Classroom on the land

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A group of senior high students from grades 10 to 12 took part in the first of a number of springtime trips out on the land at Tuugaalik High School in Naujaat on April 26.

A group of senior students from Tuugaalik High School work to get their qamutiik ready for a day out on the land hunting and fishing near Naujaat on April 26, 2019. Photo courtesy Julia MacPherson
A group of senior students from Tuugaalik High School work to get their qamutiik ready for a day out on the land hunting and fishing near Naujaat on April 26, 2019.
Photo courtesy Julia MacPherson

The group’s main guide was Laimmiki Malliki from the high school and there were also five senior high teachers on the journey.

Vice-principal Julia MacPherson said students from a few classes at the senior high level will be going out on the land again in the coming week.

She said 30 of the more than 50 students who returned their permission slips to go showed-up on the morning of April 26.

“Laimmiki (Malliki) arranged the trip and had everything set-up, and the group took off a little after 10 a.m. that Friday morning,” said MacPherson.

“They did a little hunting and fishing and, even though many students were jigging, Grade 10 student Shane Mapsalak caught the only fish of the day, so he did a victory dance and cheer that was actually quite exciting.

“Grade 10 student Angelina Siusangnark, 16, caught her first caribou on the trip and she was very excited and proud.

“They butchered the caribou to cut-up the meat and she took it all home to her family.”

MacPherson said the Naujaat students love the land trips, which they see as a definite highlight of the school year.

She said the trips are an important part of the school’s curriculum, in order to foster Inuit culture and language.

“Gregg Durrant and Nikki James, who are from Jamaica, went on the trip. It was Nikki’s first land trip and they had a lot of fun and quite a few new experiences.

“The ice was clear of snow, so it had that deep blue colour with, kind of, ripples in it – and it was the first time Nikki had ever stood on ice like that, when it feels like it’s water.

“The students were excited and trying to tell her that everything was OK, and she could take their hands if she wanted to walk on the ice, as they were all taking pictures in good fun.”

MacPherson said the land trips are very important to the students and it’s nice for everyone to have a chance to get out on the land to hunt and fish.

She said some of the students even went over to sit in the sand that had been blown into a little hill out on the land.

“They just went over, sat in the sand, chatted, and just enjoyed being outside.

“It’s also a really good opportunity for the students to interact with the teachers in a different setting, where the student becomes the teacher, especially for some of our teachers who are visiting here from the south or somewhere like Jamaica.”

MacPherson said school administrators try to get every student on at least two trips per year, one in the early fall and one in the spring.

She said they hope to have two or three more trips before the end of May, with the final day of school being June 6.

“The Grade 8 and Grade 9 students will, hopefully, be going together, and we’re hoping to send two more senior high classes.

“It will be a great opportunity for one class that’s working on a project with a member of the health centre, and the other trip will be for any student who didn’t get to go on the first one.

“The process of going out, learning and acquiring some of the land skills – setting-up and taking-down camp, packing a qamutiik, fishing, hunting and reading the land – that’s all incorporated into our curriculum in each grade.”