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In the summer of 2018, Ayalik Fund partnered with Northern Youth Leadership to launch a one-time special expedition with the help of Canoe North, an outfitter based in Norman Wells, NWT. Seven Inuit teenagers from Cambridge Bay joined five youths from across the NWT, for a two-week expedition down the Keele River in the Mackenzie Mountains.

They paddled more than 300 km of fast moving water on the Keele, sometimes bouncing over massive standing waves, without a single incident, not one dumped canoe. Then, to top it off, on the last day, they paddled 100 km down the Mackenzie River to finish the trip at Tulita. The last few hours of that marathon will remain forever in the memories of these trippers, paddling late into the night, on a calm, quiet but steadily flowing giant of a river. When they pulled up on the beach at Tulita at two in the morning, there were high-fives and hugs all round. No doubt about it, every one of them felt good about themselves and what they had achieved. Mission accomplished.

Many thanks to all the donors and our northern corporate sponsors who made this special trip possible: First Air, Adventure Canada, and Canoe North.

 Teenagers from NWT and Nunavut beside the Mackenzie River
Twelve teenagers, 14–17, from NWT and Nunavut, beside the Mackenzie River, all feeling proud and confident after paddling down 300 km of the Keele River.

Don’t miss this inspiring two-minute video of the Ayalik Keele River Expedition.

Mike Haniliak, 16, from Cambridge Bay
Mike Haniliak, 16, from Cambridge Bay
Sherry Evetalegak, 16, from Cambridge Bay
Sherry Evetalegak, 16, from Cambridge Bay

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Andrew Anavilok, 15, from Cambridge Bay on the fast-flowing Keele River.
Sherry writes letter to donors who made her trip possible
Sherry writes a letter (below) to the donors who made her trip possible

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Click or tap on image above to read Sherry's letter.

Tap or click on each of the logos below for more information

Tall Ships Expeditions Canada
Northern Youth
Encounters With Canada

Canadian Canoe Foundation (Coppermine River 2018)

Coppermine River 2018

Canoe North (Keele River Expedition)

Keele River Expedition

Outward Bound Canada