Skiers to cross big lake

Phil Beaupre, vice-president of francophone association in Hay River Organizer of proposed ski expedition across Great Slave Lake.

Phil Beaupre, vice-president of francophone association in Hay River
Organizer of proposed ski expedition across Great Slave Lake.

If all goes well, sometime in March a group of skiers will be heading south across Great Slave Lake.

“The plan is – of course, the plan might change – to leave from Yellowknife and come all the way to Hay River,” said Phil Beaupre, vice-president of the Association franco-culturelle de Hay River.

The expedition is being sponsored by that organization and the Association franco-culturelle de Yellowknife, the francophone association in the territorial capital.

“I’m assuming it’s going to take about five or six days, depending on the pace of the group,” said Beaupre.

In a straight line, it is about 190 kilometres from Yellowknife to Hay River.

“But, of course, we’ve got to worry about pressure cracks and all that kind of stuff,” said Beaupre. “It’s probably going to take us on a different route. It’s definitely not going to be a straight route. So I’m guessing it’s going to be around 215 to 230 kilometres total.”

The idea for the Great Slave Ski Expedition originated with Beaupre and Shawn Buckley, the owner of Great Slave Lake Tours.

“We just kind of talked about it about two months ago,” said Beaupre, explaining the francophone association has taken part in some activities, including ice fishing, with Great Slave Lake Tours.

However, he said this time he wanted something more adventurous and extreme.

“I’m always looking for an adventure or a challenge,” said the judo and mixed-martial arts instructor, who also rock climbs for fun.

Beaupre said it will be a challenging ski and participants might face bad weather.

However, late March is being targeted because it will be warmer and there will be more light but the ice will still be solid.

“We don’t have a fixed date but we’re shooting for the last week of March,” said Beaupre.

So far there has been considerable interest in the expedition, he said.

Nobody will be officially signed up until all the details of the expedition are finalized but seven or eight people have expressed an interest.

“We’re going to cap it off at about 10 participants, and around five to six people that are helping us out,” said Beaupre.

Two of the interested skiers are Frederique Boucher and Nelson Dube, two teachers from Quebec who are working this year at Ecole Boreale.

“It could be a nice trip, just to enjoy nature,” said Boucher.

Dube said he is interested in the expedition because he likes adventure and the idea of going on a big trip with a group of skiers.

“We’re really looking for people who can do the whole thing and who are physically fit and able to go, and mentally fit, too,” said Beaupre.

In fact, he is expecting so much interest, he is wondering how the participants will be selected.

Beaupre, who substitute teaches at several schools, explained the expedition will also be more than an adventure, since it will be used as an opportunity to raise awareness about bullying.

“We needed a goal behind this,” he said. “We can’t just go out there and say we’re just going to go for an adventure.”

Beaupre said he was bullied in Grades 5 to 8 while growing up in Ottawa.

“And I know in the territories, it’s a big problem,” he added.

While all the details of the expedition still have to be worked out, so far the idea is that a Bombardier from Great Slave Lake Tours will accompany the skiers, along with two snowmobiles and a dog team.

The Bombardier with create a trail and stay far ahead of the skiers to set up stops during the day and tents for the night.

Along with participants, Beaupre is seeking sponsorship for the expedition.

There will be a fee for participants but how much that will be is to be determined by how many sponsors can be found.