Grooming future stars
Donovan Ayaruak and Jonah Nakoolak instructed students from kindergarten to Grade 4 in the skills of Inuit games during their gym classes.
Principal Harold Goobie says Inuit games is a module in the school's physical education program and bringing in two highly-regarded athletes was an excellent way to introduce the young students to traditional sports.
"Donovan and Jonah are international-class athletes, with Donovan being selected to represent Nunavut at the 2006 Arctic Winter Games," says Goobie. "We worked out a deal with the high school to allow the two athletes to come for a few gym classes and demonstrate and instruct the students in various Inuit games."
Ayaruak and Nakoolak led the students and teachers from station to station in the gym, demonstrating a different sport at each stop before letting the students try their skills.
Goobie says the program was a learning experience for both the elementary students and their teachers, as well as being a leadership-building exercise for the two athletes.
"This was one of a number of ventures we have with students at Maani Ulujuk High, including students who come from Nancy Makpah's Inuktitut class to work with our kindergarten kids.
"We're creating a working relationship between the two schools which benefits both the high school and elementary students.
"The Inuit games module is also part of our cultural-awareness initiative and, hopefully, will help encourage some of our students to become part of the region's next wave of talented traditional athletes."
Petula Tasseor was more than a little enthusiastic about the program. The Grade 4 student wanted to give every sport Ayaruak and Nakoolak demonstrated a try on her own.
"It was a lot of fun," says Tasseor.
"I think I could be pretty good at some of these sports because I really like learning them, especially the leg pull."