In the footsteps of our ancestors

The debut documentary from Trails in Tandem and the Canol Youth Leadership Hike.

 
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UPCOMING EVENTS

Ottawa, ON - May 23, 2019
7:30pm @ MEC Ottawa

PAST EVENTS

Halifax, NS - May 6, 2019

6pm @ Museum of Natural History

Edmonton, AB - February 6th, 2019

6:30pm @ The Garneau Theatre

Tulita, NWT - January 23, 2019

6pm & 7:30pm @ Tulita Cultural Centre

 

Norman Wells, NWT - January 24, 2019

6pm & 7:30pm @ Community Hall

 

Yellowknife, NWT - January 28, 2019

6pm @ Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre

Ottawa, ON - January 30, 2019

6pm @ The Canadian Museum of Nature

 

The Canol Heritage Trail

Nestled in the subarctic interior of the Northwest Territories in an area known as the Sahtú, the Canol Heritage Trail is a 355km rugged alpine path that weaves it's way through vast canyons, rivers and thicket deep within the Mackenzie Mountains. The trail is the homeland of the Shúhtagot’ı̨nę and is intimately known by the Sahtú Dene & Métis who have used the trail to hunt, socialize and trade for thousands of years. Due to it's remoteness and length, the Canol is considered to be one of the most difficult trails to complete in Canada. The breathtaking mountain vistas and dramatic canyons of the Canol form an essential component of the Northern Canadian wilderness. 

The lowlands of the Canol Heritage Trail with the Mackenzie Mountains visible in the distance

The lowlands of the Canol Heritage Trail with the Mackenzie Mountains visible in the distance

After the World War II bombings of Pearl Harbor in 1941, the Japanese Army became a growing threat to Allied supply routes throughout the pacific. To bolster their defences, the governments of Canada and the United States agreed to build a pipeline from the oil field at Tłegǫ́hłı (Norman Wells), N.W.T. across the Mackenzie Mountains to a refinery in Whitehorse, Yukon, where oil would be distributed along the pacific coast.

With no maps of the area, and little experience surviving in the north, the American Army relied on the knowledge of local Sahtú Dene and Métis people to guide them through the unforgiving mountain wilderness. The CANOL project (short for Canadian Oil) was eventually completed two years later by 20,000 men and women and at cost of over $300 million. 

Dogsleds were used by the Sahtú Dene and Métis to travel through the mountains in the winter

Dogsleds were used by the Sahtú Dene and Métis to travel through the mountains in the winter

However after only a year of use the pipeline and trail were abandoned, with much of the infrastructure left in the mountains. Nowadays the route is frequented by wandering hikers, dall sheep and grizzly bears. The abandoned route is now known as the Canol Heritage Trail and is on it's way to becoming a designated Territorial Park.

 

 

The remains of an abandoned pumphouse at Mile 36

The remains of an abandoned pumphouse at Mile 36

Every year youth from across the Sahtú embark on a leadership hike along the Canol Heritage Trail to learn how to live on their ancestral lands and to learn the teachings of local Sahtú Dene and Métis elders and guides. The trail also offers an intimate look at the mysteries of the CANOL project, and the work that must be done to preserve this unique natural and cultural landmark.

The dramatic cliffs and creeks of doi t'o ( Dodo Canyon ) serve as the entrance to the Mackenzie Mountains. River crossings must be completed to traverse the trail

The dramatic cliffs and creeks of doi t'o ( Dodo Canyon ) serve as the entrance to the Mackenzie Mountains. River crossings must be completed to traverse the trail

 
Over 80 tonnes of telephone wire have been cleaned up since remediation of the Canol Heritage Trail began

Over 80 tonnes of telephone wire have been cleaned up since remediation of the Canol Heritage Trail began

Drum songs at the denich'ae koke (Elders Camp) at Mile 23

Drum songs at the denich'ae koke (Elders Camp) at Mile 23

The noga pi nili (Carcajou River) crossing at Mile 26

The noga pi nili (Carcajou River) crossing at Mile 26

 
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In July 2017, Trails in Tandem joined an adventurous team of hikers from across the Sahtú on an epic 37-mile journey with the 12th annual Canol Youth Leadership Hike.

Starting at Mile 37 of the Canol Heritage Trail, the expedition team traced the history of the Sahtú Dene, Métis and the World War II pipeline workers along the interior of the dramatic Dodo Canyon, the racing Carcajou river and the thick mountain lowlands to end at the mighty Mackenzie River. 

Documenting the entire hike, and highlighting the history of the CANOL project in the Sahtú, a 60 minute adventure film “In The Footsteps Of Our Ancestors” has been cut and is being released throughout Canada in 2019.

 
 
 
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cast

 
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Norman Yakeleya

Canol Youth Leadership Hike Founder & Dene National Chief of Canada. Sahtú Métis from Tulita, NWT

 
 

Jordan lennie

Sahtú Métis Youth Hiker from Tulita, NWT.

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Nicholas castel

Filmmaker and Youth Hiker from Ottawa, ON.

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SUAT TIN-Lim

Hike Support Team from Norman Wells, NWT.

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Chase Yakeleya

Sahtú Métis Youth Hiker from Tulita, NWT.

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Erinn Drage

Filmmaker and Youth Hiker from Halifax, NS.

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Karl meulenbroek

Hike Support Team from Norman Wells, NWT.

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Lis Dolen

Hike Support Team from Norman Wells, NWT.

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Mckenzie Barney

Sahtú Métis Youth Hiker from Norman Wells, NWT.

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Jerry Lennie

Sahtú Dene Hiker from Coville Lake, NWT.

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Michael etchinelle

Shúhtagot’ı̨nę Mountain Guide from Tulita, NWT.

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Cheryl Yakeleya

Hike Support Team from Yellowknife, NWT.

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Brandon bremner

Sahtú Métis Youth Hiker From Norman Wells, NWT.

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Myles Erb

Canol Youth Leadership Hike Founder from Norman Wells, NWT.

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William horessai

Shúhtagot’ı̨nę Mountain Guide from Tulita, NWT.

 
 

 

local knowledge

 
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CECE McCauley-hodgson

Sahtú Dene Elder and Nurse in Tulita during the CANOL Project from Norman Wells, NWT.

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DORIS HOWARD

Sahtú Métis from Norman Wells, NWT.
Mother worked at Camp CANOL.

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Edward Oudzi

Sahtú Dene Elder from Coville Lake, NWT. Cultural Interpreter at Mile 23 Elders Camp.

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Ed HUDSON

Sahtú Dene Elder from Norman Wells, NWT. Was a young boy during CANOL project.

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Jim Wrigley

Sahtú Dene Elder and Oil Worker that helped with CANOL cleanup from Norman Wells, NWT.

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Larry Tourangeau

Chief Negotiator for Norman Wells Self Government File from Canyon Creek, NWT.

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rose neyelle

Shúhtagot’ı̨nę Elder from Tulita, NWT. Grew up in the mountains.

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Garth Wallbridge

Sahtú Lawyer and Canol Youth Leadership Hike Founder from Yellowknife, NWT.

 
 
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Joe Handley

Sahtú Métis Canol Youth Leadership Hike Founder. Former Premiere of NWT.


 

This film would not have been possible without the generous support of our partners