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Students peer into Baker Lake's past

A dedicated group of students who restarted the student council at Jonah Amitnaaq Secondary School (JASS) jumped at the chance to oversee the opening of a 10-year-old time capsule in Baker Lake on April 10.

Jeannie Kalluk, Remi Ukpatiku and Patterk Kablutsiaq, from left, check the contents of a 10-year-old time capsule that was opened at Jonah Amitnaaq Secondary Schoo lin Baker Lake on April 10, 2019. Photo courtesy Department of Education
Jeannie Kalluk, Remi Ukpatiku and Patterk Kablutsiaq, from left, check the contents of a 10-year-old time capsule that was opened at Jonah Amitnaaq Secondary Schoo lin Baker Lake on April 10, 2019.
Photo courtesy Department of Education

The council – president Rachel Tagoona-Tapatai, vice-president Janette Seeteenak, treasurer Brianna Piryuaq, secretary Haley Hachey, communications Kimberly Ukpatiku, snacks Gavin Dunn and regular members Ashley Pudnak, Rhoda Parker, Richard Iyago, Terri-anna Uqayuittuq and Rick Aningaaq – took on a number of projects during the school year, including taking part in the annual Christmas Talent Show and school spirit days, as well as hosting a semi-formal Valentine’s Day dance.

Ukpatiku stated in a press release that council members were planning a string of activities to celebrate Nunavut's 20th anniversary when they realized a time capsule sitting in the principal's office for the past 10 years was meant to be opened in 2019.

When the council members found out the time capsule that had been sitting in the office for the past 10 years was scheduled to be opened, they jumped at the opportunity to plan and host the event,” stated Ukpatiku.

In 2009, the JASS graduating class entrusted the time capsule to the Grade 2 class to be opened in their last year of school in April of 2019!”

Among the many people to take part in the special event was superintendent of schools for Kivalliq School Operations Bill Cooper, who was principal of JASS in 2009.

Cooper said opening the capsule brought back a lot of very fond memories of being part of the school in 2009.

He said everyone took turns looking at the capsule's contents and bringing out different elements to the oohs and ahs of the crowd watching the events unfold.

I felt really honoured to be a part of it, quite frankly,” said Cooper.

I really had no idea what was in there, and the first thing we pulled out was a pair of rubber boots that belonged to a teacher who is still at the school.

Opening the time capsule was almost like Christmas, because, although you may have a hunch, you really don't know what's in there.

Student council laid everything out, then everyone crowded around to look at it, got their phones out to take pictures of themselves with their work, and told stories about back then.”

Cooper said one moment was quite touching during the capsule opening.

He said Sally Seeteenak retired this past year after many, many years of teaching and, 10 years ago, she taught Grade 2.

A few of those Grade 2 students are now in Grade 12 and were on stage as part of student council, which is pretty spectacular – and, wouldn't you know, one of the last things we pulled from the bottom was an envelop her class had done of little reflections and pictures.

We called Sally to the stage, she pulled some papers out and read a few of them for the group.

Two of her former Grade 2 students were there and she was able to give them, 10 years later, their pieces, which they read over the microphone to the assembled crowd.

That is so special and I heard a number of people were really touched by it.”

Cooper said he perceived giddiness and amazement on some of the student faces as the evening unfolded, but he would be speculating if he said there was also a sense of accomplishment or purpose evident.

He said he also perceived a sense of wonder as he watched the kids looking at their own work.

I'd like to think it put some things in perspective – 10 years have passed, here we are and, in a sense, the journey is not over because I understand the school intends to take-in another round of memorabilia to encase for another 10 years.

And, if I'm not mistaken, they intend to kind of use it as another graduation thing; inviting the current Grade 2 students to be part of it to keep that element in and then open it up in the year 2029.

I had a part in a collective effort to set this up in 2009 – and kudos to all the other administrators who followed and the teachers who didn't throw the box out, open it to peek in, or break the fidelity of the enterprise – and the idea behind a time capsule is to stay fidelitous, or true to the purpose, because we will come together to reminiscence in 10 years and that's the engagement piece around something really important.

Among the personal stories that come out of that; some are good, some are troubling, some are wonderful and some are sad, but isn't that our journey when you come right down to it?”