Yellowknifers may have seen military helicopters and reports of diving exercises as part of Canadian Armed Forces Northern training. 

To carry out that training, the military requires local partnerships. Enodah Wilderness Travel Ltd., a Ndilo-based tourism company, is one local partner thankful for the business after a year without income. 

The annual military drills, dubbed Operation Nanook, are a way for military personnel to hone the skills required to operate in hostile environments and improve coordination with Indigenous, federal and territorial governments.  

Ragnar Wesstrom, president of Enodah Wilderness Travel Ltd., says that a contract with the Canadian Armed Forces has been a godsend for a tourism company in a year without tourists.
Natalie Pressman/NNSL photo

From March 1-13, Enodah assisted the exercise by setting up and taking down camps, providing materials, tents and heaters for diving exercises, and supplying machines like the Hagglunds BV-206 – “the most versatile vehicle on the planet,” said Enodah president Ragnar Wesstrom.

The tracked, all-terrain vehicles are completely amphibious and hold up to 16 passengers, plus a driver. 

Typically, Enodah staff use their seven Hagglunds machines to transport tourists, fishermen and aurora chasers, in particular, to the company’s Trout Rock Lodge on Great Slave Lake.

With the Hagglunds, “it doesn’t matter what the weather is, we can go,” said Wesstrom.

With borders closures, however, the vehicles have remained stagnant. 

“We’re so appreciative that we got the opportunity to work with (the Canadian Armed Forces) and generate some revenue after one year of doing nothing,” Wesstrom said. 

“We still get bills, of course,” he said adding that the company is hopeful for some form of fishing tourism in the months ahead. “We can’t lose two summers.”

Hagglunds engineer Ron Allen is the only employee, other than Wesstrom, the company has retained throughout the pandemic. Allen has been nicknamed Aiviq for the way the ice on his mustache makes him look like a walrus. Aiviq is walrus in Inuktitut, Allen explains.
Natalie Pressman/NNSL photo

In the winter, Enodah employs about five staff at its dogsled kennel and aurora station and another six at the lodge. In summer, the operation usually hires about 14 in total. Of course, the company had no reason to hire its seasonal staff this year, leaving Enodah with just Wesstrom and Hagglund engineer Ron Allen.

The two said it has been interesting to see the various facets of the armed forces and to observe “how everything is done with military precision,” Wesstrom said. 

“This is just a godsend that we got this contract with the army,” he said, keeping fingers crossed for borders restrictions to ease soon.

Natalie Pressman

Reporting courts and cops and general news, Natalie started with NNSL Media in 2020. Before moving to Yellowknife, Natalie worked as a community radio trainer in Iskatewizaagegan #39 Independent First...

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