Ni Hat’ni Dene Guardians will patrol with new, nearly ‘indestructible’ sleds

The Ni Hat'ni Dene guardians pose with one of the new sleds. (Photo courtesy of Thaidene Nëné)

Anyone enjoying Thaidene Nëné this winter may see the Ni Hat’ni Dene Guardians sliding by in some new and nearly indestructible sleds.

Iris Catholique, manager of Thaidene Nëné, says the guardians will use the sleds on their patrols to transport gear for being on the land.

The Ni Hat’ni Dene Guardians are four full-time Indigenous employees who patrol the entirety of Thaidene Nëne. Traveling such far distances in the winter requires reliable sleds.

“We go through sleighs at least once a year, they get broken from trees and boulders out on the tundra,” Catholique explains.

But that is unlikely to be an issue this year, she adds.

The sleighs come from Yukon Expedition Sleds, and Catholique expects they’ll have a much longer lifespan.

According to its website, the YES sleds are designed to remain flexible until -107°C and carry up to 1,000 lbs at -60°C.

Since putting the sleds together earlier this week, the guardians have tested them on some local trips through Thaidene Nëné and to the Old Snowdrift On-The-Land Camp.

“They seem to be able to handle a load no problem,” says Catholique.

But they will get their first real test on Jan. 5 when the Ni Hat’ni Dene Guardians will use the sleds on patrol to travel from Łutsël K’é to Artillery Lake.

An added bonus is the sleds allow for cargo to be separated, so if one of the team members harvests a moose, muskox or caribou the meat and gear don’t need to be stored together.

“So you won’t have to worry about cross contamination or any kind of spills on on your load,” says Cahtolique.

The new sleds will also lead to safer patrols.

She says higher water levels can make travel more dangerous; the team recently completed an ice safety training course with Arctic Response.

Thaidene Nëné had some more exciting news this week as the Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation was named a co-recipient of the 2020 Premier’s Award for Indigenous Partnership for the Protected Areas Act Technical Working Group.

About the Author

Luke Carroll
Luke Carroll is a journalist originally from Brockville, Ont. He has previously worked as a reporter and editor in Ottawa, Halifax and New Brunswick. Luke is a graduate of Carleton University's bachelor of journalism program. If you have a story idea, feel free to send him an email at