From Dehcho to the Beaufort Delta, people in the NWT are reconnecting with traditional trails
Efforts are underway to restore a traditional trail to Yohin Lake northwest of Nahanni Butte in the NWT
Aaron Bertrand, 36, has spent his last few days snowmobiling to the site and clearing the brush – first with the help of his son and now a friend from Fort Liard.
“It’s an old fishing place that people from Nahanni used to go to,” Bertrand said of Yohin Lake, which lies south of a bend in the South Nahanni River. The approximately 10-kilometer path was cut a few years ago, but not to the lake.
“We’re pretty much going all the way this year.”
Bertrand, who also lives in Fort Liard but is part of the Nahʔą Dehé Dene Band in Nahanni Butte, told CBC The end of the trail Host Lawrence Nayally recalled his grandfather telling him stories about the trail – once used by dog teams traveling all the way to Fort Liard.
“It feels great,” he said. “You don’t see a lot of young people out here these days, so it feels pretty good to open up an old trail.”
Once Bertrand and his friend reach the lake, he says they will dig holes in the ice, set up fishing nets, and set up canvas tents. He said the Nahʔą Dehé Dene Band plans to bring elders and disciples to the area in the spring.
An experience Wanda Pascal knows first hand, young people will appreciate.
Pascal, coordinator (and former chief) of the Teet’lit Gwich’in Band’s harvester program at Fort McPherson, recently hosted a land-based experience on traditional trails that was well received by attendees.
“Oh, they really enjoyed it, they really want to do more,” she told CBC host Wanda McLeod north wind.
The idea of sending a small group of young men and guides on a day trip along traditional trails from Fort McPherson came to Pascal last Sunday when he realized the weather was right.
“They’re at that age where they’re really learning to hunt and trap and just go out and explore and it’s a good time for them to know their ways, it’s traditional ways for our people,” she said .
Pascal and some other community members “cook[ed] a storm” with traditional food to greet the team on their return, armed with stories about the wildlife they had seen – such as a moose and its calf, a porcupine and a wolverine far away.
“They really ate,” she said. “We had hot tea and everything there for them and they were just glad they went, they really enjoyed it.”