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Classroom heads outdoors

Two groups of students from Tuugaalik High School sailed out on a boat trip with their teachers in Naujaat this past month.

A group of students from Tuugaalik High School check the markings left from whaler ships in the 1800s during a cultural trip on the land near Naujaat this past month. photo courtesy of Julia MacPherson

The trips are an important part of student culture and school curriculum and, on average, are made twice a year, with one in the fall and another in the spring.

The trips are always eagerly anticipated by the students and often include successful caribou, seal or even beluga hunts.

The cultural trips are blended into the school curriculum and play a vital role in the education of Naujaat students.

The students do a unit on seals in their science program and the boat trip provides the opportunity for them to take part in a successful hunt and go through the actual anatomy of a seal while it's being cut up.

Another class on tourism deals with the possibility of s student graduating and then getting involved with an entrepreneurship-type program to start their own outfitting companies in Naujaat.

To be successful, the outfitter has to be able to identify things in Naujaat and the surrounding area that would draw southerners to the community.

Going out on a boat is a normal activity for the majority of Kivalliqmiut, but it remains something special for many in the south. The fact it takes place on the waters of the Arctic Circle holds the promise of a trip of a lifetime if organized and operated correctly.

Tuugaalik vice-principal Julia MacPherson said the boat trip can help students recognize the most attractive areas to take tourists, as well as plan activities for them to do.

She said in social studies and aulajaaqtut, students learn about the term 'land claim beneficiary' and some of the things they're entitled to as a beneficiary.

“We often discuss some of the expeditions that took place in the North and some of the whalers who visited here,” said MacPherson.

“All those things we can grasp so much better by just jumping into a boat and going to see them.”

Some of her art students, for instance, were assigned drawing projects on the trip.

“They identified their subjects, took pictures, and now we're working on an art project with those pictures from the land,” she said. “So every class connects with it through our curriculum, and we think it's really important that the students, and the teachers, get out boating in the fall and again by Ski-Doo and qamutiik in the spring.”

MacPherson said both high school trips were successful, with one student getting his first caribou.

She said the students also caught some seal, got to see polar bears and took part in a whale hunt when the belugas were nearby.

“Overall, the two days were fantastic,” she said.

“It's also a very good way for teachers new to our school to bond with the students and it's just a great way to start the year.”