Inuvialuit / Sámi Reindeer Project

75th Anniversary of Herd Establishment

”Crossing the River Event”


The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) and Canadian Reindeer will jointly celebrate the successful 1935 arrival of the reindeer herd to the Mackenzie Delta with a festive day event at Swimming Point on Richards Island.

An open invitation is extended for visitors to drive the ice road on April 6th to Swimming Point to observe the noon herd crossing of the ice road to the summer range on Richards Island. Traditional foods will be available at a festive meal in Inuvik later in the evening. Other events are planned for the following day of the 7th.

The herd migration and river crossing normally occurs before April 9th, when the pregnant females usually begin to give birth to their young. This ensures that the ‘fawning’ of the new stock happens without undue stress.

In response to the temporary shortage of caribou, the IRC has established a program to supply reindeer meat to Inuvialuit households.   Additionally, some of the region’s Hunters and Trappers Committees supply reindeer meat to Inuvialuit Elders.  Reindeer meat is also made available commercially to NWT markets.

The far-sighted request by Inuvialuit leaders many years ago for the establishment of a domestic reindeer herd ensures that meat is available during the rare occasions when caribou are scarce.  As in the beginning, Sámi and Inuvialuit herders care for the reindeer and harvest animals for the country-foods diet.

This ongoing cooperation between cultures and Arctic counties will also be celebrated by the attendance of other reindeer herders from the Circumpolar World, who plan to visit their colleagues in Canada.

Caribou and domesticated or wild reindeer are a mainstay of many circumpolar aboriginal peoples, whether the animals roam wild or are herded.

Canadian Reindeer is a private business that is part-owned by the IRC, which works to provide employment and incomes to Inuvialuit. Reindeer herding not only provides work and food to Inuvialuit but also supports the traditional harvesting lifestyle of Inuvialuit.

During this day of the river crossing on the ice road, the many descendants of reindeer herders in the region are invited to watch.  Elders will be provided transport to the crossing site and to Swimming Point. 

Sled tours to see the herd “up-close” will also be made available from Swimming Point, where the herd once used to cross the river by swimming between the mainland and the Island.

  Invitations are issued to the World Reindeer Herders Union and especially to Inupiat herders in Alaska. We hope to see herders from Sápmi, Russia and Greenland as well.  They may wish to arrive earlier for Aklavik’s  “Pokiak River Festival” during the Easter weekend, April 3-5.

The Otto & Ellen Binder Reindeer operates as ‘Canadian Reindeer’