Cambridge Bay arts studio plans welding certification program for young people

·2 min read
A huge statue of Sedna, Inuit guardian of sea animals, stands in the Red Fish studio in Cambridge Bay. It will soon be installed outside the Rideau Hall residence of the Governor General in Ottawa.   (Jane George/CBC - image credit)
A huge statue of Sedna, Inuit guardian of sea animals, stands in the Red Fish studio in Cambridge Bay. It will soon be installed outside the Rideau Hall residence of the Governor General in Ottawa. (Jane George/CBC - image credit)

The Red Fish Arts Studio in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, wants to help young people get the certification they need to become welders' apprentices.

The studio, which opened last year in a renovated fish plant, plans to offer the Canadian Welding Bureau certification to its young welders, ages 16 to 21, who are referred to the Red Fish studio by the territory's justice department.

Red Fish instructor Mark Slatter says the plan is to have the studio participants first prove they can do the welding.

"Then we will help them through the apprenticeship," he said.

Jane George/CBC
Jane George/CBC

Slatter said the young people — Daryl Taptoona-Haynes, Andrew Kitigon, Dylan Zukiwsky, Robert Taptoona-Haynes and Brandon Kavanna —  are already "excellent welders," and employable.

However, they don't have certification, which is offered through programs in the South.

The plan now is for them to get certified by continuing to work with Slatter in Cambridge Bay and take an examination remotely.

Slatter joined the studio, which won a 2018 Arctic Inspiration award for its work with young people, about a year and half ago.

Jane George/CBC
Jane George/CBC

Slatter said he's gotten the five young welders involved in jobs including helping to repair a water truck for the municipality, which operates the studio.

They have also helped with the studio's ongoing production of artwork from recycled iron.

The Nunavut premier has presented their red metal fish to the prime minister, and other officials in Ottawa.

The Red Fish welders also crafted a huge welcome sign for Cambridge Bay, and completed two awards for winners of 2021 Arctic Inspiration Prizes: a muskox and kayak.

Now they're working on a large metal sign for the RCMP in Cambridge Bay.

Sculpture heading to Rideau Hall grounds

Jane George/CBC
Jane George/CBC

Their giant Sedna statue, still on view in a corner of the studio, will eventually be installed on the grounds near the Governor General's Rideau Hall residence in Ottawa.

Like their other works, Sedna, or Nuliajuk, the Inuit guardian of sea animals, is made from recycled metal. The strands of her hair came from a 20-foot-long mooring wire that needed to be untwisted.

Attaching the individual metal hairs took time, said Dylan Zukiwsky, as each one had to be separately welded and bent.

Sedna's scales came from a discarded oil drums.

The sculpture isn't finished: the welders still plan to craft a belt with sea creatures.

For the shipping process to Ottawa, Sedna's delicate head will be removed.

Slatter said he wants all the young builders to be present at the sculpture's installation.

Jane George/CBC
Jane George/CBC
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