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The Chinook Project Arrives back in P.E.I. – 2009

A series of posts from the trip of 2009, not published on the website.

Originally published at

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 | Posted by Jane Magrath

The group arrived home on Saturday, exhausted (especially after flying through the night and seeing many of Canada’s fine airports in the process: Cambridge Bay to Kugluktuk to Yellowknife to Edmonton to Calgary to Toronto to Charlottetown!) and elated. And they should feel very proud of themselves.

Our “Group of Seven” saw 78 dogs in Kugluktuk and 83 in Cambridge Bay for a grand total of 161 dogs! They also saw several cats and two ferrets. While surgeries were conducted indoors in Kugluktuk, most of the vaccinations and check-ups were conducted in large outdoor tents in winter weather (-15 C!).

Dr. Carey and Andrea Jack after administering activated charcoal to a dog that had eaten medication.

While the daily blogs from Nicole and Shawn gave us a good sense of the communities and the daily events, the modesty of the writers didn’t allow them to give us a really accurate portrait of the heroics performed by the group in often adverse circumstances. The students mentioned a couple of the difficult situations they dealt with, but they didn’t describe many of the tough things they coped with, calmly, expertly, and with good cheer: like the administering of activated charcoal to a dog — a situation that involved the team wearing garbage bags over their parkas to try to avoid being covered in charcoal when the dog vomited, and did I mention that this was done in a tent in freezing weather? They didn’t mention the stress of complicated surgeries — like the mysterious and copious bleeding, which they resolved — performed with only the most basic and rudimentary veterinary equipment. They didn’t mention the pain of having to deliver bad news to dog owners who would be left without veterinary support once the Chinook Project left. And they, modestly, didn’t mention just how much good they managed to do in these two remote communities.

It was hard for me not to be there this summer; and I know it was equally hard for Marti Hopson — one of the founding veterinarians on the Chinook Project. She has run the veterinary side of things for the last three years, and organized that side of things this year, even though she was staying behind. But the daily blog entries from the students made it easier for us, as we tried to let go and let the Chinook Project find its feet and benefit from the expertise of others.

We owe a huge thank you to CBC Prince Edward Island for making this blog possible. One of the other things that made it easier for us was the incredible support the project received from the communities of Kugluktuk and Cambridge Bay. Melissa Joy and Andy Traub and their legions of volunteers made this summer’s Project work smoothly and allowed our group to feel part of the communities, cared for, supported.

Canada’s north is a vast expanse, populated by numerous small communities that have no access to veterinary care. The Chinook Project is taking small steps to change this, making a difference in the north, one dog at a time.

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