In mid-February, we ran programs which combined the approaches of our Qimmivut (our dogs) and Ataata-Irniq (father-son) programs to offer a full four-weeks (two, two-week trips) of programming for men and youth on the land. The first program was a full two weeks of fishing and seal hunting at camps and fjords north of Clyde River (February 16-25, 2016). The program had six instructors and seven youth. The second component was a full two weeks of seal hunting and ptarmigan hunting at camps and fjords south of Clyde River. That program had ten instructors and ten youth.
The two trips involved travel by skidoo-qamutiik and dog team, and camping in both tents and cabins. The groups hunted for seal through agluit (seal breathing holes) and with nets, and jigged and netted for fish. They hunted seal at the floe edge and also hunted for ptarmigan. All along, the youth learned about ice travel, navigation skills, camping skills, dog teaming and dog care skills, weather prediction, meat preparation, skidoo and qamutiit repair skills, and how to set-up/maintain/break down camp. The youth also learned hunting skills, rifle handling skills, net-making, tool-making, and much more. In addition to practical skills, the youth were told stories and legends about their history and the areas they were visiting. Emphasis was placed on learning traditional place names, and the meanings and stories behind those names. Youth often learned about their own family histories and relatives, seeing the places where they came from and travelled.
Bad weather is always a reality in the Arctic, especially in February and March when the program was held. Dealing with bad weather is part of the experience for youth, who must learn not only how to stay safe and create a sturdy camp for riding out a blizzard, but how to pass the time. Youth learn patience and how to be productive when waiting out the weather, by doing activities such as mending clothing and tools. During the periods of bad weather, youth listened to stories and had a chance to talk and bond even more with their instructors and Elders.
The beauty of our environment also has a positive impact on everyone involved in land-based programs.