Dog Sledding in Bloodvein MB

$10,135 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 91 people in 9 months

Hello and Aniin.

   My name is Sidney and I am a teacher on the First Nation reserve of Bloodvein, MB. I am starting this campaign to raise funds to develop an after school dog sled program for the youth here in the community.

   In the past I have worked with some of the worlds top dog sled kennels in the Yukon, Alaska, Churchill, and Banff National Park, as well as running school workshops while attending University in Winnipeg.

   Like many isolated First Nation communities, Bloodvein faces a myriad of social issues that stem from the effects of colonialism.  There are a lot of good people here who are working tirelessly towards positive change, but their time and resources are stretched. The children here have few options when it comes to recreation, many of them; some quite young in age, turn to drugs as a means of escape.

  At the same time a lot of dogs run loose through the community, causing health and safety concerns. Although most are friendly in nature, they can turn aggressive when they group into packs. Those people who do look after their dogs often don't have access to the resources to properly care for their dog's health.

  I would like to apply my knowledge, experience, and passion for dog-sledding to address the problem of lack of recreational opportunities for youth, and canine overpopulation on the reserve. By having youth build connections with the dogs and nature, I hope to provide them with a positive outlet while promoting canine health in the community.

   I will  work closely alongside the Chief and Council, and community agencies tasked with looking after the well being of the youth here. The ultimate goals in starting up such a program will be to develop a working model that can be gifted to the community, as well as adapted and implemented in other First Nation communities.

33592366_1539557854864298_r.jpeg(Dog-sled workshop at Hugh John Macdonald Middle School in Winnipeg)


   The purpose of the sled dog kennel after-school program would be to provide students with a positive outlet and encourage interaction with nature. Many studies have pointed to the beneficial outcomes of forming relationships, and bonds with animals, as well as spending time in nature. These findings are nothing new to the Anishinabe people, who have a historical relationship with dogs, and have long held the view that the land is a teacher. The sled dog kennel after-school program will serve to help reestablish and strengthen this traditional connection.

   Having students interact, and work with the dogs will cultivate empathy and develop discipline and responsibility. Getting out on the sled will build their self esteem, and self confidence while engaging with nature in a fun and exciting way. From my experience I have found that one the best ways to explore the natural environment is traveling by dog team through the bush trails and up the frozen waterways of the wilderness.

Program :

   The after school program I envision for the kennel would involve both in-class and outdoor experiential learning.

   The classroom component would entail learning about the tradition of dog-sledding, cover technical knowledge, instruction on basic dog care. Local elders will be invited to talk about the history and heritage of dog-sledding and share their stories of getting around on dog-sleds. Students will learn about the technical knowledge around the equipment, harness and gang-line configurations, trail procedures, and have a chance to build their own sleds. They will take part in in class workshops on dog nutrition and vetting skills that can be applied to their pet dogs as well as working with the kennel.

   The hands on component would involve students learning about kennel maintenance, dog care, and have a chance to help me harness up a team, and go for a ride. As the students become more competent in working with the team, there is the possibility of competing in races, and holding workshops here in Bloodvein and in neighboring communities.

Safety Precautions :

   Although there’s always an understandable risk when working with a dogs, these risks can be minimized through planning, preparation, supervision, and training. Dogs will be chosen based on their temperament. Due to the safety of the participating students and everyone involved, any dogs that display even the slightest sign of aggression will not be part of the kennel program.

   While out on sled rides with students, a qualifying support person will accompany the sled, or sleds on a snowmobile at all times. I am trained and certified in first aid, and there will be a first aid kit in both my sled as well as the accompanying snowmobile. As mentioned I am a trained sled dog guide and do have years of experience in managing people around dog-sled teams without incident. I am confident in my ability to provide a safe, engaging and educational experience.


  As mentioned I will work closely with the Chief and Council of Bloodvein, as well as community based organizations such as Jordan's Principle, and the Outreach program to deliver a safe, and effective program.

   I will  also work with community minded dog rescue organizations including https://www.facebook.com/k9advocatesmanitoba/">K9 Advocates,  run by a nurse here in Bloodvein to promote canine health in the community

   I am also happy to say that the good people at  Perfectly Raw , a high quality raw meat dog food company based right here in Manitoba, have agreed to donate their product to get us started, and keep us supplied at a discounted rate. Please check them out and give them your support.

  I have also formed a working relationship with a musher from the First Nation community of Hollow Water to the south of us, who has recently got out of the sport. Although he has sold off all his dogs, he has a lot of his sleds, gear, and infrastructure that he is selling to me at a more than reasonable price. He has also committed to helping me start up the kennel program. As a First Nation dog musher, who has the experience and knows the area, his mentor-ship will be an invaluable asset

  Elders and trappers from the community will be brought in to share their traditional knowledge of dog sledding and the deep relationship between Indigenous peoples and dogs.

   If you are part of an organization that would like to support or sponsor this program please feel free to get in touch with me at sidneyklassen77@gmail.com 

Start Up Costs:

   It's not cheap to start up even a modest dog-sled kennel, anything you can spare will help. Here's a general breakdown of the start-up costs

Snowmobile for safety and trail-breaking, and servicing cost = 3000.00
Infrastructure: such as houses, fencing, tie outs, chest freezer, hay or straw = 2000.00
Gear: sleds, harnesses, lines, headlamps, sled parts, etc..= 2000.00
Vet bills, shots, and transportation of dogs = 2500.00
Go-Pro camera to let students share their experience on social media: 500.00

Total: 10,000.00

  This is only the estimated start-up cost, and I do anticipate paying for a lot costs out of my own pocket, so any ongoing donation you or your organization is willing to gift would be greatly appreciated.

   Any extra money donated will go towards future ongoing costs for dog food, vet-bills, kennel maintenance, etc...

33592366_1539662571417163_r.jpeg(Giving dog-sled tour rides at Wapusk Kennels in Churchill, Manitoba)

I really believe this program can have a positive impact in this community, and I would hope you do as well. If so, I kindly ask that you "Like" and/or "Share", and/or donate to this campaign

Thank you very much, Miigwich

33592366_1539562119619905_r.jpeg(Urban mushing down the Assiniboine River Trail)
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I haven't really put this out there since I reached my funding goal and started my program. Again I'd like to thank everyone who got involved and supported this project.

Although the snow is long gone I still involve the youth here in the kennel, whether I'm bringing a sled dog to class to talk about dog-sledding with my students, or simply letting some of the kids go into the yard to play with the dogs.

I'd like to acknowledge and thank the gofundme team for providing this great platform to raise the funds, they even donated $1000 to the cause, and wrote this story about the program for their medium page.

At this point I'm swallowing the cost myself. any funds that do come in will be going towards vet bills, food, and building an entirely free run kennel system for the dogs.

As I may be embarking on a new adventure in my career this summer, it is uncertain whether or not I will be teaching here come the fall. No matter what I end up doing though, I will continue to work with the youth here through the dog sled program. Although summer is in it's infancy I'm looking forward to lacing up the mukluks and getting back on the sled runners with my students.

Gofundme Medium Page story: https://medium.com/gofundme-stories/sidney-helps-at-risk-youth-connect-with-their-heritage-783ccec4639
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Hi everybody. To all you who have been following my dog sled kennel venture, I’m sorry I haven’t posted an update in a while. I took a little break over the holiday then went to pick up my team of trained sled dogs in Saskatchewan in the new year, and it’s been non-stop since. On top of teaching and working on this project, I’ve also been running an after school archery club, holding basketball practices, and working with the UNESCO World Heritage Site: Pimachiowin Aki to organize an inter-community field trip to the museum. So needless to say, not a spare minute for this cowboy.

First of all I’d like to say WE DID IT!!! The Go-Fund-Me campaign was a success. With a final generous donation by my high –school buddy Chuck on Christmas Eve, the account raised the target amount, and with that money I got all the pieces in place in Bloodvein to begin an after-school program in Bloodvein. Plus the principal is going to allow me to incorporate the kennel in our land-based learning program. I get to teach dog-sledding.

I’d like to take this time to thank some of the key players who went above and beyond to make this happen. First of all, my friend Gabriel Hall from Hollow Water for giving me a good price on all his sleds, dog houses, and kennel Infrastructure. The Baldwin family at perfectly raw dog food for not only jumping on board early but also giving a generous donation. Pine Falls Home-Hardware for allowing me to have a staff discount on hardware and odds and ends for the kennel. Prairie-dog supply sled builders for their donation of sled lines and agreeing to help rebuild one of my sleds. My roommate Zenon, for putting up with all my shit and using his house as a storage facility. The awesome people at CT Rentals who also gave a generous donation on top of allowing me to use a power auger to get those fence post in after the ground froze. The CBC, and Free Press for their media coverage. My crafty friends Tara, Karen, Monika, and Charles who took in donations at their holiday market booths, please check out their handiwork, these people craft some quality products. My old friend Christian Hauser, who bent over backwards to get a great snowmobile to me up in Bloodvein, My neighbor and friend Jasmine Colucci for her sound dog-care advice and making the final delivery of said snowmobile. My friend on the rez Chris Weedmark, who was my hired hand in building the kennel. Huge thanks to my friend Kevin Lewis who runs a Cree immersion camp in Saskatchewan. Not only did he donate the dogs but his phd work served a my inspiration when I was dreaming this project up during my time in university. Also extra big thanks to my friend Stephanie, who drove a rental van to Saskatoon and back up to Bloodvein with me, Vicky, 6 sled dogs, and half the kennel infrastructure, she was a true road warrior. My family, especially my mom and dad, whose faith in me helped me move the mountains to make this happen. My students at Miskooseepi who fill me with love, inspiration, and humility everyday, and finally to all you who donated and helped spread the word to make this a success. Give yourself a big pat on the back, you all helped bring dog-sledding back to Bloodvein.

Next week I’m going to test run the dogs in Bloodvein to figure out how I can navigate the gauntlet of stray rez dogs that want to either fight or impregnate my team, and establish a good trail on which to conduct rides. I’ll start the program with a class orientation session, and kennel tour for the community (I’ve already had more than a few kids come by at feeding time to meet the dogs, and excitement over the project is growing). I will also be working with an elder from the community who was the last trapper to use dogs, to see how I can weave traditional knowledge into the program. This next month I plan on taking on and training some stray rescue dogs to become part of the team.

You all did your job in this, and from here on in it’s up to me to establish and run the program. Please stay tuned for more frequent updates.

I do have a few hundred dollars left in the account to fix some of my dogs and get a used Go-Pro camera, other than that I’m flying on my own. I will keep the campaign page open for a while longer as I will have further vet bills and food costs if anyone is inclined to help out, but for now, I’d like to declare the campaign a success. Here’s to living the dream!

From the bottom of my heart, thank you!!!
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Big thanks to my old friend Christian Hauser aka Louis for taking his Saturday to hunt down and pick up this sled for the Bloodvein Kennel Club. I don't know much about snowmobiles but Louis does, he's a true sled-neck and I couldn't have asked for a better man to help me get the perfect snowmobile for my dog-sled program.
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$10,135 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 91 people in 9 months
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