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Elders ‘grateful and excited’ about new KHS cultural campus in Cambridge Bay

By this time next year, Elders in Cambridge Bay will be teaching their traditions and preserving their culture out of a new, state-of-the-art facility.
From left to right, Elders Bessie Omilgoetok, Mary Kaotalok and Mabel Etegik pose for a photo at the current KHS headquarters in Cambridge Bay. All three Elders were closely involved in the design of the organization’s new Kuugalak cultural campus. Photo courtesy of Darren Keith/Kitikmeot Heritage Society ᓴᐅᒥᖕᒥ ᑕᓕᖅᐱᖕᒧᑦ, ᐃᓇᖅ ᐱᓯ ᐅᒥᒍᑕ, ᒥᐊᓕ ᑲᐅᑕᓗᒃ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᒪᐃᐳ ᐃᑎᒋᒃ ᐊᔨᓕᐅᖅᑕᐅᔪᑦ KHS ᑲᒪᔨᒪᕆᖏ ᐃᖃᓗᒃᑑᑎᐊᕐᓂ. ᑖᑯᐊ ᐱᖓᓱᑦ ᐃᓐᓇᑦ ᐱᓕᕆᖃᑕᐅᓵᖅᑐᑦ ᐊᕿᒃᓱᐃᓪᓗᑎᒃ ᑕᖅᓴᖅᑕᕆᔭᐅᓕᒐᔪᒥᒃ ᓄᑖᕐᒥᒃ ᑰᒐᓛᒃ ᐱᖁᓯᓕᕆᕝᕕᒃ. ᐊᔨᖁᑎ ᑎᐅᕆᓐ ᑮᑦ/ᑭᑎᕐᒥᐅᑦ ᐱᖁᓯᓕᕆᔨᑦ

By this time next year, Elders in Cambridge Bay will be teaching their traditions and preserving their culture out of a new, state-of-the-art facility.

The Kitikmeot Heritage Society (KHS), an Inuit-directed organization that focuses on the priorities of the region’s Inuinnait people, is building a new cultural campus in the community.

The campus, called Kuugalak, has been in development for roughly five years, and will be composed of a main building and outdoor features.

Construction on the new building began on Sept. 6, and is expected to conclude by October or November, at which point work will begin on the interior design. The facility is on track to open in January, with the final touches on outdoor components being made the following spring and summer.

“I’m grateful and excited,” said local Elder Bessie Omilgoetok. “This will be a home for us. We’re so excited to see Kuugalak completed this year.”

The KHS, which offers a wide range of cultural programming, has been operating out of the May Hakongak Community Library and Cultural Centre. The facility has served the organization well, but has its limitations. A library, for example, is not the best environment for butchering an animal. Kuugalak will change that, not only by providing a modern space for KHS and its affiliated Elders, but one that is purpose built. To use the same example, some areas in the new facility will have cooled floors for butchering animals, while others will have warm floors, where Elders can teach, sew, and participate in other activities.

Elders have had a huge role in every step of Kuugalak’s design to date, and will continue to do so until it is built.

“It’s important that we were involved with the design of the building,” said Mary Kaotalok, another Elder who has been involved in the project.

“From the beginning of the creation of Kuugalak, we’ve been thoroughly talking about how the building should be designed, what should be included inside the building, as well as the surrounding area,” Omilgoetok echoed.

Kuugalak is not just about making it easier for Cambridge Bay Elders and the KHS to do their work. The facility will also be on the cutting edge of climate change adaptation.

The effects of climate change are driving people and organizations all over the world to reduce their carbon emissions. Nunavut is no exception to that rule, but due to the massive carbon cost of flying and shipping supplies and people into the territory, it is nearly impossible to hit a “net-zero” emission target.

The KHS is looking to get as close to that target as possible with the creation and upkeep of Kuugalak. Elders were again asked to share their wisdom with that goal in mind, while the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) was also consulted. As a result, the facility will be built using a range of energy-efficient materials—and could even include solar tiling on walkways—with the explicit purpose of seeing how those materials perform in Arctic environments.

It will be “a really experimental space,” admits Kuugalak project build Brendan Griebel, who contended that adapting to the climate crisis in Nunavut requires “realistic solutions.”

Kuugalak’s environmental impact will be further diminished by the fact that it will be built and maintained by Cambridge Bay-based firms, including Qillaq Innovations and Aurora Energy Solutions. That means that labour will not need to be flown in to build the facility, or to keep it maintained and clean—which Omilgoetok said is crucial.

“It’s very important as part of the Inuit culture to maintain the building and keep it clean like the Innuinait did [with their shelters] for many years,” she said. “We have to protect and conserve the building itself as well as the land around the building.”

“It will be used by the Elders to teach Inuit traditional knowledge to many, and it’s important that this building will be maintained.”

All told, Kuugaluk is expected to cost roughly $4 million, with the bulk of funding coming from the federal and territorial governments. Much of that sum will be used for fine-tuning the purpose-built interior of the building, and the wider campus grounds.

Neither Kaotalok, Omilgoetok, nor their fellow elder Mabel Etegik could contain their happiness when asked how it feel to walk through the facility when it is completely finished next year.

“They’re visualizing what it will be like, and they’re excited from the bottom of their hearts,” said KHS Executive Director Emily Angulalik, who served as an Inuinnaqtun interpreter for the three uni-lingual Elders.

“You can see by their faces when they’re thinking about it: they’re very happy. You can tell by their smiles. You can tell by their laughter.”

ᐊᕐᕌᓂ, ᐃᓇᑦ ᐃᖃᓗᒃᑑᑎᐊᕐᓂ ᐃᓕᓐᓂᐊᖅᑎᑦᑎᖃᑦᑕᕐᓂᐊᓕᖅᑐ ᐱᖁᓯᕐᒥᓂ ᐊᒻᒪᓗᐱᓯᒻᒦᓇᕋᓱᖕᓂᒃᑯᑦ ᐱᖁᓯᓂ ᐊᑐᕐᓗᑎᒃ ᓄᑖᖅ, ᐃᓱᒪᓕᑦ-ᖃᓄᑰᓗᔭᖅ ᐱᓕᕆᕝᕕᒃ.

ᕿᑎᕐᒥᐅᑦ ᐱᖁᓯᓕᕆᔨᖏᑦ (KHS), ᐃᓄᐃᑦ ᑐᑭᒥᐊᑦᑕᖓ ᐊᕿᒃᓱᐃᔩᑦ ᐃᓱᒪᔭᖃᖅᑐᑦ ᐱᒋᔭᕆᐊᖃᖅᑕᒥᓂᓄᓈᑕ ᐃᓄᐃᓐᓇᐃᑦ, ᓴᓇᔪᑦ ᓄᑖᕐᒥᒃ ᐱᖁᓯᓕᕆᕝᕕᒃ ᓄᓇᓕᖕᒥ.

ᐱᖁᓯᓕᕆᕕᒃ, ᑕᐃᔭᐅᔪᖅ ᑰᒐᒪᒃ, ᐊᕿᑦᓱᖅᑕᐅᓕᖅᑐᖅ ᐊᕋᒍᓄᑦ ᑎᓴᒪᓪᓗᐊᓄᑦ, ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᓴᐃᓕᕕᐅᓂᐊᖅᖢᓂ ᐃᒡᓗᕐᔪᐊᖅ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐊᓃᑲᑕᓗᖕᓂᖅ.

ᐃᒡᓗᓕᐅᕐᓂ ᐱᒋᐊᓚᐅᖅᓯᒪᔪᖅ ᓯᑎᐱᕆ 6, ᓂᕆᐅᒋᔭᐅᓪᓗᓂ ᐅᑯᐃᕐᓂᖓ ᐅᑐᐱᕆ ᐅᕙᓘᓃᑦ ᓄᕕᐱᕆᒥ, ᑕᐃᑲᖓ ᐱᒋᐊᕐᓗᒍ ᐃᓗᐊ ᐱᓕᕆᔭᐅᓯᒋᐊᕐᓂᐊᖅᑐᖅ. ᐃᒡᓗᕐᔪᐊᖅᓴᖅ ᓇᒪᓈᖅᓯᒪᔪᖅ ᔭᓄᐊᕆᒥ ᐅᑯᐃᕐᕕᒃᓴᖓ, ᐱᓕᕆᐊᕿᔭᐅᔭᕆᐊᓕᑦ ᐊᒥᐊᑯᑦ ᓯᓚᑎᕐᐊᓂ ᐊᐃᓕᔭᐅᔭᕆᐊᓕᑦ ᐸᕐᓇᐃᔪᑦ ᐅᐱᕐᕋᕐᒧ ᐊᐅᔭᒧᓪᓗ.

‘’ᐱᑯᒍᓱᒃᑐᖓ ᐊᓪᒪᓗ ᐊᓕᐊᓇᐃᒋᓪᓗᒍ.,’’ ᐅᖃᖅᐳᖅ ᐃᓇᕆᔭᐅᔪᖅ ᐱᐊᓯ ᐅᒥᒍᑐ. ‘’ᑕᒪᓐᓇ ᐊᖏᕋᕆᓂᐊᖅᑕᕗ. ᖁᕕᐊᓱᒃᑐᒍ ᑕᑯᓗᓂᐊᕆᐊ ᑰᒐᓚᒃᐱᐊᓂᒃᑕᐅᔪᖅ ᐊᕋᒍᑦᑎᓐᓂ.’’

KHS, ᒪᓂᒪᐃᑎᑦᑎᓯᒪᓲᖅ ᐱᖁᓯᓕᕆᔾᔪᑎᓂᒃ ᐱᓕᕆᐊᒃᓴᓂ, ᐃᖏᕋᓯᒪᓕᖅᑐᖅ ᑕᐃᑲᓂ ᒪᐃ hᐊᒍᓛᒃ ᕿᒥᕈᐊᕋᖃᕐᕕᒃ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐱᖁᓯᓕᕆᕝᕕᐅᓪᓗᓂ. ᐃᓂᒋᔭᖓ ᑐᖓᓱᒃᑎᑦᑎᑎᐊᖅᓯᒪᔪᖅ ᐊᕿᑦᓱᐃᔨᐅᔪᓂᒃ, ᑭᓯᐊᓂ ᑭᒡᓕᖃᓚᐅᕐᒪᑦ. ᕿᒥᕈᐊᕐᕕᒃ , ᐆᒃᑐᑎᒋᓗᒍ, ᐃᓂᑦᑎᐊᕙᐅᖏᒻᒪᑦ ᓂᕐᔪᑎᓕᕆᕈᔪᒃᑐᓄᑦ. ᑰᒐᓚᒃ ᐊᓯᔾᓯᓂᐊᖅᑐᖅ ᑕᒪᑐᒥᖓ, ᐃᓂᖃᖅᑎᑎᑐᐃᓇᕐᓂᕐᒧᖏᑦᑐᖅ ᓈᒪᒃᑐᒥᒃ ᐃᓂᓪᓚᒃᓯᒪᔪᒥᒃ KHS ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐱᔪᒪᔪᑦ ᐃᓐᓇᑦ, ᑭᓯᐊᓂ ᐱᔾᔪᑎᖓ ᓴᓇᔭᐅᓗᓂ. ᐅᒃᑐᑎᖃᒃᑲᓐᓂᕐᓗᖓ, ᐃᒡᓗᕈᓯᖃᕐᓂᐊᖅᑐᖅ ᐃᒡᓗᕐᔪᐊ ᐃᓗᐊᓂ ᓇᑎᖓ ᓂᒡᓚᓱᒡᓗᓂ ᓂᖅᖥᕿᔪᑎᒧ., ᐃᓚᖏᑦ ᐅᓇᕐᓂᐊᕐᒥᔪᑦ ᓇᑎᖏᑦ, ᑕᐃᑲᓂ ᐃᓐᓇᑦ ᐃᓕᓐᓂᐊᖅᑎᑦᑎᔪᓐᓇᕐᓗᑎᒃ, ᒥᖅᓱᖅ, ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐱᓕᕆᖃᑕᐅᕈᓗᔭᕐᕕᒃ.

ᐃᓐᓇᑦ ᐱᓕᕆᐊᒃᓴᖃᖅᑐᑦ ᐱᓕᕆᐊᖑᕙᓪᓕᐊᔪᒥᒃ ᑰᒐᓚᒃ ᑕᖅᓴᖓᓂ ᐅᓪᓗᒥᒧ, ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᑲᔪᓯᓐᓇᕐᓂᐊᖅᑐᑦ ᐱᐊᓂᒐᓱᖕᓂᖓᓂ.

‘’ᐱᒻᒪᕆᐅᓂᖃᖅᑐᖅ ᐃᓚᐅᖢᑕ ᐊᕿᓱᐅᓂᖅ ᑕᖅᓴᒃᓴᖓᓂ ᐃᓪᓗᕐᔪᐊᖅ,’’ ᐅᖃᖅᐳᖅ ᒥᐅᓕ ᑲᐅᑕᓗᒃ, ᐃᓇᐅᖃᑕᐅᔪᖅ ᐱᓕᕆᖃᑕᐅᓯᒪᓕᖅᑐᖅ ᐱᓕᕆᐊᒃᓴᒥ.

‘’ᐱᒋᐊᓕᓵᖅᑎᓪᓗᒍ ᐊᕿᖅᓱᐃᓂᐅᔪᖅ ᑰᒐᓚᒃ, ᐅᖃᐅᓯᕆᓯᒪᔭᕗᑦ ᖃᓄᖅ ᐃᒡᓗᕐᔪᐊᖅ ᐱᐅᓴᖅᑕᐅᓂᐊᕐᒪᖓᑦ, ᑭᓱᓗ ᐃᓗᐊᓂᓗᐊᕐᒪᖓᑦ, ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᓯᓚᑎᖓ,’’ ᐅᒥᒍᒃᑐ ᐅᖃᖅᐳᖅ.

ᑰᒐᑲᓚᒃ ᐊᑐᐊᒐᓕᐅᑕᐅᑐᐃᓐᓇᖏᒻᒪᑦ ᐃᖃᓗᒃᑑᑎᐊᖅ ᐃᓇᖏᓐᓄᑦ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ KHS ᐱᓕᕆᓗᑎᒃ. ᐃᒡᓗᕐᔪᐊᖅ ᐊᑐᖅᑕᐅᓕᒐᖕᒥᖕᒪᑦ ᐱᔪᒧᑦ ᓯᓚᐅ ᐊᓯᔾᔨᖅᐸᓪᓕᐊᓂᖓᑕ ᒥᒃᓵᓄᑦ.

ᐊᑐᐃᓂᖓ ᐊᓯᔾᔨᖅᐸᓕᐊᓂᖓᑕ ᓯᓚᐅᑉ ᐱᓕᕆᑎᖅᑎᓕᕐᒪᑦ ᑭᓇᓕᒪᒥᑦ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᑎᒥᐅᔪᓂᑦ ᓄᓇᕐᔪᐊᓕᒪᒥ ᐊᑐᓗᐊᖅᑕᐃᓕᓂᖅ ᐅᖅᓱᐊᓗᖕᒥᑦ. ᓄᓇᕗᑦ ᐱᖃᑕᐅᖏᑦᑐᖅ ᑕᒃᓱᒧᖓ ᒪᓕᒐᕐᒧᑦ, ᑭᓯᐊᓂ ᐱᓪᓗᒍ ᐅᑦᓱᖅ ᐊᑭᑦᑐᖅᓯᒪᓂᖓᓂ ᖃᖓᑕᓲᒃᑰᖅᑎᑦᑎᒋᐊᒃᓴᖅ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᓇᒃᓯᐅᔨᑲᑕᒋᐊ ᐱᒋᔭᐅᔭᕆᐊᖃᖅᑐᓂ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐅᓄᖅᑐᑦ ᓄᓇᕗᒻᒥ, ᑎᑭᑕᐅᔪᓇᕋᔭᖏᑦᑐᖅ ᐊᑐᖅᑕᐅᓗᓂ ‘ᐱᑕᖃᕈᓐᓃᑎᐊᒪᕆᒋᐊᒃᓴᖅ’ ᐅᖅᓱᐊᓗᖕᒧᑦ.

KHS ᕿᓂᖅᑐᑦ ᖃᓂᒡᓕᖃᑎᖃᕈᒪᔪᑦ ᑖᒃᓱᒪ ᒥᒃᓵᓄᑦ ᐱᒻᒪᕆᒡᓗᑎᒃ ᑖᒃᓱᒥᖓ ᐋᖅᑭᓱᐃᑎᓪᓗᒋ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐃᖏᕋᑏᓐᓇᕐᓗᒍ ᑰᒐᓚᒃ. ᐃᓐᓇᐃᑦ ᐅᖃᐅᔭᐅᑲᓐᓂᖅᐳᑦ ᐃᓚᐅᖁᔭᐅᓪᓗᑎᒃ ᖃᐅᔨᒪᔭᑐᖃᕐᒥᓂ ᑖᓱᒪ ᐱᓕᕆᐊᒥ, ᐃᓚᐅᔪᖃᖅᖢᓂ ᐃᐅᐳᑕ ᑲᑐᔨᖃᑎᒌᒃ (SAIT) ᖃᐅᔨᑲᐃᔭᐅᒋᓪᓗᑎ. ᐱᐊᓂᒃᐸᑦ, ᐃᒡᓗᕐᔪᐊᖅ ᓴᓇᔭᐅᓂᐊᖅᑐᖅ ᑲᑦᑐᕆᐊᖅᓯᒪᔪᒥᒃ ᐊᐅᓚᔪᓄᑦ ᐱᖁᑎᓂᒃ-ᐱᖃᕆᐊᖃᖅᐸᓵᕋᒥ ᓯᕿᓂᕐᒧᑦ ᐊᐅᓚᔫ ᐱᓱᒡᕕᐊᓂ-ᖃᓄ ᐃᓱᒪᒋᔭᐅᓇᔭᖅᐸ ᑕᑯᓗᒋ ᐊᑐᖅᑕᐅᔪᑦ ᑕᐃᑯᐊ ᐊᑮᕐᓇᖅᑐᒥ.

ᐊᑐᖅᑕᐅᓂᐊᖅᑐᖅ ‘’’ᐅᒃᑐᕋᕐᕕᐅᓗᓂ’ ᐅᖃᖅᐳᖅ ᑯᒐᓚᑦᒥ ᐱᓕᕆᖃᑕᐅᔪᖅ ᐳᕆᓐᑎᓐ ᑭᐳᕆᐅ, ᐅᖃᖅᖢᓂ ᓱᖏᐅᓴᓂᖅ ᓯᓚᐅ ᐊᓯᔾᔨᖅᐸᓪᓕᐊᓂᖓ ᓄᓇᕗᒥ ᐱᔭᕆᐊᖃᕐᒪ ‘’ᓱᓕᔪᖅᓱᖅᑐᓂ ᐊᑐᕈᓐᓇᖅᑐᓂ,’’

ᑯᒐᓚᒃ ᑲᒥᒋᔭᐅᓂᐊᖅᑐᖅ ᐃᓗᓕᓕᒪᖏᑦ ᐃᖃᓗᑦᑑᑎᐊᖅ - ᓇᖕᒥᓂᖃᖅᑎᐅᔪᓂ, ᕆᔨᓚᖅ ᐃᓄᕕᓴᓐ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐊᕈᕋ ᐃᓄᔨ ᓴᓗᓴᓐ. ᐱᓪᓗᒍ ᓴᓇᔨᖃᓂᒃᑐᑦ ᓄᓇᓕᖕᒥᙶᖅᑐᒥ ᐃᒡᓗᕐᔪᐊᓕᐅᕆᐊᖅᑐᖅᑐᓂ, ᐅᕝᕙᓘᓃᑦ ᓴᓗᒪᑎᓇᕋᓱᒡᓗᒍ. - ᐅᖃᖅᐳᖅ ᐅᒥᒍᑐ.

‘’ᐱᒻᒪᕆᐅᖕᒪᑦ ᐃᓄᐃᑦ ᐱᖁᓯᖓ ᑲᒪᑦᑎᐊᕐᓂᖅ ᐃᒡᓗᕐᔪᐊᓂ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᓴᓗᒪᑎᓪᓗᒍ ᖃᖓᑲᓪᓚᑎᑐ ᐃᓄᐃᓐᓇᖅᑐᑦ (ᐃᓗᒥᓂ) ᐊᕋᒍᒐᓴᓄ,’’ ᐅᖃᖅᐳᖅ. ‘ᑲᒪᒋᔭᕆᐊᖃᖅᑕᕗ ᐃᓕᐊ ᓯᓚᑎᐊᓗ ᐃᒡᓗᕐᔪᐊᖅ.’’

ᐅᖃᖢᑎᒃ, ᑰᒐᓚᒃ ᐊᑭᖃᕋᓱᒋᔭᐅᔪᖅ $4 ᒥᓕᐊᓐ ᑖᓚ, ᑮᓇᐅᔭᓂᑦ ᐃᑲᔪᓯᐊᖅᑐᑦ ᕕᑐᕈ ᒐᕙᒪ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᓄᓇᕗᑦ ᒐᕙᒪᖏᓐᓂ. ᐊᒥᐊᑯᖓ ᐊᑐᖅᑕᐅᓂᐊᖅᖢᓂ ᐃᓗᐊᓂ ᐃᒡᓗᕐᔪᐊᖅ, ᓂᕈᖅᑐᕆᐊᖅᑕᐅᓗᓂᓗ ᓯᓚᑎᐊ.

ᓂᑐ ᑲᐅᑕᓗᒃ, ᐅᒥᑐᒃ, ᐃᓇᐃᑦ ᑕᒪᕐᒥᒃ ᖁᕕᐊᓱᒃᑐᑦ ᐊᐱᕆᔭᐅᒐᒥ ᖃᓄ ᐃᒃᐱᒋᔭᖃᕐᒪᖓ ᐊᒪᓗ ᐱᓱᒡᐱᒋᓛᕐᓂᓂ ᐊᕋᓂ. ‘ᑕᐅᑐᖑᐊᖅᑐ ᖃᓄᐃᓕᖓᓂᐊᕐᓂᖓᓂ, ᖁᐊᕕᐊᒋᔭᖃᖅᑐᑦ. ᐅᖃᖅᐳᖅ KHS ᐃᓱᒪᑕᒻᒪᕆᖓ ᐃᒥᓕ ᐊᖑᓚᓕᒃ,

ᐃᓄᐃᓐᓇᖅᑐᖅ ᑐᓴᓯᐅᓚᐅᖅᑐᖅ.

ᖁᕕᐊᓱᒃᑐᑦ ᐃᓪᓚᖅᑕᖏᓐᓂ ᖃᐅᔨᒪᓇᖅᑐᑦ, ᖁᕕᐊᓱᒃᑐᑦ.

About the Author: Tom Taylor

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