'Taking back our sinew'
Program combines traditional skills with language

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Rankin Inlet (Feb 23/00) - A new program in Rankin Inlet is exactly the type of thing other communities may want to consider developing.

A three-way partnership between the Kivalliq Inuit Association (KIA), Nunavut Arctic College and Maani Ulujuk middle school has led to the creation of the program Taking Back Our Sinew.

This four-month course offers its 10 female participants a positive blend of traditional know-how with literacy skills in both English and Inuktitut.

KIA rep Bernadette Dean says elders stress the need for the younger generation to start learning how to make caribou clothing.

"Even with global warming, our elders advise our land is always going to be cold and harsh, and they need to pass on this knowledge now."

Adult educator Janet Onalik says the college received some funding from the National Literacy Secretariat in Ottawa, Ont.

She says parts of the program will be aimed at the possibility of students being able to start their own businesses after the course.

"This is one of the first times Nunavut Arctic College has partnered with the KIA and I think it's going to be a really holistic program because we've been missing some of the traditional parts," says Onalik.

"We have traditional aspects to all our programs, but they're little bits stuck in.

"This is more of an integral program. If it's successful, and we can get sponsorship for our students, we'd like to do more of it in the future."

KIA president Paul Kaludjak says the course is a stepping stone for the partners.

He says the program is something the KIA would eventually like to develop to suit other communities.

"We have to prove this time around that the program is effective for the people who want to learn.

"We could then move forward from their experience."

Kaludjak says the traditional element of the program has been an ongoing request from the KIA membership, elders and youth.

"This is one step in helping the younger generation understand the traditional clothing preparation and care of hides used for clothing.

"It's a positive step forward."