Reward offered for return of missing ookpik mascot
It’s the case of the missing ookpik.
NAIT is offering a reward for the return of its original, iconic mascot, which hasn’t been seen in several years. NAIT’s Ook – which is made from seal skin and is roughly eight to ten inches tall - was a gift from the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources to the NAIT Students’ Association (NAITSA) in 1964.
“NAIT is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and the ookpik is a symbol of our rich history,” said NAIT spokesman Frank Landry. “The missing ookpik was a special gift from the federal government and we would love our iconic mascot be part of NAIT’s celebrations.”
NAIT is offering a five-course Chef’s Table for six at Ernest’s dining room as a reward to the person whose tip leads to the ookpik’s return.
The ookpik – which means snowy owl in Inuktitut – became a popular symbol of Canada in the 1960s after the federal government adopted a handcrafted ookpik (made at an Inuit cooperative in northern Quebec) as a souvenir at international trade fairs.
The CBC program Inquiry broadcast a story March 16, 1964 explaining the use of the ookpik as a national symbol.
• Video (6 min, 2 sec) Eyes on Ookpik (CBC Digital Archives website)
To this day, NAIT’s men’s and women’s sports teams are called the Ooks, which is short for ookpik.
“It’s very appropriate that the ookpik was selected as the mascot and namesake for NAIT’s sports teams,” said Linda Henderson, director of athletics and recreation. “The snowy owl is a strong, proud and effective predator. It not only survives, but thrives in inhospitable conditions. These are the same qualities that describe our athletes.”
NAIT’s furry brown Ook found its home for years in NAIT’s Alumni Relations office. It went missing about five years ago.
Ernest's, located at NAIT Main Campus, is recognized as one of Edmonton's top fine dining experiences, providing outstanding contemporary cuisine. All dishes are prepared and served by Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management students.
If you know of the Ook’s whereabouts, or have any suggestions as to where the little guy might be, please contact Erin Kuebler at the Department of Advancement at 780.471.8499.
A high-resolution photo of the missing ookpik is available for publication at www.flickr.com/nait.
NAIT is one of Canada’s leading polytechnics, with almost 80,000 registrations worldwide in key areas including science, technology and the environment, business, health care and trades. Known for real-world education and student success, NAIT also engages with business and industry in applied research and innovation and provides corporate training around the world. NAIT enrolled its first students - 29 communication electrician apprentices - in 1962 and this year celebrates its 50th anniversary.
For more information, please contact:
NAIT Media Relations
P 780.471.8450 C 780.916.8307 E firstname.lastname@example.org