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Learning the financial ropes

A group of students have a better idea of the cost of doing business in the Kivalliq after participating in a business module at Tuugaalik High School in Naujaat this past month.

Heather Inaksajak presents a thank you card and pen to Co-op manager Troy Leblanc for his presentation on the cost of doing business to students at Tuugaalik High School in Naujaat last week. photo courtesy of Lloyd Francis

The lesson was adopted to the Grade 9 class' curriculum to fit in with math and health. Teacher Lloyd Francis said students learned about budgeting, sales and how taxes actually work on products.

The students also headed out and compared prices between the Northern Store and Naujaat Co-op in their own community. With a 90-item checklist, the students found 37 items were less expensive at the Northern store, 32 were less expensive at the Co-op, and 21 items cost exactly the same at both stores.

Francis said the students were interested to learn why prices are so high in their community.

“We had 18 students take part in the exercise on comparing prices, and they certainly seemed to find it interesting,” he said.

“They were divided into nine groups of two, with each pair having 10 various items and they found, overall, the stores compared very closely.”

Naujaat Co-op manager Troy Leblanc came to the school and talked to the students about why the prices are set the way they are, how much money they spend on monthly wages for the 43 people who work at the Co-op, and the differences in the logistics costs between shipping and airplanes.

Leblanc demonstrated some of the math on the board for the students, and many of them found the difference between barge shipping and air cargo a real eye-opener, as well as the costs of power and fuel to the store.

Kendra Kringyark enjoyed the lesson and said a few things she learned took her a bit by surprise.

“I was most surprised to learn the difference in cost between shipping something on the boat compared to the plane,” said Kringyark.

“I had no idea the air cargo was that much more expensive.”

Melanie Kaunak said she was surprised to learn about all the extra costs the Co-op, Northern, and all the other stores, have to pay.

“Then you learn all these costs – oil, garbage pickup, power, wages – it all goes into the cost of food,” said Kaunak.

Bridgette Malliki said she understands the extra costs involved, but the prices are still too high.

“We still pay way too much for food in Naujaat,” said Malliki.

“Healthy food, especially, needs to be more affordable.”

Darryl Angotinguar sees the present situation as the glass half full, while his classmate, Tigumiaq Haqpi, saw it as half empty.

“Prices will go down eventually,” said Angotinguar.

“Having less ice will mean we'll be able to get more boats and sea-lifts here, and maybe someday, there will be roads that connect us to southern Canada.”

Haqpi said he sees things going in exactly the opposite direction.

“Things are going to get more expensive because, even down south, prices are going up, so things are just going to get more expensive up here,” said Haqpi.