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Lutsel K’e youth learning to guide on the Nahanni River

  • Published on Jan 16 2014 |
  • by Erica Janes |
  • This article is tagged as:

This past summer, Jake Basil and Damien Kailek of Lutsel K’e Northwest Territories learned the ropes as river guides on the South Nahanni River with the good folks at Nahanni Wilderness Adventures. Having showed their potential working as escorts for a June school rafting trip on the Nahanni, both were invited to do personalized, on-the-river training with NWA. By the end of the season, they piloted their own raft down the river, and NWA owner David Hibbard was enthusing about both of their performances and potential as river guides. David hopes to welcome them back this coming spring with additional training and guiding opportunities.

If you attended our Spring 2013 Thaidene Nene speaking tour or have seen some of the short videos produced during Clara Hughes’ spring 2013 trip to Thaidene Nene, you will recognize Jake. He was one of our guides during the filming of the video series on the land, and then spoke from the heart during the speaking tour about the importance of establishing Thaidene Nene, and his interest in making a living on the land and through sharing his culture with others.

It is this kind of employment opportunity that the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation is working to create for their members in establishing Thaidene Nene. Enthusiastic and capable youth like Jake and Damien will be at the forefront of this growing local economy, where people can support themselves and continue to practise their culture while participating in a sustainable tourism economy in the park.

For us at CPAWS, it’s special to see this connection between these two places near and dear to our hearts: Nahanni and Thaidene Nene. The opportunity for youth to learn guiding skills in an established National Park from established outfitters is an important one, and we’re excited to see Jake and Damien step into these important roles in their community.

Congratulations to Jake and Damien!

Visit for more on Thaidene Nene, and to sign up for updates.

- Erica Janes, CPAWS-NWT Conservation Outreach Coordinator


L to R: David Hibbard, Jake Basil, Damien Kailek. Photo courtesy of David Hibbard.