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Piqqusilirivvik prepares to accept students
Sealift delays cultural learning centre's opening by a month

Casey Lessard
Northern News Services
Published Monday, September 12, 2011

The director at Clyde River's new Piqqusilirivvik cultural education centre hopes classes will start in October, one month later than expected.

NNSL photo/graphic

Elder Regeelie Paneak lights one of two qulliqs at the opening of the Piqqusilirivvik cultural learning centre in Clyde River in May. - NNSL file photos

Classes at the $23-million centre, which opened officially in May, were postponed from the scheduled September start date by a delay in supplies coming to the hamlet by sealift, Johnathan Palluq said.

"Until that arrives we don't have material for the course delivery," Palluq said. "Lumber, tools, materials, equipment, all that."

The school will teach aspects of traditional Inuit culture, such as language, survival skills, tool-making, and childrearing, and Palluq hopes to be able to fill 26 spaces with at least one student from each community in Nunavut, he said.

"We'll be on the phone until next Friday inviting people to enrol in classes," he said. "There are no confirmations yet. We have calls from interested individuals, but there are none confirmed."

The classes are tuition-free and would typically run from September to December and February to June. The term this year would run from October to December instead with an orientation session in late-September or early October.

Curriculum will vary depending on the month to reflect the changing nature of skills needed as weather conditions change. For example, in the fall, Palluq said, "there is fishing happening as well as navigating by the stars and wind. This is also freeze-up time for the sea, so how to travel during the freeze-up safely. It's milder but wetter, so it's a bit more dangerous to travel in October."

In February, the required skills are much different.

"That's the coldest month of the year, so we teach survival skills, winter travelling and surviving on the land," he said. "March, April and May, we focus on different animals. March is when the sun is back, so we start travelling longer distances, so we study traditional routes in lighter months."

Teachers are preparing for the enrolment and arrival of students, and Palluq believes there is great value in the courses, saying they are important for the maintenance of the Inuit culture and for personal development.

"It's good to have these skills," he said, adding career opportunities can emerge from having them. "It will make a person able to travel on their own from one place to another, and they can also be involved in search and rescues, and also for tourists and people who are on prospecting courses."

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