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N.W.T. Métis Nation president praises 'groundbreaking' on the land funding

The federal government is providing $2.6 million to N.W.T. First Nations in order to help get their residents out on the land during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Money provided by Indigenous Services Canada designed to help with supplies to get out during COVID-19

The federal government has announced $2.6 million in funding for on-the-land activities in the Northwest Territories. Garry Bailey, president of the Northwest Territory Métis Nation, says getting people on the land will be 'groundbreaking.' (Senate of Canada/Jade Thériault)

The federal government is providing $2.6 million to N.W.T. First Nations in order to help get their residents out on the land during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The funding, announced Monday morning, will be distributed by Indigenous Services Canada through the government of the Northwest Territories through its current partnerships with Indigenous governments, a news release from the federal government reads.

"The funds will support many other families who would not otherwise be able to be on the land because of the financial burden of acquiring necessary provisions, such as wood and fuel, food, First Aid equipment, transportation and other items suitable to their situation and culture," the release reads.

'Safer' on the land

Tyler Delorme lives in Fort Resolution, N.W.T., and spends a lot of time out on the land hunting and trapping. This past weekend, he and a friend harvested a pair of moose and split them with their families.

Delorme said he'd like to see more people out on the land because it's safer.

"There's no germs we can run into out there that would affect us as [they could] when we're in town and we're around people who were traveling out of the N.W.T.," he said.

Tyler Delorme lives in Fort Resolution, N.W.T., and said he'd like to see more people out on the land because it's safer at this time. ( submitted by Tyler Delorme)

"I would encourage more people to be out on the land but like at a time like this it's tough for us because we can't be working, earning money for gas ... and oil," said Delorme.

That's where Garry Bailey hopes the funding can help. The president of the NWT Métis Nation said he's not sure how the money will be allocated, but he has some ideas.

"To get people out on the land, they're going to need skidoos, they're going to need cabins, they're going to need food. We'd like to get some programs going for on the land, like maybe going out and setting nets to provide food and community hunt type things," he said.

According to the release, the funding will be allocated to the Akaitcho Territory Government, Dehcho First Nations, Gwich'in Tribal Council, NWT Métis Nation, Sahtu Secretariat Incorporated, Tłı̨chǫ Government, K'atl'odeeche First Nation, Acho Dene Koe First Nation, Salt River First Nation, and the Délı̨nę Got'ı̨nę Government.

'It's the safest way'

Bailey said they already have some people going on the land, but not as many as they would like. 

"That's why I say it's going to be groundbreaking when we're getting people back out on the land."

Bailey said he believes being out on the land is the safest place over the next few months.

"It's the safest way. Back in the old days, the elders would live out on the land, no power, no water. But they survived and it was the healthiest of times."

Garry Bailey, president of the N.W.T. Métis Nation, said he believes being out on the land is the safest place over the next few months. (submitted by Tyler Delorme)

In the release, Dene National Chief Norman Yakelaya echoed the importance of people returning to their roots.

"Elders and knowledge keepers have always told us 'a day will come, when we will need to go to the land' and now is that time," said Yakeleya, in the news release.

"With the closing of the schools, this is also an opportunity for families and their children to learn more about our culture and traditions and what has sustained us as Dene people for thousands of years."

Details on how individuals could access the funds were not included in the release.

A canvas wall tent set up in the backcountry near Yellowknife. (Jay Legere/CBC)

with files from John Van Dusen

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