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Hammering down a skill

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Repulse Bay (Dec 06/06) - A carpentry program is proving popular with students at Tusarvik school in Repulse Bay.

The program was first offered during the last school year and resumed shortly after the current semester began.

NNSL Photo/graphic

Paul Malliki Jr. works on his carpentry project at Tusarvik school in Repulse Bay this past month. Malliki says carpentry is his favourite school subject. - photo courtesy of Leonie Aissaoui

Instructor Alan Robinson says the course is offered to students in Grade 7 to Grade 11.

"I'm rather old fashioned but, while it's nice to have lots of computer experts and managers, we desperately need people in Nunavut who can fix things and work with their hands," says Robinson.

"That's exactly what I'm trying to do here and slowly, but surely, they're starting to put it all together.

"We've made some very, very nice doghouses.

"When you make a doghouse properly, everything is the same as building a real house with a foundation, walls, framing and roof."

In addition to doghouses, a number of which were sold at a special school sale this past weekend, students have also produced bird houses and small qamutiks using green sewer pipes for runners.

Robinson says the cut sewer pipes worked quite well as runners.

"When I walk down the street and see little kids shooting down the hills on them, it's a nice feeling to know my students made them.

"Students are taking to the course like ducks to water."

Robinson says it has been a struggle teaching the students the proper names of the tools.

He says that's understandable, considering there are more than 50 tools in a journeyman's toolbox.

"They have to be able to ask for a tool by its proper name if they decide to join the workforce building things.

"You also need the skills to figure out how much three-quarter-inch plywood a particular project might need and the waste factor involved.

"These are all things you have to be able to convey."

Robinson says a number of the students are natural builders and only struggle with the terminology.

But that, he says, wouldn't stop them from being successful with proper instruction.

"I've been involved with carpentry for about 46 years and, if I had these guys for four years, I guarantee they'd be the best carpenters money can buy.

"That's a fact, but the only way they can accomplish it is with hands-on work.

"You can have all the books, videos and computers you want, but none of that can compete with actually holding the tools in your hands and doing the work."