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magazine / nd07 / indepth

In-depth
Caribou in Canada
Across the country, caribou are struggling to survive in their ever-changing habitat. Facing a modern world, they are losing the battle.

Northern significance: First Nations relationship with caribou
For centuries, northern First Nations and Inuit have relied on caribou for their survival. The animals play a central role in these cultures, not just economically, but socially and traditionally as well. Regardless of the advances of modern society, caribou are just as valuable today in northern communities. Caribou meat is high in protein, low in fat and overall a healthier choice for communities suffering from high levels of diabetes from too much junk food. Imported store-bought food is expensive — estimates reveal that switching from caribou to store-bought meat would cost northerners millions of dollars. Economically, the caribou is used in various traditional arts, crafts and clothing that contribute to tourism revenue. Native groups also rely on caribou to pass down cultural traditions such as the hunt — they treat the animals with respect by taking only what is needed and wasting nothing.


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Examples of how the entire caribou is used.
Fur Shirts, hats, mitts, tents, blankets, parkas, mukluks, moccasins, bedding
Antlers Boat/canoe/kayak frames, sleds, harnesses, toys, handles
Bones Tools, knives, cutlery, needles, fish hooks, artwork, food powder, grease
Organs Food, dog food
Hooves Food, hunting tools
Head Meat, soup

– S.G.
Caribou ranges

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Caribou in Canada
Introduction Changing times Northern significance Caribou subspecies Map Photo Gallery
Video Gallery
Photo: US Fish & Wildlife Serv./B.Stevens
Some migrating caribou walk over 4,400 kilometres in a year between calving grounds and trying to find food.
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