Hello and Aniin.
My name is Sidney and I am a teacher on the First Nation reserve of Bloodvein, MB. I am starting this campaign to raise funds to develop an after school dog sled program for the youth here in the community.
In the past I have worked with some of the worlds top dog sled kennels in the Yukon, Alaska, Churchill, and Banff National Park, as well as running school workshops while attending University in Winnipeg.
Like many isolated First Nation communities, Bloodvein faces a myriad of social issues that stem from the effects of colonialism. There are a lot of good people here who are working tirelessly towards positive change, but their time and resources are stretched. The children here have few options when it comes to recreation, many of them; some quite young in age, turn to drugs as a means of escape.
At the same time a lot of dogs run loose through the community, causing health and safety concerns. Although most are friendly in nature, they can turn aggressive when they group into packs. Those people who do look after their dogs often don't have access to the resources to properly care for their dog's health.
I would like to apply my knowledge, experience, and passion for dog-sledding to address the problem of lack of recreational opportunities for youth, and canine overpopulation on the reserve. By having youth build connections with the dogs and nature, I hope to provide them with a positive outlet while promoting canine health in the community.
I will work closely alongside the Chief and Council, and community agencies tasked with looking after the well being of the youth here. The ultimate goals in starting up such a program will be to develop a working model that can be gifted to the community, as well as adapted and implemented in other First Nation communities.
(Dog-sled workshop at Hugh John Macdonald Middle School in Winnipeg)
The purpose of the sled dog kennel after-school program would be to provide students with a positive outlet and encourage interaction with nature. Many studies have pointed to the beneficial outcomes of forming relationships, and bonds with animals, as well as spending time in nature. These findings are nothing new to the Anishinabe people, who have a historical relationship with dogs, and have long held the view that the land is a teacher. The sled dog kennel after-school program will serve to help reestablish and strengthen this traditional connection.
Having students interact, and work with the dogs will cultivate empathy and develop discipline and responsibility. Getting out on the sled will build their self esteem, and self confidence while engaging with nature in a fun and exciting way. From my experience I have found that one the best ways to explore the natural environment is traveling by dog team through the bush trails and up the frozen waterways of the wilderness.
The after school program I envision for the kennel would involve both in-class and outdoor experiential learning.
The classroom component would entail learning about the tradition of dog-sledding, cover technical knowledge, instruction on basic dog care. Local elders will be invited to talk about the history and heritage of dog-sledding and share their stories of getting around on dog-sleds. Students will learn about the technical knowledge around the equipment, harness and gang-line configurations, trail procedures, and have a chance to build their own sleds. They will take part in in class workshops on dog nutrition and vetting skills that can be applied to their pet dogs as well as working with the kennel.
The hands on component would involve students learning about kennel maintenance, dog care, and have a chance to help me harness up a team, and go for a ride. As the students become more competent in working with the team, there is the possibility of competing in races, and holding workshops here in Bloodvein and in neighboring communities.
Safety Precautions :
Although there’s always an understandable risk when working with a dogs, these risks can be minimized through planning, preparation, supervision, and training. Dogs will be chosen based on their temperament. Due to the safety of the participating students and everyone involved, any dogs that display even the slightest sign of aggression will not be part of the kennel program.
While out on sled rides with students, a qualifying support person will accompany the sled, or sleds on a snowmobile at all times. I am trained and certified in first aid, and there will be a first aid kit in both my sled as well as the accompanying snowmobile. As mentioned I am a trained sled dog guide and do have years of experience in managing people around dog-sled teams without incident. I am confident in my ability to provide a safe, engaging and educational experience.
As mentioned I will work closely with the Chief and Council of Bloodvein, as well as community based organizations such as Jordan's Principle, and the Outreach program to deliver a safe, and effective program.
I will also work with community minded dog rescue organizations including https://www.facebook.com/k9advocatesmanitoba/">K9 Advocates, run by a nurse here in Bloodvein to promote canine health in the community
I am also happy to say that the good people at Perfectly Raw , a high quality raw meat dog food company based right here in Manitoba, have agreed to donate their product to get us started, and keep us supplied at a discounted rate. Please check them out and give them your support.
I have also formed a working relationship with a musher from the First Nation community of Hollow Water to the south of us, who has recently got out of the sport. Although he has sold off all his dogs, he has a lot of his sleds, gear, and infrastructure that he is selling to me at a more than reasonable price. He has also committed to helping me start up the kennel program. As a First Nation dog musher, who has the experience and knows the area, his mentor-ship will be an invaluable asset
Elders and trappers from the community will be brought in to share their traditional knowledge of dog sledding and the deep relationship between Indigenous peoples and dogs.
If you are part of an organization that would like to support or sponsor this program please feel free to get in touch with me at [email redacted]
Start Up Costs:
It's not cheap to start up even a modest dog-sled kennel, anything you can spare will help. Here's a general breakdown of the start-up costs
Snowmobile for safety and trail-breaking, and servicing cost = 3000.00
Infrastructure: such as houses, fencing, tie outs, chest freezer, hay or straw = 2000.00
Gear: sleds, harnesses, lines, headlamps, sled parts, etc..= 2000.00
Vet bills, shots, and transportation of dogs = 2500.00
Go-Pro camera to let students share their experience on social media: 500.00
This is only the estimated start-up cost, and I do anticipate paying for a lot costs out of my own pocket, so any ongoing donation you or your organization is willing to gift would be greatly appreciated.
Any extra money donated will go towards future ongoing costs for dog food, vet-bills, kennel maintenance, etc...
I really believe this program can have a positive impact in this community, and I would hope you do as well. If so, I kindly ask that you "Like" and/or "Share", and/or donate to this campaign
Thank you very much, Miigwich
(Urban mushing down the Assiniboine River Trail)
- Angela Mckichan
- Rupert de Renzy-Martin
- Ryann McCorkell
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