The Delta in print
Detailed guidebook for residents and visitors

Daniel MacIsaac
Northern News Services

Inuvik (Feb 18/00) - Inuvik resident Scott Black is a publisher searching for words.

Black, who is co-ordinating the ongoing Western Arctic Handbook Project, says the proposed full-colour guidebook will highlight information about the eight communities in Inuvik region and Old Crow, Yukon. A glossary of local terms and expressions will be one of many features included in the guidebook.

He added the draft list of "Deltanese" submissions includes familiar words like kicker, parky, jiggling and hooking. The handbook, which may end up in the United States and Europe, will also include and explain expressions like community feast, on the land, break-up, freeze-up and medevac. Black welcomes suggestions to add to the list in the run-up to the book's target publishing date this summer.

"We want to show people that it's different here and the neat ways in which people express themselves," he said. "We want the list to grow because we want to show people just how interesting this place is."

A project initiated by local government workers and business people, including Alan Fehr and Peter Clarkson, Black said the handbook really took off when participants formed a committee and gained major funding from Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development and invited representatives of the Gwich'in and Inuvialuit to participate. Black added the project's attraction lies in its aim to produce a comprehensive yet accessible guide.

"It will be the first book to put all the information about the Western Arctic in one place," he said, "and it's designed for tourists, naturalists, educators as well as for residents of the region, and it's written so that anyone can understand and appreciate ... a lot of this stuff is scientific information that's presented at the level of the average person."

Black says the 350-page handbook includes contributions from some 45 authors, ranging from university professors to local wildlife officers and environmentalists to the staff of the Gwich'in and Inuvialuit offices.

Those who pick up the handbook will be able, for example, to use it to plan their trip to the Arctic, learn how to get here and what recreation options are available. He said a section describing and rating rivers by difficulty will also aid adventurers interested in planning outings more wild in nature. A section titled Northern Etiquette will also let visitors know what to expect from the people they encounter.

"It will help them know, for instance, what to think when they see the kids here out all night in the middle of summer," said Black. "Some people have reacted with disgust and concern seeing kids out at four in the morning, until somebody tells them not to worry, 'They've been waiting eight months for this.'"

Subsequent editions, it is hoped, will help recoup investment in the project.

"Once all the information and photos are compiled, it's far easier to produce later editions," he said, "and even a tiny percentage increase in tourism means that the book is paid for."

Judith Venaas, RWED's regional tourism officer, said she applauds those who've backed the book, which has been a long time in the making.

"People are likening it to the Baffin handbook that came out a few years ago," she said, "and it's certainly something anyone thinking of coming to the NWT will want to pick up."