On Sept. 1, 2017, community members in Old Crow gathered at the local boat launch to celebrate the unveiling of a new Life-Jacket Loan & Return Station.
The station encourages community members to stay safe in the water by borrowing a life-jacket and returning it afterwards. The wooden structure is located at the community boat launch near the Co-op store, and is equipped with life-jackets in a variety of sizes.
The idea for a Life-Jacket Loan & Return Station was first introduced by Tracy Rispin, general manager of the Old Crow Co-op, earlier this spring. On a trip to Fort Yukon, Alaska, Rispin says she had seen a similar life-jacket station. To help encourage boat safety in Old Crow, she raised the idea with RCMP and Vuntut Gwitchin Government chief and council.
“I am very pleased with the implementation of this community project that has brought all parties to work together and provide a positive initiative to the community,” Rispin says. “Haii’ choo to Deacon Marion Schafer for the offering of prayer over the Chyahnjik (Crow) and Ch’oodeenjik (Porcupine) rivers. These rivers are a part of our every day life as Vuntut Gwitchin and over time there has been loss. We remembered and prayed for the families.”
Paul Josie, Vuntut Gwitchin Government councillor, adds that the Vuntut Gwitchin spend the majority of our time on the land and on the water; noting “most of our subsistence comes from harvesting from the Porcupine River.”
“The Old Crow RCMP was pleased to work with our community partners on this safe boating initiative,” says Cpl. Yvon Largess, detachment commander, Old Crow RCMP. “Having life-jackets available for community members will allow both elders and youth to benefit from a safer boating experience, and for all boaters to be better prepared in the event of an emergency on the water.”
Whitehorse Canadian Tire contributed the original 50 life-jackets and now 100 are available, leading to tentative plans to add a second life-jacket station at an alternate boat launch in the community next spring.
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