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Where tradition and science meet
Environmental technology student from Cape Dorset pumped to learn more

Michele LeTourneau
Northern News Services
Monday, October 5, 2015

The environmental technology program is the latest adventure a 37-year-old man from Cape Dorset has embarked on throughout a life of training, learning and working in a field where Inuit knowledge and science blend.

NNSL photo/graphic

Daniel Taukie gives the thumbs up that environmental technology program students are all packed and ready to leave for field camp Sept. 18. - photos courtesy of Daniel Taukie

Daniel Taukie is taking his first year of at Nunavut Arctic College and has been living in Iqaluit for six years.

He started out working for Parks Canada at Quttinirpaaq National Park which, as he notes, "is the highest park in Canada on Ellesmere Island."

He worked as a resource management technician 1 for the Nunavut field unit.

"As a hunter - I do a lot of hunting, it's in my natural background that I'm a hunter - I like to engage in that kind of stuff with the public, to enhance Inuit knowledge, to keep the tradition going for the Inuit. It's really what I enjoy. And the culture and the language aspect is just so important to me," said Taukie.

Following in that line, he trained at Jasper National Park in swift water rescue training. This training was for work at the Auyuittuq National Park near Pangirtung, a park with several river crossings. It's also at that park, and around the Qikiqtarjuaq area, that he trained further in working with Inuit knowledge and science to better protect the environment.

"I was getting training on how to develop a strategy to enhance Inuit knowledge to ecosystems around the park, how to use Inuit knowledge to monitor as well as using scientific activity, to kind of bond them together so that we have a strong system that has scientific and Inuit knowledge to make the data that much better than it had been before."

Taukie says the team monitored glaciers, ecosystems around the glaciers, and traditional landmarks "to enhance all the mapping systems that we're developing around the park so that all the old place names have sufficient data on the new maps."

Finally, in September 2014, Taukie graduated from the Inuit Learning and Development pilot project (ILDP), which had a goal of increasing Inuit beneficiary employment in the public service.

"It's for beneficiaries to enhance knowledge and work experience around different departments and agencies," he explained. "While taking the ILDP, I was also engaged as a wildlife officer trainee with the Department of Environment."

After that program, which he calls "great," Taukie was "so pumped up to learn more, it just drew me to this program here - I was really interested in it over the last couple of years but I never had a chance to apply. I applied right away after the ILDP.

"I have colleagues that have taken this course and it's really recommended for my work. I've heard so many good things about this course," he said.

When he is not training, learning, or working, Taukie returns to Cape Dorset.

"I go back home for hunting. I see family. Especially in the springtime when there's a lot of geese hunting, beluga hunting. I go at Christmastime. I go back when I can to go see family and friends. It is my main hunting ground, as well. I travel from here to Cape Dorset by snowmobile. The trip, surprisingly, is about 19 and half hours. It's less than a day."

"Well," he says, laughing, "if you know..." He implies, if you know where you're going.

On leaving home for work and school, he says: "I've lived here for six years now so that transition happened a while ago. After two years I was pretty comfortable living here.

"There is that occasion where you miss that certain hunting ground, where you know your way around.

"You know all the shallows, you know all the animals and where they are. Definitely it comes to mind that I miss home sometimes."

But he says he follows the opportunities bot for education and jobs. And he likes Iqaluit.

"I'm very comfortable here."

He's also part of the Search and Rescue team based in Iqaluit.

"I've travelled extensively around Iqaluit in the past six years so I know where I'm going."

He's made a home in Iqaluit with his common-law wife, who teaches at the Pirurvik Centre in the capital.

"She has two adult children. We're very connected to both of them. She's from Pang, so we do go to Pang, as well. To go see their family, and to hunt."

As for what he plans to do after the two-year environmental technology program?

"I would probably think about that later. I did enjoy the wildlife officer trainee so I would want to get in that field with wildlife. Anything to do with the wildlife management boards and organizations that deal with wildlife is very interesting.

"I like dealing with the public, as well, so anything that relates to the public and wildlife."

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