In early November, Kwanlin Dun First Nation (KDFN) organized a bison hunt on the traditional territory of Champagne and Aishihik First Nation (CAFN). This program ran a full 6 days, and was intended to provide an opportunity for young Indigenous men to spend time out on the land. The program had two paid guides, and in the spirit of partnership between the two first nations, included the KDFN Movember Program Coordinator and the CAFN game guardian. There were three additional guides, who were members of the KDFN community, that volunteered their support. The entire camp consisted of 17 people.
There were no camp cooks or camp maintainers, as one of the goals of the hunt was to learn to work together, support one another, and learn what it takes to maintain a hunting camp. The camp set-up included four canvas tents and woodstoves for sleeping, and used an existing shack for cooking. Temperatures the first night plummeted to close to -25 C, so the participants quickly learned how important keeping the fire going at night truly was!
Each day, the entire camp would gather at breakfast and divide themselves into hunting parties of two and three. Some groups would hunt in the lakes and grassy low lands, while others would climb the mountain to look for bison eating grass on windy slopes.
The participants learned many things while on the hunt; a lot of information about bison habits: where they like to go, sleep, and eat. They also learned how to set up, maintain, and tear down a hunting camp, how to safely drive quads and cross different types of terrain, and how to look for bison and other animals, as well as how to set snares for small game.
Being on the land, away from the city of Whitehorse, allowed many of the participants to give themselves the space needed to reconnect with a part of their identity longing to be revived or strengthened. Many of the men spoke about how this camp was the longest they have ever spent away from town, and that having experienced it now, it is something they will strive to participate in again.