Though the official ‘transfer’ of territories from the British Crown to the Canadian government happened around 1870, the Northwest Territories of Canada boast a rich and cultured history that extends long before, and long after, this event. The ancient tales of the Dene, Inuvialuit, Sahtu, Metis and more breathe life into the tundra, echo in the valleys, and reverberate along the rivers, lakes and landscapes of the Northwest. Similarly, the traditions and stories of modern Canada are now deeply embedded in the soil of the Northwest and these two communities, far from being separate, come together in a cultural exchange that is as warm and inviting as it is fascinating…Read more
It’s fitting that these tales of survival, adventure and extraordinary daring play out on the equally astounding terrain of the NWT. This is a terrain that encourages expedition, encourages you to lose yourself in magnificent nature, to find yourself again, and to tell your tale to communities both near and far. If you immerse yourself in Canada’s Northwest Territories, you’ll slowly begin to realise that not only are there an abundance of phenomena to be found in nature (Northern Lights, midnight suns, ice fogs), but also an abundance of phenomenal stories regarding the inhabitants of this unique landscape.
The Inuvialuit, one of the most prominent First Nations communities in Canada, first came into contact with European communities in the 19th century; though they are known to have thrived for at least 500 years prior. Disease threatened to wipe out this historic community, but through naturally won immunities and strength of will, the Inuvialuit survived and their population continues to grow. Elders continue to pass on their elaborate hunting techniques, unique song and dance and traditions and games such as mak and akimuq.
Such history is complimented by the more recent tales of intrigue that emerge from modern Canada; one of the most fascinating of which is the tale of the ‘mad trapper’. Now an annual festival of celebration, the ‘mad trapper’ Albert Johnson was the subject of one of the 20th century’s wildest manhunts across tundra, mountain and valley.
It’s fitting to end on the ancient Dene tale of Yamǫ́rıa; a name that literally translates to ‘the one who travels’. Yamǫ́rıa is celebrated for being the figure who separated man from the animals but preserved a mutual relationship of respect. He also brought law and stability into the unforgiving landscape and served as an example for utilising, but protecting nature. Yamǫ́rıa is not only a symbol of the rich history and culture of First Nations communities, but he is also an inspiration for modern travellers.
Of course, we can only skim the surface of this deep history. It’s time for you to become the one who travels; to come to the Northwest Territories and write a rough, rugged and unforgettable story of your own.