A new Grade 10 and 11 class at Iqaluit's Inuksuk High School is looking to build skills and interest in a growing and sometimes controversial sector of Nunavut's economy. 

The course on mining and energy began this week.

"It's definitely something that's becoming a bigger interest for the students here and also a fantastic opportunity potentially for employment in the future," said Tess Thurber, who teaches the class.

It's based off of Alberta curriculum and tailored for Nunavut.

Students will learn about refining and mining minerals and about different mining sites across Canada.    

"There's opportunity for hands-on learning, which is exciting. Lots of resources around the community, guest speakers to come in. So I really hope that it's a dynamic, exciting course that also will maybe motivate students to want to do something in the mining field in the future," Thurber said.

So far about 20 are enrolled, including Grade 10 student Rick Wolfe.

"I watched shows on Discovery and I saw how much money they make and it looks like a lot of hard work, very hands on. It looks really interesting," he said.

On Wednesday night, the school invited the community to attend a workshop on the mining industry, presented by Mining Matters, a charity working to promote the industry, in collaboration with Ontario's Ministry of Northern Development and Mines. 

About two dozen parents and children attended, learning about mining, and making soapstone carvings and amethyst jewelry.

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Four-year-old Katya Brown shows off her soapstone carving Wednesday night at Inuksuk High School. (John Van Dusen/CBC)

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Leetia Stokes, 10, shows off her dolphin soapstone carving. (John Van Dusen/CBC)

"It's important for young people to understand that if this is something that interests them in the future, that getting the education and going forward and getting these well-paying, exciting jobs is available to them," said Barb Green Parker, the manager of aboriginal education and outreach programs with Mining Matters.

The charity has been travelling to aboriginal communities across the country. The visit to Iqaluit is being sponsored by Baffinland Iron Mines.

The mining company wants to ship iron ore 10 months of the year through Baffin Bay and triple the amount of ore shipped from Milne Inlet on northern Baffin Island to 12 million tonnes per year. The Nunavut Impact Review Board is reviewing the environmental and socio-economic impacts of Baffinland's plans

Earlier this year, Bernard Valcourt, the minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, granted the mining company an exemption to the territory's land use plan, after the Nunavut Planning Commission said the proposal was too disruptive for wildlife

Pond Inlet's hamlet council and Nunavut's premier both supported granting that exemption.