Eleven days after shoving off from Frank Channel, a group of Deh Cho and Nunavut girl paddlers arrived in Yellowknife on Aug. 9 a little wet but with a lot of smiles on their faces.

The group of three girls from Fort Liard and seven from Baker Lake, Coral Harbour and Taloyoak were the second crew of young Indigenous people to join this year’s 130-km canoe adventures through the North Arm of Great Slave Lake.

A group of 12 Deh Cho-Nunavut boys finished their trip on July 20.

Jackpine Paddle organized the trips, with the Ayalik Fund recruiting youth from Nunavut and the Liidlii Kue First Nation selecting the Deh Cho paddlers.

“The first week we had amazing weather, it was super hot and really calm,” said lead guide Chloe Wiebe. “We could paddle more on the outskirts of the islands instead of inside the bay. We could cut down on some of our kilometres and see some spots we wouldn’t normally be able to reach.”

Wiebe said the boys and girls trips were very similar except the girls sang more and there were “more giggles at night.”

“We brought a hand drum on the trip so we were doing some drumming songs (too). We brought more fishing rods this time, about five or six. We were catching some really big pike and cooked them for dinner.”

Despite not being as physically strong as the boys, Wiebe said the girls picked up paddling techniques faster and in the end were better paddlers.

Many of the girls from Nunavut struggled to adjust to the heat at the start of the trip and the group only travelled about a dozen kilometres in the first few days.

“That was a big distance for them in the heat. Then when the weather got cooler they could paddle 15 to 20 km easily,” Wiebe said.

Blair McBride

Blair McBride covers the Legislative Assembly, business and education. Before coming to Yellowknife he worked as a journalist in British Columbia, Thailand and Ontario. He studied journalism at Western...

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