From North of 60 to the 6ix: Nunavut kids take part in hockey exchange

Sixteen young players from Pond Inlet joined 16 players from Toronto for eight days of sightseeing and stick handling.

32 young players from Pond Inlet and Toronto share food, culture and the puck

Sixteen young hockey players from Pond Inlet, Nunavut, are sightseeing in Toronto this week. After this trip, 16 players from Toronto will visit Pond Inlet. (Submitted by the Mimico Canadiens Hockey Association)

Big Macs are delicious: after having one for the first time, Timothy Tigullaraq of Pond Inlet, Nunavut, can attest.

But have you ever had whale skin?

"Whale skin is yummy," the young hockey player said while hanging rinkside with Ian Anderson, a player of about the same age from Toronto.

"I've never tried whales before," said Anderson. "I'll have that."

Tigullaraq and Anderson shared food recommendations in Canada's largest city this week, during a hockey exchange that has 16 players from Pond Inlet hitting the ice alongside 16 players from Toronto.

Ian Anderson of Toronto and Timothy Tigullaraq of Pond Inlet are part of a hockey exchange that will see each visiting the other's community. (CBC News)

After this trip, which is supported by Experiences Canada, the Toronto kids will fly more than 3,000 kilometres straight north to play hockey and see what life is like in the hamlet above the Arctic Circle.

In Toronto, things city kids perhaps take for granted — trees, tall buildings and squirrels — sparkled anew when taken in by the Pond Inlet players, many of whom were seeing them in real life for the first time.

"A few days ago we went on a walk and we saw a squirrel, so Stella saw a squirrel for the first time and I thought that was cool," said Alexis Thomson of Toronto.

Watch the kids in action:

Sixteen young players from Pond Inlet joined 16 players from Toronto for a week of sightseeing and stick handling 2:12

Maybe, when the Toronto players visit Pond Inlet, they'll get to see some of the animals that are commonplace to the Nunavut kids.

"Seals, narwhals, polar bears," said Stella Maktar, naming a few.

Some big corporations pitched in as well; on the schedule was seeing the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Blue Jays and going up the CN Tower.

Miranda Qamaniq of Pond Inlet was even interviewed on Hockey Night in Canada during the Leafs game. Her parents, she said, "were surprised and happy to see me on TV."

Chris Szarka, who helped organize the exchange, said the players have been raising money for months.

"It takes a community ... to raise a child," he said. "And it takes a community to run an exchange."

Written by Sidney Cohen, based on reporting by Greg Ross