huseonica.
Because of the expedition reboot and inflation, Huseonica continues to fundraise to meet the ever-increasing costs of such an expedition, which increased 40 percent since he first envisioned the record-setting adventure to be the oldest person at 72 to open canoe the entire Yukon River. Major contributors will be honored along the route and also on YouTube videos showing highlights from key points of the expedition. They’ll also be recognized in the expedition’s documentary film.
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