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SAMS students were out on the land Monday for the first day of the Rachel Reindeer Land Program. From left, Corey Baetz, Courtney Bilodeau, Danielle Deslauriers and Lucas Lemieux stand in the lean-to they built.

Learn on the land

Jason Unrau
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Mar 11/05) - Over the next two weeks, elementary students from Sir Alexander Mackenzie school (SAMS) will take a break from the classroom and do their learning out on the land.

The annual program is set up at the Rachel Reindeer camp, 15km south of Inuvik, with a variety of activities focused on survival skills, environmental awareness and traditional crafts.

"It's been a good visit," said Grade 6 teacher Alisha Manuel, whose class was the first group at the camp.

"Building on the students' previous trips, I've noticed they're really getting into it this year."

A short hike behind the assortment of cabins, where students can warm up and take part in crafts, Corey Baetz checks an empty rabbit snare the class learned how to set up upon arrival earlier in the day.

"It's still empty," he reports to the group.

"Why is it not so easy to catch a rabbit?" asked Daryl English, conservation and education officer with Resources Wildlife and Economic Development.

The students are gathered around a fire and a nearby lean-to, which is still under construction.

They offer a variety of responses to English's question, such as disease and the rabbit's rather lowly placement in the food chain - all possibilities according to their instructor.

With the help of RWED colleague Kevin Allen, English also instructed students in building the lean-to shelter and spoke of survival dos and don'ts in case of emergency.

"It was a good day," English said afterwards. "The kids were really helpful and fun to have around."

Student Danielle Deslauriers expressed similar sentiments.

"Coming here was really awesome and I hope we can do this next year," she said.

All SAMS students will have an opportunity to visit the camp between March 7 and April 4. As the camp is sponsored by the Inuvik Native Band and Nihtat Gwich'in Council, students will take part in activities that familiarize them with the Gwich'in language.