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Northern adventurers to teach kayak building to Students on Ice

Young people on this summer's Students on Ice expedition will get the chance to build traditional Inuit kayaks.

Group who paddled across south Baffin Island will teach students to build kayaks

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      Young people on this summer's Students on Ice expedition will get the chance to build traditional Inuit kayaks, with help from four Northern adventurers.

      Eric McNair-Landry and Kate Breen have already made the frames for three kayaks at the Museum of Nature in Ottawa, which they will take apart and ship to Greenland to meet the expedition.

      The kayak frames are on display at the Museum of Nature until the end of the month.

      Eric McNair-Landry and Kate Breen have made the frames for three kayaks at the Museum of Nature in Ottawa, which they will take apart and ship to Greenland to meet the Students on Ice expedition. (CBC)

      "The students on the Students on Ice ship will basically get the chance to rebuild a simplified kayak," says McNair-Landry.

      "We've already done the milling, cutting, all the pieces fit together. It's basically at this point a large Lego set. That allows a bunch of students to work on it at the same time."

      McNair-Landry says the students will rebuild the kayaks on board while travelling from Greenland to Nunavut, then get the chance to paddle the kayaks off Bylot Island, close to Pond Inlet.

      Learning culture 

      He says students will learn how to lash the kayaks together with sinew and then put the nylon skin on the outside of the kayak.

      But McNair-Landry hopes the students will learn more than just how to put a kayak together. 

      "I hope the students will learn a little bit about where kayaking comes from, how the old traditional boats were put together and especially what they were like to paddle," he says. "I think that's the most important part."

      He also hopes there is a lot of culture passed around. There will be 33 northern students and about 70 students from around the world.

      "I think it's a really good time for the northern students to inform and pass on knowledge to the students from the south."

      Different styles

      McNair-Landry says the three kayaks represent different styles found throughout Nunavut. There is one that's slightly longer and thinner, which represents the style found in South Baffin or Northern Labrador, one that is more Greenlandic in style and then one that is the Cumberland Sound style, which is bigger and wider.

      McNair-Landry says that is the kind he and Breen, his sister Sarah and her partner Erik Boomer used in their 2013 expedition across south Baffin Island.

      Sarak McNair-Landry and Boomer are currently dog sledding around Baffin Island.

      All four will be on board the Students on Ice boat this summer.

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