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Summer programs help keep youth positive amid Covid restrictions

A trio of programs organized and overseen by the (Ilitaqsiniq) Nunavut Literacy Council were a big success in Rankin Inlet this summer.

Ilitaqsiniq’s Kelly Clark-Lindell said the programs were made possible by the Government of Nunavut’s Department of Family Services, which is a regular funder of many of the Ilitaqsiniq programs offered in Rankin.

Jada Kaludjak proudly displays her first beluga whale, which she harpooned while participating in a week-long youth fishing program run by the (Ilitaqsiniq) Nunavut Literacy Council in Rankin Inlet this summer.
Photo courtesy Kelly Clark-Lindell

She said one of the youth programs to run this summer was a fishing program that saw youth head to Diane River to fish, and also to learn from elders how to filet the fish and then properly hang them to make pipsi.

“They also learned how to smoke char and do char chowder during the week-long program,” said Clark-Lindell.

“We were able to run the program twice, with a total of six to eight youths participating each time.

“Our second one-week program for youth focused on berry picking, and it saw the youths go out on the land twice during the week to pick berries with their instructors and a guide.

“They also learned how to make jam and no-bake cheesecake with berries.”

Clark-Lindell said the last week of the Ilitaqsiniq programs was focused around boating and maktaaq.

She said the six youth taking part in that program spent a day making pickled maktaaq and learning to cook with maktaaq, before going out boating on Sept. 8 with local hunters Leo Kaludjak, Chris Connelly and their helpers.

“Three of the six participants in the program harvested whales. Jada Kaludjak and Ramona Niviatsiak both harvested their first whale and Adam Taipana caught just his second.

All of the participants got to bring home maktaaq to give to their families and, on Sept. 10, we handed out maktaaq to the community and saw more than 50 people come to get some.”

Clark-Lindell said, hopefully, the weather will stay nice enough for the group of six to have another day of boating ahead of them.

She said it would be great if the other three youth participants were able to harvest their first beluga whale during the second day out.

The Department of Social Services wanted these youth programs to help combat the effects of Covid-19.

The idea was to engage youths who were dealing with the effects of Covid-19 and having so much shut down on them so suddenly.

“The programs were a way to help them combat the Covid-19 blues by connecting them with the land and the outdoors.

We (Ilitaqsiniq) also opened our new pop-up library this past week to help ease the effect of the Rankin Inlet District Education Authority’s recent decision to close the community library at Maani Ulujuk Ilinniarvik.”