Four young hunters hit a milestone with their first whales last week in Arviat.
Charlie Sinnisiak Jr, Andre Alikut, Dexter Kalluak and Ivan St. John all got their first whales on Thursday, July 28.
They were taking part in the Ujjiqsuiniq Young Hunters Program through the Aqqiumavvik Society, which started in 2012. It’s a community-based project designed to develop sustainable harvesting practices in youth between the ages of eight and 18.
Each intake is about 10 weeks long and involves eight to 10 participants, with intakes for three different age groups. The four hunters are part of the high school group.
In the program, participants learn from Elders, Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, cultural beliefs and values around sustainable hunting practices, environmental stewardship and Inuit malijarjuit: living in harmony and balance, planning and preparing for the future, working for the common good and being respectful of all things.
The young hunters also spend time in the shop, where they learn how to make tools for seasonal activities, such as ulus, knives, qamutik building, niksik making, harpoon and harpoon head making, fishing net repair and building, pana making and much more.
Using those tools and their education from Elders, participants head out on the land to put it all into practice during hunting and camping sessions.
This summer, the group has also been monitoring and learning how to use technology, such as sea bed mapping, water quality monitoring, animal monitoring and necropsy — learning how to take samples of various animals to be tested by Department of Fisheries and Oceans or other research partners, SmartICE monitoring, weather monitoring and much more – plus basic gun, boat, land safety, Arctic survival skills and more.
The Aqqiumavvik Society is a community wellness organization in Arviat that seeks to promote self-reliance through locally driven programming that uses the collective resources of individuals, family and community.