Many of the winter activities that we know today hold immense significance in past and present Indigenous cultures across the country. Take, for example, snowshoeing. A fun, active winter pastime for most but in reality, snowshoes perfected by Indigenous communities throughout history were absolutely essential to the survival and the growth of Canada.
Similarly, the building of an igloo to the Inuit communities in the northern parts of Canada is much more than an extremely sophisticated way to manage the harsh climate. For some, there are invaluable teachings to be shared from Elders to youth about what it means to build igloos and live off the land.
From dogsledding to ice fishing, these excursions were an extremely sophisticated means of survival for northern communities and today, while they are still survival techniques for some, there are opportunities for adventurers to take part in these activities through various Indigenous adventures and cultural organizations.
In Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, Cree Northern Adventures offers guests an authentic understanding of setting up a tipi or cooking over an open fire along the stunning Meadow River. These traditional, land-based activities help to preserve and enhance the Cree culture and create a further understanding of the people who live on the land in Northern Saskatchewan.
At Voyages Eeyou Istchee Baie-James in Quebec, you can have a similar connection to Cree culture and experience the uniqueness of each nation across the country. From snowmobiling, hiking, canoeing and fishing, there are endless opportunities to learn from Cree guides about the beautiful scenery and water surrounding the Eeyou Istchee Baie-James region. Additionally, the Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute provides a look at artifacts and historical items used in the area.
Temperatures drop significantly at Inuit Adventures. While their headquarters are located in Baie-D’Urfé, Quebec, Inuit Adventures offers an authentic Nunavik, wilderness experience. Dogsledding, polar bears and astonishing northern lights can all be found as you immerse yourself in the isolated Nunavik surrounding. Only accessible by plane, Inuit Adventures is a fully authentic, overnight experience that will transport visitors into a completely different way of life and help them connect to a culture that has cherished the western arctic land for thousands of years.
In Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Tundra North Tours offers the second to none experience of following herds of up to 3,000 reindeer by snowmobile through the arctic landscape. The truly immersive experience is multi-sensory in allowing you to be at the head of a dogsled team, smoke fish, and share meals with Inuvik Elders while listening to their sacred stories and teachings. Connect with an environment that is natural, wild and uniquely respected at Tundra North Tours.
Churchill, Manitoba is known for its incredible wildlife and roaming polar bears and Wapusk Adventures allows you to engage with your surroundings via an award-winning dogsledding company founded by Dave Daley. Daley founded the world-renowned Hudson Bay Quest dog sled race and Wapusk Adventures won the Manitoba Indigenous Tourism award in 2019. You can also take part in snowshoe walks and unbeaten Aurora Borealis viewings.
For years, James Allen has hosted unique healing and culture camps at Shakat Tun Adventures in the Yukon. Shakat Tun, or “summer trail”, allows visitors the opportunity to be fully involved in traditional practices such as beading, trapping, and drum-making. Nestled along Christmas Bay, below mountain peaks, and bordered by Kluane Lake, Shakat Tun is a cultural hub that helps people learn more about the original and current custodians of the land in the Yukon.
Arctic Bay Adventures in Nunavut is one of those exceptional corners of the world that you cannot experience anywhere else. Baffin Island is surrounded by mountains and breathtaking hiking trails which are referred to in Inuktitut as Ikpiarjuk or “the pocket”. Multi-day excursions are offered to guests with opportunities to build igloos, spot narwhals and eat fresh-caught fish. Elders in the community graciously share their stories with visitors, allowing for even more connection to the land and water that surround you.