Women are helping to keep the dying trade of prospecting alive.
Equipped with sledgehammers, 23-year-old Veronique Bjorkman and her sister Jessica scan the volcanic rock. They've been hired to look for signs of mineralization about 15 kilometres from Yellowknife.
"I’m a prospector," says Veronique. "I pretty much spend my life in the bush."
Veronique and Jessica and their three sisters are part of a family that’s been in the prospecting business for three generations. They are learning the business from their father and mother.
"Everybody else was still playing house," says Veronique. "It was natural for me to be in the bush."
Fewer people are choosing to go into prospecting. Geologist Tom Setterfield says the mining industry needs prospectors to thrive.
"It really helps us figure out the exact worth of the property," says Setterfield. "I can understand why it's there ... but they're better at actually finding it."
The Bjorkmans say women are perfect for the job.They hire female field assistants to help get them into the business. So far, they haven't been disappointed.
"[It's] Bad weather and it's raining and you're freezing," says Veronique. "The girls will grit their teeth and go on [but] the guys will say, ‘Oh, can't we go back now?’"