More than a dozen snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles got free service from eight handy Co-op workers from around Nunavut as part of a small engine repair training program in Rankin Inlet last week.

“I’m really proud of these guys,” said Sherry Smadella, training co-ordinator with Arctic Co-operatives Limited.

The program is designed for existing Co-op mechanical staff to get added training to benefit them in their work and careers.

“This is the first time that we’ve used Inuk instructors, which for us is a great accomplishment,” said Smadella.

Those instructors were Jamie Nakashuk and Jackie Nowdluk, both from the Pangnirtung Co-op.

“It’s the first time they’ve ever delivered training, so I commend them for being willing to teach their colleagues from the other Co-ops,” said Smadella. “We’re so proud that we were able to recruit Inuit instructors, and I hope that for some of the other training I put on throughout the year, that there will be some other very skilled Co-op employees who can help with the instruction.”

Two of the Co-op staff involved in the training were from the Kivalliq: Peter Jr. Atatsiak from Baker Lake and Robbie Aglukka from Naujaat.

Atatsiak said he enjoyed his time in Rankin Inlet learning about different machines

“We fixed about 15 to 20 machines in a week,” he said after returning home to Baker.

The six-day course saw Rankin residents bring their machines to the shop, sometimes dug out of the snow during the blizzard that hit the same week, for the mechanics to work on under the instructors’ supervision.

Each participant received a certificate at the end of the course.

Smadella said the program is based on one of the Co-op’s seven principles: education and training. She said it’s important for community Co-ops to have staff with the expertise required to repair the kinds of snowmobiles, ATVs and other small-engine vehicles that are used in the North.

“The sheer joy you see on their face when they receive a certificate,” said Smadella. “It’s important to acknowledge their accomplishments.”

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