Nunavik outdoor education program empowers Inuit youth

Nunavik out of doors schooling program empowers Inuit youth


Nurrait is Inuktitut for child caribou — or jeune caribou in French — and the Nurrait | Jeunes Karibus group is all about serving to younger Inuit develop.

“For 2020, 2021 we had round 300 contributors in our program, regardless of the pandemic,” mentioned normal supervisor Hugo Dufresne. “Final 12 months we had been capable of be current in all the 14 [Nunavik] communities.”

At a time when many youth are feeling the isolation introduced on by the pandemic, Nurrait has managed to maintain its applications going, with some modifications, and is seeing a few of its first contributors begin to tackle management roles of their very own.

Created as an out of doors journey program for college students, Jeunes Karibus has expanded through the years to provide skilled growth, management coaching and alternatives to attach with Inuit elders and tradition. 

“Not all of the youth have the identical entry to being out on the land and doing conventional actions,” mentioned Dufresne.

“We by no means exit on the land for tenting or for expeditions with out hiring group members to information us and share information with the youth.”

Final summer season, the group employed a social employee and launched a brand new intensive program for younger people who find themselves struggling to remain in class, dealing with grief or dealing with different private challenges.

“At present it is our eighth version of the Nurrait program, however now we have now three extra applications additionally for the youth of Nunavik,” mentioned Dufresne, who’s been with the group for 3 years and not too long ago took over from founder Valérie Raymond.

“It is grown from practising a wholesome life-style…to actually bringing in some intervention instruments: communication abilities, the way to categorical your feelings, the way to perceive them.”

Co-ordinators and contributors within the Nurrait | Jeunes Karibus’ Ikaartuit program constructed a cabin south of Kuujjuaq, Que. final summer season. The non-profit group provided its first intensive social intervention programs in 2021, educating group work and carpentry abilities and inspiring private and social growth. (Nurrait | Jeunes Karibus)

Out on the land

Raymond began Nurrait as a pilot challenge to to indicate her college students the advantages of an energetic, wholesome life-style.

The younger individuals who signed up went cross-country snowboarding each week after class and got tricks to work on their psychological well being. They educated with Raymond all through the varsity 12 months, making ready an expedition. That summer season, the group skied 90 kilometres from Kuujjuaq to the neighbouring group of Tasiujaq, tenting alongside the best way.

This system was so in style Raymond launched Nurrait | Jeunes Karibus as a non-profit in 2015. Because the group grew, it branched out to the opposite Nunavik communities and ultimately the Tuttuit (full-grown caribou) program was a pure subsequent step.

“College students had been going by way of the Nurrait program, getting older, a few of them nonetheless needed to be a part of the group,” mentioned Dufresne.

“It is principally knowledgeable internship program, they get to guide the group of scholars and we give them job alternatives for his or her first job out of highschool.”

Rising up

For folks like Joshua Nathan Kettler, an Inuk from Umiujaq who joined Jeunes Karibu’s board of administrators final month, this system has been life-changing.

“It actually helped me develop up,” he mentioned, including that earlier than he joined Nurrait as a youngster, he would spend a lot of his time after faculty on-line reasonably than outdoors. “This system is lots higher than that,” he mentioned, “you are going out on the land, discovering your personal tradition.”

“I began simply as Nurrait and I moved my method up and have become Tuttuit after doing three expeditions.”

Kettler says working by way of the 2 applications boosted his shallowness — and his resumé — touchdown him a job with Nunavik Parks after he completed highschool. He left that job final 12 months — the 20-year-old has his fingers full with two younger women at dwelling — however he says he is wanting ahead to sharing the Jeunes Karibus expertise with different younger folks in his group.

“That is the largest objective for me, is to have as many youth as attainable concerned,” he mentioned. “Now I am on the opposite facet of this system.”

Nurrait | Jeunes Karibus organizes weekly outings, in a single day tenting journeys and annual expeditions for Inuit youth throughout Nunavik. For the reason that non-profit was based in 2015, it is grown from an out of doors journey program in Kuujjuaq to providing social intervention and actions in all 14 communities. (Nurrait | Jeunes Karibus)

Ikaartuit: a herd of caribou crossing a river

The third and latest addition to Jeunes Karibus is the Ikaartuit program, supported by psychosocial employee Jessica Guimond-Villeneuve who was introduced onto the group final 12 months. 

Dufresne says Ikaartuit is focused at youth who aren’t attending faculty any extra or have been referred by social companies. It includes intensive tasks or excursions normally held in the summertime.

“It goals for particular growth,” he mentioned. “As an example we have now a gaggle dealing with grief, just like the lack of a pal, we’ll go for an out of doors expertise addressing grief … Youth not capable of have a job and to maintain it, we’ll have a cabin development challenge to assist them get into grownup life.”

“We purpose for particular wants for the youth, create a gaggle round these wants and exit on the land to attempt to handle these points they’re dealing with.”

Dufresne says Jeunes Karibus has seven folks working full-time however this system could not occur with out its 30-plus volunteers — primarily lecturers on the Katavik faculty board — who arrange group outings each week.

In a standard 12 months, there would even be two in a single day tenting journeys and a remaining cross-country snowboarding expedition the place a number of communities come collectively. However issues have needed to be scaled again, held in smaller bubbles or moved on-line for the previous couple of years as a result of public well being restrictions.

Dufresne says going ahead, he desires to strengthen the standard and cultural components of the applications and embrace extra Inuit information and expertise.

“It is actually vital to us however it’s additionally an enormous problem to search out these folks in all of the communities,” he mentioned, referring to the Inuit elders and conventional knowledge-keepers who assist out with tenting journeys and expeditions.

“For the primary time this 12 months we have now two Inuit on our board. We’re attempting to offer extra space in decision-making to Inuit and to have extra Inuit concerned within the group,” he mentioned.

“It is the route we would like take for the upcoming years. It was all the time current however we wish to go even quicker in that route.”



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