High on a hill overlooking Iqaluit and Frobisher Bay sits Inuksuk High School. The big blue building looks more like a giant gymnasium from the outside than a high school. On the inside it is as alive and bustling as you would expect any high school to be.
A large stone structure, known as an Inuksuk, stands outside the school doors, welcoming students as they file in. Adopted in 1991 as the official name of the school, the Inuksuk has been used in the past to mark trails and hunting grounds. This landmark is now often seen as a beacon for the future of the Inuit.
At 8:45 in the morning Elizabeth and Abby were the first thing on the agenda. Four hundred high school students gathered to hear the two expedition mates introduce their team, expedition training, and the expedition itself. Elizabeth and Abby described the Steger homestead, showing short film clips of wood splitting and taking a sauna. They brought in several props to share with students, including a full-zip expedition suit and two sleeping bags. Students seemed informed and engaged and asked a variety of excellent questions:
“Who inspired you to do a trip like this?”
“What books are you bringing?”
“What do you think of George Bush and his environmental policies?”
“What will you do if there is a big blizzard?”
The high school group was followed by a smaller group of elementary school students from neighboring Nakasuk Elementary School. The younger students, very interested in dogs and food, also came up with a series of great questions. Both schools have internet access are planning to follow the expedition online.
Abby and Elizabeth spent time in a classroom directly following the two presentations, answering questions and talking to students about their relationship to the land. Several students shared stories of hunting seals, caribou, and whale with their parents, grandparents, and community members. They highly recommended tasting some of the meat raw, as is the traditional custom when meat is fresh from the hunt. The expedition members both agreed to give it a try.