Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas in Cape Dorset

Christmas break has been wonderful. We have all been having a great time together playing, sledding and spending time with Lily’s buddies. On Christmas Eve morning our three neighbour kids came over to play. The middle girl is a student in Margot’s class. Lily has always enjoyed playing with them outside but this is the first time we have had them to our house. The kids played for a while and then we got into baking. We made almost three dozen cookies and then had a crazy time decorating them. There were chocolate sprinkles and sparkles everywhere! Later in the afternoon Margot and Lily wrapped them up and we delivered packages of cookies to all the families left in our complex (all four of them). The kids all stayed for lunch and then we all headed out for the Santa Clause parade. The great part about being close to the north pole is Santa has time to come for our parade. Santa stands on top of the fire truck and everyone joins into the procession that drives around town. It was really very fun. The neat thing was that most of the kids know Lily, Margot and me so most kids waved and said Hi to us, especially Lily. Then we joined into the parade on our snowmobiles. It was a funny thing to be in a parade with the police, fire truck, numerous vehicles, quads and snowmobiles. Lily thought it was great. She was so excited to meet him while he was giving out candy and oranges after the parade.

After dinner we went to a community event. It featured throat singers, various teenagers competing for cash in traditional Inuit games, and live music (after we left sadly). Margot competed in an event called the stick toss in which over 100 people stood in a large circle and passed a stick around while music was played. When the music stopped, whomever was holding the stick was eliminated. The event was quite heated and very intense as everyone took it seriously. Margot made it to the final four people before she was eliminated. I didn’t last long in the gambling game I joined. The game is played by placing either $5.00 or an item of similar value onto one of the three squares on the floor. We then took turns rolling a die. If you rolled a one, you get eliminated. Sadly, I was eliminated. Lily had a great time playing with all the kids and running about. But boy was she goony by the time we got home. She is usually in bed, asleep by 7:30 pm. She didn’t get to sleep until almost 10 pm! It was fun to participate with others in the community. However, I wasn’t too homesick until I got home from this. I think seeing all the Inuit playing and spending time with their friends and family reminded me what we gave up to come up here.

Christmas day was fun. It took us all day minus time spent sledding, lunch and nap opening half Lily and our presents. Every one she opened she had to play with for a while. It was so fun that she really enjoyed every single gift she received. Thank you to everyone for sending up such wonderful gifts! We were having such a great time that we lost track of time and missed getting the turkey in the oven. We opted to thaw some steak and tiger prawns instead. However, we missed the boat on that too because we were having so much fun playing, so we had a snacky dinner (sausage, cheese, noodles, etc) and it suited us just fine. We finished presents on Boxing Day. After which Margot took Lily out sledding with some kids while I sorted and re-arranged Lily’s toys and her play area. Now everything has a home in the kitchen.

One of the presents we got for Christmas was Toy Story 3, which is about a boy outgrowing his toys and how sad the toys are about not being played with any more. The reason I bring this up is Lily has opted to sleep with a new doll and has ousted three stuffed toys (a cat named Meow, a bunny that I had as a kid whom she named Booster and another bunny named Deetdeet). She is just fine with this and still plays with them but just doesn’t want them in bed. It makes me very sad thinking about their feelings. I know, I am sappy and they are just stuffies.

We hope you had a great Christmas!

-Richard and Margot

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

BYO Rainboots!

Margot and Lily building a Santa's sleigh.

Lily at her concert. Sorry for the unexciting picture, but this is the best I could get from my spot in the gym.

Lily dishing out some love for "the little baby".

This is what Margot arrived to at her school after a blizzard. There is a deck and pathway under the snow.

Lily playing while I get some work done. It's about -23C.

Sledding with the kids.

Lily and Janice taking a break from sledding.

Good Morning everyone. Well, we made it to Christmas break! We are now all done school and I am over my end of school crash (the flu) so we are able to have some fun. It's been nice spending time with my family and start to slow down a bit. Sadly, the weather up here has been terrible. It has been so warm that much of the snow and ice that was starting to form started melting off. In the midst of the heat wave it rained. This carried on for two days then turned to proper freezing rain. You can imagine how icy it is now that the temperature is starting to drop. After the freezing rain, our house ran out of water. It was Saturday night when I had to start calling to get more. I started with the Hamlet emergency housing number and all they could do was suggest other people to call. It was very trying but I did finally manage.

Our Christmas concerts all went well. They are crazy events in which the audience never seems to stop moving/talking/walking. The highlight was seeing Lily's classmates participate in various songs and dances when they joined Margot's concert at the elementary school. They were great and Lily was so funny. She performed a dance routine and song in Inuktitut and was very well received by the audience, along with all the other little ones. My concert was a bit of a challenge as I was partially responsible for putting the event on. It was a challenge to put on a large event in a new school, new community and to me, a foreign culture. Everything went well and we received lots of positive feedback.

Margot and I had a couple of errands to run the other day, so decided to pick Lily up together and head over to the stores. Lily likes being out in the world and we thought it would be fun. Well, it wasn't. Lily had had a long day at school and emotionally crashed shortly after our getting her. She has now hit a stage that involves complete shut down (pitching a fit, screaming, crying, falling to the ground). Knowing she was hungry, Margot grabbed a package of green grapes for her to nibble on while we finished our shopping. This helped a bit, but boy, when that kid get's going, it's tough to get back on track. I find it very frazzling to have Lily in this state. It's upsetting to me to see her so upset, and I'll admit it, embarasing. I can only imagine what bystanders are thinking. Anyhow, when I get to the checkout to pay for our items, the girl shows me the price of the already opened green grapes: $10.89!!!! This is a small package, about a pound. The manager tells me they are about $22.00 a kilo. I am floored, but we already opened them, so we pay and leave. No wonder there are nutrition issues up here when that is what fresh fruit costs.

I have finally gotten our snowmobiles finished (for the most part) and they are now both able to be ridden. Our used machines that were in "great shape" ended up costing an additional $700 in parts. This does not include the labour to do the work. I really dislike buying used things sometimes. However, with that being said, it is great to have them. They make life here easier and more enjoyable. I went for another amazing ride yesterday. I was able to make it to another part of the island and was able to watch a beautiful sunset (at 2 in the afternoon) over the open ocean. In the background I could hear hunters shooting their guns in their attempts to get a whale. There have been belugas around and people are really excited. The ice is starting to build up on the inlet and people are walking on it. The other day, a man's snowmobile fell through though. I heard that both he and the machine were rescued so I suspect it must have happened near shore. It will be great when the ice is thick and stable enough to travel on. I have been invited out caribou hunting on Baffin Island which will be a truly unique experience although a bit daunting.

Take care and have a safe Christmas holiday.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Blizzards and a snowboard

Below are photo's of:

1-5. snowboarding and snowmobiling
6. Lily trying on Margot's snow pants and boots
7. Lisa posing with the fur she and Margot bought for their parkas. Margot's is on the left and is blue fox. It will be enough for three parkas.
8. Lily playing with her helmet.
9-14. Various shots of my tour of the Cape Dorset Artists Co-op.
15. Kala pretending to be a sheep after spending a few minutes outside in a blizzard.
16. Birthday Party!
17. Lily tending her garden
18. Pizza!



















This is a bit of a hodgepodge of written work that I put together into one post. It has been a bit of a challenge it seems for me to get much time or energy to post this last bit. Anyhow, here is how our life has looked lately from my perspective. -Richard

December 5, 2010:

It was quite a week for me at work. Our school has been closed to students all week thanks to our heating system. It has been consistently over 30 degrees Celsius in most of the classrooms and hallways. My class peaked at 43 degrees. Yowch! The DEA (District Educational Authority) has decided that our school is not a suitable place for students. So I spent the week getting the music/drama room cleaned and sorted along with other school beautification jobs. But we had the most staff meetings ever, one lasted all day. It was brutal! I did manage to arrange a tour of the Co-op’s Lithograph and carving studio, which was great. We saw numerous examples of locally produced drawings and prints. The manager was very helpful and took heaps of time giving me and three other teachers a tour. We talked about how to bring the school and the studio closer together which I hope will turn out to be productive. The whole experience was very inspiring.

This week we had students but school was canceled one morning, one afternoon and an entire day due to blizzards. The wind was gusting at over 90 km hr. The entire house was shaking; it was pretty wild and a bit unsettling. In the midst of that, we realized that the heat upstairs doesn’t work. A worker was sent out to fix it but he was unable to. Luckily we brought along a small oil filled heater that keeps Lily’s room nice and warm. The blizzard left a snowdrift beside the building that was at least 5 feet tall.

Christmas is fast approaching and most of the staff from down south are keen to be heading home but are very concerned about the possible weather delays associated with all the blizzards we have been getting. Sadly, we are not going home to see our families but are keen on seeing what Cape Dorset is going to be like at Christmas. I have heard there are all sorts of community activities and often they have a large feast which futures a wide variety of country food.

Speaking of Christmas, we got our tree up and all our lights and such set up. It is very festive here and Lily is enjoying it. We have a small-motorized Santa that moves and sings “jingle bell rock” that we have had forever. Lily is really enjoying playing with him and having impromptu dance parties. Good times!

It is starting to look the way I thought the Arctic was going to look like up here. Last week Lisa and I went out snowmobiling and headed into the back-country. But first I went snowboarding behind Nipple Mountain. Not the best riding ever, but I still got in about 10 or so runs. It was nice to get some turns in. It will be nice when we get more snow then we can access more shuttle runs with the snowmobiles. I have snowshoes, but it’s a lot more fun to get a ride to the top. Also, when we have more snow and ice, I can use my snowkite to pull me on my board and that should be a good time. After snowboarding, we wound our way up and over a couple of mountains and found a super fun bowl to play in. I taught her different snowmobile techniques like how to side hill and get the high mark on the mountain. It was going great until the key for my machine fell out while we were driving. Luckily I was able to get the machine working and back to town. It was so much fun, I love snowmobiling.

Saturday was one of the nicer looking days I have seen up her yet with lots of fresh snow, sunshine and little wind. The sun was up by 10 am so Lily and I, along with a few kids from next door, headed out to go sledding. Very picturesque with the sun hitting the mountains on Baffin Island and the harbour starting to freeze up. I realized how much I miss the sun though. Quite a contrast to when we lived in Calgary, with it’s 200 sunny days a year. I do love cold, clear and sunny winter days.

Lily received a small starter garden that will grow sunflowers recently and is loving it. We take it out everyday and she talks about her garden and how well it is doing. It has five good sprouts on it, which is nice as I was concerned that nothing might grow.

Take care everyone and I hope your Christmas plans are coming along. Drop us a line, we love to hear from people!

December 13, 2010 update:

There are snowmobiles out on the ice today. I thought they were ice fishing but it turns out they are hunting seals. Oh, and last night was an iconic Canadian moment for me. After dinner we took the dogs out for a play in front of our place and it was wicked cold (-28 C). We were all playing in the snow when my neighbor came out with his son to play a bit of street hockey. Meanwhile, the northern lights were blazing across the sky and in the distance I heard snowmobiles zooming around. It was a very cool moment.

Overall, life is good up here. Lily is loving school, Margot and I are doing well with our classes and in our schools and our house is quite comfortable. We hope your lives are wonderful also! We are sure missing our families and friends though!


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Newfies and a babysitter

Friday school was canceled because the day before the heating system in the high school was “fixed” which in turn changed my classroom (along with the rest of school) from a comfortable 20 degrees Celsius to upwards of 40! So I spent the whole day outside tearing apart the extra shipping crate we have and began transforming it into another shed for the other snowmobile. This shed is going under the stairs so we drive it in one side and out the other. Sadly, our machines don’t have reverse. Anyhow, it was a long, wet day.

Later that evening we were invited to a bit of a gathering for a birthday party so after we got Lily down to sleep we had our babysitter come over. She is a very responsible girl who goes to my school. She came over and met Lily a couple weeks ago and everything went very well. This is the first time Lily has ever been left with a babysitter with the exception of staying over at my parent’s house a few times. It is an odd feeling to be leaving her but it was nice to be able to go out with just adults. The majority of the people at the party were all from the Maritimes and it was a great time. We had our first proper kitchen party. It makes me laugh that we had it in Cape Dorset rather than the 8 months we lived in Halifax. A favorite memory for me will be me and a friend riding on one of our snowmobiles late at night while he managed to hold two guitars, smoke and not fall off. It was too funny! However it took a bit to get the guitars back into tune.

Saturday morning we all went out for a big sledding session. We were joined by a few kids and everyone had a good time. Lily went down the hill by herself for the first time!

Today we tackled moving our sealift goods out of the basement. What a pain! This is meant both literally and figuratively. It’s a nice job to have done.

Tomorrow is my birthday, 33! Woohoo!!! So I have taken steak, tiger prawns and lobster tails out of the freezer in preparation. Margot is making fresh bread and chocolate chip banana bread for me, which is one of my favorites. I am very excited.

Have a great week.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Whale face!

Yesterday I was told about a beluga whale that had been caught and was on the shore near the school. So I popped down there and was very excited about seeing busy fisherman (or are they hunters?) and a whale being all butchered up. Well you see what I saw. I must admit I was disappointed and a bit confused as to why the whale had had it's skin, blubber and fins removed while the rest was left to the seagulls. I waited in the snow and wind for a bit then headed back to school. I stopped in and talked with the Secretary of the school, Ooloosie (sorry if it is not spelled correctly). She has been very helpful clarifying customs and filling me in what is what up here. It turns out that her husband caught the whale in one of his nets. She explained that people only eat the meat from a whale when it is a fresh kill. If it recovered from a net (which are checked every 24 hours) then it has been dead for a while. Apparently this affects the taste and people don't like it as it tastes differently. However, they do use it to feed dogs and such. So, it does not go to waste which is great. Hey, the dogs have got to eat to right?

I have been thinking a lot about animals, hunting and culture lately. I grew up hunting and fishing in southern B.C. We hunted grouse (birds), rabbits and deer. Many others hunted black bear, elk, moose and ducks. When I grew older and moved to the city I chose to become a vegetarian because I did not want to support how animals who were raised for human consumption were treated over their lifetimes. Anyway, I have digressed. I now eat meat again. Principals, shmincipales. I do love bacon! Anyhow, hunting these animals seemed normal at the time and in hindsight. But coming up here, I had some trepidation about the hunting of animals that are found here. But, I tried to come with an open mind and not be judgmental and I feel I am doing a pretty good job. I realize, upon lots of personal reflection, that hunting a seal or what have you up here is the same as hunting a deer down south. In fact, my students asked me a while back if I was a hunter and I explained that when I was young, I was. When I told them we hunted deer, there response was "ohhh". This is in a "oh, that's kind of sad to kill such a cute animal" sort of ohhh. I was taken aback. These are the same kids who say their favorite country food meals are muktuk (beluga skin and blubber raw) and raw, frozen caribou. It just reinforces that normal is relative to your history and where you are at any given moment.

On a side note, the garden is doing very well. Our plants consist of large tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, basil, green onions and lettuce. Sadly, I was unable to get worms for composting though.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Two steps forward, three steps back

So the blog is getting around I guess. My neighbor came out to talk to Lily and I the other night as we were getting home off the snowmobile. A friend had told her about the blog and after looking through it pointed out that the crawlspace is NOT as good place to put food as we thought. This contradicts what we had be told before, however, once I heard her reasoning, I have opted to follow her recommendations. Turns out that the vents for the plumbing on our unit freeze over and the smell can spread throughout the crawlspace. This in turn can taint anything down there. Canned goods are okay, but that’s about it. So, since we are not interested in trying poo flavored crackers or bread, we have a whole lot of work ahead of us. We need to move everything up here and put it somewhere. Our extra room is now likely going to be our new pantry.

Margot is still having severe migraines, which is new for her. She was able to see a doctor while one was in town a few days ago and they are ordering in some medicine that may help. But she was told that if she were down south they would have sent her for a CT scan immediately and have her on special medication. But, we live in Cape Dorset so that’s not an option. They want to see how she will respond to the drugs first. Our not having Nunavut health care numbers yet also poses a problem as BC will not pay to fly her down to have medical treatment in Ottawa like Nunavut health care does.

Lilibeth is doing well and loving the snow. She is starting to stutter a bit, which is causing her some frustration because she can’t get her ideas or thoughts out fast enough. I am sure it is just a developmental stage as she is developing the language acquisition skills that are accompanying her growing vocabulary. We just remind her to slow down when she is really having trouble. She has now started telling herself to slow down also, it is quite funny.

I got the parts for the 2nd snowmobile (Margot’s) and on the second attempt at installing the springs, finally got them on. The spacers that hold the idler wheels in place had rusted on, but having never disassembled it before, I wasn’t sure how to take them off. I didn’t realize they were rusted on. I figured there must be a pin or a recessed Allen screw or something. So it’s nice to have that done. After I finished it yesterday I went out for a ride around town just to make sure everything was OK. While in an up and out of the way place, it started acting up. I was quite concerned; I thought I might be walking out. The engine started to bog down and was unable to rev up enough to fully engage the clutch. I opened up the hood and everything looked OK. I turned it off for a couple of minutes and then re-started, let it idle for a bit and away it went. It has always seemed a bit slow to get going, but this is very concerning. I came home and put in new plugs, added some methyl hydrate to the gas tank (in case of water mixed in) and am hoping that fixes it. We went out for a ride today and while it was still a bit doggy to get going, it did not stop working which is good. The only other quick fix is a new belt, although the one on there now seems to be decent. I was talking with a few guys last night and they seem to think it may be the main bearing going. With the combined power loss and a broken speedometer they figure that’s the culprit. It is a pricey fix and one I am reluctant to do until I know more. I am going stop into the Co-op’s shop tomorrow and hopefully they can help. Oh, and the brakes need to be adjusted. I think I may have bought a bit of a lemon. Oh well, too late now.

On friday, we went to the restaurant for the first time. We were feeling that we needed a treat. It was a quite fun. Lily and I picked up Margot and we took both sleds down and had numerous dishes of tasty, fatty food. MMMMMMMM. It was nice to not have to cook or clean up. Lily played with the kids at the next table. It started with talking to them and ended with her sitting at their table eating. After dinner they all pretended to be puppies.

We have had a fair bit of snow over the past couple of days so this morning Lily and I took the dogs out for a walk. Lily wanted to bring her sled. I put on Kala’s harness and Lily was very excited about being pulled around the neighborhood by Kala. Poor Kala though, she is used to being with Smoot and pulling an adult along with Lily. That’s what we did in Rossland BC Last year. She loves it because she can really get flying. Well, I wasn’t going to risk hurting her here as it’s hilly, icy and she is getting older. So, I had to leash her to keep her at a walking pace. Both the girls thought it was pretty good time.

Our snowmobile ride today was fun, but cold. It’s about minus 10 Celsius with a strong wind and blowing snow. We headed up the mountain then over to the park for a play. Margot is still very nervous about riding but is doing a great job. We did some trail riding for the first time, which is a bit tighter and is not as flat. Lily loved it! She switched between riding with Margot and me at least 10 times thinking it was the best thing. We had a good play at the park on the swings and then headed home for lunch. Margot made fresh bread! MMMMMMMMMM.

On a side note, I must say that I am having trouble with the darkness. The sun didn't crest the horizon until about 10:30 this morning and was setting by around 2 pm. It is dark when we leave in the morning and dark when we get home. Poor Lily is having trouble keeping naps and bedtime strait also. Oh well, I am sure we'll get there.

Take care,


Friday, November 12, 2010

Moving to Cape Dorset, Nunavut?

First off, thanks Morena for the help with the photos. It seems that I can now post them, but I am still having trouble moving them or placing captions on them. So, you'll just have to figure it out.

Moving to Cape Dorset?

We have been asked to put together a list of things you need or need to know about moving up here, many of which I wish I had known first. I am writing this from the perspective of a teacher who is moving to Nunavut because I can only speak from our experience. This is the sort of thing we will add to I am sure, but at this point it is more of a “don’t forget” list with bits and pieces I keep meaning to write down before I forget.

First off, ask questions of who is hiring you. They should have a package of info for you. Next, ask bloggers. We had so much help from Morena who writes the babies and bulldogs blog. Thanks Morena. Be sure to read this link from the townie bastard in Iqaluit as it is great.


Be sure to pack everything you need for up to two or more months. This includes clothes, outdoor clothing, bedding, bath stuff, basic kitchen things, stuff to set up your class and program, paperwork related to the move, cheques, cash, food (both dry and perishable). We brought three large rubbermaid type bins that helped. It was important for us to know that when we got here we would be able to eat the way we liked. It helped all of us transition into our new home. You are basically camping until your moving contents arrive, which may take a while. Remember, liquor is Restricted in Cape Dorset so you can't just pick something up when you get here. My students tell me the going rate for a mickey of bootlegged (illigal) hooch is running around $100. So, if you want booze you must go through the application process when you get here and brace yourself for the prices. A flat of 24 cans of beer bought legally is about $300 or about $13.00 each! Be sure to review what you are and are not entitled to in regards to moving expenses and keep your recipts. Also, be ready for a long wait to get reimbursed.

You arrange for your utlities at the hamlet and power, internet and cable at the northern store. To set up your phone, find a phone and contact northwest tel. Rent comes off your paycheque eventually.


Nunavut arranged to have packers/movers come to our house in small town southern BC. We had a packed a few things and we asked to stop packing because Nunavut wants to be sure we were not packing items that are prohibited (food, booze, etc…). They arranged for our things to be moved from our house in BC to our house in Nunavut. Be aware though, the packers we had were more focused on speed than ensuring our things got here safely. Get Insurance! We have head some moving horror stories. Also, it can take a while (up to a couple of months) for your things to get here.

The Sealift are goods that are shipped from down south on a large ship. Here is a link to Government of Nunavut that outlines it: . You can order your food and other goods through a company or pack it yourself and take it to the packaging company (TSC I think?). I don’t know much about this as we had a company arrange the shipping. However, it is much cheaper and you get a much better selection of goods putting together a sealift yourself. Some people stop off in Ottowa (?) and do their buying before they come up for the year. This way you can shop where you like and find the sales. You can also ship up large items like ATV, snowmobiles, furniture and vehicles. A friend just shipped up a 1 ton 4x4 6 passenger truck with duallies and a canopy for $5000. I have heard a small suv is about $2000 and a quad is about $400.

Online shopping:
Here are a few companies that do free shipping or have it included in their prices at this time:
Bestbuy Canada
Costco Canada
LL - this is the company we do our foodmail through. Food mail is a program that is going to be shut down in March that subsidizes the shipping of fresh, healthy food to the north. We are very upset about the loss of it. is a great store from nelson BC who carries real outdoor gear for kids. It is where we got most of Lily’s stuff. You do pay shipping though the rates are fair.

Helpful Hint:
Pay Canada Post $45 to have your mail forwarded to the school you are going to be working at. This way, anyone who ships you large, expensive care packages only has to pay to have it be shipped from a community near where you used to live to your old address, then Canada Post will ship it to your new address up here automatically and without additional charge. Really, it works.

Use all your shipping allotment! You only get it once and you can always sell stuff you bring up that you don’t use.

Bring your movies and music. We digitized all our cd's and sold them before we came to lessen the amount we traveled with.

Stuff you might need or want:

• Insulated rubber boots
• Ice Cleats that slip on over your winter boots. It gets very icy.
• High quality rain jacket and pants. We have helly hanson gear and love it! Thin fleece gloves for the shoulder season and a hat
• Windstopper fleece jackets (it’s always blowing up here, always)and a warm toque
• Good winter gear. Some people buy coats up here that are nice, but I opted for a Canada Goose Expedition Parka that is super warm. I did not want to leave a coat to chance.
• Hiking backpacks. You carry everything here so something designed to carry some weight, that’s durable and has a raincover
• If you plan on going out on the land or hiking, you need to be able to protect yourself. So be sure to get your firearms training course before you come and bring a gun/ammo. I brought a 12 gauge pump action shotgun. I chose this because ammo is readily available and rifled slugs have a lot of stopping power. At the very least, look into getting bear bangers. They make a very loud sound, require no special permits and are non-lethal.
• Binoculars are nice because there are so many pretty things to see.
• I brought along my snowboards and tools for maintaining them. I also got a snow kite because I want to have something fun to do in when it gets cold and snowy.
• We bought a Nintendo WII for fun. The dancing games are quite a hit with our friends.
• A small tabletop propane (the kind that takes the small tanks) BBQ. They sell them here but they’re very expensive. We are able to buy the small non-refilable tanks up here at both stores, but we have to ask customer service and sign for them. There is a problem with people inhaling or sniffing the gas and getting high.
• Instruments. If you play, bring something up. We brought my drum set and two guitars. I am now running a Drum club at school, the kid’s love it.
• Fishing gear if you enjoy it.
• Tools!!! At the least, bring a simple tool kit with the basics for stuff around your house. Also, bring a couple extension cords, power bars, misc nails, screws and drywall anchors. If you plan on getting an atv or snowmobile, get a better set of tools that include electrical repair stuff, chain and locks. Tools and hardware are so expensive up here.
• A shovel
• A large humidifier
• Various flashlights and a headlamp. It’s dark here.
• A high quality Camera, it’s pretty up here
• Folding nylon camp chairs. They come in handy.
• Fitness equipment.
• Goggles and high quality sunglasses
• Helmets if you plan on using a quad or atv
• We bought snowshoes and poles to go out and explore as a family but I hear that the snow is quite hard and we may not need them.

Kids stuff you might not think about
• A high quality jogging stroller.
• Rain clothes (good ones!)
• High quality winter gear, not the stuff from the department store. It’s worth spending more. We bought Molehill gear for Lily and it seems to be doing very well.
• Fun things for little ones room. The living arrangements are very white up here.
• Backpack for the little one. Yours is going to be full.
• A vehicle. I really regret not bring up an SUV. It costs about $2500 to ship one up but you can pack it with all your sealift goods along with extra fluids and tires. When it costs over $10,000 for a quad up here. When it is cold and blowing while pushing Lily in her stroller home or to school I wish I had brought a truck up. If you could pick something up down south in good shape for under $5000 and be into it for under $10,000 you could defiantly get your money out of it after a couple of years.
• Presents. Buy them before you move and put them in with your moving things.
• Foam play mat. The lino is hard.
• Lots of toys and games.
• A sled
• Books!
• Any baby or kid stuff you use in the kitchen
• Diapers, wipes, TP can all go in your moving allotment. We brought enough to last until Lily is out of diapers. I have heard Amazon does free diaper shipping, but I can’t confirm.
• Goggles for little one
• Sunglasses for little one. Good quality.

Household (if you are sharing a place, consider bringing up what you need anyways just in case they leave and take their things with them)
• Apartment sized deep freeze
• DRAPES AND RODS!!!! The furnished houses up here do not come with these.
• All things you need to have a happy kitchen.
• Bedding and pillows
• Storage. I wish we would have brought a cheap assemble it yourself bookshelf.
• Rubbermaid bins are always helpful
• Bring up good coffee
• If you are thinking of getting new electronics, wait until you get here because bestbuy Canada ships for free. So there is not point using your shipping allotment up.
• A wireless router if you need wireless in your house
• Mops, brooms, garbage cans, mop buckets and any other large items. Bulky things up here are more expensive
• Art. We brought some posters, pictures and a digital picture frame.
• Area rugs. They are small and break up the lino that covers our entire house.

• Long thin dog leashes to tie up your dogs. The nylon webbing style allows you to close the door with the metal clips in the house where they can stay warm.
• Dog crates to ship your pet up here
• Extra medications! There are no vets in Nunavut. You need to be self sufficient with your pet. You may want to bring up a hand sprayer for the bathroom also. It’s such a pain to give big dogs a bath without one.
• Nail clippers and quick stop
• Extra metal clips for leashes. The metal stair treads and cold and extremely hard on them. We seem to be breaking one every 2 months.
• Dog food. It is pricey up here for low quality kibble. It is worth a doing a sealift just for it. Toys and dog treats too.

School Stuff
• A good laptop is handy and most schools seem to be shifting to macs. You may get something old and dated. If you are a newer teacher, I suspect you use your computer a lot and want it to be able to run modern software, bring your newer laptop.
• Any and all resources you use or like. Don’t expect much to be at your school. Come prepared and self-contained.
• Stickers, prizes, consumables, class decoration. Bring anything you think is fun and would make your life nicer or prettier.
• An espresso maker for your class. I think every teacher should have one!
• Thing are pretty casual up here in regards to clothing. However, like down south some dress nicer than others. I tend to be a bit more casual with nice white skate shoes, jeans and good-looking t-shirt. On fancy days I wear a golf shirt. It’s about personal preference and for me, I like to be physical and play with the kids. I hate having to hold back because I am wearing expensive clothes. I worked at a fancy private school for a while and it was something I always disliked. Also, the thermostat is broken in my class, which makes it the hottest place in Nunavut, so I like to be comfy. I am planning on wearing my birks soon.

Well, it’s getting late and I need to go to bed. Take care and I hope this helps. Please add any and all things we missed to the comments section.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Big polar bear and little people

Today we headed out with Lily and Lisa to see what the Hamlet was doing for Remembrance Day. We loaded up the stroller and walked down to the Hamlet office. It is about minus five and it was blowing up to 60 km winds this morning but had died out a bit by the time we left. Sadly it turns out the community didn’t do anything because nobody decided to take on the planning this year. So we headed down to the shoreline which was fun because there were people getting boats and gear ready to head out to camps for the long weekend and Lisa had never been down to this particular area before. So we hung out for a bit and headed over the Northern, but it was closed. Then I thought I would show the Polar Bear hide that was up on a frame drying out. This was the same bear they had seen being butchered a couple days ago. Once we got there we were taking pictures of it in front of the house feeling a bit odd, just standing looking at someone’s house when the window opened up and one of lily’s buddies from school pops his head out. So we asked the family if they minded us touching the hide and such and it was no problem. Next thing we know there are kids all over the place and the man who shot the bear was at the window and we chatted for a bit. Turns out it’s a female, so about half the size of full grown male. He thinks it was quite old as there were no cubs around and the shape the teeth were in. He found it about 40 minutes by boat heading over to the mainland. It is huge and very soft. The funniest thing about being near the bear was when Lily wanted to touch it at the last moment she changed her mind and told us the bear was saying “no thank you, I don’t want to be touched.” We then started heading home with numerous kids in tow.

It was a fun morning out. The house is quiet with Lily and the dogs asleep and Margot gone off to her sewing club. She is keen on trying to get her parka all finished as she only has her ski shell and fleece.

So, here is the next chapter in the snowmobile debacle. The used snowmobile that we purchased needed to be repaired it turns out. There is a small piece of metal attached to the suspension that stops the springs and shocks from moving too far and inverting which would then rub on the track causing it to tear. Turns out, this is why this sled has a new track; this is what happened to it last year. The previous owner to it and had it fixed, or so he thought. Fast forward to this last weekend. While trying to fit the snowmobile into the new shed, the springs compress and invert. Luckily, the water truck was here along with my neighbor who is very handy and owns the same kind of snowmobile. We flip the sled on its side and figure the problem out. I go over to see Eric’s sled in his shop to see what it should look like meanwhile the water truck guy and a carver and able to push the spring back to where they should be. We decide it will be safe to drive to my school, which has a nice shop I will be able to disassemble it in and fix it. Needless to say, I bought a carving from the guy who was helping. The next day, I take it to school and at lunch figure out how to take it apart. I take the frame up to the welder at the Hamlet garage who says he’ll have it done tomorrow. Two days go by and it’s finally done. We have an early dismissal yesterday so I go the shop to get it. When I get there it has just been welded up and it still mighty hot. I pull out my wallet and am told not to worry about it. The guys seem gruff but are really quite nice. I give the fella some cash and say coffee is on me. I make a comment about how I heard that there were no gentlemen who worked up here and that was not the case. The shop foreman tells me schoolteachers should be careful what they say there because they are all pink Floyd fans. I don’t get it, so I wait for the punch line. He say’s “cause we don’t need no education.” I smile and say thanks, and then head back to the school. Well, I got it put back together and properly adjusted. I have never worked on a snowmobile and do not even have an owner’s manual. I am still very proud of myself. Yay me! HAHAHAha.

We decided to purchase the twin to this one also as it is a bit small for the three of us and it is a good idea to always go with another sled if you are going out on the land in case something goes wrong. Turns out that one needs work too. Frustratingly I realize this after I buy it. Grrrrrrrrr. However the old owner is a stand up guy and did not realize there was an issue and has offered to pay for the parts to fix it. I am sure he would have refunded me my cash had I asked, but I really want the sled. The springs that hold up the snowmobile’s rear end are shot and need to be replaced. But, really the other one could use new ones also. It bottoms out if we both try to ride it. I will order the parts tomorrow from Iqaluit assuming they have them in stock. The nice thing about buying a machine from up here is that you end up getting something that is common to the area and parts are readily available.

To all bloggers who read this, I need help. Blogger seems to have changed it's layout as far as posting goes. On the toolbar used to be a button I could press that would allow me to upload and publish pictures. The button has vanished and I don't know what to do now! Has this happened to others? Have I changed a setting unwittingly and if so, how do I reset it? I need help, please help.

Take care,


Arctic Moments

Arctic moments?

I have been what I call Arctic Moments lately. These are moments when the reality of where of live and how different my Canada and Canada up here are so very different. First off, it is starting to look very different. We are getting fierce windstorms regularly (50-90km hr) along with freezing temperatures that are bringing us snow finally. It is nice to see (or not see) the dirt, mud and sand disappear under a crusty blanket of snow. The house is much cleaner now, as the dogs are not tracking in so much muck. I spent my weekend working on our snowmobile shed while Lily played with a few neighborhood kids out in the snow. It was snowing and blowing all day with large Toonie sized flakes. I love the snow and it was fun to be out playing with Lily, trying to find to the soft, deep pockets of snow to jump in and make snow angles. I managed to get one of the sheds done, but what a pain. All the wood is full of staples and is warped so it’s a challenge to create much of anything with very limited tools, poor quality wood and crazy weather, but one is done.

Margot went over to talk to an elder in town about getting a pair of mittens made because the woman who sold Lily and me ours approached her and claimed her mother (who makes them) had a problem with cashing her cheque. Because she had no money she wanted Margot to prepay for the mitts, sight unseen. Wisely Margot decided to go to the source and stopped by to talk to the elder and find out for herself what was up. So she and Lisa stopped by her house after craft group on Saturday and when they got into the house found a number of women butchering an adult polar bear in their kitchen. It was quite a surprise I’m sure. So, in the end the elder had no idea what Margot was talking about in regards to the mitts. I guess the go between just wanted some spending cash.

Lily and I spent some time replanting the garden. We got some good soil shipped up from down south and mixed it in with the soil we already had. Once we had the plants out Lily helped me mix everything up. She felt the best way to do this was to get into the bins and mix it by hand. We had a great time and the garden seems to be doing quite well.

On Sunday night we had a young teenage carver come to the door. He is mid high school age I suspect although I have never seen him at school. He is a nice enough kid, but a bit too pushy for me. He has been by a few times and always gives a bit of a sob story about being hungry and wanting chips and pop. I have always thought he must not be that hungry if that is what he is going to spend his money on. Saturday he stopped by to see if I was interested in seeing a couple of carvings he was working on and I told him to stop by when they were done. Then he hit me up for junk food, to which I told him no. So, on Sunday night he stopped in to try and sell a small seal carving. The quality was not great but it was his first try and I have to give the kid credit for trying to make money an honest way. I liked the seal enough to pay his asking price. While I was looking he kept trying to hit me up for a pop or chips. I told him in no uncertain terms it was not going to happen and to back off. After I told him I would buy the carving he continued to push, but then he asked for anything, even leftovers. Well, you have to be hungry to ask for someone’s leftovers. So Margot put together a moderate portion of chicken and veggie stir fry and rice from the previous nights meal. He was sort of thankful and took off into the night. Later I went out side and found the container the food was in discarded onto the ground and was quite angry that he had so disrespectful as to litter in front of the house. I came back into the house and told Margot who pointed out that anybody who would eat that much food so fast without cutlery must have been hungry and she felt bad we hadn’t given him more. I felt very sheepish about my perspective on the whole event and it was a good learning moment for me.

It a tough place to be sometimes. Many children are loved and well cared for, however there are still too many who are not. Being teachers we spend a lot of time with these children and truly care about them and it is heart wrenching seeing them in light summer coats and runners in -10 Celsius temperatures with blowing wind and snow asking for food because there parents are spending their money on drugs and alcohol (or who knows what). The drugs and alcohol purchasing is not a fictitious creation of a quallunat (non-Inuit) mind; rather it is what we are told by the children, their friends and often time other community members. I know we can make a difference in the classroom, but sometimes that doesn’t seem to be enough. I feel our life is very decadent here in comparison to what some of the kids face day to day. Margot has befriended one little girl who has over ten other children and youth living in the same house and a parent who has a substance abuse problem. She is not sure day to day where she is going to sleep or if she will have any food at any given meal. How can we expect kids to behave and learn at school when this is what they face when not at school. We one the other hand have a warm, clean, spacious home full of food and nice things. We even have an extra room we don’t use! There are problems in all communities and being in a small community like this one we hear about everyone in town. But, this place has some major problems. I am not here to cast condemnation on all Inuit people, but some are truly messed up and I hate how they treat their children and pets.

Sorry, no pictures as they seem to have gotten rid of the option to publish photo's. I am still looking into the issue and hopefully we'll get it sorted out. Or, we'll just go back to posting using smugmug again. We'll let you know what we are up to as soon as we know.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Gettin er done eh

We got our food order delivered yesterday after school with minimal breakage. The crate the girls re-packed our food into shifted while being moved and two flats of water bottles fell out which is really sad as I have plans for the empty bottles. The good news is Margot is quite quick and rescued more from being crushed by the loader. Lily and me got home earlier than expected due to another parent not showing up for a scheduled meeting after school. This is now three out of four. It is very frustrating trying to work with parents on an issue a student has and not having any support or the decency to show up for a meeting they agreed to. Don’t these people realize I am giving up my own time away from my family to meet to help their kid? Sometimes I find this profession very frustrating. Anyway...

So me and Lily trudge home in the sleet with the stroller up and over the hill to find two very large wooden crates in our “driveway” that are in need of attention as it is getting colder (-5C) and snowing/raining. Margot and me get Lily sorted with a show and a special treat: a TICKY LOOPY! She is happy and settled but so very tired as the daycare forgot to put a diaper on her for her nap again so she peed and woke up early. When she misses sleep she is such a monster. Margot started dinner while I starting hauling everything up the stairs in the snow into the house so things didn’t freeze or get stolen. We were both able to unload for a while as we waited for Lisa to join us for some unloading and dinner. Sadly we had to start dinner without her because she got hung up at school and Lily had a complete meltdown when she finished her treat and was reminded that she could only have the one. This was a full on big tears, throwing her hands in the air and flinging herself about meltdown. It was upsetting for us all.

Dinner went well with Lily and I sharing my dinner while she sat on my lap. She perked up with a tummy full of warm food and was back to her usual self by meal’s end. Lisa joined us and while Margot and I took turns on getting Lily bathed, storied and put to bed we all worked to unload, sort, inventory and store away our gigantic sealift. We worked for 3 or 4 hours and got everything unpacked and stored away. After dinner I took on the task of being in the crawl space. To get things into in stuff is passed through a trapdoor that is over the fresh water tank. To “catch” things I had to lean over the tank on my knees then push boxed up to 35 feet to their final locations. My knees were beyond painful by the end of the night. But everyone busted their buts and goterdun. We had a glass of wine and all said goodnight. Lisa, thanks again for your help!

I now have three large shipping containers that need to be disassembled and turned into a shed that will hold a couple of snowmobiles. I want to be able to drive in one side and out the other. My mom and dad have been kind enough to mail us some hardware (latches, locks, screws, hinges) that I can use to put it together. They are calling for rain and snow for the next few days then it is supposed to get quite cold and snowy Monday.

After school today I started the process of turning three shipping crates and miscellaneous lumber into a drive through shed for the snowmobile and other assorted things. Everything is muddy, icy, wet and cold so it’s not very fun. However it will be sweet when it’s done.

That’s about it from me. Take care all!