The principal of Peter Pitseolak High School in Cape Dorset, Nunavut, is trying to improve arts programming in the school.

Mike Soares says he was surprised to find that arts were not a strong subject in the school when he arrived in the hamlet three years ago since Cape Dorset is famous around the world for Inuit art.

"It had pretty much got to the point where art was just paint by numbers," he said.

He says he has a good reason to try to turn that around.

"Some of our students over the years have left school because they've found that they can produce art and sell it and then school becomes less important, in the same way that in Fort McMurray kids might leave school to go work in the oil patch," said Soares.

Almost half the kids have a carver in their family. Soares has been working with a foundation willing to pay local artists to come and work in the school.

Last week, some grade 11 students met with Wen Xie, a Chinese jade carver who was in town for a month to work with other artists.

Xie said he feels that students are interested when he talks about the history of carving in China.

"I know a lot of kids, like 13, 14, also younger, like 11 years old, they don’t come to school, but they do some soapstone carving. I try to find them to bring them here. I really want to find them," said Xie.

Soares is also working with the National Art Gallery and the Northwest Company to repatriate some works of art so that he can put them on display in the school and inspire others.