EVERYTHING REVEALED ABOUT OUR VOLUNTEERING EXPERIENCE IN THE YUKON
Emerald lake just outside Carcross, Yukon (Canada)
We have very mixed emotions about our volunteering experience for a First Nation community in the beautiful Canadian region of the Yukon, on the border with Alaska.
Want to know more about our farm life in a First Nation Community? Check our blog post HERE
This has been the first stop of our world trip and by far one of the most expensive volunteering program we joined – it definitely made us reconsider more affordable or free volunteering experiences offered by websites such as Workaway or by NGOs based around the world. Discover our reasons below.
Check out our tips to save money for a one-year road trip HERE
The amazing reflection of the lake just outside our cabin in the Yukon, Carcross (Canada)
FINDING THE PROJECT
To be honest, finding volunteering programs in Canada through online research had already been quite hard, especially if looking for inexpensive projects. So when we stumbled upon a very well-presented program in the Yukon called “Wilderness Research” on the Fronteering website, a well-known international volunteering agency, we thought the high fees charged for the program were justified by the very long list of amazing tasks we would take part in after joining the program - these tasks included caribou monitoring, medicinal herbs gathering, fisheries, archeological work and so on.
Not sure how to make it happen? Have a look at our article on how to make it happen!
Taking care of chicks in a farm in Carcross, Yukon (Canada)
WILL SOMEONE PICK US UP AT WHITEHORSE AIRPORT?
In addition, our contact at Fronteering had responded promptly to our first emails, which is a good sign usually, although we got the impression she became less and less responsive from the moment Fronteering received the very expensive fee for the program.
READ MORE ABOUT OUR OTHER VOLUNTEERING EXPERIENCES IN:
We are sure everyone has got his/her own personal experience with Fronteering, however, this was not a great start for us. Our contact also tried to put us in contact with our local supervisor for at least one month before arrival, unsuccessfully, claiming our supervisor was too busy to reply. We got a message from her only the day before leaving for the Yukon – “yes, I will be at the airport to pick you up”.
Bears are the true inhabitants of the Yukon - Learn how to deal with them HERE
In any case, we did not take this initial approach too seriously and set out for Canada in high spirit and full of expectations for our program.
Here are our favourite hikes in:
Banff / Lake Louise
Typical farmwife in the Yukon - Feeding piglets in Carcross, Canada
AN AUTHENTIC YUKON EXPERIENCE
Only on our arrival we found out our placement was in fact in a farm 30 minute drive from the closest village, Carcross, while we have been told we would have been based in the much bigger Whitehorse, Yukon’s capital.
Again, no problem in this case as well – we actually liked our new “home” as part of an authentic Yukoner experience. Our wooden cabin was very basic, with a mattress on the floor and a pit toilet outside, located 20 minutes walking from the main cabin with kitchen and bathroom.
We spent here four weeks in total, of which ten days were in an off-the-grid cabin on Montana Mountain, sacred to the local First Nation.
How is it to live on a mountain in an off-the-grid cabin? Read more adventures HERE
Keeping warm on top of Montana Mountain in an off-the-grid cabin, The Yukon, Canada
WHERE DID THE MONEY GO?
A bigger concern has arisen when we discovered that not one cent of what we paid to Fronteering went to the First Nation community we were volunteering for, hence they were paying for all expenses (electricity, food, transportation…) by their own means.
This was probably more disappointing than the fact that the tasks we were given during our first weeks into the program were not in line with the very well presented activities on the Fronteering website.
In their defence our supervisor in the Yukon never updated Fronteering concerning the current volunteers’ tasks and housing. On the other side, no proper check had been carried out by such an internationally recognized organization which places thousands of volunteers worldwide every year.
Heading to Canada next Summer? Check out our tips for camping and hiking in Canada
Learning how to build wooden fences in Carcross, Yukon (Canada)
YUKON TYPICAL FARM LIFE
Wouldn’t have been for the fact that what promised by the fancy program’s online description was only partially, if not at all, delivered, our time at this typical farm in the Yukon has taught us a lot about the harsh life in this part of the world and about ourselves.
I guess you can say we had a minor cultural shock at first as the slow pace of life lead by First Nation communities is definitely different from our frenetic Western life style. Sometimes we were up at 7am to start working at 8.30am as promised and we were not given any task until 10am or later; sometimes plans were changed at last minute; sometimes there were no plans at all.
Travelling, and in particular volunteering, requires adaptation but first, never leave unprepared on the first place.
Check out our tips to stay safe on the road.
Feeding horses at a typical farm in Carcross, Yukon (Canada)
FANTASTIC HUMAN BEINGS
As our good friend Keith from the Yukon has taught us, we should leave on a good note, trying to learn from our experience and see everything we’ve done from a positive perspective.
After all, we would always remember the beautiful people who crossed our path and the happy moments we spent together with them during our time in the Yukon. Starting with Keith himself who has been the kindest person we met along the way, always helpful and going the extra mile for everyone in the community and beyond. Followed by Linda, the most amazing Canadian lady you can have the luck to meet in this sometimes forgotten part of the world – Linda is so far the only woman to have crossed Canada coast to coast by dog team, what an inspiring personality she has! Not to forget Rick "the hunter" who has an endless repertoire of amazing stories about the Yukon and other parts of the planet.
We have been so lucky to encounter fantastic human beings in Canada such as
Keith the Community Helper,
Linda the Dog Musher
Rick the Hunter.
Check out their stories!
We always keep our door open for new projects and ideas – we’ve been already volunteering and travelling in Nepal, Philippines, Malaysia, Tanzania and currently Uganda and have already planned our next stop after Africa in South America - stay tuned for more!
As our motto says: we travel, we learn, we grow.
Walking bare hands on Nares Mountain in Carcross, Yukon (Canada)