Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I know it's the arctic, but boy is it cold out!

I know we are in the Arctic and it should go without saying that it is cold here, but that is very academic. It's not until it hits -2 Celsius (28 F for my American friends) and blowing up to 65 km hr (The Cape Dorset weather forecast) in September that I can truly appreciate where I am. Brrrrrrr. We don't have our down coats yet as the company we placed our order through (www.gear-up.com) three months ago has pushed back the delivery date until the END OF NOVEMBER! They are saying it is a stock issue, but we were only told after my repeated emails to the store. I would say avoid them if possible, we sure are now. I am in the process of trying to find what we want from someone else who has them in stock now. Margot is not going to get the colour she wants but that is a concession she is willing to make at this point.

So, I am so frustrated at being injured and not having transportation as I have to rely on the Taxi here which is okay most of the time but not so good today. As we have mentioned here earlier all the local news is broadcast on the local radio. This includes if the Taxi is not running. It's a grand idea, unless you don't speak Inuktitut and/or don't have the radio on at the exact moment they happen to announce whatever may be affecting you that day. So, it is quite a production getting us all scheduled to be ready and out the door on time and it is especially challenging on bad weather days. Today, Margot had to leave early because she was on supervision at her school so Lily and I waited inside a bit longer. I had my guitar and bag packed for school and Margot was all ready to pick Lily up after school so I could go to guitar club. Well, I'm sure you can see where this is going. I call the Taxi for 20 minutes, no answer. I call my school and tell them I may be late and then start getting Lily ready for the jogging stroller. I ditch my guitar, re-pack my bag so it's lighter. What a pain as my ankle is still very weak but I need to get to work. So we finally get sorted and on the move and while we are walking through Margot's playground she comes over to say hi and all Lily wants to do is play with the kids. Meanwhile it's blowing 60 - 70 km hr and below freezing. Then, the taxi drives up! Margot runs up, flags him down before he leaves and we find out he overslept. That's why no one answered. So Margot takes the stroller while Lily and I hop in the Taxi. What mayhem! Anyhow, we all got to school in the nick of time. This is the third time this has happened. Ohhhh, I miss my truck.

We have a new program for the junior high students at our school. They are spending two periods, two mornings a week with elders learning traditional skills. The girls all go and learn how to prepare and sew seal skins and so far no one has shown up to do anything with the boys. They have just spent those periods with me, until today. I accompanied them to visit their elder who turned out to be one of the boy's grandfathers. He spoke for about 40 minutes in Inuktitut and I tried to understand as much as I could from the few words I understand and gestures. What I was able to understand was he was telling stories about sailing and traveling on the water. After talking he then showed us all 4 common knots they use. It was really interesting to learn the knots and then he showed us how they traditionally carried goods by building a sling that sits on one's back and is carried around the shoulders and the head. He was very patient with the boys, although they were easily frustrated and discouraged. The students then had recess when I went over and introduced myself to the female elders who were teaching the girls and they showed me the skins and tools which was pretty neat. I look forward to seeing what the kids end up creating. It's a bit sad I can't see both the boys and the girls work, but being a man, I can't join the girls.

I am not sure how many of you realize this, but teachers have to pay to apply to jobs in Canada. Many school boards are using websites and services that require applicants to pay to apply for jobs. As I recall it was upwards of $10 per school district. This is not much for one person to apply to one board, but that is rarely how it works. It was going to cost Margot and I hundreds of dollars to apply to all of the boards we wanted to, so sadly we had to bypass them. Anyways, I have posted a message that is creating a national petition to stop charging educators to pay to apply to jobs when there is no need for it and we are the only country in the world doing so.

Education Canada Network has been approached by a group of concerned citizens, No Cost to Educators, to assist them in their efforts to market their cause. Education Canada Network strongly supports the principles presented by this group and have agreed to send this message to our registered users.  We would like to encourage you to checkout the message this group is bringing attention to and support their efforts.

No Cost to Educators is seeking the support of education professionals from around the country via their online petition (Petition: Say NO to Charging Education Job Seekers to apply for Public School jobs).  From their petition:

Job seekers across Canada are being asked to pay a fee to apply online to jobs to work at the school districts in British Columbia, Ontario and other Provinces. There is no other Country in the OECD that charges their teachers to apply to public school jobs. People who have to pay for this technology are both employed and unemployed. Other sites, with the very same job postings, do not charge a fee to search or apply online to the exact jobs. In other words, the job seekers have to pay to apply online to jobs that are not exclusive to one site.

Paying to apply does not provide the job seeker additional benefits and does not maximize ones exposure. It also doesn’t differentiate “active” vs. “passive” job seekers, but merely who can afford/not afford to job hunt via their system.

To support the No Cost to Educators group, become a friend on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/profile.php?id=100001282147864&ref=ts and sign their petition at http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/say-no-to-charging-education-job-seekers.html

Mike Sproule
Chief Operating Officer
Education Canada Network
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Thanks for visiting and stay warm!


Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Arctic Gardeners

So I have decided to undertake growing an indoor garden here. I love the idea of fresh herbs and veggies while it's cold and snowing outside. We have enough space in the kitchen to have a few bins around the edges to have our "garden". It has lots of natural light right now and as things get darker I will supplement with grow lights. My folks sent me up some starter soil and seeds which should get things started which is awesome. However the challenge comes when I need to re-pot the seedlings into larger bins as I need to find a large amount of soil to plant the seedlings into. Shipping up that much soil is not an option as it is very expensive so I have been scouting the area looking for the most fertile patches of grass outside. We went out today in the pouring rain (it's been doing that a lot lately) and found some soil, well, sort of. It was very wet and sandy, but it's the best they have up here. We brought it home and separated out the clumps of roots and soil and placed it near a window to start drying out. I am hoping to get a few more loads before the ground freezes. It snowed hard yesterday so winter is coming soon. I am working on buying some red wiggler worms to start worm composting to add good, high quality soil to the plants. It has been a challenge to locate someone near Ottawa or Montreal but I think I found someone ( wormgirl ) that may work. The idea is the worms eat paper and veggie food scraps and they turn that into good quality soil. So, I'll keep you posted.

We had our first dinner party last night and everyone had a good time. It was nice to be social again and Lily had a great time once she got over being shy. We all ended up playing "Just Dance" on the wii which allows up to 4 people to dance at one time. It was so much fun. Margot and I have been playing more as my ankle is improving. The problem is Margot is super good and kicks my butt most of the time!

I have included a picture of some of my students during our shorline cleanup the other day.

OH MY!!!!!! Moments ago while writing this I heard a noise outside. I turn on the porch light and look out as I hear footsteps charging up/down (?) the stairs, I open the door to see three bodies tearing through the darkness away from our house. I look down and see the bin that I keep our BBQ in is unlatched. A week or so ago we had three small propane tanks stolen and it looks like the thieves came back to see if we have more. I had no idea why they wanted it until I bought more at lunch last week and as the kids were coming into the classroom they saw me putting my groceries onto the counter in the class and I was approached by one of the kids. She asked me if I was going to smell the propane. I said "What?" And she explained that people inhale it to get high. I was and still am floored. I told her what I used it for and she had no idea what I was talking about. I don't think the locals BBQ much.  So, after this I keep the tanks inside as they are a bit pricey at $12.00 each. Actually, I have to ask the manager at the store for them as they don't keep them on the floor of the store, I guess that's why. What a crazy place.  (I have to add that after the original theft Margot said she figured it had been taken for that very reason but I didn't believe her because I had never heard of anyone inhaling propane to get high.)

We have a few kids who live in our building and the other day they built a tent out of sheets and such in the "field" across the street from us. They have played in it everyday since. It does not matter if it is raining, snowing or blowing they are out there. Oh, and in the one photo, you can see that one of the girls is wearing an amauti, pronounced AH-MAOW-TEE in which she carries her baby doll just like grown women carry their babies. So CUTE!! I love kids, it doesn't matter where you are, they just want to play and have fun.

The girl on the right is wearing a traditional Amauti

The Tent

Picking up trash

Our big project


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Garbage? No Longer!

Today my class participated in the Great Canadian Shore Line Cleanup and it went pretty well. I wasn't sure how many kids would show, but it was great to see so many. My class filled so many bags I had to go to the house to get more. Sadly, I wasn't able to participate as my ankle is still healing but I was able to stand and give moral support (and supervision). It is nice to see those who really care trying to keep Cape Dorset clean. It is very sad how much litter and trash are around.

The weather is starting to turn cold up here. There is getting to be a nice bite to the wind and there is snow predicted next week. I am looking forward to the cold but am very, very sad I have not gotten out fishing yet. My hope is maybe Lily and I can go do some casting into the bay on Saturday and see what we can catch. I am not getting my hopes up on that though. It would be much better to hike away from town and try but that's not a possibility right now. I was also really keen on goose hunting but I may miss that as well. However, I am able to walk short distances without my cane which is super sweet so... maybe soon.

Things at the school are coming along. We are supposed to be getting our phones and PA system in by next week which should make school much safer, but we still can't drink the water. So, one step forward, one step back.

We got our food mail last week that we put an order in with Kathy. It was a total of 10 boxes and almost $800.00!!! So nice to have some meat in the freezer and our choice of veggies. We have now bought fresh peas and a box of cereal from a store in town here that has tasted like paint fumes on different dates. They are great about taking it back, but it's a real bummer to open something up to eat that you're really excited about and taste, well, a big mouth full of YUCK! It must get shipped with stuff that breaks open on occasion. The nice thing about food mail is the veggies are generally high quality this time of year. It has been recommended not to buy in the winter though as things sit on the tarmac and can freeze.

We also received a care package from my folks of some things we asked them to pick up. We now have 2 boxes of drapes for the whole house, various tools for me to learn to carve with, some things for Lily and some soil and seeds to start an indoor garden that I am super excited about. I love the idea of Lily helping make stuff grow. She loved my dad's garden in southern BC this last year so much that it would be cool to have a few things in our kitchen here that she can help tend and watch grow. I want to start a couple of worm bins to supplement the "soil" that we have up here, but have had trouble finding a distributor in Ottawa. If anyone has any suggestions I would be very appreciative. The idea of a worm bin is that you have a largish tupperware with holes in it that you place some of your veggie scraps. The worms eat and digest them then poop out good soil which is full of stuff plants like. I did find one guy who sells them but he was unwilling to ship them as they may take up to 7 days to arrive. I have read conflicting info on how long they will last and would really like to try before the weather gets to cold to try shipping them.

We have an update on our sealift. Now the ship won't be getting here until October 22!!! So now we have to buy a months worth of dog food. I can't even imagine what that is going to cost.

I managed to unpack my guitars tonight and was playing a bit after dinner while we were playing with Lily. It has been a couple months since I have played for Lily and she went crazy for it. She was strumming and singing and dancing. It was a good time. Sorry, no pictures tonight.

Well, that's about it from me. Take care all and I hope all is well and wonderful in your lives. Please leave some feedback as we all love to hear from you.


Just to add a little detail about food mail... we have to place the order by 1:00 on Sunday for an order to arrive Thursday/Friday.  This order we just received was placed two Sundays ago.  It was supposed to be here last Thursday but we have been fogged in since Sunday.  Our order was somewhere in the world.  The fog finally lifted Monday and planes started arriving again.  Our order arrived Tuesday.  We were all very apprehensive but things were in excellent shape.  It must have been stuck in Iqaluit which does have cooler and freezer facilities.  So even though it was 5 days late we have beautiful food to eat and fresh coffee creme!


Monday, September 20, 2010


I want to start of with our condolences to the families and those affected by today's events. I thought I would give an update with some more information about what happened early this morning. A young man tried to stab his uncle in the head while he was sleeping but was unsuccessful so was chased off. He then went and got a handgun and shot his step brother who was sleeping in another house (a student at the school) in the head while sleeping. The police found the shooter by lunchtime and he is now in custody.


Some sad news today in Cape Dorset

This is just a brief update about some sad news up here. While having breakfast I noticed an RCMP vehicle parked outside a house down below us for a long while but didn't think too much about it.

Home in "the valley"
So we carried on our morning. It was quite frustrating because I have been taking the Taxi to and from school lately because of my ankle. Well, no one was answering the phone this morning so after dropping Margot at her school I had to push Lily to daycare. I got Lily to daycare and headed to school where I was intercepted outside by my Principal, Cecil who told me there had been a shooting last night in which we were told that one of our Grade 11 students (I don't know the name) stabbed someone to death. His whereabouts are still unknown to the RCMP at this time and our school was on lock down. However, we did not have kids today because our water system had been compromised (a strong metallic taste in the water). The staff was told to stay in their locked classrooms. Then Cecil told us we did not have to stay if we did not want to or feel safe. The school doors had not been all locked and there had yet to be a room to room search done by the police. So, I decided to get Lily and go home as I was unsure how safe daycare would be given that a scared, trapped and violent teenager was looking for somewhere to barricade themselves. When I got to the daycare I informed them what was happening and they didn't seem to take any safety measures that I could see as we left. I will talk with them tomorrow about what they do in a lock down, if they even have a plan in place. Lily and I stopped by Margot's school and let her know what was happening and they were also in full lock down. Luckily they knew me and Lily and let us in. We had a quick play and now we are home, safe and sound. I now realize that the police were outside the house because that is the crime scene. They know have yellow tape surrounding the building. It's a very quiet day here and many are understandably upset. It seems everyone here is related somehow and it's a tight community. What a waste, I hope they catch the kid before he hurts himself.

Take care, we'll update soon.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

I think Nunavut is trying to kill me!

So, I have decided Nunavut is trying to kill me. First, I tore some muscles in my left ankle and then I get a bad cold along with the rest of my family. They all get better and mine turns into.... Strep throat. It explains why I have been so tired lately. I am now taking penicillin and hopefully I should be feeling better by the weekend. Just in time to unload our sealift order, assuming it arrives on time.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Teaching and life

Hello all! I realize I haven't posted in a while so I thought I would give an update to what's happening with me. Sadly, my ankle is still buggered. What drives me crazy about the whole being injured thing is that the ankle splint (an aircast) that the nurse said I needed to wear is nowhere to be found in Nunavut. The splint allows me to walk and move without putting pressure on the sides of my ankle. Without it, every time I moved I risked re-injuring it. So, in the end I had to put out $150.00 to buy and have one shipped up from BC. My mom was kind enough to pick one up at a local pharmacy in Grand Forks and mail it up. Even with expedited shipping it took 7 days to get it. Thankfully I had an older aircast splint from a previous injury I packed and brought up. Sometimes I get vivid reminders about how isolated we are up here. Most days it is becoming normal living here. We have our things and a nice home. There are stores and so many places to buy goods online with free shipping. It's not until you need something that is not here and you need it NOW that one remembers how much time and effort is put into keeping this community going.

On other news, I was trying to install quicktime 7 pro on my new macbook and in the process destroyed all of the quicktime software which runs most of my programs. This would not have been such a big deal if I had my install software disks and our external hard drive, but, the disks were packed and being shipped up in our moving things and the external hard drive was in BC with some friends. So I asked a friend down south for help and after numerous attempts to revive my macbook we realized I needed the software that it came with. In the meantime, my computer was pretty useless. So, midweek I found the software needed but I had to take everything off my computer to ensure it did not get erased during the update. I have alot of music on my computer from the years being a DJ and such. We digitized all our albums before moving up here (about 900 or so) and somehow it made 2 or more copies of every song in every album. I have slowly been going through every file and deleting the duplicates but it has been a slow process. Well, since I had to move 120 gb of files to Margot's computer I thought now was a good time to take this on. So, I spent 14 or so hours working on sorting files and transferring to contents of my computer to Margot's using two 2 gb memory sticks. GRRRRRRRRRRRRR. It was so tedious. Then I installed my software and everything seems OK now. Computers are great when they work, but when they go wrong, they really go wrong it seems.

My teaching week went well. My students are pretty well behaved and are quite a group of characters. I laugh alot at school. We generally have a good time and are easing into the academics. Just like Margot, I am weaving my way through what curriculum I am supposed to follow. It is very frustrating that this is even an issue as I feel this information should be supplied to us at the start of the school year. Oh well.... what are you going to do?

The school's big construction projects are done and now it's just getting all the details and somewhat minor projects done. I am still waiting for a computer, smart board and white boards in my class. We have no computer lab or Internet. No phones in the classes. No library that is usable. The teaching resources are scattered all over the school and there is a large portion of the gym that is missing drywall, but otherwise all is good.

I am looking forward to the snow coming as it is raining everyday and turning the hamlet into a large mud pit. It will be nice when things freeze up and I can get to school on our snowmobile instead of taking a taxi everyday.

In the news up here there has been alot of discussion over the status, use and laws around liquor in Nunavut. We adopted the Northwest territories regulations when we became a territory. Now, there is a committee that is working on gathering public opinions/concerns about liquor in the hamlets. Some communities are dry (no booze), restricted (you need a permit, then you can what you want every week up to a set limit) and un-restricted. Iqaluit is Unrestricted and has a bar, Cape Dorset is restricted. In my opinion the problem with prohibition is that it doesn't work. There are always people who want to drink and will do whatever it takes to do it and those willing to supply them. The problem then becomes the lack of community/police control over who is drinking, when and how much. It also puts money into the hands of criminals who don't care who they are selling to (children, known alcoholics, etc...). Apparently the majority of violence in Nunavut stems from alcohol use which is terribly sad.  I have worked around alcohol for years in liquor stores in Calgary and bars in Rossland and have seen the damage it can cause to a minority of people. But, they are the minority. I don't condone iresponsible alcohol use but I do think that allowing people to partake in a responsible way is O.K.

- Richard

Monday, September 13, 2010

It really was Monday

Back working with children today! It was very nice to see them all again but not nice to be so displaced.

My classroom as of 11:00.  Note the beautiful purple floor!

We had a fairly rough day but we think a lot of it had to do with the fact that our children haven’t been in school for 10 days and were certainly out of the routine and had forgotten (or were ignoring) previously set expectations. It was also the first time the two classes worked together so friends were happy to see each other and enjoyed chatting rather than listening. I also discovered that co-teaching is very difficult. We both have very different ways of dealing with our classes. And it was hard to know who should be taking the lead and I didn’t want to step on her toes or interfere with her kids.

So I made it through the day but am celebrating the fact that my classroom was finished this afternoon and tomorrow I get to be back in my own room. It will be a big job to get organized again because they simply moved everything into the hallway and since I didn’t before-hand things were not organized for a move. I have already discovered that some of my supplies are missing (like my bin of glue and scissors) so I am hoping that as everyone settles back in more items are returned to their rightful place. The time with no students has also given me a lot of time to reflect on my routines, especially first thing in the morning, and what I want to do with the physical space as well (read: made ‘to do’ lists!) I am looking forward to getting settled back into the routine of things.

Hoping tomorrow goes much more smoothly,


PS 16 really is a GREAT class size!!

Some unexpected classroom news arrives

Sunday, September 12th

More unpacking. Richard joined Lily and me when we took the dogs for a walk in the field. It got much colder today and we were very glad our winter clothes have arrived. Richard and I do not yet have parkas but we have ordered them and they should be here soon. Hopefully they arrive before the snow does which according to the locals could be any day now. I got news this afternoon that although my classroom still isn’t finished the children will all be attending school tomorrow. There is an empty classroom down the hall from Kathy and I and we were told we could share it for Monday. When Lily woke up from her nap she came to school with me to have a chat with Kathy about how Monday would look. We talked about what we could do with our 32 students in one make-shift classroom. We did some planning and got all the breakfast supplies (we give the children breakfast every morning, toast, cereal and juice). We gathered up anything else we could think of to make Monday fun for all of us. Then Lily and I came home for dinner. I spent the night thinking of more games/activities to do throughout the day tomorrow. And finally went to bed.


Unpacking, unpacking...

Saturday, September 11th

Today’s main project was to get our bed set up. Even working on Lily time we had the old beds moved out, the frame put together, the mattress in place, and the bed made before lunch. We all had a great time bouncing and flopping on the “really great bed” to quote Lily. Then we unpacked and unpacked and unpacked. I carried boxes upstairs and downstairs and back upstairs as we tried to figure out where everything should go. We discovered more moving damage today. So far we have lost one mug and one large corning wear casserole dish but today we found some major damage to Lily’s rocking chair. Something very heavy must have landed on it because the entire top frame was cracked right through.

Not much we can do about it so I wrapped it in clear hockey tape which will protect from slivers and future cracking and we should be able to use it as is. We also found that the corner of the deep freeze had buckled.
But it too appears functional so shouldn’t prove to be a huge problem. This is the nice thing about our move to Cape Dorset. We are pretty unattached to things as we know most of them will stay here when we leave. It was a very long day. In the evening Richard set up our new Wii. We have never had video games but thought it might be a good idea to have something up here to help pass the time on the long winter evenings. I had a great time dancing. Richard was sad that because of his foot he couldn’t join me. And then we had several car races trying to figure out the game and beat each other. I think it will turn out to be a very good investment.


Literacy, literacy, literacy

Friday, September 10th

Today Grade 5 was added to our school attendees. And wonder of wonders the bus is back on the road. It ran for something like the first two days of school and then was taken off the road. Problems with registration, funding and which organization was responsible kept it off the road much longer than expected. All of our children go home for lunch and some have a fair distance to travel. It is good timing to have the bus back as the weather forecast says it is about to get colder. More work time for Kathy and I and in the afternoon we had a literacy meeting with all the teachers of the older grades except for Susan who had her Grade 5s back. Glen is the only teacher I have not yet mentioned and he teaches the Grade 6 class. The meeting was led by David’s (my principal) wife, Frances. It was very useful. Our school is short on books and we spent a fair amount of time brainstorming was to have the children reading when we don’t have books. I am re-inspired to get my Language Arts program under way!


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Do I teach today?...Nope

Thursday, September 9th

Kindergarten, Grade one and Grade two were back in session as that is where the flooring man started but the rest of us had yet another work day. Kathy and I worked on gathering materials. Lots of copying, cutting, gluing, printing, colouring and writing. Nothing to interesting on the work front but on the lifestyle side I was asked by an SSA (student support assistant) if I would like to buy a seal skin parka for Lily. I was unprepared for the question. I am trying to get into the local spirit of things but to have my baby wrapped in seal?! But I took a look. Apparently seal is one of the warmest furs to wear and it would be neat to have something locally made. She agreed to let me take it home to try on Lily and so I could talk to Richard. She was asking $100. Richard and I thought maybe we would buy it but Lily was unimpressed and as we did just buy her a brand new winter coat we decided not to buy this one.

Lily in the seal parka

I have commissioned a hat for Lily though. The day we were all at the Nurse’s station a woman asked if we would like to buy a hat. It was a little small but I said if she could make one a little bit bigger we would be interested. I saw her today in town and it is almost finished so Lily will have a new hat with fox trim. Mittens may be the next step as no manufacturer thinks that small children will ever be outside if it is colder than -30C. But let me tell you from the look (and feel) of things Lily surely will!


Students yet?...Nope

Wednesday, September 8th

Wednesday I got to work and discovered that we still had no children. Good thing considering the state of my room.

My classroom now with no carpet, no nothing

My classroom...in the hall

With no students we spent the morning prepping and doing more paperwork. Kathy and I are trying to work together to have our children doing the same things so we can share planning, resources, materials and time. In the afternoon we took a field trip down to the art co-op. I went with Kathy, Emma (grade 4), Scott (grade 4), and Susan (grade 5). The other teachers had never been there and Emma is planning a print making unit with her class so wanted to see if they could tour the co-op. We all went down and had a look around and met a printmaker hard at work. Most artists are still off for the summer but they are all back by the end of September.

To finish the print this printmaker uses his favourite tool, a spoon.
He told us, "It is really the spoon that is famous not me."
Spent more time unpacking this afternoon and actually got to open boxes. Anything we don’t need right now, like Christmas things, we are moving down “into the hole” (the storage/crawl space under the house where the water and sewage tanks are is accessed through a small trap door in the floor). Lily thinks this is terrific fun! I made a big pile in the sealift room (where the hole is) and in the attached boot room so Richard could just pass things down to me.
Lily with 1/2 the pile ready to go down the hole

Some of our work in the hole

It is so nice to see our things again, all our things. During dinner tonight there was a knock at the door. It was Joey back one last time to deliver our bed. For those of you who do not know we have a king size bed that we love. We really wanted it here. Joey was not so convinced. It took himself, his assistant and I all pulling and pushing for all we were worth to get it up the stairs. The staircase is tight and doubles back on itself. I had never seen a king size mattress folded in half until tonight. But it finally made it upstairs and doesn’t look to worse for wear. Still a lot to do but we definitely made a dent!



Tuesday, September 7th

Today I went to school only to discover that we would have no students. They are laying new flooring throughout the school and things got behind schedule. All the classrooms had been emptied into the hallway but no floors were complete. So we spent the day planning. Kathy and I worked on our Science and Social Studies year plans. The curriculum is itself a bit difficult to nail down. Nunavut has very little of its own curriculum and uses a combination of Alberta, North West Territories and the Western North Canadian Protocol. The first order of business was to make sure we were both working from the same document. While still down south I downloaded all the appropriate curriculum documents I could find so when we sat down to work I was looking at these. Kathy was using the hardcopy we had been given but we soon realized the hardcopy was seriously out of date. So we both switched to the online version. It’s a fairly daunting process to look at the full curriculum but know that our English as a Second Language learners won’t be able to do everything. So we are viewing the curriculum as a goal and we will just work our way towards it.

The best part of not having students today was that when Joey, from the airport, came to school to tell me that our belonging were arriving I was able to drop everything and go home with them. Joey and a local kid started bringing in box after box. How exciting to have our stuff!! In the end there were still 4 pieces that had not arrived but there was still another plane due later in the afternoon.

The airport's moving/delivery truck.  Full of OUR things!

The kitchen, full of everything
I tried to call Richard to tell him the good news but the phone just rang and rang. I mentioned this to David who said he wasn’t surprised. The high school still doesn’t have phones. There is one phone line but it rings in the furnace room and last time he was there he noticed there wasn’t even a phone plugged into it! Eventually Richard called me (so there must be a phone somewhere) and said he had already heard the news. It is hard to surprise someone in a small town. After lunch we were back at work when Joey arrived again. They had more boxes for us. Poor dogs, because of the rush I put them in the closet instead of the bedroom this time. So three more boxes came in and I realized that the one thing that had not yet arrived was our bed! Yes we did bring our bed because we love it and there is nothing like a good night’s sleep! Joey said he didn’t know when it would arrive because food mail shipments start going out on Wednesday so the planes would probably be full. Sad, but at least we can start unpacking and making this feel like home. Tonight was spent unpacking boxes from within boxes. When the movers left our house they had 130 items. When we got our boxes off the airplane there were 41 pieces. Half were 4 cubic feet boxes and the other half were wardrobe boxes. So inside each big box were up to a dozen (sometimes more) items. One box had the arrows going the wrong way and I discovered a large Tupperwear bin full of tools and another with Kitchen things sitting on top of my sewing machine. All seems okay so far. I don’t think a single box actually got unpacked tonight. Maybe tomorrow...


Labour Day

Monday, September 6th

No school today and Richard’s foot was doing better so we decided to take a walk. We headed down to the water at a beach we had not been to before. The first thing we came across was a seal skin. Something had moved it as there was a large trail of blood.

No idea why it was out there and it made us sad to think that not every part of it was being used. After talking to the ladies at work it turns out that not all seals are good for clothing. Perhaps this was the case.

Lily and I walked to the top of the rocks to look around while Richard rested on the beach. At the top were two chairs (which Lily insisted we sit in). They had a nice view and I got some pictures of the hamlet and bay from the other side. We got up nice and close to two of the giant ravens that live here. It was quite warm and we all ended up in just our t-shirts at one point. On the way home we were joined by a group of 9 children (one was a student of mine). They love Lily and came along to play with her. She loved it and went from whining to be carried to running along with the children all the way home.

The chairs with a view

Giant ravens
Richard and Lilibeth
Lily examines a local canoe
We are not sure why but a tent (in use) was set up at the edge of the beach
Lily and her entourage
The boy in the baseball cap center is one of my students
Lily loves those kids!

We realized that as time goes by we don’t necessarily remember who we have bought art from. So we decided to start asking if we could take pictures of the carver with their work after we have bought it. Here is a lovely polar bear we bought today with its creator Ottokie (pronounced Oo-too-key). Ottokie is “in the book”. This is a common phrase up here and you can ask any carver that comes to the door if they are in the book. “The book” is published by the artist’s co-op and contains the names and a brief biography of any carver whose work has been recognized. The co-op and the Northern store buy from those who are in the book and their work is worth more. With a bit of time we have begun to recognize the signs of a skilled carver too. Although we still buy pieces if we like them even if the skill level isn’t top-notch.
Ottokie and his/our polar bear

Tonight I went to ‘Ladies Night’. The gathering of “southern” women was hosted tonight by the wife of an RCMP officer. There were eight of us and it was nice to be out and meet a few new people. With school and Lily I have been a bit of a home body. I got a ride home with Megan who works at the airport. It was her mother, Cheryl, who was working at the airport the day we arrived and got us our keys. Megan drove the other girls home too and on the way we were treated to a beautiful display of the Northern Lights. I tried to take pictures but my camera would not co-operate and not one turned out. Instead of posting a picture of a black sky I will just say that they were amazing. I got to watch the brilliant green light dancing across the sky. And so ended Labour Day.


You know you are not in the south when...

Saturday, September 4th

You know you are not in the south when someone walks past your house carrying two shotguns, stops for a chat with a friend and then carries on their way.

PS There are some beautiful things to see here. We get some great sunsets!


Sunday, September 5, 2010

No News is...no news

Margot here - Still no word on our Moving Truck!  After more phone calls it sounds like Tuesday might just be the day.  We are still being hopeful but will believe it when I see MY boxes in the house.  I may be most excited about hangers today as all our coats are just piled on a shelf in the bootroom and keep falling on me.  But stuff aside...we think we saw the Northern Lights last night.  They were quite faint as it is early in the season but there were definately shifting green lights in the sky.  Pretty amazing and we can't wait for more.  Speaking of lights the sunset tonight was amazing.  I am attaching a picture although it doesn't do it justice.  What an amazing place this country is!  And as Richard has been writing about carvings we decided to start asking carvers if we could take their picture with the piece we buy.  Last night Sam came to the door, I bought an Inuksuk and he let me take his picture.  He is a highschool student which means that the quality is not as high as with the master carvers but we like to support local talents and we only buy the pieces we really like.  We seem to really like a lot!
Thanks for visiting!

The Sunday night sky

Sam and his Inuksuks

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Welcome Everyone!

So, our blog is now up and running. It has taken a shocking amount of time. It's not the writing of it so much as the uploading of pictures. Our Internet here is decent for downloading simple web pages, much faster than I thought it would be in fact. The uploading however is rough. It was taking about 8 minutes to upload a single picture. It is nice to have gotten a bunch up.

Update on when our things arrive:
I got a call from the person who organizes the transportation of items from the airport here to homes and businesses yesterday. She told me to expect our things later that afternoon. This was going to be a challenge because Margot was going to be at work and I would have Lily and the dogs to contend with while the movers dropped boxes that I was to inventory. Well, a bit before lunch a cube truck (mover's truck) shows up and 3 guys start hauling boxes up the stairs. Needless to say, we weren't ready. So there is a flurry of activity as we put the dogs in an upstairs bedroom and we try to get Lily sorted with me in the kitchen (she had just bonked her head and was crying) as Margot is clearing a path for the Movers. We show them where to stack boxes and Margot tries to sort out inventory when she sees the name on the shipping manifest. Guess what? Not our stuff. So, the movers then haul the dozen or so large boxes back to their truck. We ask "Where's our stuff? When is it coming?' and we are told that the next plane in that is carrying freight is on Sunday. That's the last we have heard from anyone. So, our fingers are crossed that maybe we'll get our stuff on Sunday.

This morning Margot is taking Lily and the dogs on a walk to some waterfalls nearby with a colleague of hers named Kathy. Lily is doing better as is Margot who thought it would be nice for them to get some air and be out of the house. She also was letting me rest as I did not get much sleep. I woke up in a panic about how I am going to get me and Lily to school for the next 6 weeks while my foot heals. I am still waiting on an aircast which will allow me to walk without the risk of re-injury. I don't think that taking 4 cab rides a day is a very good solution either, so we are now going to start looking for a reasonably priced used quad (ATV, 4 wheeler or as the locals call them "Hondas"). I will post some flyers this week and see about getting an ad on the local radio station. I just talked with a neighbour to see if he knew of any and it seems he knew of one that sold 3 days ago for what I was willing to pay. Drat! It seems the radio is how everyone communicates here. Not many people have home phones because they are expensive up here, so if you really need to talk to someone, they announce it on the radio along with other community events. It's really a pretty neat solution.
I have included pictures of our carving collection. We buy a small percentage of the carvings that we see around town and that are sold by carvers who come to our door, and yet... I think the current count is 19. It's going to cost us a whole lot of money if we ever decide to move!

There is also a picture of Lily giving me her "I am really serious" face. It is just too funny to see her interpretation of what Margot and I must look like when we are being stern.

Take care and thanks for visiting!


Lily being "very serious" at breakfast

Lily at the falls

Kathy helping Lily on the stone bridge

Our sculptures

Thanks for visiting. 


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Awaiting our things

No sign of our things that are being moved from Rossland to here yet. However they say it is booked to fly in this weekend. We are so excited about having our things, I can't even tell you. Lily is doing better but still under the weather as am I.

It is has been very warm the last few days. I can't say specifically as my thermometer is with our stuff being moved but it is sunny and I don't need a toque on. I saw a funny thing yesterday as a co-worker walked past the house at 8:30pm. It is not odd that he was walking past, but it was the fact that he had a backpack and a shotgun on. His belt line was decorated with shotgun shells as he walked toward the edge of the hamlet. I asked Margot who had a quick talk with him as she was already outside about where he was going and he explained he was going hunting. It turns out that people hunt quite close to town, just over the hill, for goose. He often gets 4 or 5 in an evening. Now I grew up hunting and it is not a foreign thing to me, but walking through town with your gun to head up and over the hill took me a bit off guard. Not that I am judging, I need to make this clear. I am actually sad I am hurt and don't have my things here so am unable to join. What a different world it is up here.

Sorry, no new pictures yet. But I thought I would throw in a few from us out hiking in Rossland, BC last September.

- Richard