morning Nathan Amarudjuaq of Arviat and Simon Hiqiniq of Gjoa Haven
attend to their morning chores of collecting eggs and feeding horses,
chickens and turkeys.
Before joining the Nunavut
Youth Abroad Program (NYAP), neither boy thought he would visit
a farm. This summer, however, the pair are not only visiting, they're
living and working on a sheep farm in Kempville, Ontario.
For first-time host-mother,
Stephanie Meakin, a biologist who works for the Inuit Circumpolar
Conference, the experience goes beyond the farm.
"I'm always interested
in my family understanding the Inuit culture and meeting the people
I work with because it's very important to me, the Arctic. And it's
important that my children understand how lucky we are to have this
part of Canada and meet Inuit people," Meakin said.
Amarudjuaq and Hiqiniq are
attracting the attention of other Kempville residents as well.
"A lot of people don't
realize they're from Canada," Meakin said. "I've had people
actually ask them "Do you speak English?" or "What
currency do you use?" and it's as much an education for small-town
Ontario as it is for them coming out of the communities. All the
kids love to talk to them, and they kind of get swamped when we
Amarudjuaq and Hiqiniq, both
16, have been away from home previously, but never for such an extended
time. They heard of the NYAP from previous participants, and that
inspired them to apply.
The adventure began with
an orientation involving 19 other participants. The participants
were then grouped in twos, and sent to their new homes for the summer.
Amarudjuaq and Hiqiniq spend
their days working with the farm animals, as well as other tasks
such as fence maintenance and tending to a large vegetable garden.
They are also responsible for keeping their room tidy and helping
with the dishes.
But it's not all hard work.
The two have had the opportunity to learn to swim and take weekly
horseback riding lessons.
"They're fantastic cowboys,"
Both Amarudjuaq and Hiqiniq
agree that the biggest difference between living in Nunavut and
living on a farm is all the animals. Feeding the animals is Amarudjuaq's
The NYAP cultivates leadership,
cross-cultural awareness and career goals by placing participants
in situations that will allow them to experience careers that they
may want to pursue.
The program is open to students
and non-students aged 16 to 21. Through work placement for credit,
youths can obtain skills in journalism, communications, environmental
conservation, office administration or management.
Successful graduates of Phase
1, a two-month stay in southern Canada, are eligible for Phase 2,
which involves international travel to developing countries.
When asked whether they would
recommend the program, Hiqiniq enthusiastically replied, "Yup!
So they can go through what I went through. It's helped me grow
"They should have a
lot of pride because they're doing a good job," Meakin said.
"It's tough. You know, it's tough to be away."