Caribou Days honours the connection between Vuntut Gwitchin people and the Porcupine Caribou Herd, bringing the whole community together to celebrate the importance of this animal to their culture and way of life.
Old Crow, Yukon
The weekend is filled with activities, fun and celebration, including many traditional and non-traditional games. Competitors show off their skills at cooking bannock, skinning muskrat, and battle to win the titles of Gwich’in Man and Gwich’in Woman as they race to set up and take down wall tents, shoot stuffed caribou with nerf guns, skin real caribou legs, and set up and undo traps. The jigging competitions, with live fiddle music, are another highlight of the event.
Esau Schafer, a member of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation describes the excitement and meaning of Caribou Days:
"Every year during the May long weekend, we enjoy the spring weather and have a big celebration of the migration of the Porcupine Caribou from their southern wintering grounds to their calving grounds in the northern Yukon and Alaska. Our dependence on the caribou has been with us for thousands of years and still today we practice the culture and share our teachings with our young generation, including the safety skills for being out on their traditional lands.”
Parks Canada’s involvement with this event supports the protection of Vuntut Gwitchin culture and learning. At Caribou Days we provide information to the public about our work and programs, and share what’s happening in Vuntut National Park. We also work towards a close connection between Parks Canada and Vuntut Gwitchin Culture, by working together.