Joamie students put pijitsirniq, piliriqatigiinniq in action after Nanook tupiq fire

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Amid the busy year-end rush of graduations, when students of all ages across the territory celebrate educational milestones, students from Joamie School in Iqaluit took some time out to put pijitsirniq and piliriqatigiinniq in action.

The students organized a lemonade stand for their peers at Nanook School in Apex.

Nanook School principal Mat Knickelbein, left, explains to his students that Joamie School students Noah Smith, Liitia Lonsdale and Kimberly Gissing, along with student support assistant Jason Rochon, are here to deliver a cheque to help rebuild their tupiq, lost to arson.
Michele LeTourneau/NNSL photo

The Apex school’s tupiq, a central component of its outdoor Nuna School program, burned to the ground May 24, the result of arson.

“Obviously, I sent some supportive texts to Mat (Knickelbein, Nanook’s principal). And I said to myself, ‘We’ll have to do something.’ I went to my trusty student support assistant Jason Rochon, who is always game to do something like this,” said Joamie principal Sonja Lonsdale.

“Lemonade stands, believe it or not, are a really big hit. But that lemonade stand spiralled into bags of popcorn, Jell-O with icing, Rice Krispies squares. It was literally like a pop-up sale.”

Lonsdale says Iqaluit is really giving.

“Especially with something like that. It was a pretty sad story. Arson is always one of those frustrating things. It was for the kids, because that was part of their learning program,” said Lonsdale.

For the students, it’s all about pijitsirniq, serving and providing for the community, as well as piliriqatigiinniq, coming together for a common cause, said Lonsdale. And Knickelbein agrees.

“Definitely piliriqatigiinniq, working together for a common goal,” he said.

“And inuuqatigiitsiarniq, caring for people.”

Joamie students made the lemonade, set up the tables outside their school, and created all the signs. Notices went up on the school’s Facebook page and Iqaluit Public Service Announcements.

“The kids were standing on the side of the road with signs,” said Lonsdale.

“It was really sweet. We had people honking. Kids from other schools came down that afternoon.”

The students raised $2,038.10 in two hours.

Joamie School students Liitia Lonsdale, Noah Smith and Kimberley Gissing, centre, are surrounded by appreciative Nanook School students, as they hold a $2,038.10 symbolic cheque representing a donation to help replace contents of the tupiq, lost to arson in late May.
Michele LeTourneau/NNSL photo

On June 24, one month after the fire, Rochon, and students Liitia Lonsdale, Kimberly Gissing and Noah Smith delivered a cheque to Nanook School students.

“We were tickled and thrilled. That was amazing. Again, the theme we’ve had from this, bouncing back and being resilient … This just reinforces that,” said Knickelbein.

He says the funds raised by Joamie School will go towards replacing some of the learning materials lost in the tupiq fire.

“We have great kids. They get it,” said Lonsdale.

“We might not have a tent like that we use for education, but they certainly understand what that meant for the school and how disappointing that was for them, arriving to school that day.”

As for the tupiq, Nanook staff will meet in September, with the Department of Government and Communities lending a helping hand, to rebuild. The community at large and local businesses have donated materials and funds, as well.