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 member of the Avalanche Canada South Rockies field team gathers important snowpack data that is used to produce daily avalanche forecasts for the region. Photo by Jennifer Coulter.
Warming temperatures increase avalanche risk heading into the weekend

Warm temperatures impact conditions, human behaviour

The City of Trail met with RCMP and Community Development Services at its virtual GoC meeting Feb. 22. Photo: Jim Bailey
Frontline workers deliver presentation on Trail’s most vulnerable

Trail council met with RCMP and Community Development Services representatives on Monday

Champion Lakes Provincial Park is fun for the whole family and a close place to camp for Greater Trail residents. Discover Camping reservations for provincial parks open Mar. 8. Photo: Jim Bailey
Happy Kootenay campers set to book trips

BC residents can book their favourite close-to-home campground starting Mar. 8 on discovercamping.ca

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Interior Health reports 16 new COVID-19 cases

423 cases remain active in the region

Mascot Super Saver Sam sends a socially-distanced high-five to all Kootenay Savings community partners. As part of Kootenay Savings ongoing commitment to giving back to the Kootenays, through good times and challenging times, the credit union has teamed up with their community-minded employees to distribute $9,500 in donations to 17 non profits.Photo: Kootenay Savings
Kootenay Savings gives a boost to non-profits

Employees at each branch picked a non-profit for a $500 gift

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

The recommendation applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in Canada

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Canada set to receive more than 6M COVID-19 vaccine dose than initially expected, by end of March

Beginning late Tuesday, anti-pipeline protesters blocked the intersection of Hastings Street and Clark Drive in Vancouver. (Instagram/Braidedwarriors)
Demonstrators block key access to Vancouver port over jail for pipeline protester

They group is protesting a 90-day jail sentence handed to a fellow anti-pipeline protester

Two Vancouver police officers were struck by a car when the driver learned he was being arrested for allegedly using a fraudulent credit card to pay for food. (Vancouver Police Department)
Driver being arrested for alleged food order fraud rams Vancouver police with car

Two officers are in stable condition, suffering soft tissue injuries following the incident

A discarded blue surgical mask is shown hanging in a bush in Montreal, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
B.C. RMT suspended for not wearing a mask after confirmed by undercover clients

College of Massage Therapists has 5 open files, said suspension necessary to protect public

B.C. Attorney General David Eby introduces former NDP cabinet minister Joy MacPhail as chair of the ICBC board Aug. 19, 2018. (B.C. government)
Judge rejects taking lawyers out of minor ICBC injury cases

David Eby vows battle against ‘personal injury industry’

Most Read