Director at Large
Gerald Azure grew up on the land in Cormorant, Manitoba, the youngest of 10 children, his Metis family operated a trapline and commercially ice-fished using dog teams until the mid 70’s. The decline of the fur-trade resulted in his family’s way of life changing forever, which led him to the city where he attended the University of Manitoba and studied Social Work.
Today Gerald celebrates his heritage along side his 31 sled dogs one dogsled ride at a time with tourists from around the world in Churchill, Manitoba…. the Polar Bear and Beluga Whale Capital of the World. Gerald and his wife Jenafor, operate a Bed and Breakfast, Bluesky Bed & Sled and their sled dog operation Bluesky Expeditions on a year-round basis in Churchill.
Bluesky Sled dogs have been featured in various media forms promoting Manitoba to the world. They’ve worked on numerous projects including, TV shows, group team building, for youth at risk and mentally challenged adults. Gerald and his dogs have worked with the Canadian Military in his capacity as a Canadian Ranger. His dogs have travelled on planes, and trains…as well as many snow-covered trails and summer roads. They have been involved in parades, school and hospital visits and youth mentorship. Gerald and several of his dogs are a frequent sight, free run hiking along the shores of the Hudson Bay or running along trails within the Boreal Forest. He is also committed wholeheartedly to the strict, humane end of life management policy featuring a sled dog adoption program upheld within the membership of the CCFSD. Their dogs have been successfully adopted all across Canada and even into the US. One of their sled dogs “Isobel” was featured as a human-interest story during the Winter 2010 Olympics, and in subsequent months the importance of ethically managed sled dog operations came to the forefront of the publics attention.
Gerald is committed to ensuring responsible and ethical care of sled dogs in all three aspects of the sport including tourism, racing and purely recreational aspects in remote and isolated communities. He believes accountability is key in any business planning; weather racing or touring, involves the ethical treatment of sled dogs and is absolutely possible while at the same time celebrating his heritage. Doing so is critical to meeting the highest international standards required in all realms of the sled dog sport, including the national Canadian and provincial tourism industries. The challenges of meeting this goal while living amongst one of the most accessible populations of polar bears in Canada are unique and on going. Gerald believes the framework set up by the CCFSD is the best model available to date.
Given the importance of celebrating his Indigenous history and experience working in Churchill for 17 years, its clear there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure this goal is a reality in Manitoba. Gerald looks forward to bringing an Indigenous voice to the coalition….and ensuring one of Canada’s oldest methods of transportation can remain an integral part of the cultural, tourism sectors.