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New harvesting programs to provide funding, mentorship to NWT trappers


Three new programs for NWT harvesters will provide $330,000 to help families and new trappers in the territory in 2020-21.

According to a press release from the NWT Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (ENR), the money will support traditional economies through helping families in need go on the land; a pilot program for trapper mentorship; and a regional harvesting, training, and mentorship funding program.

Applications will be accepted starting in mid-October, the government said, promising details and deadlines will be announced soon.

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The mentorship program will receive the bulk of the funding: $260,000 is available to Indigenous governments and organizations to distribute a Covid harvesting subsidy or for a community training and knowledge exchange.

The ‘”take a family on the land” program will see $50,000 go to organizations to help families offset the costs of on-the-land activities.

Finally, the pilot trapper mentorship program will see 10 beginner trappers receive “trapper starter kits” from the department, as well as support and mentorship. In total, $20,000 has been allocated to compensate mentors. ENR is also setting up webinars with other industry members and trappers.

The press release notes country foods are critical to the cultural and social well-being of residents. It says harvesting can help offset high food costs and decrease reliance on store-bought foods.

“In the Northwest Territories, life is tied to the land. Supporting land-based skills and knowledge in our communities is an important part of a prosperous, diverse and sustainable traditional economy, and helps ensure access to safe and quality country foods,” department Minister Shane Thompson was quoted as saying. “It is my hope that this funding will help offset some of the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on our communities this year, while helping to build resiliency and self-reliance into the future.”

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Grubstake payments increased

The Genuine Mackenzie Valley Fur Program, is also increasing grubstake payments for eligible trappers this year because of the pandemic.

The grubstake program helps offset start-up costs and is based on a trapper’s pelt numbers from the previous year. It’s designed to help protect trappers and harvesters from market downturns and unexpected events.

Under the changes, trappers who brought in 20 or more pelts in the 2019-20 year will get $10 per pelt instead of the previous $5. Trappers who brought in fewer than 20 pelts will now get $5 per pelt, where they previously did not receive any grubstake payment. Payments will be made directly to trapper’s accounts this fall.

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