The Expedition
Statement of Objectives

The proposed expedition will take six participants from Yellowknife, N.W.T. to Kugluktuk, NU, by canoe and develop educational materials to bring the journey to Canadian classrooms. In pursuing this opportunity, expedition members wish to further develop their careers as educators in combination with a passion for outdoor and experiential education. In doing so, we hope to be able to contribute in a positive manner to the understanding and appreciation of Canadian history and geography through various forms of media. Our objective is to expand the geographic appreciation, and knowledge of this remote region of the Canadian wilderness, encouraging thoughtful debate and discussion on both environmental and
economic themes.

In support of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society's mandate to make Canada better known to Canadians and to the world, while on the expedition, we will be creating a series of interactive lesson plans for classrooms. We will be submitting these to the Canadian Council for Geographic Education, and upon completion of the trip, these lesson plans will be made available through this website. Students and teachers will be able to explore the route and find a range of materials appropriate to their grade level.

The inspiration for this expedition came after reading Coppermine by Keith Ross Leckie, a novel based on a true story about the disappearance of two Roman Catholic Oblate priests in the remote Arctic region known as the Coppermine in the early part of the twentieth century. The description of the terrain, its abundant amount of wildlife and the way in which the Copper Inuit had adapted and thrived off the land, drew us to the prospect of completing a journey that traced the past, not only of the Copper Inuit, but also of the other Aboriginal groups that inhabited and traveled through this northern region of Canada. In doing so, we could develop an appreciation for cultures and groups who had existed in this region long before the arrival and subsequent exposure to European explorers. In order to undertake this task, we have mapped out a 1600 km route from Yellowknife on Great Slave Lake to Kugluktuk on Coronation Gulf in the Arctic Ocean.

In accordance with the principle of respect for the land, we will employ tried and true techniques for minimizing the human footprint of the expedition. The goal is for the camper to have as little impact as possible on the location through which he/she is traveling. It is likely that much of our camping will be done on no pre-existing sites. With this in mind, we will be taking extra care in selecting where to camp. Sites will be selected a safe distance from lake shores and riverbanks, where the ground can be wet and fragile, and where wildlife may frequent at night. Minimize food waste. The removal of rocks, artifacts or other items of interest will be strictly forbidden. "Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints."

Cooking. Stove, Fuel, Pots, Frying pan, Utensils, Kitchen knife, fillet knife, large fork and spoon, Plastic wash tubs, Reflector oven, Cleaning kit, Water purification, Garbage bags, Tupperware, Mixing bowl.

Canoes & Equipment 3 Canoes, 9 Paddles, 6 PFDs (with whistles), Tie down ropes for transport, Bailers, 3 Throw bags, Tump straps for wannigans and canoes, Bow and stern ropes, Repair kit (ambroid, patching material, flat tin pieces to repair sheeting, seating screws and brackets, robertson screw driver, leatherman, pliers, wire cutter), Fishing rods, 3 Spray decks, 3 Tents, Ground sheets for tents, Fly/tarp, Saw, Axe.

Emergency Kit. Emergency money, Flagging tape, Bear bangers and mace, Batteries (extra for spot locator, ELB, and Sat. phone and for personal use), First aid kit, Thread/needles, Safety pins, Extra headlamp, Duct tape, Super glue/ five-minute epoxy, Rope/twine.

Personal. Clothing for warm and cold weather, Rainwear, River booties, Trip shoes, Camp shoes, Hats, Gloves, Dry bag (with a change of clothes), Sleeping bag, Sleeping pad, Canvas duffel bag, Toothpaste/toothbrush, Nalgene bottle, Bungee cords, Flora and fauna guide for the region, Sunscreen, Sunglasses, Fishing tackle, Camera, GPS device.
Water, Tents & Clothing

Water Treatment. To ensure safe consumption of fluids, all water will be treated with an ultra-violet stick that scrambles the DNA of any existing bacteria in the water. We will also be filtering water in areas where excess silt is present.

Tents. A good tent for this region is something that can sustain pressure from the wind in all directions. A four pole or more dome style tent that is low to the ground, but tall enough to sit up in. 4 or 5 lengths of cord, each about a metre long, will be used to secure each tent using rocks to tie it down.

In terms of Clothing & Sleeping Bags, we will be prepared for colder temperatures and the high probability of strong winds (in areas north of the treeline). All members will have wool gloves, mitts and waterproof over-mitts; a parka; socks of a few different thicknesses, including thick "ice" socks; and a sleeping bag rated to -6 degrees Celsius. Managing the risks of paddling in cold weather and the possibility of capsizing means everyone will pack a full change of clothes for the coldest conditions we anticipate traveling in, sealed in a drybag or pack liner.
Spray Deck, Maps & Re-Supply

Most consider a Spray Deck to be mandatory for travel on the Coppermine River and large cold lake crossings. A spray deck effectivly seals the contents of a canoe, ensuring that rough waters over the front and sides don't result in 'swamping' the canoe. A spray deck also makes the boat less vulnerable to wind, and of course keeps gear and passengers' legs and feet dry from rain.

Maps. We will be custom printing our own maps, which considerably reduces the cost, and allows one to print the specific sections of each map sheet that will be needed on waterproof paper. One can choose the desired scale as well. We will be carrying two sets of maps in case one is lost or damaged.

Resupply. Traveling for this length of time requires a resupply for the safety of the expedition members. Some gear we don't need for the southern, more Boreal section of the trip, that we will need for the colder, more remote 2nd leg of the trip. Accordingly, we have made arrangements with Dave Oleson from Hoarfrost River Outfitters on Great Slave Lake to fly our re-supply to specific co-ordinates
Food & Fire

Food Preparation & Storage. Freeze-dried foods are easy to carry, easy to prepare and easy to keep from affecting the environment. We have a substantial amount of freeze-dried food being ordered from Bauly Food Enterprises. Much of the energy requirements from our food will come from rice and pasta. Our food will be stored and transported in water-proof barrels and wannigans (wooden boxes that can be carried on our backs using tump straps). Although more efficient techniques have been developed over time to transport food, the method of wannigan and tump strap (traditionally used circa the fur trade) is fundamental to keeping within the themes of this expedition. The barrels provide an added measure of safety and peace of mind in case a wannigan breaks en route.

Use of Open Fires. Building fires will be necessary for food preparation. As we are traveling for 50 days, it is inconceivable that we will be able to carry enough fuel to cook all of our food. We will be carrying a stove and five canisters of propane in the case of an emergency, but for the most part we will be collecting driftwood to make fires, with the help of an axe and a saw to fulfill our wood requirements if driftwood is not present. All members are trained in the use of these tools, and understand how to harvest wood in a sustainable manner. No live trees will be cut down for any purpose during the trip. If existing fire pits are present, we will use these. If not, we will build a fire place in a safe manner, constructing on exposed rock and away from embedded roots.
Safety & Communication

Reliable and an industrial-grade design, an Iridium Satellite Phone will let us make phone calls using GPS Satellite technology. This phone also has the ability to receive and send text messages.

Personal Locator Beacons are registered to the individuals using them, so if there is a call for a rescue, rescuers know who to look for. The call continues to transmit until the user is found, at which point the device sends out a homing signal and the GPS coordinates of the user to search and rescue authorities.

A Spot Locator provides a variety of satellite-based messaging features. The user can send live location updates to Google Maps, check in with family back home, or let others know where he/she is and that immediate help is needed. Spot locators float and are water resistant.

All of us have our wilderness first-aid certification through Wilderness Medical Associates or Serius Medicine. And some of us hold their Swiftwater Rescue and paddling / whitewater Instructor certification from ORCKA (Ontario Recreational Canoeing and Kayaking Association). We will be carrying two First Aid Kits meant for long expeditions.