A narwhal tusk that was donated to a Goodwill store in northwest Calgary this summer will soon be gifted to the Arctic Institute of North America (Hesam Rezaei)

A narwhal tusk that was donated to a Goodwill store in northwest Calgary this summer will soon be gifted to the Arctic Institute of North America (Hesam Rezaei)

Narwhal tusk discovered in Calgary Goodwill pile to be donated to university

The tusk had federal hunting tags from 1978 attached that say animal was harvested from the central Arctic

A more than four-decade-old narwhal tusk found in a Goodwill donation pile is about to get a new home at the University of Calgary.

Goodwill is giving the 60-centimetre-long spiral canine tooth from a marine mammal often dubbed the “unicorn of the sea” to the university’s Arctic Institute of North America.

Goodwill spokeswoman Shannon Black says the tusk had federal hunting tags from 1978 attached that say the animal was harvested from the central Arctic.

She says it’s not known who donated it and she can’t speculate as to whether its most recent owner knew how valuable it is.

The not-for-profit, which raises money for people with disabilities, receives precious donations from time to time, including a collection of Second World War medals last year and an authentic Louis Vuitton bag a few months ago.

Goodwill is to hand off the tusk to the institute at a closed celebration, in keeping with COVID-19 guidelines.

“We’re just so honoured that we were able to ensure and secure the right home for it. We’re looking forward for it to be a teaching tool for years to come and hopefully helping to preserve the integrity of narwhal whales in Canada’s Arctic,” said Black, Goodwill’s brand manager in the Calgary region.

Shannon Christoffersen, the Arctic Institute’s manager of data and information services, got the surprising email from Goodwill about a month ago.

“You don’t really hear about narwhal tusks getting dropped off at Goodwill,” she said.

“It is significant for us because we have not previously had a narwhal tusk in our collection — I think partly because it’s a marine mammal and we don’t exactly have access to a lot of those in the Calgary area.”

She said she wasn’t sure at first whether the institute could legally receive the tusk under federal rules. But because it was harvested so long ago, and still has its permits and tags attached, it got the all-clear.

Sandie Black, a veterinary medicine professor at the university who is also head of veterinary services at the Calgary Zoo, believes the tusk was from a young narwhal between three and five years old. Tusks can grow up to three meters long.

She said the animals are an important food source for many Arctic communities and their tusks are often carved by Inuit artists.

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

CalgaryCharity and Donations

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A poignant Pandemic Postcard Project submission has led Lesley Wright and Graham Hughes of Literacy Alberni on a new path toward anti-racism education. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Literacy Alberni tackles racism

Society receives $50K in funding to create web-driven reporting system

Kelly McGiffin, left, Dwayne Stern, batboy Jackson McGiffin and Kirk McGiffin are reviving the Port Alberni Cubs—this time as an over-55 baseball team. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni’s McGiffin brothers revive Cubs baseball at 55-plus

The boys of summer are 55-plus now, but back on the baseball field

The intersection at 10th Avenue and Dunbar Street. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Safety improvements planned for Port Alberni intersection

10th Avenue and Dunbar Street is an “intersection of concern” based on incident data

Members of Huu-ay-aht First Nations conducted two checkpoints on Monday, May 10, asking people who enter the territory to respect the sacred principles and to act accordingly while on Huu-ay-aht land. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Huu-ay-aht First Nations set up checkpoints in territory

Access restrictions come after forestry incidents

Bulldogs forward Brandon Buhr is knocked off the puck by Grizzlies defenceman Lindsay Reid. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs beaten back-to-back by Victoria Grizzlies

Victoria Grizzlies named Island Champions while Bulldogs take second place

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

A scene from the Schoolhouse Squat from October 2018, where Alliance Against Displacement members and supporters occupied the Rutherford Elementary School site, advocating for people experiencing homelessness. (News Bulletin file)
‘Schoolhouse Squat’ activists get conditional discharge in Nanaimo school occupation

Ivan Donald Drury, Tingchun (Listen) Chen sentenced in provincial court in Nanaimo

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Sunfest country music bash won’t be shining on B.C. in 2021

Annual Vancouver Island Festival cancelled due to COVID-19, along with Laketown Shakedown

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read