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Piqqusilirivvik Program Descriptions

Hunting and Fishing:

Students taking this course will learn how to fish, hunt birds and land and sea mammals. Traditionally hunting animals was not a sport but a way to survive. The students will fish and hunt these animals using both traditional
and modern hunting techniques. They will also learn how to track and kill animals in the most effective and efficient way. This course will be integrated into other on-the-land courses.

Land Use:

This course will be on-going and integrated with other courses associated with going out on the land. The students will practice reading the land, documenting and becoming familiar with place names, using land markers,

respecting the land by keeping it clean and using the land’s resources wisely. Students will also become familiar with migration routes, rivers, and animal habitats. In addition, they will learn how to use modern GPS technology.


Students will learn traditional fresh and salt water concepts. For example, they will develop an understanding of tidal conditions, polynas, fog conditions, ocean currents, lakes, ponds, rivers and the animals found in these waters.

Ice Conditions:

Students will learn to identify different sea, lake, river and pond ice conditions in order to travel safely over water. They will also learn how to hunt at the floe edge, and the different terminology associated with various ice conditions. Again, this program will be integrated and delivered with all on-the-land courses. This course will have a significant impact on both student and instructor safety.

Survival Skills:

Students will learn how to survive if they are stranded while travelling on land or over water. This course is very important, and will be taught by their instructors on both land and water. Students will learn to create shelters and
practice building them. They will be taught survival skills, such what to do if they fall through the ice in the winter and how to warm themselves before becoming hypothermic.


Students taking this course will learn how to handle dog teams by working directly with a local community member who owns their own dog team. They will become familiar with the terminology associated with dog teams
and learn how dogs are chosen to be isuraqtujut (lead dogs), as well as the other roles dogs play in a team. They will also learn the different kinds of calls that were traditionally used to control dogs, and what kinds of food are
best for the dogs. In addition, they will learn how to hunt with dogs by the person who they are assigned with; to provide for themselves and the team.

In addition, they will learn how to build and use other forms of transportation such as a Qajaq, Qamutiik, Umiaq, and Umianngaq. Building these forms of transportation requires specialized knowledge which they will document
from beginning to end.

Shelter Building:

Students taking this course will learn how to build an Iglu or other forms of emergency shelters. They will also learn how to identify the different kinds of snow that are best used for building shelters in an emergency situation.

Respect for Animals and Animal Behaviour:

Students taking this course will learn about the many animals that are hunted in the North that provide important variations in the traditional Inuit diet. The students will learn from Elders and other knowledgeable people about animal behaviour. They will research the behaviour of whales, polar bears, walruses, muskox, seals, birds, caribou, rabbits, foxes, wolves, fish and other animals They will also learn the importance of respecting these animals and how best to dispose of the bones of sea and land animals based on traditional practices. In addition, they will learn the traditional practices relating to what parts of the animal to consume, and what parts were used for
medicinal use, sinew and clothing.

Roles of Men and Women in Animal Processing and Preparation:

Students taking this course will learn about the different roles men and women played in the preservation of meat and the preparation of skins from the animals that were hunted. They will learn how to butcher and dry meat, where the best location is for caching meat, and the different ways to preserve meat for later use. They will also learn about the importance of sharing the meat with community members.


Students will research traditional child-rearing practices and the views of Elders on this topic. The students may refer to the Nunavut Arctic College’s Interview Series on Childrearing Practices. They will also examine current views on this topic and comment on the benefits of reintroducing these traditional practices.

Inuit Laws, Values & Beliefs:

Students will conduct research on traditional laws, values and beliefs. For example, how were camps structured and how did they maintain order? What were the consequences when there was no structure? Did sharing food and resources bring unity to the camp and increase the chance of survival? If people failed to work together could their lives be endangered? The students may also use Nunavut Arctic College’s perspectives on Traditional Law as an additional learning resource.

Inuit Language:

Students will document, research and practice Inuit language throughout their stay at Piqqusilirivvik. Inuit language courses will permit students to strengthen their language skills by engaging in both classroom and conversational situations.

Stories, Legends & Beliefs:

Oral traditions and beliefs were used to teach children about animals, human behaviour, and mythical beings that inhabit the North. These stories had moral messages. There are also stories about where the sun, moon and aurora borealis originated from. All of these stories have rich traditions, and they were told with slight variations across the North. The students will learn and record these original stories from Elders and other knowledgeable people.

Traditional Games:

Students will use audio and visual equipment to document games that were traditionally played indoors and outdoors to build stamina, speed, strength, and enhance cognitive skills. Examples of such games are ajagaq, ajaraaq, inugaq, imigluktaq, amaruujaq, aaqsiiq, and illukisaaq.

Sewing Skills and Clothing:

Students will focus on using different animal pelts and skins throughout their stay at Piqqusilirivvik. The teaching environment where the students will learn will need to vary depending on the type of skin. Some skins need to be worked on in cooler temperatures; such as caribou skins. The clothing the students will create will be appropriate to the North. They will learn to make garments from caribou and seal for clothing such as mitts, kamiik, aliqsik, atigi, qulittaq, nattiq, nattiquti, naluaq, kiaktaq, iqaqti and niururiaq. The students will clean the skins, dry and stretch them, and then cut them up into patterns. The terminology associated with these clothing types is specific,and the students will document the steps that are required from the beginning of the project to final completion. The students will also learn to measure using the traditional way.

Creating a Warm Caring Home:

Students will learn how mothers brought up their children with respect, and fathers intervened only when necessary. This course will examine the role of traditional parents in child rearing and how these traditional practices can be adapted to contemporary Inuit lifestyles.


Students will learn how to forecast the weather using the clouds, moon, stars and sun. Traditionally, children were encouraged to go out in the morning to forecast the weather. There are also traditional beliefs associated with the weather; for example whipping with a sea weed will cause winds; if you kill a spider it will get foggy; if you break the Earth egg the weather will be angry. This program will be integrated with other courses that teach students about the land and our environment.

Kinship & Naming:

Students will learn about the traditions of naming and kinship from their respective community members. Each community and region in Nunavut values naming traditions and places significant importance on how naming is practiced. The students will document, compile, and film their interviews. Naming a child at birth or in their early life has great importance to the child and the person they will become; it creates kinship in the namesake’s family, and it can also impact the child’s character. The students will examine how this tradition has importance today.

Traditional Inuit Conflict Resolution Techniques:

Students taking this course will learn from Elders about traditional Inuit conflict resolution techniques. They will learn about who intervened when there were conflicts between spouses, when stealing occurred, and when taboos were broken. They will also learn about the practices used to deal with these kinds of situations. The students may also refer to Nunavut Arctic College’s Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit sources on shamanism and reintegrating wrongdoers into the community.


Students taking this course will learn how to identify the traditional plants that were used by Inuit. They will also collect and learn about how these plants were used traditionally for tea, medicinal use, cooking, sleeping platforms, etc. The students may also refer to Nunavut Arctic College’s Perspectives on Traditional Health.


Students taking this course will learn about traditional Inuit songs, throat singing, drumming, chanting, ajaajaarusiit, and how children’s songs were calming, lulling, and helped to make a person happy. While taking this course the students will compile traditional songs and learn how to record them and store them properly. There are also games that are associated with some of these songs that they will learn to practice and pass on to the next generation.


Inuit have been artists for thousands of years. Students taking this course will be exposed to the various Inuit art forms - using whale bone, antlers, and different kinds of stone. They will learn about the designs used on clothing and about the stories associated with these designs. For example, on an Akuq amauti the akuq was made in the likeness of a caribou palate. They will also learn about tattoos, the stories behind the designs, and when it was appropriate for girls to get tattoos.


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