Cross country ski trip will take 10 youth from Iqaluit to 'Kimmirut;
Get fit, build muscles, see south Baffin
Think of it as a crash course in outdoor survival, traditional skills and cross country skiing, with a strenuous fitness program thrown in for good measure.
What's more, you'll learn how to prepare meals for a large group of people. And if you‘re really lucky, you'll feast on fresh-killed caribou, and perhaps your very own just-caught cod.
Best of all, it's free.
The Qikiqtani Inuit Association is sponsoring its own unique version of a spring break vacation for youths between 18 and 25 – five each from Iqaluit and Kimmirut. The total cost is almost $35,000.
The 2008 SKIqaluit to Kimmirut -Active Youth Expedition was dreamed up by ski enthusiasts Maxine Carroll and Mitchell Leblanc from Quebec.
A QIA press release says participants will "embark on a unique adventure in which Inuit traditions and ‘modern' camping and means of travel are interwoven."
Later this month, QIA will begin blanketing both communities with posters telling people how to apply. Applications from both sexes are welcome.
Don't worry if you're not in peak physical shape. A three-day pre-departure training session will allow candidates to adjust to the rigours of long hours of skiing across rugged terrain.
"People will be able to build up their muscles," says Tomassic Johnston, QIA's regional youth coordinator.
The youths will also have the benefit of the traditional knowledge of Moosa and Pisula Akavak, a husband and wife team who will show them how to build an igloo and light and heat it with a qulliq.
While expert in the old ways, the Akavaks are flexible enough to appreciate modern conveniences. They'll travel by snowmobile pulling an enormous qamotik laden with food and other supplies, while the youths slug it out on skis.
"Moosa will bring his gun and if he has a chance to catch a caribou, the youths will eat that," Johnston said.
For those who make it to Kimmirut, there maybe an opportunity for ice fishing and the prospect of preparing some fresh cod.
The 15-day expedition begins April 6, and the youths will travel an expanse of 120 km. While it promises to be educational and perhaps even life-changing, it will not be easy.
Participants can expect to long, exhausting days if past experience is anything to go by.
Last year, Carroll and Leblanc, the skiing duo from Quebec, took a group of six students from Aqsarniit Middle School on the trip to Kimmirut, and the kids found it exhausting.
John Thompson, a Nunatsiaq News reporter who was travelling by snowmobile along the same route, came across the students on their first day out. One tried to beg a ride, while another was collapsed in a heap, napping while stragglers caught up.
But Thompson reported that by the end of the journey, the students were ready to do it all over again.
Johnston, the QIA youth coordinator, said that the intent of the expedition is to inspire youth to get out on the land, to acquire some skills, and "to become better leaders in their communities.
"If there's enough interest, we will consider expanding the program in future years,"he said.