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Steve and Joseph Mapsalak skin a caribou during teacher's orientation for Tusarvik school staff in Repulse Bay earlier this month. - photo courtesy of Leonie Aissaoui

Getting to know you

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, August 22, 2007

REPULSE BAY - A group of teachers took to the land in Repulse Bay earlier this month as part of orientation activities.

Tusarvik school principal Leonie Aissaoui said the trip is held at the start of every school year.

She said the activities are aimed at introducing new teachers to Inuit culture and tradition, as well as giving them a feel for the land surrounding the community.

"Everyone at the school takes part in the initiation activities, which really help bond people together and give them some insight into life on the land," said Aissaoui.

"It's a big help to our new teachers when they get to learn a little bit about the culture of the children they're going to be teaching.

"It's big boost to them in the classroom.

Aissaoui said new teachers are always amazed on the trip to see whales and bears, as well as to hear narwhal and do a bit of Arctic fishing for the first time.

The group also makes bannock, has a meal on the land and visits a historic site such as the house of 1800s Arctic explorer Dr. John Rae.

There are four new teachers at Tusarvik this year in the form of two teaching couples.

Aissaoui said new teachers always receive strong support from returning staff members.

"They're already hard at work and all four of them are pretty cool, actually.

"We're fortunate in that we always manage to find good people."

Tusarvik also held a small ceremony this past week to say goodbye to student-support assistant Michelle Itwaru, who left for Ottawa with her RCMP husband, Mike Itwaru.

Aissaoui said the gathering also celebrated the announcement that Grade 12 graduate Jessica Siutinuar and student-support assistant Jolene Itkilik are going to attend the Northern Teachers Education program.

"It was a quiet, but very special gathering we had for all three.

"Michelle (Itwaru) had a hard time smiling, though, because she really liked our community and had a hard time leaving us."