After we had spent our days in Yellowknife, we were set to venture North. A couple dozen kilometers north of the Arctic Circle, we flew into the remote Dene community of Colville Lake with less than 200 inhabitants. The Behdzi Ahda First Nation Band has no road access, and is only accessible via plane or during the short months of the winter ice road. Our father, John, the Sled Maker, has built very important relationships in this community over the past 20 years. Yet, this was the first time we had been able to come visit their world.
One of our first activities was a bit unforeseen. After a day of wandering the community and connecting with the few folks we knew, we found there wasn't necessarily a hub for American tourists, listing all the activities one might do😊. Jackson and I have perpetual restlessness, likely passed down to us from the Sled Maker, and we don't do idle time very well, so towards the end of our first day we were excited to learn there was a project we could take on.
Chief Richard had been the leader of this community for over 20 years. He is a dear friend of our father's and clearly was overwhelmed that we had made the trip to visit. After passing the role of Chief to his younger brother he has been working on building what they refer to as an “Arbor”. A central circular structure with seating surrounding a fire. It is at the center of town and will be used for drum circles and other community gatherings. Growing up doing construction in the summer we saw that our skillsets were needed so we signed up for a day of building an Arbor in the Arctic!
Building anything together is Jackson and my favorite past time, which also explains our love for helping grow our family business! But beyond the sheer joy of building together, we found that this act quickly built trust with many in the community who were naturally standoffish at first. As the day came to an end, we were fulfilled, our hosts were grateful and we were ready to get out and see more of this remote and mysterious world…