Students and staff at Tuugaalik High School place a high value on the school’s annual land-and-boat trips, which are part of the approach to the blending of culture and academic learning that Tuugaalik is well-known for.

Tuugaalik has held outings for at least four classes so far this semester, with cultural teacher Laimmiki Malliki being the lead planner behind the trips.
School principal Aubrey Bolt said there are a couple of factors that lead staff to view the trips as an important aspect of overall learning for the students.
He said as part of the Education Act, they’re bound to stress the eight principles of Inuit Quajimajatuqangit.
“One of those, of course, is custodian of the land, so we always emphasize the need to take care of the land as part of our trips,” said Bolt.
“They take care of all the garbage while out there. And the students harvest animals in an ethical manner, ensuring all the meat and skins are used.
“The trips also focus on respect and helping one-another as they learn how to pack for camping and boating, how to set-up camp, and how to take it all down again to come home.
“They learn important land-and-survival skills they can use in their adult life, as well as how to to co-operate and work together.
“We strongly encourage that aspect in the school because, by learning from and helping each another, those who may have learning issues can be helped by some of the more-gifted students. In turn, that stresses the need to include everybody, leaving nobody left out.”
Bolt said Tuugaalik melds education and culture together by consistently emphasizing the aspects and traditions of Inuit culture that help make school more meaningful to the students and encourages a rise in overall attendance.
He said students are more apt to come to school if they see it’s reflecting and emphasizing their culture.
“Just about 100 per cent of our students attend land trips because they see them as important and relevant, as well as highlighting the important aspects of Inuit culture that are different from southern culture.

Tuugaalik High School Grade 9 student Pakka Arnatsiaq enjoys a juicy caribou eyeball during his class’s land trip in Naujaat on Sept. 6, 2018.
photo courtesy of Julia MacPherson

“Also, during the trips, traditional orienteering and modern orienteering with compass and GPS are taught, as well as the proper mooring and handling of the boat.
“So there is certainly an additional emphasis placed on skill development during these trips.”
Bolt said there is also an element of self-confidence built into the trips, giving Inuit students a chance to shine.
He said many students who are used to going out on the land with their families to camp, hunt and fish, are often able to help the teachers with their instruction.
“The students who are very familiar with the activities often take a leadership role in setting-up camp, setting nets for fishing, etc.
“That builds confidence and increases self-esteem because they know skills that other students don’t, and sometimes even skills the teacher, particularly those from the south, doesn’t know much about.
“That aspect can be quite important because some students periodically see themselves as a leader within the group while out on the land, while, in the academic world, they might not be.”
Bolt said it’s also important for the students, at times, to see their teachers in a different environment than the classroom.
He said southern teachers, especially those from metropolitan areas, have little to experience surviving on the land when they arrive in Naujaat
“Often, the teacher is as much a student out on the land as a student is in the classroom, so students see them in a different light while out fishing, enjoying the land, and so on.
“In that case, a different rapport builds within the teacher-student relationship that you don’t often see in the classroom.
“Senior high students also earn some credits on land forms during the land trips (not boating trips), as well as a credit on survival skills and orienteering using compass and GPS.
“They often build a qamutiik in the shop before they go out on the land, and there’s credits to be earned in the making and using of traditional Inuit tools such as an ulu or a harpoon for seal hunting.”
The trips have helped combine culture and academia at Tuugaalik High School, with every class going out on either a boating trip or a land trip in the late summer or early fall.
Bolt said students in grades seven and eight go on the land fishing, while students in grades nine to 12 go on a boating trip.
He said boating trips can involve anything from fishing to whale hunting.
“A couple of our classes landed belugas this past year, and, once they accomplished that, they became involved in preparing the maktaaq and distributing it within the community.
“When the ice is on the ponds in early-to-late November all the classes go fishing, and, come spring, everybody is out on the land both hunting and fishing.
“It’s a vitally-important-and-continuous cycle defining much of everyday life in Naujaat, and we’re proud it plays such a vital cultural role in our school.”

Darrell Greer

Darrell Greer is Editor of Kivalliq News

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