Hi My Name is Chantal Dostaler, I am French Canadian From Odawa, Ontario.
I was a guide in the NW corner of AlgonquinPark -in Anishinaabi Aki
A Few years back- I had been working at the Northern Edge Algonquin Canoeing in the Bush, Guiding Tourists and Canadian Youth – Mostly Private Schools-
That place was cool for a bunch of reasons – but I wasn’t a good fit – Something about my rights as a worker- my rights as a guide- and no other staff willing to step up to the plate to advocate for better wages, financial support for training and of course satellite phones for the guides. Its another story for another day but Today I’d Like to share with you- Hope’s Story
After I was pushed off the Edge, I fell into Chocpaw Expeditions – A Canadian Sled Dog Tourist Industry south of Northbay- I got lots of stories but Hope’s Story comes in near the end of my time as a Dogsled Guide.
I had been working here 4 years, working at a kennel with 400 dogs on 4 foot chains at a place Called Chocpaw – Whose Original name was attempted to be Choctaw- but as the old boss put it “can’t get away with that kind of stuff anymore”
Around spring time, 2017, I was walked down to the gun lock, my employer unlocked it, and handed me a gun along with some .22 long. As long as my employer wouldn’t tell my coworker I had done it. We had even come up with a story, saying she had died naturally, and I buried her while my coworker was home I didn’t want my coworker to know, because I worked with them everyday, and it wasn’t something I wanted to talk about with them. Honestly, it was strange to me – The way these dogs were cared for, the love didn’t carry through in a good way. They spent everyday, running in circles on a 4 foot chain- when they weren’t being used to run sleds for tours – If your 45 minutes North of Muskoka – there are only 4 months of snow – right? They Lived in plastic barrels – like for capturing rain off your roof – It’s important to note- they weren’t North American Indian Dogs – these dogs were short haired – bred for racing – if they didn’t make the cut – they were for tours.
Dogs will love you unconditionally, will they not?
Running with them in the bush – is a beautiful experience – it’s even more magical when you’ve been running with the same crew for several years. Hope I didn’t know so personally- but I did know her. I had seen other dogs shot in the head before – again- another story for another day.
I drove down, and closed the gate behind me. I parked in such a way to hide the vehicle from anyone that could be using the road. Barely anyone ever does drive down this dirt road, but a few people live on it.
I walked the dog to the pit, its an experience, walking a dog down a row , with dogs snapping at each other from either side –
When I did it, point blank, back of the head, she fell over, fused in a state of shock. I helped her get in a more comfortable position. I sat with her, calmly- Put my hand on her chest, and told her she was good, and Loved. The moment my hand touched her chest, she wagged her tail a little, and she deeply exhaled, relaxing her body. Then a dark red pool of blood came pouring out of her mouth and nose.
Tobacco was offered to help Hope’s Spirit get to that Great Mystery- Something that had shared with me that the women do this for Each and Every Goose who gets dropped from the Sky while Harvesting for the Community – This Man’s Name is Mike Lee – a man I used to sit with, and share stories with who worked in the area-
Anyway I waited, a while – for the light in her eyes to go – I cried. And I buried her.
I understood there – that people who delivered tours in the bush, by way of dog in the area – kept the same secrets – they noticed, experienced, and perpetuated abuse, and said nothing – it’s all related to cost- it was the quiet truth that drove me crazy – it was being the only one who saw it this way- and speak about it in an open space – in a community of people – ‘who love dogs’ that really hurt my mind.
I believe this is called Gaslighting.
It was Very Real – it’s like… ‘Sure- Let’s Not Talk about Our Rights – Let’s Not Consider Their Lives – Go Ahead – Get A New Job – Move On – Leave the Rest of Us Behind –
My Teachings – Leave it Better than How you Found it… For the Next Ones to Come… Anyway
I had started noticing, and also grown sick of the disrespect in this world before then, but I understood it the day I offered Tobacco to Hope.
I was about 28 at the time –
So there I was, In a pit where the Dead Dogs Lay- I had just shot a dog.
. I had no Guidance for this. I had no Friends- only Coworkers, I had no Family- Only Bosses- No Home – Just a Job .
I did Thankfully have a counselor with an understanding of the world similar to my own – sat with me- and exchanged stories with me – and helped me understand something on a deeper level. I am Greatfull to that GreatMystery for our time spent together –
I Shot Hope because I knew No one Was Coming to Help. I Put Tobacco Down because I Listened.
The hardest part about Hope’s Story was the next steps, Advocating for the Dogs who were left behind – I learned so much – it was Hard Work.
I believe this Site Shuts Down in November 2021 so…. Dust in The Wind my Friend
I am Great full for this Opportunity to Be able to Show and Tell my work – Even Then – There’s so much to learn
Respect, Accountability,and the Canadian Sled Dog Tourism Industry.
A Big Thank you to That Big Mystery, Our Chosen Family, Clan Systems, Community and Culture for Keeping me Grounded
Thank you for your patience and support
From Our home in Traditional Algonquin Territory- Ottawa- Odawa Anishinaabi Aki
Protect Living Creation
All Our Relations
Dear reader, you may have a lot of feelings right now, and that’s okay.I don’t want your forgiveness, I want you to know this is Legal, in Ontario Canada.
The Whys and Hows about this experience are all over the website – The Reason this Continues to happen is Policy, not Politics.
The Policies are The ones who need to change.
Wanna see the Policies? CLick Here