During the past three summers, Gilbert Edwin Aggark could be found northeast of Rankin Inlet, assisting in the search for gold.
He got started after spotting a job advertisement at the Chesterfield Inlet Hamlet Office, where he had been working as a summer student. Dunnedin Ventures – the former owner of the property before creating Solstice Gold in a spin-out – was seeking a wildlife monitor.
Aggark, now 22, applied and was accepted for the position. While on site, he said he's observed caribou, geese, cranes, and one time a polar bear came ambling onto the property “but he never bothered us,” he recalled.
After a few weeks at the site, he said he became interested in learning about rocks. With some guidance from the trained professionals working alongside him, Aggark “quickly got the hang of it.” He would head out hunting for potentially valuable rocks, sample book in hand.
Martin Tunney, president of Solstice Gold, said Aggark has become a real asset.
“He has a great personality which he brings with him to site,” he said. “Edwin has a strong thirst for knowledge and is willing to take the time required to learn things properly. He has shown interest in all aspects of exploration and we have done our best to provide him the opportunities to learn as much as he can through hands-on participation and mentoring.”
Tunney also credited Aggark for possessing a “keen eye for rocks” and a strong work ethic.
Not only has Aggark been a novice learning geological lessons at the KGP property, he has also been the teacher.
“Edwin brings with him Inuit qaujimajatuqangit (IQ – or traditional knowledge). He has played a key role in educating the other team members in the field and the company as a whole on IQ, which ultimately influences the ways in which we operate in and out of the field,” Tunney added. “Edwin has been a valuable addition to the Solstice team and we look forward to working with him for the years to come.”
As a wildlife monitor, Aggark records the locations of the animals he sees by using GPS coordinates.
As a prospector, he takes samples from rocks, tags the location and then sends them to a laboratory for analysis.
As a geological assistant, he determines rock types and tries to figure out the greater context of the area from a geological perspective.
“I'm so grateful they taught me,” he said of his expanding knowledge of earth sciences.
Work days in the field are usually 10 hours long, although weather can shorten that, Aggark noted. Rotations are three weeks long.
He views mining and mineral exploration as integral to Nunavut's future, and his own.
“Both industries bring huge benefits to the territory. For example, if Nunavut wants to be independent territory then mineral exploration and mining is the way to do it,” he said. “My wish is to pursue my dream with the mining industry.”