Training Eco-Guides in Arviat
Arviat is being aided in developing ecoguiding by the Arviat Community Ecotourism Initiative (ACE), a co-operative effort led by Mike Robbins of the Tourism Company, advisor David Pelly and a team of tourism pros.
The ACE program and eco-guide training is funded by the Conservation Areas IIBA, through Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and the Kivalliq Inuit Association.
The course introduced the concept of guiding photographers to upclose interaction with polar bears, while camping in a known polar bear area.
Werbowy said three John Arnalukjuak High School students and viceprincipal Cody Prusky took part in the course.
He said the students joined nine other participants for the first week’s academic and theoretical focus.
“That number was then pared down to the few who would attempt the field trip, which had known risks in its application,” said Werbowy.
“Having students camp out in a polar bear migration area, I designed and created a portable electric fence light enough to transport, yet able to handle the grounding problems in the North.
“It was tested by three determined polar bears, and the fence worked perfectly, stopping them in their tracks by delivering a shock to them.”
The trip was shortened by a few days due to rivers starting to freeze.
Werbowy said major water crossings had to be negotiated before the ice thickness and current made the ATVs impractical.
“The students adapted to the weather and proceeded with the photography portion of their course.
“These future guides are experienced hunters with a lifetime of skills to use in hunting for the perfect shot with their cameras.”
Curley said everyone is looking forward to part two of the training in 2011.
He said ecotourism could help provide a prosperous future for Arviat.
“I’ve been thinking about tourism since our polar bear tags were reduced,” said Curley.
“I know this will help us and our community.”
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