Artillery Lake Camp 2009Students, Elders, community resource people, parents and teachers go out on the land every spring, for the Spring Hunt. The hunt usually takes place in the traditional hunting area around Artillery Lake in the Barren Lands.
It takes all day by skidoo to travel across lakes, rivers, and very steep hills out to the Barrens. If people leave too late in the day they mightstay overnight at Fort Reliance right at the east end of Great Slave Lake.
Most years our group camps in Timber Bay on Artillery Lake, and this iswhere we set up in 2009. Students learn traditional skills like hunting, trapping, navigating, setting up and running a camp, and safety in traveling. This little caribou is ignoring us……
During the winter the caribou herds wander through the barrens north and east ofGreat Slave Lake. This youngster is really wondering what we are doing out here. The community has come out here to hunt for caribou. Dr. Ryan Brooks, from theUniversity of Calgary Veterinary School, joined our trip in 2009 to collect samples forhis Caribou Anatomy Project. This was an exciting opportunity for our students to see what ‘real’ scientists do in the field.
Jasmine feels that unity with the land and the caribou!
The first caribou comes in. Community members helped unload the animals from the sleds.
Community members give Dr. Brooks a hand unpacking the caribou and getting it ready for the research.
They brought all their dissection tools and a very good camera to record alltheir observations and the specimens that they collected and took back to Calgary for further analysis.
Community hunters and students watch as Dr. Brooks starts work right there!
Students from Grade 1 – Grade 10 had a chance to talk to the researchers and even help them collect samples.
The students really enjoyed watching the progress of the dissections. Many of them had seen caribou cut up many times for family food. But many had not made theconnection between that and what they learn in school science –the heart and the stomach, and how they work, importance of the fat, and their favorite -
Hunters and students alike were very interested in Dr. Brooks’ take on someof the current issues in caribou health. He also spent a lot of time talking to hunters and elders about the community’s traditional knowledge about caribou, and the land.
All samples were photographed, documented and then carefully wrapped for transport. This was real science on the land!
In the meantime the older students also had to go out every few days forwood, and split wood for all the tents, especially the elders. The students alsohad to learn how to chop through the ice and fetch water for their tent daily.
There is lots of work, but there’s lots of time to play with friends
These cousins have a chance to get really close out on the land…
There is a caribou hide stretched for drying. It will be rolled up and taken backto the community where it will be tanned (using caribou brain and smoke) for making jackets, purses or boots.
Getting towards the end of the week, just going out for a ride to enjoy the day before packing up and heading back to town.
Time to pack up!! At the end of the 10 days everyone was looking forward to heading home – back to TVs, computers and hot running water! But students had a chance toexperience some of the life their ancestors lived on the land. They also had a chance to see how traditional knowledge and science are both working to understand and preserve the caribou and the north.