A word often used in Yukon Harvest is “connection.” A connection with nature. A connection with language. A connection with tradition. It’s an important—essential, really—part of the show.
Returning for Season 2 on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on APTN in English and Monday in Northern Tutchone (a language spoken in the Yukon communities of Mayo, Pelly Crossing, Stewart Crossing, Carmacks and Beaver Creek), the 13-episode Yukon Harvest documents Indigenous guides and hunters as they journey into the remote lands to connect with the land, share in culture and give back to the community.
Saturday’s return, “Yegwúp/To Grow Strong, Part 1,” kicks off in Tkʼemlúps, B.C., where we catch up with and get the story of hunting guide Ed Jensen. A member of the Secwepemc Nation, Ed is committed to handing down the skills that have been passed down for thousands of years, and through his parents, who were both in residential schools. He and Aaron, a young man Ed mentored over 20 years ago, head out into the hills in hopes of hunting a deer large enough to fulfill a meat order for a family in need. But taking down a large buck is just the first step in a ceremonial process that includes a gift of tobacco, mourning the animal, taking a piece of the heart and liver to honour their ancestors and honouring the animal and its meat, which is going to feed others.
Saturday’s episode isn’t all about trekking into beautiful, rugged land to provide for others. In stark contrast is Ed reflecting on what his parents, and countless other Indigenous peoples, endured at residential schools across the country. There is sobering footage of stuffed animals placed at the base of the Kamloops Indian Residential School Monument, and Ed’s relief that the kids he mentors don’t live with the horrors of those schools as his parents did.
True to the show’s title, Ed jets to the Yukon for the episode’s final act. After arriving in Whitehorse, Ed meets up with Evan, who first hunted with Ed over two years ago. And while it’s an opportunity for Evan to show Ed his hunting grounds and skills, this trip allows Ed to evaluate Evan too. How is this young man adapting the traditional ways, and connecting with his ancestors? It’s a truly fulfilling experience for both.
Yukon Harvest airs Saturdays at 7 p.m. ET on APTN.
Image courtesy of APTN.