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Developing a plan
Arviat looks to tap the potential of ecotourism

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, June 16, 2010

ARVIAT - The community of Arviat is taking the first steps in exploring its ecotourism potential.

NNSL photo/graphic

Arviat craftsman Pierre Koomuk displays one of his eloquent pieces during an ecotourism workshop in Arviat earlier this month. - photo courtesy of Wes Werbowy

The community hosted an intensive workshop earlier this month, delivered by Wes Werbowy of Wilderness Consultants.

The workshop was one of the first steps in a new initiative focusing on Arviat as the gateway to Nunavut.

A team of industry professionals are putting their collective experience behind Arviat's preparations to forge a new tourism initiative.

Industry experts Mike Robbins, David Pelly and Jeff Barrett were among members of the tourism company who spent time in Arviat.

Werbowy said a great deal of community consultation produced the focus of how Arviat will benefit from the approach.

He said cultural programs, wildlife viewing opportunities and the marketing of local art form the cornerstones of the effort.

"None of this would see reality unless the youth of the community were also involved," said Werbowy.

"We had Grade 11 and Grade 12 students visit the workshop.

"School principal Jay Thomas and vice-principal Cody Prusky were totally in accord with this forward-looking vision, and arrangements have been made to include selected students in the process development."

Both day and evening classes were held at the workshop to assist as many community members as possible to attend.

The workshop was designed to both give information and collect ideas from participants on knowledge areas they needed the most help to understand.

Werbowy said their ideas will help form the basis for a three week training course to be held this coming October.

"Many already had training and worked successfully as hunting guides. "But this was new ground, because now they'd be hunting with cameras.

"Their hunting knowledge will help interpret the actions of the animals, so both the bears and the clients will remain safe."

Many of the participants saw a solid future in the endeavour, including trained guide and jewellery maker Pierre Koomuk and videographer Donald Owbik.

"I really enjoy doing video work," said Owbik.

"My dream would be to combine this with guiding to earn a part of my living."

Werbowy said the community was well-represented at the workshop. He said elder Henry Isluanik, 85, brought his experience and enthusiasm for the future to the event, as did those 70 years younger.

"As symbols of the past and the future, Arviat turned to the community for an interest in ecotourism.

"I believe that future is in sight."

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