Camp joins up generations to observe healthy traditions

An old-fashioned get-together for elders and kids at Cambridge Bay camp


CAMBRIDGE BAY – Youth listened to Inuinnaqtun as they fished and learned how to sew rabbit-fur mittens at Cambridge Bay's first language and culture camp for elders and kids.

Elders in Cambridge Bay told the hamlet's wellness centre they wanted to find ways of involving youth, in a place to teach them "to be happy and safe," share stories, and learn drum-dancing.

The elders themselves came up with the concept for the language and culture camp, which ran from April 18 to May 11.

During this period, seven three-day camps received groups of six to eight kids from Grades 4, 5 and 6 along with three or four elders.

While at the camp, the elders shared the tents with the kids. Volunteer high school students and a couple, William Palvialok and Annie Agheetok, were on hand.

At the camp site, there was no junk food, video games, iPods, drugs or booze. Instead, sewing, carving, igloo-making and fishing filled the days. One group hunted wolves.

The camp, initially a project of the Cambridge Bay Community Wellness Centre and the hamlet, also involved the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, which helped pay for the camp through federal funds it receives. The cost? About $40,000, spent mainly for supplies, gasoline and honoraria for the elders.

Federal government officials on a Kitikmeot tour organized by Inuit Tapiiriit Kanatami visited the camp where participants showed them Inuit games.

Last weekend, elders who are less mobile were also to travel by snowmobile to the camp, about 20 minutes out of town near Mt. Pelly, for a lunch of homemade baked beans, mashed potatoes and caribou.

Alice Isnor, director of Cambridge Bay's wellness centre, said she hopes to see a similar camp next year.

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