Saturday, August 9, 2014

Happy Days

Day 8

It's our last day in Whitehorse, and we made full use of our time! Stu planned a really informative and interesting day for us, which started by visiting a Habitat home in Tahkini River subdivision. It's a triplex, and the first Habitat home to be built on settlement land.

Our next stop was to the Kwaday Dan Kenji Camp, where we learned about the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations. Harold, our guide, taught us about ancient traditions in building shelters, snares and hunting, and the importance of oral history.

He taught us that shelters aren't what they consider home; instead the land is their home, far different from the way we see houses and the spaces we live in. After the tour, Meta made us a delicious lunch of moose soup and fried bannock (which was devoured really fast!).

Meta also taught us how to throw spears!

If you look closely above, you can see Olivia's arrow mid-air :)

We continued our drive west to Haines Junction to the edges of Kluane National Park, where we took in the beautiful vistas along the drive. Birch and evergreen trees lined the road, and mountains rose in every direction. The clouds were low and the mountains high; it was a spectacular sight. Many shades of green and blue, dotted with the bright pink of fireweed.

Once we arrived in Haines Junction, we visited the Da Ku (Our House) Cultural Centre. John, our guide, taught us about the different First Nations groups across the Yukon. We learned about beading practices, trading, and the process of turning moose hide into clothing. He taught us that traditional means adapting to change; such as using downy to soften moose hide (instead of moose brains).

We had one more stop at Tahkini River, before heading back to the hotel.

The evening ended with another wonderful and delicious dinner at Stu's place -- moose stew and fresh sockeye salmon. We all shared our favourite moments from the week, including how inclusive and non-judgmental the group is, the excitement of meeting people from different places, backgrounds, and professions, our small victories on the work site, and being able to share these wonderful, life-changing experiences with each other. It's a bit magical how twelve strangers can grow close in just a few days. I think I can speak for all of us in saying that we leave with a better knowledge of construction and energy-efficiency, a better understanding the lives of First Nations communities, the enriching experience of volunteering and collaboration, and best of all, long-lasting memories and friendships. Deepest thanks to Habitat Waterloo and Habitat Yukon for this experience.

Safe flights home!


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