Mission & Method

The Chinook Project:

  • provides free veterinary care to dogs in remote communities in the Canadian north, where veterinary service is unavailable
  • goes only where it is invited and performs only the veterinary procedures that are requested by dog owners and communities
  • educates adults in basic veterinary care (first aid, parasite control, vaccination)
  • educates children with information about animal welfare and caring for their dogs
  • offers ongoing contact and support by providing advice, vaccines and parasite control
  • provides valuable educational and cultural experiences for participating veterinary students, as part of an official fourth year rotation at AVC

 

Local student volunteer, Kimmirut

When the Chinook Project receives an invitation from a northern community, we set up a clinic—sometimes in a local school, sometimes a fire hall, sometimes a wildlife office—that provides free spaying/castration, parasite control, vaccinations, and education to the local population.  AVC Participants try to make the clinic feel like a real part of the host community for the time it is operational. They involve local volunteers who help in a variety of ways from translation to assisting with surgical preparation, and they run an “open” clinic that invites community members to observe procedures.

The Chinook project also makes house calls and “land” calls—going door to door in communities to offer vaccines, and usually heading out of town—sometimes quite a distance—to provide basic service to sled dog teams tied outside community boundaries.  Depending on the number of dogs in the community, the project sees 60-70 percent of the canine population.

Chinook participants work hard, but they also have opportunity for play.  In return for our services, Northern communities provide a unique cultural experience for our participants—opportunities for them to experience the North—to get a taste of this region, so important to Canadian identity.  Communities often arrange formal activities like feasts (that give participants an opportunity to try “country food”—muskox, caribou, polar bear, char), drum dancing, and community games nights (where there is usually much laughter and strategizing, despite a significant language barrier).  They also facilitate informal activities like hikes and iceberg sightings—often combined with vaccination visits to dog teams living beyond the boundaries of the community.

Heading out on the land, Kugluktuk

Drum Dancing, Cambridge Bay

Learning to Drum Dance, Cambridge Bay