A group of 11 German activists and six local members of the Gwich'in First Nation recently returned from a trip up the Snake River on the Peel watershed, in an attempt to raise awareness of the watershed in advance of a pending Supreme Court decision.
The activists — ages 18 to 58 — made the trip on behalf of Wilderness International, which advocates to protect untouched wilderness across the globe.
"It was simply amazing," said Henriette Wessel, who spoke with CBC after the trip from Berlin. "Just to see this beautiful landscape out there, the wide open space, and to encounter some animals and just be there in nature."
Take a look at some of the breathtaking photos from the group's trip up the watershed:
Posing on top of a bus prior to the canoe trip. Eleven people, aged 18 to 58, came from Germany to take part in the trip. (Wilderness International) The Peel Watershed is home to many different types of wildlife, including moose, dall sheep, caribou, and marten. (Wilderness International) 'It was simply amazing,' said Henriette Wessel, who took part on the trip. 'Just to see this beautiful landscape out there, the wide open space, and to encounter some animals and just be there in nature.' (Wilderness International) A porcupine sits at the bank of the Snake River. The group paddled for 11 days, finishing their trip where the Snake River meets the Peel River. (Wilderness International) The group ran into issues paddling on their first day, when low water levels forced them to carry their raft through the cold river water: 'we had to bind together as a team,' said Wessel. 'But we made it through, and I think we're pretty proud of ourselves for that.' (Wilderness International) At 77,000 square kilometres, the Peel Watershed drains 14 per cent of the territory, flowing into the Beaufort Sea in the Arctic. (Wilderness International) The group from Germany was accompanied by five Gwich'in youth and one elder, sharing their knowledge of the land. A group of Gwich'in were invited by Wilderness International to Germany, where they were toured through mining sites and national parks, learning of international measures to fix sites used for natural resource extraction. (Wilderness International) The future of the Peel Watershed is currently in the hands of the Supreme Court of Canada, after the Yukon government was sued over its rejection of a land use plan that would have protected 80 per cent of the Peel. A decision is expected this fall. (Wilderness International)