Patrol leader Master Corporal Tommy Aiyout surveys a deactivated Distant Early Warning Line site—one of several radar stations established along the Arctic coastline during the Cold War.
When I was eighteen and going through my training with the armed forces, I travelled to Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, to learn survival skills from a unit of the Canadian Rangers. It was my first encounter with the military branch, which is made up of 5,000 part-time members, many of whom are Indigenous, spread out across more than 200 communities in remote regions of Canada. The Rangers are often tasked with teaching southern military units traditional survival skills: they give instruction on how to hunt, fish, and trap game and how to build shelters in harsh environments. They also share their expertise in tracking and land navigation.
In the summer of 2017, I returned to the Arctic, this time as a photographer, and spent two weeks with the Rangers. I tagged along for a patrol on and around King William Island, near the community of Taloyoak, Nunavut. The patrol was originally meant to last five days, but bad weather forced us to continue on for another four. As our supplies thinned, the Rangers replenished our water from natural streams and hunted caribou for food.