It was an all-new experience for Jordan Archie.
"My brothers and them would go, but for me, this was my first time ever going caribou hunting," said Archie, a student at Moose Kerr School in Aklavik, N.W.T.
Archie was part of a group of students from the school that teamed up with some local hunters this month to harvest some caribou. It was organized as a one-on-one learning experience on the land, with six students and six experienced hunters.
"I think of it as a great opportunity and I was thankful of going," Archie said.
Megan Lennie, a regional youth coordinator with the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC), helped organize the event along with another teacher at the school. It was organized through Project Jewel, an on-the-land wellness initiative run by the IRC.
Lennie said the original idea for the hunt came from a student.
"They wanted a community harvest but they had no knowledge on how to get up there, and what the terrain was going to be like," Lennie said.
"So it was a perfect way to encourage knowledge sharing, and to provide meat to the entire school."
She said it all came together quickly.
"The idea came on Wednesday and we ran it … we decided to run it the next Monday. So then the boys went out on Monday to harvest," she said.
It was a cold day — around –27 C with the wind chill, Lennie said. They packed up some sandwiches and snacks for the six students and off they went.
The Porcupine caribou herd was not far from the community, so it was possible to do the excursion as a day-trip.
Some of the students had been hunting before, but Lennie said it was still a good learning experience for them.
"We were explaining to them, you know, it's important to learn from different people so you could get a couple different tricks up your sleeve, and share that to your own family."
The group returned to town just as it was getting dark, Lennie recalled. She was waiting for them at her in-laws' house.
"It was kind of beautiful … we saw the lights of 10 skidoos coming down off the hill."
The next day, the harvested animals — six of them — were taken to the school to be skinned and butchered. Lots of people from the community, including parents and elders, came to watch and participate. Everyone went home with some meat.
Archie missed that part, though — he was still worn out from the hunt. There wasn't a lot of snow yet on the land so the travel had been rough and exhausting.
"I was still at home sleeping, stiff and sore. That's why I didn't have a chance to get any skinning or butchering of the caribou," he said.