Entertaining tourists
The hustle and bustle of Pond Inlet tourism

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

Pond Inlet (Dec 20/99) - They say that to teach is to learn twice.

If, in fact, they're right, Nattinnak Centre manager-trainee Lorna Kilukishak must have a pretty strong handle on her own culture by now.

That's because every summer she's required to impart her knowledge of traditional and contemporary Inuit lifestyles to the some 3,000 visitors who come to the North Baffin hamlet of Pond Inlet.

"When I first started here, I thought I knew so much about Inuit culture and the past and our ancestors," said Kilukishak, 23, referring to her position at the tourism centre.

"But as I started working, I learned so much. I read a lot of papers and a lot of books and I've had to do research. I'm so glad I started because I wouldn't know the things I know right now," she said.

Nearly three years later -- after climbing the ladder from summer student to manager-trainee -- Kilukishak is in charge of developing the displays, controlling the paperwork and planning out different activities for the visitors.

And for many of those tourists, including the ones who choose to disembark from passing cruise ships for an afternoon of shopping and cultural entertainment, Kilukishak goes the extra mile.

"I'm also one of the performers," she said, adding that she had enlisted the services of two other seasonal workers this past summer to free up some of her time and to allow her to deal with the glut of work that comes with the Arctic's tourism and warmer months.

With the onset of winter, the hospitality business does slow down and community members replace the tourists and use the facility for meeting space and after school programs.

That however, doesn't mean tourism becomes humdrum with the freezing of the ocean. According to Kilukishak, the most famous tourist to bless Pond Inlet and her life was Brooke Shields during her recent sojourn to the North last month.

"She did like the community. She was really interested in our culture. She asked so many questions," said Kilukishak, whose mother had the honour of teaching Shields how to fry caribou and boil char.

"Her visit was supposed to be a secret. But after a while, everybody started coming here and wanted to meet her. Everybody was interested."