Trapper training program expands to Yellowknife Women’s Society

A territorial program that shares hunting and trapping skills at Yellowknife’s jail is now being offered to residents in supported housing programs.

The NWT’s Department of Environment and Climate Change has partnered with the Yellowknife Women’s Society to offer the sessions, which will run every two to three weeks year-round.

Residents from Spruce Bough and the Yellowknife Women’s Centre will have the opportunity to spend time outside learning and sharing traditional skills across all seasons.


The expansion comes after a successful pilot program was offered to inmates at the North Slave Correctional Complex last year.

“The goal of the program is to promote trapping in general, but it’s also about promoting the skills and attitude that come with trapping,” said Vincent Casey, the program’s founder, who is a public education coordinator at ECC.

“It’s reminding people of a healthy lifestyle, of being out on the land, reconnecting with culture.”

A program leader fillets a fish near the Yellowknife River. Caitrin Pilkington/Cabin Radio

The department already offers annual workshops to go over new regulations and discuss trade with experienced trappers. The idea behind the new sessions is to serve residents who may not have trapped before, or who have fallen out of the habit of going on the land.

“We’re really grateful to Vincent and to everyone who helped make this day possible,” said Jayson Quesada, Spruce Bough’s general manager. “It’s been amazing.”


Quesada and Yellowknife Women’s Society executive director Renee Sanderson began working with Casey in November and held the first session for Spruce Bough residents in February.

Tuesday’s session was the first to include Yellowknife Women’s Centre residents.

“This has been our biggest turnout yet,” said Casey, as more than a dozen interested residents began to arrive.

Participants take turns cleaning and gutting fish before they are cooked over the fire. Caitrin Pilkington/Cabin Radio

At the Yellowknife River picnic area, participants watched a program leader clean, gut and fillet fish before getting their hands dirty themselves.


Depending on where participants were from, they approached the fish with different tools and techniques.

“I would typically use an ulu for this,” said one participant, referring to the Inuit multi-purpose blade.

Fish were then smoked, fried in oil or roasted according to preference, and eaten with potatoes baked on the fire and fresh salad.

“I feel carefree out here,” said Tina Abel, a resident at the Yellowknife Women’s Centre, as she and another participant worked together to cook a fish. “Not dodging trucks and breathing exhaust. It’s nice to just be with one another, calm in the sun.”

If the program remains popular, Casey hopes the department can offer more activities and opportunities to travel farther afield.

“Our pie-in-the-sky idea would be to set up a trap line,” said Casey. “But this is relatively new. We’re all learning, and taking it one step at a time.”