Loss of mascot hard to bear

CNA pulls the plug on college mascot after 16 years

Mike Moore

No bear to be found. Nanuk the polar bear was missing from the Prince Phillip Drive student carnival on Wednesday. Mike Moore/Kicker

After 16 years of distinguished school spirit, Nanuk the polar bear will growl no more.

No more appearances in classrooms or at campus events, no more shipping the costume out of province to be cleaned and maintained.

In what was described as a marketing tool for the college, Roger Hulan of the College of the North Atlantic says Nanuk simply was not being utilized anymore.

“We haven’t used Nanuk now for a few years actually for any of our promotional pieces,” said Hulan, the manager of marketing and communications with the college. “I think we had one campus in Labrador that was using the mascot for maybe one event a year.”

The college, he said, believes their money can be better spent in other areas.

“Basically it has come to a point now where we have five mascot outfits spread throughout the province and basically the suits need to be cleaned in a specific way, and there’s nowhere in the province that does it,” he said.

The years, said Hulan, have not been kind to Nanuk.

“So really it just wasn’t cost effective for us to start replacing the outfits,” said Hulan. “They can be quite expensive to do so. It’s a marketing piece, and if the mascot is going to be used to promote the college, you can’t have something out there that doesn’t look as well as it should.”

Charlene Oake, student development officer at the Prince Phillip Drive campus in St. John’s, says the campus was looking into featuring Nanuk at a student orientation event, however, they were told the mascot has been officially retired.

“I got the impression that not many people use him anyway, and just for our purposes it wasn’t something that was a go-to for us,” Oake said.

“The costume is uncomfortable. It’s not an easy thing to do. It’s not something, I don’t think, that a lot of people actually [want] to do.”

The cost to maintain each suit is in the thousands of dollars Hulan says. Multiplied by five and that becomes a hefty cleaning bill. The cost of each costume, he said, is approximately $5,000.

“Each suit basically filled up a large duffel bag, bigger than your usual hockey bag. So the size and weight of each of the five suits shipped away to get cleaned and back would be thousands of dollars,” he said.

“So it’s quite the big expense for something that’s not really being utilized.”

Meanwhile, other animal mascots in the province could suffer the same fate as Nanuk. After the end of professional hockey at Mile One Centre recently, longtime St. John’s hockey icon Buddy the Puffin’s future in the entertainment industry remains uncertain.



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