If you look at Canada’s Northwest Territories from above, it seems uninhabited – barren. Roads do not crisscross the landscape like in the southern provinces, and the small communities are few and far between each other. From a bird’s eye view, it is a vast place of land and water.

But look closer.

From Alberta to the Arctic Ocean, the Yukon to Nunavut, many call this landscape home. The Inuvialuit, Dene, Cree, Metis and Inuit see it is as a place of fresh water, wildlife and food, furs and clothing, trees and shelter. The land has all anyone needs to live securely. The unique identity of the people here is linked to their use of the land for thousands of years and is passed on through oral tradition. It continues into the future through cultural practices out on the land: language, stories, history and social and ceremonial practices give these places high cultural significance. The land nourishes the people spiritually, mentally, socially and emotionally.

On the Land is a project that dispels the myth that “nobody lives here”. Our mission is to showcase the Northwest Territories Dene people and their traditional gathering places through evocative photography, audio and video. More importantly, we hope to explore the reasons why these places are culturally significant, and why they are deserving of special environmental protection in the face of large-scale energy and resource development. In many cases, places of high cultural significance are also places of high biodiversity.

These are special places for harvesting food, cultural traditions and spiritual nourishment. They are places that hold stories and memories, allowing people to pass along teachings to future generations.

Pat Kane Photo, in partnership with Tides Canada, invites you to share these stories. Over the next year, we will be adding a series of photo galleries and short documentaries to this website. 


Enjoy your exploration of Canada’s Northwest Territories,


Mahsi Cho







Pat Kane is a Yellowknife photographer, videographer, writer and journalist covering Canada's Far North. He is among the most experienced and reliable visual storytellers working in the region today. He's known for his ability to win the respect of his subjects and venture to places few have been. He has eaten seal in Nunavut, followed dog teams across the Yukon, and visited trappers above the Arctic Circle in the Northwest Territories. 

"My hope with this project is to showcase the culture and lifestyle of the indigenous people of the Northwest Territories, and most importantly, to point out how crucial it is for the land and water to be protected so that those who live here can sustain their culture, food sources and livelihood."