Officials mark opening of Nunavut culture school
$32.2 million centre in Clyde River costs to take first participants in September
Nunavut’s Piqqusilirivvik cultural school officially opened its doors May 4, with a celebration featuring Government of Nunavut and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. officials and the people of Clyde River.
“The opening of Piqqusilirivvik marks an important step in our commitment and dedication to the continued support and preservation of Inuit values, skills and knowledge,” said James Arreak, minister of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth, in a statement.
“Elders played a significant role in the establishment of this facility and they will play even a bigger role by teaching Inuit traditions in this facility.”
The 2,200-square metre facility will play host to 14 staff who will instruct Inuit in traditional travelling, hunting and crafts, all in Inuktitut and with an emphasis on Inuit values.
Satellite “campuses” in Igloolik and Baker Lake will also offer programming, but won’t have buildings of their own.
Piqqusilirivvik was built at a cost of $32.2 million, three-quarters of which came from federal infrastructure funding, and will cost $4.4 million to operate in its first year.
Officials said Piqqusilirivvik will take its first students in Septmember.
“As Nunavut continues to grow, it is more important than ever to build our territory with a solid foundation in Inuit culture, and share and safeguard it for future generations,” said Nunavut premier Eva Aariak in a statement.
Instructors won’t be selected based on formal educational qualifications, but instead on their possession of strong traditional skills.
Students at Piqqusilirivvik also don’t need formal education to get in, rather, they must receive support from their home communities. Nor will they graduate in the southern sense of the word.
But they will take home things like hunting equipment when they’re finished.
They’re also not eligible for student financial aid, though their travel costs to and from Clyde River will be covered.
The building itself features dormitories for out-of-town students, wheelchair accessibility, internet and plenty of room for sewing and processing skins.