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Battling Mother Nature in Chester

Mother Nature gave a group of science lovers all they could handle during the annual Kivalliq Science and Culture Camp in Chesterfield Inlet earlier this month.

Student Lynda Curley of Rankin Inlet learns from qajaq instructor and Victor Sammurtok School teacher Glen Brocklebank during the annual Kivalliq Science and Culture Camp in Chesterfield Inlet earlier this month. photo courtesy of Matt Thompson

The camp, sponsored by the Kivalliq Science Educators' Community (KSEC) and held with the support of Victor Sammurtok School (VSS), ran from Sept. 8-10. The camp's theme was traditional travel by qajaqing.

Participating at the camp were three students from Coral Harbour, four from Naujaat, four from Baker Lake, eight from Chester, four from Rankin Inlet and four from Arviat. Whale Cove did not participate in this year's event.

KSEC vice-president and VSS teacher Glen Brocklebank said although the camp didn't go as planned, it still went well overall.

He said the 'Wind Camp', as it was dubbed, was forced indoors by gusts of more than 90 km/h shortly after being set up on the land.

“The Naujaat students arrived a day late due to weather in their community, but everyone else from across the region arrived on schedule,” said Brocklebank.

“Students from Baker Lake and Chesterfield Inlet erected the four sleeping tents out on the land at Third Lake before the other students arrived.

“The students from Arviat, Rankin Inlet and Coral Harbour arrived at the camp later that same afternoon and we started right-in with our camp activities after a bit of lunch, and went out on a hike with elder Louie Autut to the top of Third Lake where we learned about some Inuksuit there.

The students began their qajaq training on day two of the camp, which is when the winds came and forced the students out of the boats and into the water to do their swimming tests.

The tests proved to be a big hit with many of the students, as the majority of them had not been swimming during their summer vacations.

The groups also took turns learning the basics of first aid and Global Positioning System (GPS).

Brocklebank said at that point, a nasty-looking forecast for the following day forced a change of plans.

“While the students cooked supper out on the land, we took the tents down and moved all the students' personal effects into the school,” he said.

“Later on we had the best chile-and-bannock cook-off we've ever had at the camp, with three of our elders taking the role of judges for the competition.

“The elders told us stories about when they were young in Chester and how things have changed and that produced about 80 minutes of teenage silence and laughter.”

Brocklebank said the winds subsided the following day, which allowed the qajaqs to hit the water once again.

He said while the Chester students are used to their own qajaq program, the boating skills were a huge hit with students from the other Kivalliq communities.

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