With the floe edge season around the corner, Arctic Bay Adventures is preparing its tour guides one course at a time. Although the guides have plenty of experience under their belts, Arctic Bay Adventures' general manager Mark Lewandoski wants to empower his staff by providing them with more tools to succeed.
The first of three professional level courses took place in Arctic Bay on Feb. 17. Over four consecutive days, nine guides participated in an Interpretive Guides Association (IGA) training course.
Trainer Sue Hamel, from Thunder Bay, Ont., shared techniques of interpretive guiding while focusing on intercultural effectiveness.
In other words, how can guides share their stories effectively with tourists, from different cultural backgrounds, while respecting their culture and land.
The goal is to tell a story so "the guest is going away, not just with information, but being perhaps personally touched and moved from the exchange and feeling like they've connected meaningfully with the place and the culture and the people," explained Hamel.
Through presentations and role playing, Hamel trained the guides to understand the importance of drawing in a tourist's curiosity with intriguing statements or questions and keeping the experience both enjoyable and relevant for visitors.
Another key training component was understanding the motivation behind why tourists are attracted to Arctic Bay.
This training allowed all the guides to earn an Apprentice Interpreter certification and membership with IGA.
This means the guides are now technically qualified to guide internationally, explained Hamel.
Hamel hopes with this training the Inuit guides will be able "to confidently share their stories in meaningful and memorable ways that are respectful to them and the landscape" with guests.
Guide Jayko Tatatoupik expressed that training has provided him with a better understanding of tourists in general and the importance of having conversations with guests.
Another guide, Wayne Taqtu, explained the course has equipped him with the necessary tools to provide a more enjoyable experience for visitors.
According to the Lewandoski, "This course was a great confidence builder for my team.
"They realized they know a lot about certain things and they were encouraged on how to share this knowledge with paying guests!"
The follow-up training programs will also take place at Arctic Bay Adventures.
The next training session about Wilderness First Aid begins in March, followed by a customer service seminar in April.
All three courses are funded by Kakivak Association along with Arctic Bay Adventures.
The locally run adventure company is planning to offer floe edge tours starting in mid-May to June.