Survival expert Michela Carriere using traditional knowledge and skills on hit TV show 'Alone'

A few days after Michela Carriere was dropped off, Alone, in the Arctic Circle wilderness of Inuvik, Northwest Territories, something special happened. When she was first landed, she found an uncommonly huge rock on the river’s shore. She immediately felt its energy, and would return to the rock daily to say prayers, as well as to leave offerings on the rock for a safe venture.

A few days later, she found a gift near the rock – a fresh, fully in-tact squirrel kidney, left over from a nearby pack of wolves.

“It felt like a gift from the Creator to be given this perfect kidney. So I cooked it up and ate it, and it was delicious,” she said.

“I really dedicate that first episode to the Kidney Foundation, and just that powerful act of receiving that kidney.”

Carriere, a Cree and Métis woman from Big Eddy Lodge in northern Saskatchewan, is one of the ten survival experts, and one of only three Canadians, competing on on season 11 of Alone – a History Channel survival show. Contestants have to survive alone in the wilderness for as long as possible, using a limited amount of survival equipment. The individual who survives the longest wins the grand prize of $500,000 USD.

Carriere grew up developing the very skills that would one day earn her a spot on an internationally-broadcast survival show. She grew up on a trapline on the Saskatchewan River Delta, in a home that had no road access, electricity or running water, spending her days hunting, fishing, and trapping with her parents.

“My earliest memories start on the fishing camp, living in a tiny trapping cabin, being exposed to every type of hunting and trapping,” she said.

“I feel like I’m exactly where I need to be, I feel like I was born to be on this show, to showcase these amazing skills and keep passing on this knowledge to future generations.”

In addition to developing essential survival skills while growing up, she continued to hone her skills as an adult, starting her own wilderness adventure company, Aski Holistic Adventures, in which she guides groups on canoe trips, outdoor adventures, land-based camps, nature therapy, and survival workshops.

She became aware of Alone around 2017, after appearing on the APTN show, Merchants of the Wild.

Alone, Season 11 airs Thursdays on The HISTORY Channel and streaming on STACKTV
Alone, Season 11 airs Thursdays on The HISTORY Channel and streaming on STACKTV

“When I finally watched it in 2020, I was blown away by the amazing skills, especially the amazing women on the show. I knew I wanted to be a part of it one day.”

It was about a two year process from the time she applied for casting to actually being a contestant on the show earlier this year, including having sessions with producers, doctors, and psychologists, and having to attend a boot camp to show her skills to a panel of survival experts. The experience gave her confidence that she had what it took.

She was only given a month notice to prepare before starting the show, but had already begun preparations, sewing beaver mitts, a parka, sweater, moccasins, and practicing her archery and navigational skills with her father.

With her, she was allowed to bring ten non-food items. She chose a duck down sleeping bag, a ferro rod, an axe, a customized Leatherman multitool, paracord, a bow and arrow, a pot, snare wire, a fish net, and a saw.

She also brought with her something only she could bring – her intimate connection to the land.

“I had a really special connection to the land when I was out there. It was really spiritual,” said Carriere. “You’ll see it on the show, I got to see and experience some really special things. The only thing that was missing was being there with a speakers of the language.”

One of the most unique, and challenging, aspects of Alone is that each contestant is utterly isolated for the duration, which requires them to carry around and shoot with bulky camera equipment.

“When you’re trying to navigate the busy landscape and you have a big camera, you have to constantly set it up and record yourself. It’s really challenging, the batteries were always dying. It something constantly on your mind,” she said.

Being her very own camera crew wasn’t even the most challenging aspect of the show, said Carriere. The most challenging aspect is right there in the show’s name.

“It’s called Alone. I would say the biggest challenge is being isolated, being out there with your own thoughts is incredibly challenging,” she said.

While she can’t speak on any of the results of the show, Carriere said it was an honour to represent herself, her province, and her people.

“She’s such a giving person, such a lovely individual. And her personality really shines through on the show. I’m hopeful that people can see her and feel not only connected with her, but inspired,” said Annie Charles, executive director of Indigenous Destinations Canada.

“It’s important for women like Michela to be supported and represented,” said Charles. “We often don’t get this kind of representation. I hope it will inspire our youth to retain their culture, to be proud of their communities, and to really embrace who they are.”

Carriere said the experience was both the best, and the hardest, thing she’s ever done.

“Beautiful landscapes, some of the biggest fish I’ve ever seen, and a huge opportunity to really showcase my ancestors’ skills,” said Carriere.

“Hopefully I’ll inspire some Indigenous women to get into the outdoors and traditional land-based living. I really hope I inspire that. There’s a great honour that comes with doing this.”

Alone, Season 11 airs Thursdays on The HISTORY Channel and streaming on STACKTV

NC Raine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Eagle Feather News