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A taste of the North

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Rankin Inlet (Nov 13/06) - A group of First Nations youth from the N'swakamok Native Friendship Centre in Sudbury, Ont., received a taste of life in the Arctic earlier this month.

The group of 11 youth, two chaperons and an elder spent a week in Rankin Inlet as part of a YMCA exchange program with the Pulaarvik Kablu Friendship Centre.

NNSL Photo/graphic

Jesse Osawamick, front right, leads a group of performers from the N'swakamok Native Friendship Centre in Sudbury, Ont. They visited the Rankin Inlet Recreation Centre earlier this month. It was part of an exchange program between the two communities. - Darrell Greer/NNSL photo

A Rankin group of 11 youth and two chaperons are travelling to Sudbury this week to complete the exchange.

Pulaarvik Kablu's executive director, George Dunkerley, said the Sudbury group was looking to do an exchange, but wasn't sure who to contact in the North.

He said former Miss Nunavut, Ashley Dean of Rankin, was in Sudbury at the time and suggested the group contact the Rankin friendship centre and the idea took off from there.

"The Ontario kids really enjoyed their time in Rankin," said Dunkerley.

"They went to the elders' cabin at the Thule site with elders MaryAnn Taparti and Moses Aliyak to learn a bit about the cultural history of that area from two people who grew up there.

"They were thrilled by the sod house, which gave them a glimpse of what it was like when Inuit lived in dwellings like that."

The First Nations youth also took part in a short print-making course with artists at the Matchbox Gallery during their stay, and visited every facility in the community.

Dunkerley said the Ontario youth were an inquisitive bunch, especially when it came to cultural artifacts and Inuit history.

"They learned a lot about Rankin by doing their own research during the three months prior to their visit.

"Still, they were surprised by the modernization of our community and what things are really like here."

The Sudbury youth also got a taste of how unpredictable Arctic weather can be, Dunkerley said.

He said staff at the Rankin friendship centre had been reminding them for two months to wear their winter parkas and boots for their arrival in the Kivalliq.

"I felt pretty bad when it turned out to be 3 C when they get off the plane.

"But, a couple of days later it was -20 C and that quick change in the weather sure made an impact on them.

"They couldn't believe it was 2 C when they went to bed and -10 C when they woke up."