From left, Sophie Moorhouse, Avery Kasudluak, Scarlet Kasudluak, Gabriella Kadsudluak and Katrina Berthe with their skateboards in Inukjuak. Teacher Caroline Gleason said the five young skaters are excited for the new skatepark being built in their community. (Photo courtesy of Caroline Gleason)David Venn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Aug 02, 2022 at 06:40

By David Venn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Young people in Inukjuak will soon have a permanent spot for skateboarding.

The new park, which will be located in what is currently an undeveloped lot behind a daycare centre in the community’s downtown area, is set to open Aug. 20.

Local teacher Caroline Gleason has been leading the project for several months. She said she wanted to see a skatepark built for kids who spend their summers in the community.

“There’s a whole group of kids who stay in the village, and they don’t have much to do,” she said.

“It’s really a place that they can go and they can make their own, that we can look to have reach-out programs there with community leaders.”

To get the project rolling, Gleason brought together a variety of partners from the private and public sectors.

Notably, she was able to secure the support of CRT Construction — the company building a nearby dam for Hydro Quebec — which is helping ship materials to the community, provide workers and offer advice for some of the weather-related construction challenges.

Other partners Gleason listed include the Northern Village of Inukjuak, Pituvik Corp., the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services, the non-profit Make Life Skate Life, and several local stores.

Gleason described the skatepark as a “well over a million-dollar project.” But with the amount of donated materials, she only needed to apply for approximately $315,000 from the Inukjuak Infrastructure Fund.

“It’s really, I think, so needed and such a beautiful thing that the community is coming together to support youth,” she said.

Once the park is up and running, Gleason said programming such as skateboarding and safety lessons will be offered.

But before that happens, the park will host an opening ceremony with an appearance by professional skateboarder Joe Buffalo.

Buffalo, who is from the Samson Cree Nation in Alberta, is a residential school survivor who was also the subject of a 2021 New Yorker short documentary, executive-produced by American skateboarding legend Tony Hawk.

“We wanted to also have someone like Joe Buffalo come in and show what’s possible,” Gleason said, noting that skateboarding is now a sport at the Summer Olympics.

She said she hopes the skatepark will lead to the growth of a skateboarding community. While some kids skate down Inukjuak’s gravel roads, she said she hopes a safe, permanent facility — along with a supply of boards and safety equipment donated to the village — will help make skateboarding a part of community life during the warmer months.

“There’s no skate community in Inukjuak, so it can be really, really inclusive,” Gleason said.

This item reprinted with permission from Nunatsiaq News, Iqaluit, Nunavut