May 3, 2021
ice road caribou harvest monitors
This winter Indigenous governments in the Northwest Territories introduced new measures to protect the fragile Bathurst barren-ground caribou herd.
In March, APTN News tagged along to check out the Tlicho Nation’s Ekwo (caribou) harvest monitoring program and the Yellowknives Dene First Nation caribou harvesting monitoring program.
Bethany Apples, Albert Nitzia and Michael Huskey strap down fuel drums in the bed of a pick-up truck on a Thursday afternoon.
There’s no services where they’re going, roughly 300 kilometers northeast of Yellowknife – past the tree line, on the Tibbitt to Contwoyto winter road that goes to the diamond mines.
Some six hours later, they reach Mackay Lake, one of the largest lakes on the ice road. Its snow and ice as far as the eye can see, all except a Tlicho Nation flag tied to a canvas wall tent.
For the next two weeks, Apples, Nitzia and Huskey will operate the check-stop and provide information and support for Dogrib dene harvesters. They’ll also be the eyes and ears for the Tlicho government, patrolling by truck and recording information on wildlife.
The group makes sure they start in a good way with a feeding of the fire and prayer.
“We do this to remind us that our ancestors were here many years ago and we are following in the footsteps. We have one young lady (Apples) who will carry that on so we are going to teach her,” Nitzia said.