March 28th, 2012 | By Candice Hong | Filed in AK NEWS, Community News, Current Events, INUIT, Inuit Culture/Art
Imagine eating raw seal, whale and arctic char, or trying some caribou stew. This March and April, students from Mississauga, Ontario and the small community of Taloyoak, Nunavut are currently participating in The YMCA Youth Exchanges Canada Program. These students are spending a few days seeing how the other half lives.
Big city lights and tall buildings are a normal everyday landscape for most people in the city. To the Inuit students this is a completely different view from the Arctic tundra they call home. Visiting the CN Tower or going to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto are exciting adventures. The Taloyoak students will be touring Toronto, going to Niagara Falls, and staying at the homes of their city counterparts. Meanwhile, Paul Officer the principal at Riverside Public School, will be leading the Mississauga youth, while they experience the Inuit culture from eating traditional food, drumming, ice fishing, building an igloo, to perfecting the high kick during the Arctic games. This cultural exchange is not only about fun and games, but building special bonds that will last a lifetime. As a part of the Taloyoak exchange this year, the city youth will be learning what it means to be responsible Canadians. This will be done through literacy and environmental activities. Students will share favourite books, garden, and interact with elders at the senior centre.
The YMCA Youth Exchanges Canada Program allows students who would not normally get the opportunity to explore another part of Canada, a chance to step out of the classroom, and learn through engagement with a new community. While open to all youth the YMCA program gives priority to students from underrepresented groups such as low-income families, those with disabilities, visible minorities, and First Nations students. Cost of travel to the respective communities is fully covered through a grant. Each community in turn relies on the
kindness of their communities to supply funding for food, local travel, and activities for participants.
Arctic Kingdom to help support this program, has equipped the Mississauga students with all the Arctic gear they need to survive the extreme weather conditions of the North. From toques, Canada Goose jackets and pants, to boots the students have the proper gear needed to stay dry and comfortable. To read more about the activities and the exchange please visit: Paul Officer’s blog.