Artillery Lake Camp 2009 Every spring students, Elders, parents, teachers and communityresource peoplego out to Artillery Lake in the barren lands for the Spring Hunt.
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.
At camp students learn traditional skills likehunting, 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 of Great Slave Lake. Dr. Ryan Brooks, from the University of Calgary Veterinary School,joined our trip in 2009 to collect samples for his 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 of the hunt arrives. 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 dissection tools and a very good camera to record all theirobservations and 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 with what they had learned in science – how the heart and the stomach work, the importance of the fat, ….
Everyone was very interested in Dr. Brooks’ information on 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 to cut and splitfirewood for all the tents, especially for the elders. They also had to chop through the ice and fetch water for their tent daily.
There was lots of work, but always lots of time to play with friends
These cousins had a chance to go hunting, and get really close outon the land…
The caribou hide was stretched for drying. Then it was rolled up and taken back to the community to be tanned (using caribou brain and smoke) for making jackets, purses or boots.
Towards the end of the week, everyone just wanted to go out for a ride to enjoy the beautiful days 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.