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Tsiigehtchic

You’ll get back to basics in this cozy community, home to only 177 people. Located at the confluence of the Arctic Red River and Mackenzie River, Tsiigehtchic is the most southern of the communities. Dirt roads connect a small network of houses and community buildings. The community store sells food, dry goods, and gasoline. You can find a room to rent, a post office and a pay phone in the store. Travelers are welcome to pitch their tents or park their vehicles on the beach by the river – though keep in mind that this is only possible during the summer. If roughing it is not for you, try the community bed and breakfast and pick up a meal at Dinah's Diner.

Before arriving in the community you must understand that alcohol is strictly prohibited in Tsiigehtchic – sale, possession of and consumption. The mindset behind the “dry community” is that prohibiting alcohol will help residents lead healthier, safer lifestyles.

A Roman Catholic Church, built by missionaries nearly 80 years ago, sits proudly atop a hill in Tsiigehtchic. A beautiful cemetery is close by and both attractions have a commanding view overlooking the Arctic Red River. Though the cemetery is no longer used for burials, due to erosion from melting permafrost, it remains a timeless community landmark.

The Tsiigehtchic population is skilled in hunting, trapping and fishing; and rely on moose, caribou, ducks, beaver and fish. The community, which was once used as a summer fish camp, is well known for its dry fish made from Mackenzie River whitefish. Women, skilled in arts and crafts, sew traditional clothing for their families or for sale.

Tsiigehtchic has full postal services and internet and satellite television is also available. There is no cell service but some telephone features, like landlines, are available. There is no airport in the community but residents travel by ferry in the summer and ice road in the winter. This travel can be interrupted by the spring ice break-up and the fall freeze-up but in case of emergencies, people can be medevaced to Inuvik.

Though you will need to entertain yourself during your down time, there are many celebrations and community events to take in. National Aboriginal Day is celebrated on June 21 each year with a community feast, art and craft fair, drum dancing, throat singing and traditional Aboriginal games. In mid-August, Tsiigehtchic hosts Canoe Days – four days of canoe races down the Arctic Red River to the Mackenzie River. The Beaufort Delta Education Council also hosts a Sports Festival each year which brings students of all ages from , , Fort McPherson, Tsiigehtchic, Ulukhaktok, Sachs Harbour and Paulatuk together. The festival is designed as a reward for students who commit to attendance and education.

Tsiigehtchic is a community with a fascinating history. In 2007, Tsiigehtchic resident Shane Van Loon discovered animal remains eroding from the side of a hill beside the Arctic Red River. The remains were of a steppe bison, which became extinct near the end of the last Ice Age, around 10,000 years ago. Thanks to the permafrost and the undisturbed terrain, the bison was well-preserved and is one of the most interesting discoveries made in the NWT!

Though the community is small, the pure land and water surrounding it appears limitless. In the summer, wade through fields of long grass and fireweed. In winter, watch as the landscape transforms into a snowy desert and see the sky swell with northern lights.