Submitted by: Tamara Polan, Teacher, Elmvale District High School (EDHS)
Fourteen EDHS students left for Toronto’s Pearson Airport on Saturday May 14, taking off on three flights until finally landing in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut.
The exposure to their culture was such a unique experience. The importance of being together and sharing was evident as even the children walked up to us on the streets, talked to us and hugged us without fear. We were taught how to make our own seal skin mittens, were given an Inuinnaqtun language class, learned to throat sing and participated in the Frolics celebratory arctic games. We ate traditional foods, including caribou, seal, muskox, arctic cod and char. We learned a lot about Inuit drum-dancing and celebrations. We even visited a heritage centre where we learned about how the Inuit culture has evolved from past to present.
We felt a strong sense of adventure throughout the week. We spent a whole day ice-fishing after riding out to the lake on qamutiiks – Inuit-designed and crafted sleds that are pulled behind a snowmobile. We also climbed Mount Pelly and learned about the legend of the mother, father and son who died of starvation to create the three mountains. We explored the ocean bay even further on Friday night, staying up until 3 a.m. to see both sunset and sunrise. Some of us even slept out on the ice for a few hours!
Lasting friendships were made on this trip. When the end of the week arrived, none of us wanted to say goodbye. But our goodbye was only a “see you later” this time, as the Cambridge Bay students came to Elmvale to share in our Ontario lifestyle from May 28 to June 3.