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Ambassadors get taste of the North

Christine Grimard
Northern News Services
Wednesday, June 27, 2007

RANKIN INLET - From the Columbian mountains to the jungles of South Africa, Rankin Inlet went international June 20 as a group of ambassadors concluded an eight-day whirlwind trip of the North.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

The Ambassador of Indonesia, Djoko Hardono, tries out drum dancing in Rankin Inlet. He travelled across the North along with 19 other ambassadors over eight days, visiting the Yukon, the NWT and Nunavut. - Christine Grimard/NNSL photo

The group was jetted around 17 communities during the short trip, visiting the Yukon, the NWT and finishing off in Nunavut.

"We've seen things we never dreamed of seeing before," said Nabil Barto, Ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. "We never knew Canada was that big."

With each visit, the group was treated to performances, meals, met with local representatives and saw artwork from each region.

"We travelled out not only from Ottawa, in longitude and latitude. We travelled the whole history and geography of this land," said Elena Stefoi, Ambassador of Romania.

In his presentation to the group, Rankin Inlet Mayor Lorne Kusugak spoke of his community's history explaining it was established for employment, compared with other Kivalliq communities established for social welfare.

"We went from repairing dogsleds to repairing snowmobiles in a heartbeat," said Kusugak.

Stefoi noted that with each presentation, the ambassadors put together layers of information to form an impression of the North.

Over the week the group has seen power point presentations, met officials, read books, seen various performances and bought hand-crafted carvings.

"We've seen how the skills of survival go hand in hand with the gift of art," said Stefoi. "All in all, we'll keep this memory all of our lives."