Springtime hunting starts for families in Mackenzie Delta

Gail Ann Raddi on a snowmobile with Shienese Cockney, Liz Gordon, Chance Cockney and Ocean Cockney, headed to their spring camp. (Dez Loreen/CBC)

Every spring for over two decades, Gail Ann Raddi has brought her family out fishing.

She said it’s a great way to keep her children connected to their culture and to keep the freezer full.

The warm weather in the Mackenzie Delta region brings a lot of people outdoors like Raddi and her family. She said she likes to spend a week at a time out with the clan as they fish and enjoy the sun.

It isn’t just a vacation, though — the days at camp can be long and, Raddi says, there is a lot to get done before the snow melts.

“We’ll be hauling wood before the snow gets too soft, so while we can. We wait ’til the evening, haul sled loads of wood every night after we are done fishing. Usually spend ten hours a day fishing and then haul wood back to the camp before midnight,” she said.

Her family has a cabin at Husky Lakes, which is accessible by the Inuvik-Tuk highway.

Gail Ann Raddi, Chance Cockney and Shienese Cockney load sled tarps and gas cans onto their snowmobile. (Dez Loreen/CBC)

From their home in Inuvik, N.W.T., they drive an hour up the highway to the drop-off point and travel another 40 minutes by snowmobile. The trip used to take a lot longer before the all-weather highway was completed. Now, Raddi is grateful for the easier access, which allows her to work and still get out to the camp on evenings and weekends.

Passing along the traditional knowledge of camping and fishing off the land are important to Raddi. She said eating country foods is important to her family even if rising costs make it more difficult to get out and hunt.

“Because it’s so expensive to buy meats and stuff, we prefer harvesting our own and share with others. We are so used to it. It’s our way of life and we will continue to do it as much as we can,” said Raddi.

“We barely buy store-bought meats — we live off of moose, caribou, ptarmigans [and] geese.”

The family plans on fishing this week and harvesting geese next week as they fly in.

“People are going out now,” she said. “But there’s not as much flying yet. By next weekend, it should be good.”

A report written by Dez Loreen

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Illegal hunting of caribou herds along Northwest Territories winter roads running rampant, CBC

Finland: Finland slashes bear hunting quota by one third, 20 fewer permits in North, Yle News

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