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Two bagged moose provide cultural experience for students

Two moose bagged in one week by East Three School students offered an opportunity not just to engage in traditional culture, but to show newcomers to the North what life up here is like.

Mason MacNeil and Kolsen Church survey a big chunk of moose meat.
Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo

“It was thrilling,” said Grade 7 student Pearl Gillis. “It took them four shots to finally get it. They had to go more up to it, then two more shots until it was actually dead.”

Staff laid out the spoils in East Three Secondary School’s foyer last week for students to take turns cutting bits of meat off to take home. Gillis had her eye on the ribs.

“I just like going out to the nature,” she said about the on-the-land experience, and classmate Paige Steen-Cockney agreed.

Jimmy Kalinek, owner and operator of Only One Outfitting, has been running the school harvest program for several years. Last year, the moose population was down, leading to some unsuccessful hunts.

“This year, there seems to be a lot more moose,” he said. “We were lucky to get one for each (student group).”

He said it’s important for people new to Inuvik to experience the local culture.

That thought was echoed by Wyatt Morgan, the boat operator and on-the-land program coordinator assistant.

“It’s important to keep culture close to students,” he said. “A lot of them were raised in this environment, but then a lot of them aren’t. It’s nice to see students new to this country see what people do here when they harvest a moose.”

Staff are working on plans to do a caribou hunt, something the school hasn’t done in years, in spring, added Morgan.

East Three Secondary School Principal Gene Jenks said culture is a priority at the school.

“We believe so much in the cultures of our community,” he said. “We are on Gwich’in and Inuvialuit land, and hunting and on-the-land activities are a huge part of the culture. We want to bring as much culture-based education into the school as we can, in terms of language, in terms of art, and of course in terms of harvesting the animals here. What better way than to have our students take part in a hunt, bring back a moose and then have every student come and take part in cutting and taking it home? It’s culture right in our foyer.”

It’s not just about the moose either, he said. It’s about being on the land, boating on the river, walking on the ground and finally enjoying the spoils.

And perhaps less cultural but more of a student bonding experience, Gillis and Steen-Cockney also took great joy in putting makeup on a male classmate’s face while he was sleeping at night, they said.