HTO launches Young Hunter’s program in Rankin

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Upwards of 30 youths ages 13 to 19 are participating in a Young Hunter’s program the Kangiqlinq Hunters and Trappers Organization (HTO) began in Rankin Inlet earlier this month.

Andrew Akerolik said a number of the HTO members were brainstorming on a project they could come up with involving youth when they decided a Young Hunter’s program would be the best way to pass on traditional skills and knowledge.

All ready to participate in the second trip of the new Young Hunter’s program are, back from left, Eric Kataluk, Bessie Nahalolik, Rosalie Angsahluk, Sue Ugjuk and Roger Pilakapsi and Jason Pilakapsi, front, in Rankin Inlet on Sept. 5. Photo courtesy of Andrew Akerolik

He said the board members gave their approval to the idea, which fits inside the HTO’s annual budget.

“We never talked with anyone outside our own HTO (Arviat has a similarly named Young Hunter’s program overseen by the Arviat Wellness Committee) about this program,” said Akerolik.

“We wanted to do this all on our own here in Rankin.”

Akerolik said a program like this has been long overdue in Rankin Inlet.

He said the HTO took out its first group of youth in the program about a month ago and the second group this past week.

“We have about 30 kids interested in the program, which I think is a good start.

“They can still come here to the HTO office to sign up, but we’ve made it easier for them by setting things up so they can also register for the program at Maani Ulujuk Ilinniarvik (MUI).

“Once we know how many kids we have registered for a trip, we decide how many boats we require to take all the kids out who signed up, set a date for the trip, and keep MUI updated on which kids are participating so they’re not marked absent from school.”

A boat outing for Rankin’s Young Hunters program will see the youth taken to Marble Island, Angijut or Pikiuliakjuk.

Akerolik said the focus of the boat trips will be to teach the kids traditional and survival skills, such as the proper way to clean and butcher a harvested whale properly.

He said the trip is a first-time experience for a majority of the kids.

“At the end of the first trip, all the kids requested to go again on the next trip as soon as they got off the boat,” said Akerolik.

“News of the program is slowly spreading throughout our community and in the school. We’ll switch the focus to caribou hunting in the spring, fall and early winter.

“We’re off to a good start. We hope our first year of the program continues to do really well so we’ll be able to continue it for a long time to come.”