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New trapping program designed to develop skills and help heal

A trapper training program took place along the Yellowknife River on April 18.
Vincent Casey, education coordinator with the Department of Environment and Climate Change, starts a campfire to cook and warm people up. Kaicheng Xin/NNSL photo

A trapper training program took place along the Yellowknife River on April 18.

“The program is designed to partner with local organizations and community organizations to support people who are in a tough situations,” said Mike Westwick, manager of public affairs and communication with the GNWT Department of Environment and Climate Change (ECC), which developed the program.

The first partnership, with North Slave Correctional Complex, aims to provide skills and help people in their day-to-day lives.

Vincent Casey, education coordinator with ECC, said this latest pilot program with Spruce Bough — a Yellowknife Women’s Society initiative that offers accommodations and programming for vulnerable individuals — is in its fourth session. It takes place every two weeks to foster trapping skills.

The sessions will usually involve four to five people but this time, there were around 10 attendees.

Casey said he’s hoping to see the program to grow.

There were other activities happening in previous sessions, like introducing different types of fur people can find in the NWT and trip planning with rules and regulations.

The April 18 occasion was about everyone gathering to share knowledge and to cut and cook fish.

Casey said he isn’t a trapper, and he learned a great deal during the session.

“There is one aspect, from what I’ve heard, that the training should reflect trapping is a year-round lifestyle but not the single day thing,” he said.

So far, there’s a lot of positive feedback from the people who participated and expressions of how they benefitted from taking the sessions, according to Casey. He added, ”Somehow, it has helped them during their journey and this is not all about teaching, but to share the skills from everyone who attended this event.”

Casey feels like this program is really important because he heard that trapping is under strain in the modern world.

But, he added, trapping has such a strong cultural component for so many people who are living in the territory that there needs to be a program that promotes trapping across all socio-economic groups. Beyond that, he said it’s part of the healing program.

Scott McQueen, traditional economy coordinator with the Department of Environment and Climate Change, helps to slice the fish. Kaicheng Xin/NNSL photo