People in Profile

Dave Stearman

Dave is helping enrich his community through a shared passion for dog sledding. 

“I’ve always been a dog lover but, since joining Controlled Chaos, it’s grown into a great love for both mushing itself and the community’s interest in it,” Dave Stearman said. Dave is the director of Controlled Chaos, a local nonprofit organization and the collective effort of a group of volunteers with a passion for dogs and dog sledding.

“We really wanted to connect people to mushing. It’s an important part of our culture and heritage as a northern community,” Dave said, speaking to the essential role mushers and their dog teams had in transporting mail, provisions, and people across Canada’s wide-stretched, wintry landscape in the days before road or rail could reach remote, northern settlements.

Riding through harsh winter conditions, the lives of historic mush teams were hard, but everyone at Controlled Chaos ensures cruelty is kept to the past.

With us, the canines come first. Mushing doesn’t have to be brutal. The dogs don’t need to be mistreated, that’s not what dog sledding is about.”

In addition to providing sledding tours and participating in races, the organization serves as a rescue for surrendered sled dogs.

“We’ve had them come in from across North America -- from Ontario to Alaska and everywhere in between,” Dave said. “When I started here in 2018, we had 52 dogs in our care. Over the years, we’ve gone from 52 to 24 – that's been a process of finding the right environment for each of our dogs, making sure they went to homes where they could thrive. Dogs that still want to work and run we’ll keep on and care for here. Other dogs might want to take it slow, so we find them happy homes somewhere else.”

Despite being wholly volunteer-led, Controlled Chaos has continued to expand its scope of work in the community.

“Ever since incorporating as a non-profit in 2018, we’ve grown substantially and our impact on the community has advanced by roughly 50 to 75 per cent. Every year we do more community events – Winterplay, sled touring at MacDonald Island, group tours of our kennels, and so on.

“We knew we’d never make a dollar for profit doing these operations. Every person at Controlled Chaos is a volunteer. 100 per cent of the proceeds go to the dogs. But by bringing what we do to the community, and them recognizing that our hobby is a thing of cultural and community importance, it really resonates with a lot of people. They see that it’s truly a labour of love.”

Get involved!

Sign up to participate in showcasing our authentic region -- Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo.