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Big game bucks

Guide training gives boost to economy

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Baker Lake (Sep 04/02) - Training big-game guides is starting to pay big dividends in Baker Lake.

Ten guides graduated from a four-week, level 2, big-game-guide-training course in the hamlet this past month.

A number of the guides were hired for work on the very day of their graduation. By the following day, they were interviewing the hunters they would be guiding to determine their expectations and limitations.

Course instructor Wes Werbowy of Wilderness Consultants says the visiting hunters expressed admiration for the professionalism and hospitality shown by the new guides.

"The importance of professional knowledge and dependability, customer service and hospitality cannot be overstated," says Werbowy.

"These guests are the seeds of the future. Look after them properly and everyone benefits."

Course graduate Roy Avaala says he was surprised by how much he learned during the course.

"I learned about trajectory and ballistics, how to reload and the different types of hunters, such as species, trophy and adventure hunters," says Avaala.

Russell Toolooktook says the training course helped him realize what it takes to be a professional big-game guide.

"I can now see the caribou from both a Northern and a Southern prospective," says Toolooktook.

Norman Arngnasungaaq quickly agrees with Toolooktook, adding that the course helped the guides to broaden their horizons in how they approach caribou hunting.

"I learned how to stalk caribou differently than the traditional way," says Arngnasungaaq. "I now look at hunting in a different way."

The course was funded by Kivalliq Partners in Development and co-ordinated by Baker's chief economic development officer, Philip Tagoona.

Werbowy says the graduates will be kept busy guiding as many as 50 visiting hunters, which represents a big boost to the local economy.

"These hunters represent an additional $250,000 for Nunavut's economy and that's just the beginning. That money stays in the region because the two outfitters involved in this -- Philip Putumuriaktuk and Joan Scottie -- are both Inuit entrepreneurs and graduates of the guide-training courses."