Ten Nunavummiut are enrolled in a new two-week ‘boot camp’ to become qualified to work on cruise ships in the Arctic.
The training, taking place in Iqaluit, will allow the participants to meet formal qualifications to fill a variety of roles on the growing number of cruise ships traversing the Northwest Passage.
“I think it’s important for Nunavummiut to be hired as guides when travelling throughout Nunavut, which is what we are primarily doing,” said Jason Edmunds, expedition leader with cruise ship company Adventure Canada. “But what has made it very difficult for a lot of the industry, including ourselves, is that a lot of the training that’s required for some of the guides, like Zodiac drivers or bear monitors, is very difficult or even impossible to get in Nunavut.”
The boot camp – consisting of five men and five women, all Inuit, in its inaugural run – is the answer to that problem. Future editions will accommodate 12 participants and will hopefully be broadened to include public speaking, guide training and interpretation skills, Edmunds added.
“It’s just really trying to build capacity in Nunavut to take the lead on that industry,” he said. “We also want to get away from having Inuit on board that are filling roles that have less responsibilities, therefore the pay would be less.”
Edmunds, a beneficiary of the Nunatsiavut land claim, took similar training himself years ago with Adventure Canada.
“Now I’m partnering with different organizations to offer similar training to what I received,” he said.
Many of the regulations and qualifications in place for cruise ship workers are set by Transportation Canada and the International Marine Organization.
The Government of Nunavut and the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency are funding the initiative. The Nunavut Fishing & Marine Training Consortium, the Association for Expedition Cruise Operators, Adventure Canada, Parks Canada, and Students on Ice are also partners in the project.