The Northwest Territories covers over 1.3 million square kilometres of land and water, a collection of diverse landscapes from the dense green forests of the South Slave up to the tundra above the 90th Parallel.
For the third year running, photographers of all skill levels from the NWT entered their best works capturing some of these Northern natural treasures to the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) Love The Land photo contest.
CPAWS added a special category to the contest this year, calling for photos from Thaidene Nene near the East Arm of Great Slave Lake in an effort to show support for the movement to turn the stunning area into a federally protected national park.
“As with previous years, we kept it open to entries from across the territory,” said Erica Janes, conservation outreach coordinator for CPAWS. “This year we wanted to encourage people to send in photos from Thaidene Nene because we are working in partnership with the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation to protect that area.”
Since the contest was launched in May, almost 150 photos have been submitted, of which about 60 came from Thaidene Nene.
“It’s a way that we can connect with people across the territory on a shared basis of loving and appreciating what we’ve got here in the territory because it’s pretty special,” Janes said. “People here still have really close relationships with the land and those relationships and that value on the natural world is the focus of our work as a conservation organization.”
According to Janes, the photo contest is an easy way to reach out to those land lovers.
“It’s a fun way that people can share their love of the land and their skills as photographers,” she said. “It’s a way for us to build our community and have dialogue with people out there about what they’re doing and what’s important to them.”
A panel of volunteer judges selected the top 24 photos from all that were submitted. The winning photos demonstrate in one way or another the people’s love of the land using interesting composition techniques.
The top 12 winners are featured in the 2015 Love The Land calendar, with a dozen “runner up” photos included as inserts. In a launch party Nov. 13, the winners also received prizes for their entries, including a framed photo of the aurora by NWT photographer Tessa MacIntosh and items donated from Yellowknife businesses, like paddles, outdoor gear and a gift certificate for two to attend a glassblowing workshop at Old Town Glassworks.
Calendars are available at the CPWAS website, http://www.cpawsnwt.org/campaigns/love-the-land, for $15 apiece.
2015 Love the Land Calendar Winning Photos
January – McLeod Bay (East Arm, Great Slave Lake)
by Credence Wood, Yellowknife
I was lucky enough to be part of a weeklong trip to Artillery Lake from Yellowknife via the East Arm of Great Slave Lake and Pike’s Portage. Though it was bitterly cold, the beauty of the land dominates my memories – such as this one, captured while returning to Yellowknife on a windswept McLeod Bay. During long days on a skidoo in the extreme cold, I had moments of doubt about participating in such a trip. At times like this, looking around and focusing on the land was more than enough to rejuvenate my spirits.
February – Winter Camp (Hoarfrost River)
by Miriam Körner, Air Ronge, Sask.
At the edge of the barren land where the trees become scarce the land feels raw, close to the bone. Those who travel here are lured by the stark beauty of a land that can turn hostile in a blink of an eye. Winter travel is arduous, but there is nothing more rewarding than crawling out of your tent in the morning and waiting for the land to wake up, for the fog to lift and the sudden realization you are part of the land – and the land is part of you.
March – Lutsel K’e Spring Carnival Fishing Derby
by Hanna Catholique, Lutsel K’e
Spring time is a time for renewal and revitalization. Everybody is feeling the new energy that comes with milder temperatures and longer daylight hours. The spring carnival is an annual event in many communities to celebrate the end of the long winter and the change of seasons. In Lutsel K’e, the ice fishing derby is one of the more popular events of the spring carnival. Our photo shows Stephanie Poole and Adrian Nataway enjoying an afternoon of fishing with their twin girls, hoping to catch either the biggest or smallest trout of the day.
April – Old Cabin in the Narrows (East Arm, Great Slave Lake)
by Laura Jane Michel, Lutsel K’e
This picture was taken in August 2014 at my Grandfather Pierre Catholique’s and Grandmother Judith Catholique’s log cabin, located at Taltheilei Narrows on the East Arm. We are a family that practices our traditional knowledge and we travel out on the land during all seasons.
May – Oops Stuck in the Spring Ice (Prosperous Lake)
by Janice Stein, Yellowknife
The land is ever changing. After the long winter night, spring thaw calls the spirit. We head out on the water this sunny June day from Yellowknife to Tartan Rapids. We scout the bay beyond and see a path to Cassidy Point. Sooo we portage and stop for a nice lunch. And you must learn to respect the land, because the wind changed direction and ice blew into our open water. Undaunted we try and fail, and figure a way out. The land is always an adventure…to respect, to learn from and to love.
June – Canoeing in Smoke (Pethei Peninsula, East Arm, Great Slave Lake)
by Garry Singer, Yellowknife
We were nearing the end of a two-week canoe trip in the East Arm of Great Slave Lake. The spectacular cliffs seemed more dramatic in the smoke, as that’s all we could see, enhancing the solitude, the quiet and slow pace that comes with canoeing the East Arm on a calm day.
July – Patient Portager (Sarah Lake)
by Kerry Wheler, Yellowknife
Three year-old Toryn waits patiently in the solstice sun at one of the many portages between Gameti and Behchoko along the Idaa Trail, a traditional Tlicho route connecting Great Slave and Great Bear Lake. Portages were a highlight for Toryn on this trip – allowing him to hike, inspect flowers, bugs, rocks and sticks. Free from the confines of the canoe, he engaged with his surroundings in a playful, inquisitive way (fueled by mouthfuls of dried fruit).
August – Hiking for the View of Delthore Mountain (Mackenzie Mountains)
by Dwayne Wohlgemuth, Yellowknife
We began our summer canoe trip near the NWT/Yukon border at Mile 222 of the Canol Trail. From the first moment, we watched for hiking opportunities as we manoeuvered around the boulders of the Tsichu River and the sweepers of the Keele River. We waited 11 days for the perfect combination of nearby mountains and blue skies, and then abandoned our boats and climbed over 900 metres up Stelfox Mountain. While we enjoyed all the niceties that a canoe can carry, to find the most marvelous views of the wilderness one has to set out on foot and climb high.
September – Jean Marie River
by Jay Horesay, Wrigley
This picture was taken looking toward the Dehcho River from the Jean Marie River in the community of the same name, on the last morning of the annual Dehcho Youth Ecology Camp. The kids boated along the Dehcho River, from Fort Providence to Jean Marie River. As part of my work as a summer student with the Dehcho Land Use Planning Committee, I was teaching lessons on Environmental Stewardship along with Sam Gargan and Dahti Tsetso, conveying the basic meaning of “taking care of the land,” including how the Dehcho Land Use Plan is a valuable tool for protecting the land, water and air.
October – The Unbeaten Path (East Arm, Great Slave Lake)
by Tyler Jessen, Calgary
This photograph was taken on the East Arm of the Great Slave Lake during a traditional moose hunt by a member of the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation. As a wildlife biologist, I am continually surprised by the resiliency of life on this planet. There are few better demonstrations of this than the many organisms inhabiting the stark and remote areas of the Canadian North.
November – Mirage (East Arm, Great Slave Lake)
by Miriam Körner, Air Ronge, Saskatchewan
On the lake where the ice stretches for miles towards a far away horizon, the land plays tricks on you. For hours you travel towards the far shore; for hours you do not seem to get any closer. But when you stop looking ahead, when your rhythm becomes one with the tap, tap, tap of dogs’ paws, you suddenly realize that you are where you want to be already – out on the land.
December – Wood for the Stove (near Vee Lake)
by Carole Musialek, Yellowknife
On a cold Saturday in January, I visited my friends who were spending their first winter on the small quaint houseboat they had built themselves on a lake 20 minutes away from Yellowknife. That day, I helped them haul some wood for their stove on their homemade sled. It was fun for me, but I realized how much work life off the grid is with no running water or electricity. Their cabin is a cosy haven when the stove heats it up to almost 30 degrees and the auroras dance above. To me it’s the ultimate life on the land with its hard work and beautiful rewards of Mother Nature.