Moosehide tanning goes urban in Yellowknife's Somba K'e park

The organizers bringing a moose and caribou hide tanning camp to a downtown Yellowknife park say its location is what makes it special.

Camp showcasing Dene culture runs until end of July

Tania Larsson and Melaw Nakehk'o of Dene Nahjo are helping organize an urban hide tanning camp July 11-29 in Somba K'e Park in downtown Yellowknife. (Randall Mackenzie/CBC)

The organizers bringing a moose and caribou hide tanning camp to a downtown Yellowknife park say its location is what makes it special.

The urban hide tanning camp runs July 11-29 in Somba K'e Park, located next to city hall and near the downtown core. Tania Larsson said she hoped office workers take advantage of the convenience. 

"Take a break and come visit the camp," she said. "That's not something you can often do. Usually you have to travel out of town. Grab your coffee and come here, or come and have tea and bannock."

Melaw Nakehk'o said moosehide, and the skills required to prepare it and work with it, are an important part of Dene culture and identity.

"Through our entire history as Dene people, moosehide has been our transportation, our clothing, our housing," she said.

"It's a sense of pride when we wear our moccasins and are able to make our children moccasins. Just the smell of it — it's like in our DNA, in our genes."

Larsson said visitors will be able to see the different stages of the tanning process.

"You'll be able to see someone cutting the hair off a moose or a caribou, scraping the flesh and then there's going to be different set ups, so some are going to be using the birch beam, some are going to be up on a frame and as the weeks go by, you'll be able to see the progress happen."

Larsson said visitors will also be able to try their hand at scraping a hide on a frame to see how it feels.

Dene Nahjo is organizing the event and it runs until the end of the month in the park near the playground and the Frame Lake Trail.