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Whale of a donation

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Whale Cove (Dec 13/06) - Students in the popular land-skills program at Inuglak school in Whale Cove were happy to receive a polar bear hide earlier this month.

The hide was donated by the local Hunters and Trappers Organization (HTO) after the bear was shot out of season as a safety kill.

Elders Cecile Panika and Sam Arualak have been instructing the culture and land-skills program for the better part of three years.

Panika teaches the girls how to sew and make traditional clothing, while the boys focus more on traditional tools and hunting.

Both Panika and Arualak teach classes at the school on weekday afternoons.

Inuglak principal Charles Anderson said the cultural program is worked into the weekly schedule of every class at the school.

He said it has become extremely popular since new space was added to the school.

"With the additions of a wood shop, small-engine-repair shop and a new kitchen we use for a sewing room, it's been a lot more comfortable for the kids," said Anderson.

"It's nice to have a physical space devoted to a culture and land-skills program.

"You can't build too many tools when you don't have a proper wood shop."

Anderson said the Whale HTO has been supportive of the program, donating floater suits and wind pants.

"The HTO's support has been fantastic and it's important to note that the bear hide was an unsolicited donation.

"I'm sure the HTO had other options, so we're very appreciative that the school was chosen.

"Our DEA members wrote a thank-you letter to the HTO for its kind donation."

Anderson said plans are in the works to get the students out on land trips early in the new year.

He said it's tough to plan trips in the fall because it's difficult to meet the insurance requirements.

"It's a lot easier to meet the requirements to get them out by snowmachine than it is by boat or ATV.

"You need a licensed outfitter with their own insurance to use a boat.

"Even the boat itself has to meet a number of different requirements.

"So, there's really nobody equipped to take the kids out in Whale."

Both female and male students have been making traditional clothing for years at the school, including parkas, wind pants, mitts and kamiks.

They've worked with many different types of skins and, on occasion, store-bought materials as well.

Anderson said it's incredible how talented some of the students really are.

"In the past, we pretty much let them take home what they made.

"But, we're going to keep the items made from the polar bear at the school.

"The plans are to make one pair of pants and use the rest for mitts."