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

An original piece of artwork by Rosie Laponder, was stolen along with various art supplies from Julie Ann’s Art and Custom Framing in Chilliwack on Nov. 28, 2020. (Submitted image)
Thieves steal original artwork, art supplies from Chilliwack store

‘It kind of makes you sick to your stomach,’ says store manager

The paraglider pilot, while attempting to free himself, dropped 30 feet and sustained serious injuries as Kent-Harrison Search and Rescue members worked quickly to extract him from the trees. They were able to get him to a waiting ambulance at the end of a nearby forest service road. (Contributed Photo/Dave Harder)
Lower Mainland Search and Rescue saves paraglider in treetop rescue

Pilot tried to self-rescue but sustained serious injuries in a 30-foot fall

Still from a video surveillance camera of a man alleged to have stolen from several people at knife-point in Chilliwack (Rosedale) early on Nov. 28, 2020. (Facebook)
Violent crime spree involving knife ends in arrest in Chilliwack

RCMP looking for footage that captures violent crime spree in Chilliwack

A screenshot of a poster detailing a Dec. 4 protest against Hope council’s decision to reject BC Housing’s rezoning application for 650 Old Hope Princeton Way. (Submitted photo)
Protest planned following Hope council’s veto on supportive housing

Council voted 4 opposed, 1 in support, of BC Housing’s plans to rezone 650 Old Hope Princeton Way

Hope Secondary School. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Update: Fourth COVID-19 exposure at Hope Secondary School confirmed

Hope high school the only school in Fraser Cascade to experience multiple exposures

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

Paramedics register patients at a drive through, pop-up COVID-19 test centre outside the Canadian Tire Centre, home of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, in Ottawa, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians aren’t currently worried that people in other countries might get a COVID-19 vaccine first. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Canadians not worried other countries will get COVID-19 vaccine first: poll

Forty-one per cent of respondents say they want the vaccine to be mandatory for all Canadians

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
32 family members respond to Abbotsford care home’s plea for staffing help during COVID-19 outbreak

Menno Home asks for relief workers for food service, laundry and housekeeping

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (PIxabay.com)
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Co-author of residential schools book condemns controversial Abbotsford class assignment

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Most Read