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Language camp a hit in Ulukhaktok
Annual event teaches tradition

Kassina Ryder
Northern News Services
Monday, August 10, 2015

Twelve-year-old Naomi Klengenberg says learning how to make dry fish was one of the best parts of Ulukhaktok's annual summer language camp this year.

NNSL photo/graphic

Devon Albert Notaina cuts up char to make dry fish; one of the many traditional activities that took place during Ulukhaktok's annual language camp in July. - photo courtesy of Ulukhaktok Community Corporation

"We learned how to skin seal and flesh the fish and to make dry fish," she said.

Klengenberg and about 14 other children spent five days on the land in July with local elders and volunteers, said Laverna Klengenberg, Naomi's mother and mayor of Ulukhaktok. The yearly camp, which takes place about 40 km from the community at a place called Keejivik, began in the 1980s and is timed to coincide with the summer char run, she said. It gives kids a chance to spend time on the land doing traditional activities while learning Inuvialuktun.

For many, it's a rare opportunity, Klengenberg said.

"A lot of them they don't often get a chance to go out with their families," she said. "We like to have those children to go out and participate and to learn different things other than in town."

At camp, they learn to set fish nets and how to collect duck and seagull eggs, as well as how to prepare muskox meat after a hunt.

"The children will often help prepare the meat when it's brought back to camp," Klengenberg said.

To help reinforce the Inuvialuktun words they've heard throughout the day, participants spend time each evening filling out workbooks provided by the Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre.

In addition to the elders already at the camp, visitors are encouraged to stop by as well, Klengenberg said.

"We usually like to get an elder supervisor and another supervisor who can work with them," she said. "We often have visitors from the community to go out to them every day. A lot of the times it's elders and kids' parents."

While the camp was formerly open to youth, this year's camp was geared toward participants 12 and under, Klengenberg said. Older children will have other excursions throughout the summer.

"We're having activities and day trips in and out of town," she said.

Naomi said she'll be eligible to attend the older children's activities next year and said she hopes they'll include even more Inuvialuktun.

"I like getting to know some things about language," she said.

This year's camp began on July 19 and ran until July 24.

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