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Cambridge Bay students learning community, history and natural environment

Jeanne Gagnon
Northern News Services
Published Monday, December 12, 2011

By trying out different Arctic sports and singing "head, shoulders, knees and toes" in Innuinaqtun, a number of Cambridge Bay elementary school students are learning about their community, culture, history and natural environment through an after-school program.

NNSL photo/graphic

Ethan Okalitana is one of about a dozen elementary-school-aged children learning about birds and Arctic sports through an after-school interpretative program at the Arctic Coast Visitor Centre in Cambridge Bay. photo courtesy of the Arctic Coast Visitor Centre

The interpretative program teaches kindergarten to Grade 6 children a wide range of topics through dance, activities, games and repetitions, said Clara Wingnek, the centre's manager. It runs every second Tuesday at the Arctic Coast Visitor Centre.

"We've done Arctic sports. We've done basic body parts in the Innuinaqtun language. We've done numbers. We've done a lot of Arctic animals," she said. "We looked at 10 of the most prominent Arctic birds in the North. We're familiar with in the Cambridge Bay region."

The children learned about Arctic sports by trying them out following a demonstration, said Wingnek, and singing and activity sheets were used to learn about numbers. She added they sang 'head, shoulders, knees and toes' in Innuinaqtun to learn the basic Innuinaqtun words for body parts.

Seven students registered in September and five joined them late last month.

"It's been really great. Recently, word has been spreading so we've become quite popular," she said.

She said they will also learn the tale of Mount Pelly from elders.

The tale, according to the Nunavut Parks website, tells of a family of giants that were travelling south overland from the Northern sea, where they had eaten whales, walrus and seals. Unable to find food, other than the small caribou which they were not used to eating, they starved and collapsed, turning into mountains.

"With the small space we have, we only can bring in 12 students but that's 12 students that ... didn't know the story of (Mount Pelly) or they didn't have a chance to sit down with an elder and hear the elders recounting of a great hunting trip."

At the end of the program this spring, Wingnek said ideally children will embrace their community more than they would otherwise and be more proud of their


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