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Guiding tourists
Eva Otokiak, 61, has been guiding cruise ship tourists through Cambridge Bay on and off for the past 10 years

Jeanne Gagnon
Northern News Services
Published Saturday, September 24, 2011

As she gets to meet other people, encounter different cultures and even speak some Inuinnaqtun, Eva Otokiak has been eager to volunteer for the past 10 years guiding cruise ship visitors into Cambridge Bay.

NNSL photo/graphic

Eva Otokiak, 61, has been guiding cruise ship tourists through Cambridge Bay on and off for the past 10 years. She said it's something she enjoys doing. - photo courtesy of Tiffany Otokiak

The 61-year-old guides groups of 20 to 40 people during a walkabout around Cambridge Bay, showing them the stores, new and old buildings and the old town site, explaining why it moved. Meeting people from all over the world gives a person a view of how they live, she said.

"I enjoy it and I enjoy meeting people from around the world," she said. "I like to say how I live in my Nunavut with other people from around the world and make them see the community I live in and how over the 50 years it has changed ... They get fascinated with how we survive the four seasons our winters, summer, spring and fall."

She put her name forward after reading in a community newsletter the dates of cruise ships visits to the community

The mother of five and grandmother to 12 was born and raised in the Bathurst Inlet area before moving to Cambridge Bay in 1968. Tourists also ask her to speak some Inuiannqtun, something she said she enjoys.

"I still speak my Inuinnaqtun language and they always like to hear how we speak. In turn, they speak their dialect and their language. It's music to your ears," she said. "We have a lot of fun speaking Inuinnaqtun to some people because they want to know how to say 'hello, how are you' and all these things. I am hoping this will not stop."

Otokiak said when cruise ship visitors come to Cambridge Bay, they try to share in everything from how residents survive, how they live and how they struggle. Some of the visitors struggle back home, she noted, and her fellow community members do too.

"Over the coming years and years, for the cruise ships to come into our community, I think it's only a privilege for a person to stand up and be part of what I did for the last so many years, learn a lot about other people's cultures and stuff," she said. "If I'm still in Cambridge Bay at this time next August, I would love to put my name again for the guide tours because I enjoy it because it's a passion that lives in me now."

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