Graham Vantighem dries off recently trapped beaver by dragging it back and forth over the snow. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Yukon kids learn trapping traditions

‘It’s important to not give up on the youth’

Amid the silent wilderness, interrupted occasionally by chirping birds, a convoy of sleds headed out from Lubbock Creek Saturday morning toward Little Atlin Lake.

A group of approximately 20 kids and 12 adults from the second annual Youth Muskrat Camp were heading out to check the muskrat and beaver traps they had set the day before.

“This camp is about getting youth on the land and teaching them about trapping, respect for the animals, ice fishing and how to target different fish,” said Ken Reeder, co-founder of the camp and Carcross Tagish Renewable Resources chair.

The camp, which took place April 12 to 15, is organized by the Carcross Tagish Renewable Resources council in partnership with the Carcross Tagish First Nation.

Kids from Tagish, Carcross, Whitehorse and Atlin all converged in a pop-up camp at the bottom of a twisted, muddy, two-kilometre long road to learn about the importance of trapping and a traditional way of life.

The participants not only learned how to set traps and retrieve their spoils, but also how to skin the animals and stretch the fur. They also learned animal anatomy and a First Nations perspective on the traditional way of life.

“It’s important to not give up on the youth. (It’s important) to get them out on the land … and show them that trapping is acceptable and that it’s part of a lifestyle,” said Reeder. It’s also important that youth learn these skills, he added, because many elders can no longer continue the tradition themselves.

The camp, which provided heated tents, meals and qualified instructors, was free for the children and parents to attend, but with double the attendance of last year, Reeder said they couldn’t take more campers next year with their current budget.

“I would recommend this to any parent,” said Reeder. “To get your child out here and to teach them it’s a good place to be, on the land.”

Contact Crystal Schick at crystal.schick@yukon-news.com

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Instructors, youths, and parents gather on Little Atlin Lake after checking the muskrat and beaver traps to learn about ice fishing. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Kris McKay fishes patiently on Little Atlin Lake. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Jean Legare prepares to skin muskrats at the Youth Trapping Camp at Lubbock Creek. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

A beaver lays ready for skinning at the Carcross Tagish Renewable Resources Council’s Youth Trapping Camp. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Trapping instructor Ryan Sealy, from left, shows Ethan Sicotte and Cole Vantighem, how to skin a muskrat as Elliot Flemming, Sophie Molgat, and Janna Lojang prepare a beaver for skinning with camp co-founder Ken Reeder. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Trapping instructor Ryan Sealy, from left, show Ethan Sicotte, Cole Vantighem, and Elliot Flemming how to skin a muskrat. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Janna Lojang, front left, and Southern Lakes biologist Lars Jessup, watch as camp co-founder Ken Reeder begins to skin a beaver trapped earlier that day. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

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