Goota always teaches the class so very much in her in-school presentation. She makes the life of the Inuit come alive through the various items she brings, the stories she shares and her willingness to explain. She told the children that she was raised until the age of 16 in the area called Cape Dorset, at the southern tip of Baffin Island. She left her family behind at that early age so that she could complete high school in Iqaluit, only seeing them at Christmas and during the summer. It is wonderful to know that today, children in Nunavut do not have to leave their families to attend schools. Each major centre has a school for students up to Grade Twelve.
Here she is showing us the way that the women kept their families warm in the winter, using a fire bowl made of soapstone, filled with seal oil, with a wick made of Arctic cotton that was picked from the land in the summer. She told the children that the women had to keep care of this fire, more closely than they did their own babies. Without it, they would not have survived the cold winters.
She demonstrated the difference between the kamiks of the eastern and western Inuit lands. The one on her foot is from the west and has beading on it. She said that it is very soft. The pair would cost about $300 to purchase. The other pair was made in the east, out of seal skin in the traditional manner. She explained how to tell that this pair was made for a man, and said that to purchase a pair would cost $1200!
She shared how the Inuit would never waste anything from nature, and that they were always sharing what they caught with all of their families and neighbours. She had amazing pictures and made a few of the students want to try to eat an eyeball, which she explained was a true treat!
She explained that currently there is a ban on hunting caribou, so we were really in for a treat because she shared some caribou with us. It is the larger frozen piece of meat on the cardboard. Many of the students asked for seconds!
She also shared some Arctic Char and the students quickly made the connection to salmon. It too was a great hit. She used the traditional woman's knife, the ulu, to cut and serve the meat.
This was such a rich personal way to begin our exploration of our next Canadian community, the city of Iqaluit in Nunavut.
Move over Punxsutawney Phil and Balzac Billy...
Our own little groundhog did see his shadow today.
Who will we believe? Will there be six more weeks of winter or is spring just around the corner?
We're doing a little weather forecasting to find out!