Qajakkut (Iqaluit Qajaq Society)
Qajakkut (Iqaluit Qajaq Society) is an initiative led by Students on Ice alumnus Robert Comeau to teach and promote the sport of Qajaq-ing (kayak) among Iqaluit youth.
Originating in the Arctic, the qajaq is a symbol of Inuit ingenuity. Although there has been a recent surge in interest (even qajaqing competitions!) in Greenland, the sport has largely disappeared from the Canadian Arctic.
Inspired by his experience on SOI’s 2015 Arctic Expedition and with generous funding from Polar Knowledge Canada through their Polar Inspiration Grant Program, Robert partnered with Iqaluit residents and polar adventurers Eric and Sarah McNair-Landry to reintroduce traditional qajaqing within their community. This project includes the following key objectives:
- Cultivate an open and positive community that practices Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (Inuit traditional knowledge),
- Develop qajaq-ing and traditional qajaq-building skills within the community, and
- Promote healthy living among Iqaluit youth
The Iqaluit Qajaq Society launched in the summer of 2016 with a series of qajaq paddling workshops among Iqaluit community members to promote the job of paddling, help paddlers become certified and grow participants, and continued the same programming throughout 2017.
Future goals include competitions and qajaq excursions to help foster the joy of qajaqing.
About Robert Comeau
Robert Comeau is an Inuk who recently completed his undergraduate degree in history and political science at Carleton University. He is engaged in the community through a local men’s group as well as being a founding member of Qajakkut (Iqaluit Qajaq Society). Robert is currently in law school at the Nunavut Arctic College. In great part thanks to Students On Ice, Robert has become an advocate of Inuit Nunangat at environmental conferences. During the summer of 2017 Robert was involved in expedition cruises through Inuit Nunangat with Adventure Canada, providing cultural interpretation and general expedition support and was a Youth Ambassador aboard Leg 8 of the Canada C3 expedition. Robert hopes to help improve the overall quality of life for Inuit and ensure that youth in the Arctic have opportunities to have their voices heard.
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