Learning one's culture
Repulse students benefit from joint teaching effort

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

REPULSE BAY (Jan 13/99) - In a program designed to blend traditional education with cultural exploration, every Tuesday morning students at Tusarvik school in Repulse Bay set aside their pens, papers and math books and, instead of practising the three Rs, the students in grades 6 and 7 (10-13 years old) take up the sewing needles, carving tools, hand-saws, sandpaper and more.

These young students are going on a cultural experience and Leonie Aissaoui, school principal, said she's really happy to have this program happening in the Repulse Bay school.

"I must thank the Ministry of Culture and Education for the initial grant," said Aissaoui.

The ministry comes close to covering costs for the harpoon making, including steel rods, and has also funded a new carving tool, purchased an antler and hired an instructor. Students have already started to learn the basics of carving using antlers.

The ministry also provided funds for a dog- handling program. Each student made a harness and some were able to harness and handle dogs.

The program co-ordinator, David Beevor, said, "In order to use the dogs, each student was required to get permission from their parents," in explaining some of the program's guidelines.

Beevor said the school added its resources to all programs and does not charge for the use of sewing machines, shop, classrooms, etc. The school also paid the shop teacher to help with harpoons and carving. The sewing program made duffel mitts, also completely funded by the school.

"In the past, we have offered culture programs, but this is our biggest effort," said

Aissaoui. "Mr. Beevor is helping to keep the culture alive by including it in his program. He's going out of his way to make sure the culture is kept alive and I'm very pleased about that."

Late last year, a meeting was called to discuss and outline the basis for culture programs using teachers, District Education Authority, elders and other interested people. Beevor said hopefully, this will move the concept further along the road.

The Ministry of Culture and Education needs to be thanked for its partial funding, but Beevor said his principal also made her time available to co-ordinate the program.

"Leonie is one of the most co-operative principals and bends over backwards to keep culture programs alive in her school," he said.

"We would also like to thank instructors and helpers Carole Beevor, Susan Nuluk, Jimmy Tegumiar, John Ivalutanar, Paul Malliki and John Marie Ivalutanar Jr. Without these people, nothing happens."