Thursday, November 11, 2010

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.


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