Tundra Science and Culture Camp

What is Tundra Science and Culture Camp?

Tundra Science and Culture Camp (TSCC) is an immersive, 10-day educational program for high-school-aged students, and educators, from the NWT. The program is delivered by leaders in Indigenous culture and environmental science who collaborate to provide a unique, on-the-tundra cultural and multidisciplinary learning experience. These leaders include Tłı̨chǫ elders, GNWT experts and educators in their fields, environmental stewards, and on-site graduate student researchers.

Participants learn about Indigenous knowledge, the Tłı̨chǫ language, human history, along with other science-based disciplines such as archaeology, geology, wildlife biology, and aquatic ecology through engaging land-based sessions. Participants also learn about decision-making, resource management, and environmental impact using real-life examples in this diamond mining region.

Who can participate?

Up to eighteen participant high-school-aged students, and teachers from the NWT, are accepted at Tundra Science and Culture Camp annually; this includes homeschooled students and Grade 12 students graduating in June. Returning participants are welcome to apply, but priority is given to new applicants.

Who are the program staff?

Program staff includes Tłı̨chǫ elders, cultural and environmental educators from the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) and the Tłı̨chǫ Government, professional scientists, resource managers, and a couple of great cooks. Other people on site include a Research Site Camp Manager and graduate student researchers.

What will I do at Tundra Science and Culture Camp?

Tundra Science and Culture Camp immerses participants in an interactive learning environment. Participants will learn to make connections between different ways of knowing by:

  • Learning traditional skills and knowledge from Tłı̨chǫ elders
  • Getting hands-on experience with field techniques in wildlife research, archaeological surveys, botanical sampling, environmental monitoring, aquatic studies and geology
  • Learning about on-site researcher projects studying the tundra ecosystem
  • Conducting a personal study in an area of special interest and sharing with TSCC peers

Program sessions always involve on-the-land activities. TSCC staff mentor and assist in all aspects.

There is also plenty of opportunity for recreational activities including hiking, photography, storytelling and games!

What about French programming?

According to an agreement between Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) and the Commission scolaire francophone des Territoires du Nord-Ouest (CSFTNO), ENR promotes a “French milieu” camp every 3rd year. This means there are six spaces reserved for francophone or French immersion applicants. However, this does not prevent English-only speakers from attending. Instruction will be given in English, as that is the capacity of most of our instructors. However, a critical mass of French-speaking students may foster more conversation in French, and instructors will focus on sharing French vocabulary in addition to Tłı̨chǫ language learning.

When is Tundra Science and Culture Camp?

Tundra Science and Culture Camp runs for 10 days. Participants leave Yellowknife for Daring Lake by Twin Otter float plane in late July and return to Yellowknife in early August.

Participants from communities outside of Yellowknife may be asked to arrive early on the morning of the first day, or one day in advance in order to attend a morning orientation meeting for all participants. Participants arriving in Yellowknife by plane will be escorted to and from the airport by a TSCC staff member. Bursaries are available if cost is a barrier to attending.

Where is Tundra Science and Culture Camp Held?

Tundra Science and Culture Camp is held at the Tundra Ecosystem Research Station located on Daring Lake, 300 km north of Yellowknife. Access is by float plane in summer. The station was established in 1994 by GNWT Environment and Natural Resources (ENR).

Facilities include insulated tents for sleeping, dining, washing, lectures and laboratory work. A dock and a beach provide access to the lake. The station is a model camp designed with the latest in energy and waste reduction technology. It is powered primarily with solar and wind power, and completely enclosed by an electric wire fence to deter wildlife from entering the camp.

A satellite telephone is available for emergency communications. Program staff are trained in wilderness first aid and emergency response.

What is the environment like?

The weather during the program can be variable, including heat waves, strong winds, rainstorms, hail and snow, and potentially lots of biting insects! But it is usually quite comfortable with warm, sunny days and cool evenings.

This remote tundra region is home to wildlife such as barren-ground caribou, barren-ground grizzly, tundra wolves, arctic and red fox, wolverine, arctic hare, arctic ground squirrels, peregrine falcons, yellow-billed loon and many other bird species.

Numerous lakes are found in this rolling region of the Canadian Shield. The most recent glaciation occurred about 10,000 years ago, leaving an extensive network of eskers and other landforms on the tundra. The region is treeless and supports typical southern arctic vegetation such as dwarf birch, willow, numerous showy plants, grasses and sedges.

What should I bring?

Here's an equipment and clothing list to help you make sure you're comfortable and prepared. Participants will receive a guidebook upon confirmation of acceptance to the program which will include further details on how to prepare for Tundra Science and Culture Camp.

What does Tundra Science and Culture Camp cost?

Tundra Science and Culture Camp is subsidized by grants and contributions from the Government of the Northwest Territories Departments of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR), Education, Culture and Employment (ECE), and Industry, Tourism and Investment (ITI), participating school boards and Indigenous governments.

Each participant is asked to fundraise $300 to attend. This fee pays for a small portion of the cost of the program, including return air transportation from Yellowknife to Daring Lake, all meals, and site accommodation. Payment is due upon confirmation of acceptance to the program. Bursaries are available if cost is a barrier to attending.

How can I apply?

Students, please fill out the student application form
Teachers, please fill out the teacher application form

Please submit your completed form by email to TundraCamp_CampToundra@gov.nt.ca with the subject line “Tundra Science and Culture Camp” or by mail to the following address:

Wildlife and Fish Division, Environment and Natural Resources
PO Box 1320, Yellowknife, NT, X1A 2L9

If you do not have access to a printer and scanner, please contact TSCC for an application form by email at TundraCamp_CampToundra@gov.nt.ca or by phone at (867) 767-9347 extension 71197