Nunavut 'Learn To...' program teaching drum dancing, throat singing this summer

The government of Nunavut is bringing back its Learn To... program this summer in the Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park. The program is a way to connect and teach people about Inuit culture and traditions.

Free weekly events will be held until end of August in Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park

Sessions include Inuit legends told by a traditional storyteller, how to carve soapstone, and how to light a traditional qulliq lamp, as seen here. (Nunavut Department of Environment)

The government of Nunavut is bringing the Learn To... program back to the Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park this summer.

From June until the end of August, 15 free sessions will be held to teach and connect locals to the culture and history of the land. 

Sessions on offer include introductions to drum dancing, how to light the qulliq lamp, traditional Inuit games, how to carve soapstone, and the cultural and medicinal uses of Arctic plants.

Caroline Ipeelie, heritage appreciation regional co-ordinator with the Department of Environment, said the program started as a way to get everyone to participate in Inuit culture.

"The fact that these are happening within a park in Nunavut, I think it has a special touch," said Ipeelie. To her, Learn To... as a program is a powerful way to look back at the history prior to the arrival of explorers and settlers.

Caroline Ipeelie, with the Department of Environment, says people in the community are more than willing to share their experiences with young and curious attendees. (Department of Environment, Government of Nunavut)

"Inuit had settled here for years and years and this is what they did. They throat sang on these lands, they made kakivak [fish spear], they collected traditional plants; and we're bringing all that content back," said Ipeelie.

"It goes back to how Inuit had inhabited these lands and why the park was created. It goes back to Inuit culture."

The sessions are facilitated by elders and members of the community. Ipeelie said people in the community are more than willing to share their experience with young and curious attendees. And for her, involving the community in the passing on of knowledge and traditions is crucial. 

"Getting back our culture through little sessions like these makes a really big impact."

The lessons take place every Tuesday and the first Saturday of each month from 1:15 to 3:00 p.m. A full schedule can be found on the government of Nunavut's website.