Dog musher recognized for advocacy says public education key

·2 min read
Jordee Reid has been dog mushing since she was three years old. (Submitted by Jordee Reid - image credit)
Jordee Reid has been dog mushing since she was three years old. (Submitted by Jordee Reid - image credit)

Jordee Reid, named by the City of Yellowknife as a "Trailblazer" for her advocacy says when she joined the decades-long fight for her family's dog lot in city limits, the public needed more education about mushing's cultural significance.

Reid, who has been mushing since she was three, said when she took up her advocacy, she was surprised at how little people knew, and "that's a problem," she said.

Reid is immersed in dog mushing now, primarily as a race organizer.

The city, which relocated her grandparent's dog lot to Kam Lake in the 1970s, is now recognizing Reid for her involvement and advocacy in the sport.

"Dog mushing has played a huge role in shaping Canada in general [and] Northern Canada," she said. "My grandparents used sled dogs to travel on the land, to hunt and trap. That was their livelihood."

But as time goes by, she said, parts of history can be forgotten.

"I always like to talk about how important sled dogs were to the people and how the sport of dog mushing is a way we keep that alive, in our hearts and spirit."

Jordee Reid and her family at the K’amba Carnival sled dog race in Hay River, N.W.T. in March 2020.
Jordee Reid and her family at the K’amba Carnival sled dog race in Hay River, N.W.T. in March 2020.(Ron Bonnetrouge/Jordee Reid)

Reid is the president of the Yellowknife Dog Trotters Association, and helps organize the Canadian Championship Dog Derby, which kicks off on March 26.

The Our Trailblazers campaign aims to celebrate Yellowknife women who are excelling in their field, who "play a critical role in breaking ground in the land of opportunities," and who are "pioneers with stories worth telling," the city said on its website.

Reid believes she was recognized, in part, because she's involved in a sport that's dominated by men, but that's changing, she said.

"Women are really good dog mushers," she laughed. "Dogs really react to people's energies.... Women have this different energy than men do, and dogs really respond to it."

Reid's goal for the sport is to get more young people and their families involved.

Reid's point-of-view from her sled.
Reid's point-of-view from her sled.(Submitted by Jordee Reid)

"The dog mushers that are in the sport are aging and there's not as many new mushers coming in, so I think a lot of the work I'm doing is also fuelled [by] wanting to get more people involved," she said.

She also wants to show people how dog mushing works, so people know the animals are well taken care of.

"I've had sled dogs my entire life, it's really part of who I am," she said. "It's very much interwoven into how I see myself as an Indigenous woman."