Volunteers are partnering up with the Northern Transportation Company Ltd. to put together a project that will teach youth about the history of shipping along the Mackenzie River.

The plan is to teach the youth of today about the past, while arming them with skills to work in the industry tomorrow.

Not every boat on the NTCL lot in Hay River is in working order, but that doesn’t make them useless. Some people look at the idled hulls and see an opportunity.

“These tugs probably worked in the fifties sometime,” says shipyard manager Jim Walker, gesturing at rusted old vessels nearby.

"I saw the opportunity of bringing in young men and women to introduce them to our industry to take a look at what we do on a day by day basis ... to provide training and potential careers."

Students will work to bring the old tugs and dinghies back to life.

“We want to get some small boats launched, create a small fleet, offer the use of these boats locally, sailing out of Hay River into this wonderful lake we have available,” Walker says.

Walker says the students will learn skills along the way -- not just how to fix a boat, but also how to navigate it once the water opens up.

Alice Coates is also helping to get the program off the ground. She’s most excited that students will learn about the area’s history.

“They'll get the tangible part of the history for the most part,” she says. “All the skills that are able to be shared with them here, and of course the beautiful lake, the rivers and the relationship that the community has with the water.”

Coates says she's working with schools to develop a curriculum.

She hopes other communities along the Mackenzie river shipping line will jump on board.

“They'll be sharing it with other communities so that together the communities up and down the Mackenzie … right up to [Tuktoyaktuk will] be putting it together, together."