Twenty-four youth from Nunavut and the Dehcho are taking advantage of the pandemic’s tourism lull to get on the water and learn from experienced canoe guides.
Their trip through the Pensive Lakes loop, starting and finishing at Tibbitt Lake, will last 12 days and involves the chance to sample basic whitewater conditions.
Most of the participants already have camping experience but are less familiar with paddling, said Dan Wong, owner of Jackpine Paddle and guide for the trip.
“Being on a canoe trip of this length will be a new challenge for them and a new opportunity to learn different skills,” said Wong.
Youth watch guide Jack Panayi at a safety briefing ahead of a canoe trip east of Yellowknife. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio
Aged 14 to 17, the participants are from Nunavut’s Kitikmeot region and the Dehcho communities of Fort Simpson and Fort Liard.
“We’re bringing together two different regions who can now share different cultural experiences with each other throughout the trip and get to know each other,” said Wong.
The route would typically take about six days, he added, but the group will take 12 days to ensure safety and fit in Paddle Canada programming.
Wong said the initiative is part of a multi-year project where he hopes to play a role in developing the 24 teenagers’ on-the-water skills. Next year, he hopes they can take part in another expedition closer to their homes.
The group met at Yellowknife’s Fred Henne Territorial Park on Thursday to review canoe safety before their departure.
Terrence Qabvik, a participant from Nunavut, said: “I’m excited for canoeing. I am so excited to go out on these boats.”
Wong says the first few days may be difficult in order to teach everyone the skills they need to know, but he expects the youth to quickly settle in and support each other.
“That’s the beautiful part of the trip, when everyone knows what to do and we’re all working together as a team,” he said.