What’s it Like to Herd Reindeer in the Western Arctic?

April 7, 2015 • Philip Burgess

Mikkel Anders KemiThe office manager of the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry Mikkel Anders Kemi was recently in Inuvik for the 80th anniversary of the introduction of reindeer herding to Canada. Mikkel Anders is also a reindeer herder so he knows a thing or two about herding. While there, he strapped on a GoPro camera got on his snowmobile to assist in the annual migration of the Canadian herd which numbers some 3000 reindeer. CBC North have posted the video here which you can see below. CBC North also posted a longer article about the introduction of reindeer to Inuvik which you can read here.

Herding reindeer by snowmobile in Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T.

Here's what it feels like to be a reindeer herder. Mikkel Kemi, a Saami from Norway, strapped a GoPro to his head while he was out on the tundra outside Tuktoyaktuk. Thanks Kemi and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation for sharing this video. Full story:

Posted by CBC North on Sunday, April 5, 2015


Reindeer Herders from Norway and Russia Visit Inuvik for Celebration of 80th Anniversary of Canadian Reindeer Husbandry

March 27, 2015 • Alena Gerasimova
Herders in Canada

Photo by Vince Sharpe

Reindeer herders were invited to Inuvik by Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) to celebrate the 80th Anniversary of Canadian Reindeer Husbandry, where they can also share their experience in reindeer herding and food culture, and present exhibition in traditional handicraft.

Read more…


Canadian Ambassador to Finland Visits ICR

March 16, 2015 • Philip Burgess

Andree N. CooliganThe Canadian Ambassador to Finland, Andrée N. Cooligan took the opportunity of a work trip to Hetta to hop over the border to visit the offices of the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR). Her visit coincided with the visit to ICR of the Director General of The Department of Sami and Minority Affairs, Bjørn Olav Megard. This visit coincidentally followed Ambassador Cooligans’ visit to the University of Lapland where she met with the Rector, Mauri Ylä-Kotola, who is a new member of the ICR Board.

The Department of Sami and Minority Affairs has chief responsibility for formulating and coordinating the state’s policies towards the Sami population and the national minorities.

Canada is the outgoing chair of the Arctic Council and plans are afoot to present the final ICR/WRH EALLIN deliveries to the upcoming Arctic Council Ministerial in Iqaluit next month, the future EALLU project and ICR were able to inform the Ambassador about the work of ICR and the Association of World Reindeer Herders and discuss plans for the upcoming 80th anniversary of reindeer herding in Canada, in Inuvik.

(L to R) Inger Anita Smuk, Anders Oskal, Ambassador Cooligan, Bjørn Olav Megard.

Inger Anita Smuk (ICR Board Chair), Anders Oskal (ICR Director), Ambassador Cooligan, Bjørn Olav Megard (Dir Gen Dept Sami and Minority Affairs).





‘Canadian Reindeer’ Looking for an Experienced Reindeer Herder

June 6, 2013 • Philip Burgess

Inuvialuit Sami herdersWhen people think of reindeer and reindeer herding, they generally think of Scandinavia and Russia, and with good reason, this being where the vast majority of reindeer and herders are to be found. However, reindeer herding has been practiced in Canada since 1935, with the arrival of reindeer that were imported to Canada via Alaska from Norway during the ‘Reindeer Project‘ in the Mackenzie Delta where it is still practiced today by the descendents of those early reindeer herding pioneers.

Canadian Reindeer, the company that operates reindeer herding there today is looking for (in the words of Lloyd Binder) a ‘Chief Herder-Trainee’ to learn the country and take over a herd of 4,000 during a 3-year period. Contact


A Troubling Decline in the Caribou Herds of the Arctic (E360)

September 28, 2010 • Philip Burgess

Across the Far North, populations of caribou — an indispensable source of food and clothing for indigenous people — are in steep decline. Scientists point to rising temperatures and a resource-development boom as the prime culprits.

by Ed Struzik, from Environment 360

In late July, a group of Inuit hunters set off by boat along the west coast of Banks Island to search for Peary caribou, which inhabit the Arctic archipelago of Canada. Roger Kuptana, a 62-year-old Inuit who had grown up on the island, didn’t give his fellow hunters much chance of success in their hunt for the animals, the smallest caribou sub-species in North America.

“I think it’s a waste of gas,” Kuptana told me when I visited his modest home in Sachs Harbour, a traditional community of roughly 100 people on the island, not far from the Yukon-Alaska border. “There used to be a lot of caribou around here when I grew up. But now you have to travel pretty far north to find them on the island. It’s not just here. It seems like this happening everywhere.”

As it turned out, Kuptana was right; the Inuit hunters found no Peary caribou, despite three days of searching. The hunters’ predicament is familiar to the Eskimos of Alaska, other Inuit of Canada and Greenland, and the Nenets, Komi, Evenks, Chukotkans, and indigenous groups of northern Russia and Scandinavia. Throughout the Arctic, many of the great caribou and reindeer herds that once roamed the treeless tundra, providing an indispensible source of meat and clothing for aboriginal groups, are in free-fall.

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Shoot a Reindeer for $375 in Canada

December 30, 2008 • Philip Burgess

The Reindeer Blog reported some months ago that Canada’s only reindeer herd (in Inuvik, in the North West Territories, managed by the Kunnek Resurces Development Corporation) was missing. They obviously have been found, but to earn extra money, their manager, Lloyd Binder (a descendant of the Reindeer Project from the early 20th Century that brought Sami reindeer herders from Norway to Alaska and subsequently Canada) is offering hunters the chance to shoot their reindeer for $375, to earn some extra money from the herd.

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Global warming tied to Arctic caribou decline

May 14, 2008 • Philip Burgess

(Source – Ed Struzik, The Province, see below) Warm, wet winters and hot, dry summers reduce numbers. In the summer of 1996, biologist Frank Miller was flying along the coast of Bathurst Island searching for Peary caribou, found only in the High Arctic of Canada, when he spied a dark spot on the sea ice.

Flying in for a look, he could see these animals were not the caribou he was looking for. They were muskoxen. The circle of animals didn’t bolt. Miller got the pilot to land a few hundred metres away. Even as he approached on foot, the herd didn’t flinch. As he moved closer, it dawned on him — they were all dead. The animals were frozen stiff and leaning against each other like statues.

“It was one of the most strange and gruesome things I’d ever seen as a biologist,” the Edmonton researcher recalls.

“They were probably on their last legs and starving when they headed out across the sea ice searching for better food conditions on another island.”

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Sami and the Baffin Reindeer Experiment

April 17, 2008 • Philip Burgess

(From CBC North, 03042008) This historical photo from an Iqaluit museum shows Saami with a reindeer on Baffin Island in the 1920s. (Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum)


A Saami woman from northern Norway has followed the travels of her ancestors to Nunavut, looking for what happened to hundreds of reindeer that were relocated from Norway to Baffin Island in the early 1900s.

Karen Monika Paulsen, in Nunavut for a month-long research expedition, said her great-grandparents sailed with more than 600 reindeer to southern Baffin Island in 1921.

Using her family’s recollections and reports from the Hudson’s Bay Company, Paulsen has learned the company relocated the Norwegian reindeer as an experiment aimed at helping Inuit avoid starvation by teaching them how to herd reindeer.

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