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Whale of a trip

A Grade 9 student at Tuugaalik High School rocked the Naujaat community this past month. William Shimout, 14, was with his classmates on the annual outing to start the new year at Tuugaalik High School when he successfully landed a beluga whale.

photo courtesy of Lloyd Francis
People are quick to join in and help with the beluga whale landed by Grade 9 student William Shimout while on a Tuugaalik High School outing in Naujaat this past month.

His Grade 9 teacher, Lloyd Francis, said every year at the start of the first semester, the students from Grade 8 to Grade 12 go out on a boating trip with their class.

He said the students usually get to do a little bit of fishing, or seal hunting, while out on the trip and many of them learn quite a bit from the guides hired by the school.

“Our cultural teacher, Laimikki Malliki, is our lead guide and he knows just about everything about the land,” said Francis.

“I trust him completely when I go out with my students, and there's been a few times we were able to catch a seal when we went out, but, this time, things went a lot differently when, all of a sudden, there were beluga whales all around.

Francis said Shimout was in Laimikki's boat when he harpooned one of the whales. Laimikki, who has been teaching and guiding in the area for quite a while, couldn't remember there ever being a school trip where a whale was caught, Francis said.

Shimout's harpooning of the beluga generated a buzz throughout the community. According to Francis, the story of Shimout catching his first whale made its way around the town before the boats were even unloaded.

“Our cultural teacher and the other guides cut the whale up over on the other side of the bay, and then Laimikki and I brought the maktaaq to William's parents,” he said.

“This was actually the biggest class I've ever taken out on the land trip, with five boats and 24 students, and they were all very, very excited.

“Some of the students had never seen a whale actually being caught like that, as it happened, so it was all pretty neat.

“It was a trip I won't be forgetting anytime soon.”