Saturday, November 26, 2011

birthdays and doctors in Kingait

What a busy few weeks! Margot went to Ottawa for more extensive tests for her and the baby. I will let her give the specifics about what is happening but the basically she has a super rare blood disoder (0.2% of the population) in which her red blood cells attack baby's red blood cells. This can be very, very, very bad. Margot has been having blood tests every 2 weeks and had to fly out to Ottawa have a special ultra sound that can show how much blood is flowing in baby, then met with an O.B. specialist. He told her not to worry as her blood work indicated that baby may be in trouble. That it can often go up quickly earlier in a pregnancy but what we were all hoping for was that things would level off soon. This was huge news for us as no one knew anything until this doctor about Margot's condition so we had been operating in emergency mode for weeks not knowing if baby was okay or we would have to have an emergency trip down south for an invitro blood transfusions or a c-section. It has been a hard time. Margot will be going back down for more tests in December right before Christmas.

After her doctor's appointment, she then headed off to Calgary for a special math conference, so its just been me and Lily for the week. Sadly I had a bad cold when she left and was off work until Wednesday and I am starting to feel like a human being again. We have had a fun week together.

The weather has been all over the place up here but always cold. It's hovering around -25 C on my front deck today. A couple of days ago after coming home from school, we were playing outside in the dark (4pm, pitch black outside) with the dogs under amazing northern lights. It was a pretty neat way to end a day.

Sorry, no pictures yet. I must spend some time fixing my mac so I can upload. One day I will have both the time and the energy I hope.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

You want to leave Cape Dorset? Hah, not today.

This month has been plagued with travel delays. Both Margot and I have been trying to get to and from Iqaluit for medical appointments (don't be alarmed, we're doing just fine). I got stuck there for two extra days due to booking issues and Margot has missed two trips and is now working on leaving Thursday. I hope she has good weather. It is a lot of work for us teacher's to miss work so I hope she gets out and back this time.

I decided that during my time in Iqaluit that anyone who lives there does not get to complain about how hard it is living in the North. It is a proper city with many stores that carry everything you could need (I did not say want). They had a huge (southerly) selection of fresh fruit, veggies, baked goods and a full size department store filled with hardware, clothes, housewares, and so much more at cheaper prices. You can go swimming in a pool, watch a movie at the cinema, go out for a beer and a burger, even see a doctor at a hospital. It's feels like the south. But, I wouldn't want to live there. It lacked all the charm of our small town. The Inuit people here are more friendly to outsiders, they speak Inuktitut, wear more traditional clothes and seem happier. Cape Dorset feels like somewhere different, like the Arctic. Being here feels like an adventure in a unique place that has it's own ever-changing culture and people. Now, I know that I will catch flack for this statement, but it's how I feel. Iqaluit felt more like a small southern city with all the cars, traffic (seriously right?), English, consumerism and such. I like my little town (most of the time.) There are some things about it that I don't like, but overall I am happy here, well, for today at least. I think that experiencing alternatives gives me a better appreciation for what I have.

Lily, like all kids, is getting very excited about Halloween. Margot told her she could paint her face as part of her costume and she was so amped up that she could not wait. So last night while I was outside working on closing in our ATV shed, Lily was getting painted like a Monkey, or at least what she thought her Monkey should look like.  This is the picture that was on the packaging that she really liked.

What a funny little girl!

It's snowy and cold here. People are out on their snowmobiles already. Cape Dorset is a much happier place in the snow. Everything is clean, the kids are out sliding, the adults and teenagers are zooming around.

Thanks for dropping by and let us know what's up with you.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

So you think we're a circus now, just wait until March

Richard has created this great title and so I am adding to the blog to let everyone know that I am pregnant. The March part is that baby is due in March two days before Lily’s birthday.  We found out during the summer and have been trying to figure things out ever since.  Now we know where babies come from but we are not sure where they arrive in Nunavut.  I saw my family doctor while down south so got the preliminary tests done and he sent me for an early ultrasound so we got to see the baby nice and early!  Still trying to figure out how things are going to work here.  There is a prenatal nurse in town and she has been great but she is also new so is learning the system too.  So we are working on learning and I figure either way the baby will come so we better be ready.  Tomorrow I am being sent to Iqaluit for a regularly scheduled ultrasound.  I am pretty excited.  I will be there two nights and so far I have barely been out of the airport so am looking forward to seeing the town!  I also get to see an obstetrician and have a nice long list of questions to ask.  So we will keep updating the blog with details as we get them (and no we are not going to find out the sex of the baby).  Thanks for reading!

- Margot

Hello all, other news (from Richard):  

I have recovered from my zombie energy zone. I had a few good nights sleep and now with Margot finding out more information about our baby that seems to have helped.

Our "new" Honda atv is giving me frustration. Skip this if you don't care about broken atv's. This is a post I put on a Honda atv forum looking for some suggestions. 

Hello all! I have recently bought a used 2003 trx350fm. It was rode hard and the electrical system was in need of repair when I bought it. Oh, side note, I live in Nunavut (the high arctic in Canada) and there is no Honda dealer here to take my machine to. So, I removed the engine, put in a new starter, regulator, alternator, battery, oil filter, spark plug, oil (10w30), a used cooling fan that worked when bench tested, and tires. It started and ran like a charm for a few weeks. It is starting to get cold and it snowed the other day. I took it for a drive to the store and it did fine. The next morning when I choked it to start it (because it needs it) it ran for a bit then died. It did this a few times then it would not fire. So I left it a couple of days thinking maybe the float needle got stuck after having some bad gas go through it, or the carb had gotten gummed up after sitting for a while (although I doubt it as it has run fine for 2 full fuel fill-ups). I tried starting it tonight before I took out the carb and away it went. Sounded just fine so I thought I will go get some fresh gas and drive it around a bit just to make sure it has sorted itself out. Well, after driving hard for 20 minutes the engine was noticeably warm/hot (ticking after shutdown) the engine sounded like it was missing and not firing on every stroke and promptly quit again. I walked home, had a friend tow me home and then I tried it again and it fired up and idled fine for the five minutes I let it run. Oh, and the fan never kicked on. It was about -3 Celsius outside.

So, I am wondering if maybe there is a blockage in the oil passageway that is causing a restriction, carb problem or some other mystery. I really could use all the suggestions anyone has as this is my family car up here and it's not snowmobile weather yet!

Stupid atv's!

We had an interesting thing happen. We often get emails asking specific questions about moving and living up here. Last year, a couple with a little boy asked us a lot (!) of questions about coming up here and what life was like. Well, they ended up moving to Cape Dorset and now live two doors down from us! So now we have new friends and our kids love playing together. It was a funny thing though, because they got to know us through the blog, it was like we fast forwarded our relationship and bypassed much of the friendship foreplay that is required when getting to know new people. It has turned out to be a really nice byproduct of this blog. Yay technology!

A sad bit of news.  A couple with whom I work with adopted a puppy last year, had their dog shot by our bylaw officer after it escaped from it's leash to which it was tied in front of their townhouse. It is my understanding the dog took off two nights ago and they could not find it.  The dog was shot yesterday because the bylaw officer thought it was a loose dog instead of checking it's collar for tags. I feel very bad for them, I know I would be devastated if something to our dogs. Sorry about your dog guys, we really do feel for you!!!!!

Thanks for dropping by, drop us a line.



Thursday, September 29, 2011

My energy is fading, just like the sunlight

It must be this time of year up here for me, but I have no energy, patience or internal drive. All I want to do is nothing. The more (or less) I can do the happier I am, seriously. I don't think I am ill, I get a normal (for a parent of a toddler who wakes up too much at night) amount of sleep and my work is busy but not overwhelming, but I just want to crawl in a hole and sleep for a week. Yuck. I am wiped out.

Since this is a bit of a negative post, I can let everyone know there was an ATV accident here a couple of days ago up near tea lake. A couple of middle age men were found dead near what I have heard looks like where they crashed their quad. It has been quite a blow to a few of my students who are related to the deceased.

It is still rainy, foggy and blowing here. It has been trying to snow or the snow has been trying to stick the last few days also. So, it has been relatively cold as well. I wish winter would just come. I miss the snow and want all this mud and sand to be frozen and buried.

Lily has really come into her own with her three year old tantrums. Yesterday we were at the Hamlet office after school and I had some business to attend to and Lily wanted me to pull her rain paints "all the way down" over her boots immediately (for the third time in a row). I told her I would as soon as we got ready to go. Well, poor Lily lost the plot and started crying, yelling and melted onto the ground. When finally, after talking and such didn't resolve anything, I put her in time out. Well, she was upset and crying. The next thing I see is her rolling/crawling across the foyer floor while crying her lungs out. I reminded her that if she could not make good choices we would be going right home and not going to the store or a friends house to play. Well, that helped straiten her out and she calmed down, asked for a hug and sat on the counter quite happily while I attended to my paperwork. It was one of the moments as a parent I was so frustrated, embarrassed and very upset my child was so upset, but there was nothing I could do other than what I did. I realize this is the end of her day and she was already tired, so I am going to give her an after school snack as soon as I pick her up to see if that helps her attitude. I am sure low blood sugar has something to do with it, but still. I wonder if this has anything to do with my new-found lack of energy, patience and such? Hmmm....

So that is what's going on today.

Oh, we have our house sports at school today instead of Friday because tomorrow is our school's Terry Fox Run. I sure hope the weather is descent.

-Richard (I am so wiped out it took me four tries to type my own name correctly!)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Alive and well, sort of...

Hello all. Sorry for the absence from the blogging world. Life has been filled with work, getting back into the swing of things and the fall illnesses that seem to plague our house every fall. Since we both work in germ factories and now we have Lily bringing home god knows what, our immune systems get a workout. But, we all seem to be doing better now. 

I thought I would just give a bit of an idea what we did this summer. Sorry no pictures yet because iphoto won't let me load any new ones for some unknown reason. We spent a week in Downtown Ottawa getting our city fix and it was amazing. We stayed at the Lord Elgin that is right downtown and was fine with pets which was important because we were travelling with Kala and Smoot. Right across the street from us was Confederation Park which was hosting the Ottawa Jazz festival. So after I helped get Lily and Margot sorted out in the evenings I would wander across the street and see a show. I got to see an all time favorite of mine: Elvis Costello, who was followed up by Canadian rapper Shad. The next night I saw KD Lang who also put on an amazing show. What a welcome back to the south: ice cold beer, a fancy hotel and an amazing music festival! During the days we shopped, ate out, played at the surrounding parks and just had fun. Lily loved the pool. I think she may be part fish. One afternoon I stopped in to have a pedicure (you need to treat yourself sometimes right?) and thought I would surprise Lily with getting my toenails painted with sparkles. The day before Margot and her Mom had their nails done and she was so excited about shiny nails that I thought it would be a fun surprise if we all matched. Well, the ladies in the shop all thought it was hilarious that I asked for nail polish. Lily and Margot joined me as I was about to pick which colour to have applied. I told Lily she could choose which shade and luckily for me she chose blue sparkles, instead of pink or purple. She was quite delighted once they were done and I felt great with my happy feet. As well as Margot's Mom visiting her Dad and Step-mom, Rosamond, came up.  This worked out very well for us because West Jet screwed up our cargo booking for the dogs and said that we would have to wait two days to ship them. So after a few very intense and long conversation we found an alternative to shipping the dogs as cargo we had to go buy two new smaller dog kennels ($550!!!) and they flew as extra baggage. David and Rosamond drove us the hour round trip to go and buy the new ones. What a pain it is flying with extra baggage, kid and two large dogs. 

We then headed out to Rossland which is in southern BC. We rented a house there for the summer. This is the same town we moved from prior to moving up here. It was great to be home and near my family. We had lots of our friends come and stay. We spent the summer eating at great restaurants, swimming (Lily had lessons) in pools and lakes, hiking, playing and having a great time. 

I fulfilled a bucket list item. I went on a motorcycle trip with my dad! After getting new leathers and a fancy helmet, we hopped on our bikes and headed off from BC and went through Washington, Idaho, Montana, Southern Alberta and headed back to BC. We put on about 2500 km in 5 days. It was spectacular!

Then at the end of our summer trip we headed back to Ontario to visit with Margot's family and took a train (Lily and my first time) to hook up with everyone. We had a wonderful visit in southern Ontario and then began our stressful trip home. It's always expensive, stressful and exhausting to return to the north with our circus. 

We had a great summer and it was sad to see it end but it is nice to be back and get into the swing of things.

Once we got back I got right to work fixing our "new" 2009 Yamaha 125 grizzly atv. It has been a very frustrating experience trying to get the local Yamaha shop to get it done right, but I think after basically setting my wallet on fire it's running great. I also bought a 2004 Honda fourtrax rancher. It also needed some parts shipped up and a couple of full days work done to it, but now it runs like a top. However with this one, me and another fella spent two days fixing it up. Then we had to build something to house the new machines which was quite a debacle as there is not much space in front of our building it. But we got it all worked out and I spent this last weekend building it so now we're all set. Luckily it seems as though it was just in time as the ground was covered in snow this morning. 

Anyhow, that's what we're up to these days. We will be blogging much more frequently now I hope. 

Thanks for stopping by and drop us a line!


Monday, August 22, 2011

Trains, Planes and Automobiles

Hey all, this is just a quick update. We're back home in Cape Dorset after our amazing summer. We have had numerous phone calls and emails from concerned family and friends because a First Air plane crashed the same day we were flying home from Ottawa to here. We heard about the crash after we had arrived home and the news hit a bit too close to home about how scary flying can be. Here is a link to the  CBC News article. We are very sorry for all those who have been affected by this tragedy.

The summer was amazing and when I have some more time in the next week or so and can get some pictures up to share I will go into more detail (for those that care!) about where we were and what we did. Needless to say it was so wonderful to re-connect with our culture, friends and family. I can't speak for the rest of my family but I must admit that I am filled with mixed emotions about being home, as I am sure you can understand. It's foggy, windy, rainy and muddy here now, but hey, it could be worse!

Hope you are having a great summer wherever you are and take care.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Yup, we're on holidays in "the south" right now. Sorry for the lack of blogging but wrapping up school for the year and planning, packing, travelling, eating, drinking, dancing, reading, sleeping, visiting and tree gazing have been taking up all of our time. We spent a week in Ontario (Loved seeing Elvis Costello and KD Lang live) and are now in southern BC. I will do a large post in late August I suspect when we have more time for things like being on being on a computer.

Thanks for dropping by! We are having a great time with parks, lakes, swimming and travel.

Oh, and we are returning back north for another year. Actually we are all excited about the upcoming year. I think that's the fun part of being a teacher is that you get new kids every year.

Take care and we'll post soon!


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

So much sunlight!

Sorry everyone, it has been a while since I have had the time or energy to post.

I thought I would talk about the amount and intensity of the light up here. We are into light all the time now. It is very bright until I go to bed and moderately bright most of the night. It is really nice to feel the warmth, but I find it hard to unwind and sleep well. Also it is really having an effect on the students. They are much more tired and lethargic because they stay up very late playing. Oh well, we're in the final countdown to summer break. Woohoo!!!! We have been here since August and I am really ready for a break. I am looking forward to some very simple things. Like no snow/rain boots and extreme outerwear, liquor and grocery stores, the mall (even though I have never been much of a shopper), eating somewhere that I didn't have to plan a week in advance for groceries, preparing and cleaning up and finally grass and trees. Mmmmmm, it's gonna be good.

The sad news about it getting warm is that our roads have turned back to gravel, sand and rock strips that make travel around town very hard on snowmobiles. I wish the street cleaning crews were not quite so fastidious about there jobs and had left some snow on the roads considering the majority of town travels via snowmobile. Oh well, the exercise probably isn't such a bad thing. I just hate getting up early and coming home later.

We now also have a front hall very full of outdoor clothes because the weather fluctuates so much. It can be truly cold if the wind picks up, to the point that I changed the other day from my windstopper fleece and down vest into my fur lined, down parka. My neck was so very cold without that fur! Plus we now need rain gear. I am not looking forward to the oncoming heaps of mud, especially with dogs and a toddler. Yuck.

Some sad news, one of my neighbors had her snowmobile stolen. It was locked up in front of her unit and they managed to cut the lock, damage the ignition and go joy riding. Bastards! They returned it, but it was damaged. At this point, I don't think the culprits have been charged, but it's only a matter of time in a town this small. To the individual who had it stolen: I am very sorry for the loss and damage to your property. I know for when we have been robbed (Halifax and here) it's the feeling of violation also. That someone has tread upon your safe and secure world. Sometimes people really suck.

Lily is doing well and loving the daily walks that they are doing at school these days. She is so cute wandering around town with her school buddies. It was sad today because I had to get her before the walk began and she was unable to go. But I told her that tomorrow we would walk to and from school and she thought that was a great "big idea" as she refers to it.

At my school, we have wrapped up some of our courses (social studies, science for my class) and I am teaching 1 credit courses, one of which is a music course. It's been fun brushing up on the mechanics of teaching beginner guitar to the kids. They are just getting into it, but some of them seem really keen on learning.

Oh, and lastly, I have had numerous email conversations with people thinking of moving to the Arctic and looking for advice or information which has been really neat. We got so much help when we moved up from local bloggers that was one of the reasons we opted to start this blog. Well, cool news is that two different families are in various stage of move to Cape Dorset. One of which may be moving into our building this next month. I think this is pretty cool. Technology certainly takes the guesswork out of these sorts of things these days. Although some may argue it takes some of the adventure out of moves and experiences too. However, I think just being here and experiencing this place is a true adventure.

Thanks for stopping by, drop us a line!


Sunday, May 15, 2011

The end of the blizzards

I realized that in all the hula-ba-loo I never actually wrote that Rick and Maureen got out safely.  On Monday May 9th the skies were finally bright blue and the plane got out just fine.  We also got to see the RCMP plane landing just before their flight.  They had a long stop-over in Iqaluit but then carried on to Edmonton and got there about 10pm.  They spent some time with Maureen's sister and then drove home.  By Friday they were safe and sound back home and according to Lily busy getting their house ready for her!  Lily is happy to be back at school.  She was home most of the time her Mama and Papa were here and was missing her friends.  On Monday she asked to go to school in the afternoon to get to see her buddies again.  I think the distraction was good for her.  So now at the end of the week we have all been at school and are getting back into the rhythm of life.  But now we realize just how close the end of the year is and we are getting VERY excited about heading out of town.  The end is near...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


They are home!!  So here is the story.  We got home from work and as we were getting ready for dinner I asked Richard what he had done with the two bears.  He said nothing.  It took a minute to figure out because maybe we had just moved things.  But no, we had done nothing.  Then we realized that when we got home there had been snow on the floor and the front window was wide open. We figure that someone came in through the window because there was such a big snow drift.  We also think that our arrival home startled him (or them) and he took off.  He may even have left as Richard came into the house.  So once we realized they were gone we looked to see if anything else was gone.  It doesn't look like anything else had been touched.  We started calling everybody we could think of to let them know what had happened after we called the RCMP.  We gave them a description of the two bears as quite likely they would be resold tonight.  Hopefully we had cut off some selling routes.  In the mean time we were trying to feed Lily dinner and a carver came to the door.  It was someone I quite like and so told him what had happened so he could be looking too.  After our makeshift dinner Richard went outside to get rid of the ramp to our window and I went to put Lily to bed.  While he was outside another carver came by.  It was another carver we like who we have bought from before so Richard told him the story.  This time however...a lead.  This carver had seen our bears in a truck belonging one of the specialists who is working on the broken pipeline.  Richard gave him a call but only managed to talk to his co-worker.  This man confirmed that they probably did have our carvings.  After a bit of a wait Richard called back and talked to the man who had bought the carvings.  He was more than willing to have Richard come down and take a look.  So off went Richard with money ready to buy our carvings back.  This was about 9pm.
Just before 10pm Richard came back in and told me this story…
He went down to the hotel and met with the man.  He did indeed have our bears.  He was very sorry for what had happened.  He had paid $100 for them and Richard offered to buy them back.  He said not to worry about it! Amazing!  There are still kind, decent, generous people in the world!!!  The bear’s feet have been sanded and new names carved in.  However you can still see Richard’s name on his bear and part of the original name on the other.  Richard then went over to the police station to let them know.  And there in a cell was the thief.  Apparently he had walked into the station to sell some inukshuks and when the police asked him, he confessed.  So Richard just added to the case.  They say he will have a court date soon.
The little jerk will be released tonight but will hopefully (and had better) steer clear of us.  It is just so frustrating because we know this kid.  He is only about 15 years old.  Everyone knows him as ‘the thief’.  Before we knew who he was he had been to our house selling carvings and when he told us he was starving we gave him food.  I don’t even have words yet for how we are feeling!
But there you have it.  Situation resolved!  And thank you to all those who were willing to help us, and all those who truly did help.
Good night all and close your windows!!

Richard's Art defaced!  On the foot that is bottom left in this picture you can still make out most of Richard's original name carving.  Its hard to see in the picture but at the very left you may be able to see the R. On the bottom right foot you can see the kid's alteration to the carving.


We have a lead......


Our house was broken into this afternoon!  Have you seen these carvings?  The white bear and the green bear have been taken.  If you see them please let us know or call the police.  The green one is most important as it is the one that Richard carved!  Thanks, Margot

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Hotel California

Our house is now being called the Hotel California.  I posted this on facebook and actually had three suggestions when we were only thinking of one.  So you decide:
1) because of  "the cool wind in my hair"
2) "this could be Heaven or this could be Hell"
3) "you can check in any time you like, but you can never leave"
Just for the record it is not Hell.
So here's to hoping that everything goes well on Monday and the folks actually make it onto the plane.  So far the weather looks like it is cooperating.  I'll let you know.

Mother's Day

Mother's Day in Cape Dorset. Happy Mother's Day to all those mothers out there!!  So far the day is great with getting to sleep in and a water delivery.  The biggest news is that Rick and Maureen are still here.  On Friday they tried to leave yet again.  We tried to call a cab but as often happens no one even answered.  So Plan B we loaded everything into the Qamatiq.  By everything I also mean Lily and Myself.  She loves riding in the sled and laughed the whole way.  This time we made it all the way to the airport and were checked in and everything.  Waiting for the plane to arrive we heard it fly overhead.  The wind and snow were picking up and it circled to try again.  We saw it fly right over the airport and then fly away.  The anouncement came that it was returning to Iqaluit.  So everyone is here until Monday.  On the up side we now get to spend Mother's Day with another mother!  The weather looks good for Monday but we will just have to wait and see what happens...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


A quick update...the flight this morning has been cancelled and so as Lily says "Mama and Papa are 'taying"!  We had school cancelled this morning but are still waiting to hear about this afternoon.  Apparently the forcast looks pretty dismal for the next week so who knows what is going to happen!  Environment Canada uses a 'flake' rating system so here is what it looks like:  Today a 3 flaker, Thursday a 4 flaker, Friday a 4 flaker, Saturday a 3 flaker, Sunday a 4 flaker, Monday a 3 flaker and Tuesday is another 3 flaker.  3 is officially a snowstorm and 4 flakes is a blizzard.  We are telling Mama and Papa to enjoy our hospitality because they might be here for a while!

Blizzard, blizzard, blizzard…

We are entering another day of blizzard!  It is truly crazy up here right now!  Rick and Maureen have been trying to fly out since Monday.  They are still here.  The weather had been pretty good until…a giant storm moved in.  School has also been cancelled so we are all at home.  We have been having a great visit and it is wonderful to have them here however it is getting hard to constantly be saying goodbye.  Every day we just have to check on the weather and see if a plane is going to land.  The storm is fierce blowing many feet of snow around in front of our house.  But it stops completely from time to time.  Yesterday just before lunch the storm let up.  A plane came, landed and took off, and we were told that school was back in session for the afternoon.  Then literally 10 minutes later the storm is back and we get another phone call cancelling school.  Crazy.  Rick and Maureen can’t leave but we don’t have to go to work either, so we get to continue our visit.  Yeah for snow days!!  The problem now is that we need confirmation the plane isn’t flying before we know if they are staying another day.  No one is at the airport yet but we shall see soon enough.  I am pretty darn certain that they will not be getting on a plane today!
As a side note we were asked what the temperature is doing as the blizzard is here.  I have to say it has been pretty nice.  Yes the wind is cold but the temperature has not been much below -15 and has gotten up to -3. 
Now that we have convinced Lily to wear her goggles again it is actually possible to play outside for chunks of time.


Children and bedtime

Sunday night, 10:30, and the phone rings.  “Hello” the voice says, “is Lily there?”  My brain says “What!?!”  It turns out it is one of the students from my school and yes she actually wanted to talk to Lily.  I was so taken off guard but I managed to tell her Lily had long been in bed and to ask her to please not call me at home any more.  I was worried this might be the start of something but we have gotten no further calls since then.  So all is okay.  Except, I am still wondering why there are children up and about so late into the night!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mama and Papa days continued

My snowmobile has been having some trouble so Richard took it to Gabriel to have it looked at.  Gotta love the Cape Dorset Canadian Tire (dump) as some bits and pieces Richard had found there were exactly what my machine needed to get up and going.  He found this crazy big spring and it worked perfectly as my rear spring so my machine doesn’t bottom out any more.
The big news of today is Rick’s new purchase.  Since arriving here he has been admiring Richard’s seal skin mittens.  We have been asking around but no one had mittens for sale.  I mentioned this to one of the women I sew with.  About an hour later she showed up at the house on her snowmobile saying that she had gone on the radio asking for mittens and had received several phone calls.  She had two pairs of mitts with her unfortunately neither fit Rick but she said not to worry because she had two more leads to follow.  She called and said one of the women would be by shortly with a pair.  Rick saw them and fell in love.  They were full gauntlets and are beautiful.  He got a very good price on them.  They fit him like a glove (ha, ha) and are keeping his hands toasty warm in our yucky weather.
The search for water continued today.  We were okay being patient until we heard that some houses had gotten water delivered twice while we (and everyone in our building) had received nothing.  So Richard called the garage and asked for water.  About 10 minutes later the water truck arrived and partially filled our tank.  The water is coming from Dead Dog Lake.  This is not the best of water and so we will be boiling our water before drinking.  Nobody else seemed to know where the water was coming from so I spent a while on the phone telling as many people as I could.  Even if we can’t drink it we can SHOWER!!!!!
Richard and Rick went for a ride after dinner.  They said it was absolutely beautiful!  Although the floe edge is disappearing quickly and is completely gone in the spot we took them to the other day.  They were having a great time and stopped on a mountain peak to look around.  When it was time to return they discovered that my sled wouldn’t start.  They towed it to Gabriel’s house.  It looks like my carb froze over again.  Gabriel managed to fix it but time for some long-term repair as this is the third time this same problem has occurred.  We also got some amazingly generous help from a neighbour and I would like to thank him very much!  Richard also found a man selling a complete engine for our type of machine and so there is now a snowmobile engine sitting in the living room drying out.  Ah, the North!
Rick, Maureen, Richard and Lily went to visit the artists Co-op today.  They had a great time, were given the full tour and got to see some beautiful art.  Unfortunately most of the works had been packed up ready to send to galleries down south.  But they got to talk to a working artist and see lots of things.  Everyone came home with samples of that great art.
I spoke to my principal today who asked me for some help spending money.  It doesn’t seem like a hard job but it was.  Just before school let out for the holiday we received a grant from the municipality for ‘Arts and Crafts’.  Five of us met and made a list of projects we would like to see happen.  The end, I thought.  Now we need to actually order everything and I was asked to do it.  Some of the project I know a lot about and felt comfortable ordering but a few I have never tried, like leather work.  It is hard to order basic supplies when you don’t understand what tools are needed.   Thank goodness for the internet is all I can say!!  PS I have 24 hours to get supplies ready for all 11 projects.
This evening I was called to an emergency meeting of the Resource Center Committee.  We had been working on a proposal for funding for the year ahead and just found out we have been denied.  All the application said is that our project is too similar to another in the community and we should join with them.  Nobody could think who this ‘other group’ might possibly be which makes it hard to join with them.  So it was decided that I would call and see what information I could find out.  We have 4 days left to appeal the decision.  Why is it that everything happens all at once?!
I spent the morning trying to finish up business.  I spoke to a very nice woman about the proposal. 
Along with some other helpful information she was able to give me the name of the other group applying.  I called Mary, one of the other committee members who wrote the proposal, she recognized the name.  Mary had in fact also helped with their proposal and so knew for certain it was nothing like ours.  There we go crisis averted.   Looks like a misunderstanding and so I will now write the appeals letter and will be able to discuss how our group cannot join with the other group and that we do in fact need the funds we have applied for.
For those of you who don’t know I should clarify.  Back in October I began to sew with a group of local women at the resource center.  Anyone is welcome to join and can just come and sew.  I began to learn parka making and have now completed four.  I thoroughly enjoy this group.  There are some wonderful women there with some amazing knowledge to share.  I was nominated for and voted onto the newly formed committee two months ago.  The group has always been fairly informal but the committee is the beginning of trying to make it slightly more formal – while still welcoming any and all women who want to sew.  (I still don’t know exactly why men can’t join us but I know they never do more than stick their heads in the door to let their wife or mother know that their ride has arrived.)
I also finished the Arts and Crafts shopping list and sent it off.  Done and done.
While I was hard at work the rest of the family went off to the park.  It is snowy and blowy but they had a great time.  They also stopped by the store which Lily always thinks is a good time.  Home for lunch.  We tried to put Lily down for a nap but as is happening more and more frequently she is refusing to nap.  She did stay in her room having quiet time so everyone got a little down time, we grownups played some dominos, but all too soon she was up and about.  So nap kyboshed we decided to head up to the GN (Government of Nunavut) building.  Rick and Maureen are so enjoying their visit that they are contemplating moving here.  We went up to check out the building as it is beautiful but also so that Rick could meet a few people and talk about possibilities.  We had a very nice visit.  Got to see Amy and Lily took to exploring the offices on her own.  It is a big circle so she went for a little walk.  I found her in a nearby office chatting with a woman at her desk.  She just made herself right at home.  What a little nut.  Luckily everyone loves her and so she rarely gets herself in trouble.  Rick got lots of good information and so they are left to debate what life is going to look like.  But then aren’t we all?
Thanks again for reading and I hope we will get the photo thing sorted out soon!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Floe Edge

Today we loaded everyone onto the snow mobiles and took a drive out to the floe edge.  It is amazing how much has melted since we were last there.  It is so incredibly beautiful!  I realized how much I have been stuck in the house lately.  Being out there reminded me of how amazing my life really is.  I get to live in this beautiful, spectacular, breath-taking place that most people will never even get to visit.  I am thankful for my life!  I think everyone felt the same today except maybe Lily who was distracted rolling down the hills and throwing ice off the edge of the ice into the water.  We carried on to the park and had a great time swinging and playing.  Came back home for lunch where Lily ate more of the caribou stew I made yesterday and arctic char with soya sauce.  She has been off and on with naps lately but went to bed without fuss and fell asleep before Mama had even left the room.  While she slept, Maureen and I rested but Richard and Rick went for a big snow mobile ride out to Fish lake.  They had a great time.
In the evening we headed over to Richard's Vice Principal Mike's house for another Kitchen Party.  Lily was specially invited so dinner was nice and early (Thank you very much!).  Richard and Rick both brought guitars and treated us to one song after another.  Lily went bananas and was dancing and singing with everyone.  She always hates to leave a party but eventually I did have to bring her home.  Again she went straight to sleep.
There is still no word on the water situation.  We can see lots of activity up the hill and Richard stopped to talk to them today but all we really know is that the pipe is Badly frozen.  They seem to be plowing a road up to the lake I think the idea being that if they can make it to the pump house they can fill the trucks from there.  No idea if that will actually work or not but hey at least they are trying.  We would all really like water back in our lives.  And a shower without thought would be lovely!!!  Maybe tomorrow...
Drink up all, and drink one for us (water that is).

Mama and Papa Day!!

Tuesday April 12th was declared Mama and Papa day. We were all very excited that Richard's parents, Rick and Maureen, would be arriving in Cape Dorset in the afternoon. We all went off to school and then afterwards headed up to the airport to pick them up. Lily was so excited!! They arrived safely and in fact were the only people on the plane. They said it was quite the experience! It is so nice to see familiar faces we have missed them very much. After dinner we went up to my school to attend the penny sale. These are a regular occurrence in Cape Dorset and we wanted to give the parents the full experience. Lily has discovered a deep love for participating in the cake walk and got Papa and Mama to do it with her. I think she walked 5 or 6 times. Between that and the running around with the kids she was a tired little bean when we got home.
On Wednesday Richard and I had to go to work but Lily got to stay home.
On Thursday Richard and I had to work and Lily went to school as well so that Rick and Maureen could come and visit our schools and meet our students. They spent part of the morning with me. The kids have a game they play we call 'dice math'. I roll two dice on the Smart board and two people compete to see who can add the fastest. Rick and Maureen were great sports competing against my kids. They then went down to the high school where they were doing a big lunch for the kids and then house sports. While they were there I had to stay at school for parent teacher interviews in the afternoon. Things were going well until one of the dads who is also the SAO of our hamlet told me that the pipe that brings water into town was frozen and broken. This meant that there was no more water being delivered and they did not know when it would be fixed. I called home and let them know and we went into water conservation mode. I was supposed to go back for more interviews in the evening but a storm came up and they were cancelled. This made us all very sad!!
Friday. No School. A nice day we all got to stay home and heaven love grandparents, Mama got up with Lily so we got to sleep in. What a great way to start our holiday. Richard's principal called us just before lunch to let us know that the Co-op was having a sale on bottled water so Richard loaded up the qamatiq and headed down many of the other high school teachers were there as well so Richard filled the qamatiq full of water and delivered it to their houses. He is such a nice guy!!
Saturday. We went sledding in the morning on the hill outside our house. We brought Lily and the dogs so it was good old fashioned chaos.  Amy came over for dinner to meet the folks.  We all had such nice time and Amy, an Ontario girl, was well acquainted with the "cottage rules" we are living with.  Well done everyone!  Still no water but we are managing.
I am getting closer and closer to being up to date!!!
Take care everyone and appreciate every little thing you have (especially your water).

Richard goes fishing

Richard had one further addition to my last post. He wanted to add the following:

April 5: Ice Fishing:

Yesterday I went out on the land with my students (grade 8/9) for a day of fishing and sledding. It was a challenge to find enough volunteers to bring their snowmobiles and Qamaitiqs which were needed to ferry the kids out the lakes. The morning was mayhem trying to find enough space for everyone and make sure we were all packed. There were about 75 students and 25 adults in all. I figure we had about 15 snowmobiles and 8 qamatiqs in all. Once everyone filled up at the gas bar we headed out. It was a pretty neat sight seeing so many machines travelling across the frozen landscape in a line. The day started out a bit cloudy but quickly cleared up to a balmy -16 (-27 with the wind-chill) at the lake. We drove for about 45 minutes, stopping from time to time to regroup. There was only one crash along the way when one of the qamatiqs hit a large piece of ice on a side slope and flipped. Luckily the kids were just a bit bruised. When asked if they needed to head back to town to see the nurse, they replied quite strongly that they were alright and wanted to keep going.

Once we got to the lake, most everyone pitched in and set up the cook tent and made holes in the ice for everyone to jig the Arctic Char in the freshwater lake we were at. It is interesting to see people up here ice fish. They lie down on their stomachs and peer into their hole in which they have placed there lure which is tied to a small length of stick (like a hockey stick or broom handle.)They wait for a fish to come near the lure and pull up trying to hook the fish with a large 3 pronged hook. Only 3 fish were caught in all, but when they were, everyone cheered for the fisherman.

The day was spent fishing, playing soccer, sledding and hanging out. For a little while, I made a towrope and was pulling kids around the lake which was a big hit. We stayed until about 2:30 and began our trip home after packing up and doing a head count. Sadly about halfway back to town, one of my qamatiq’s ski’s buckled under too much weight tipped over causing the ropes to loosen. I re-tied some extra rope to it in hopes of limping it back home. It would have been fine, but I think I had about 900 lbs on the sled. That combined with the uneven terrain caused it to break. The good news was I got the kids back to town (with a little help) and I have fixed it now.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Way behind the times

Well I just realized how far behind the times we truly are with the blog. So here goes some fast updating...
Our last post was in the middle of Professional Improvement week. So we both made it through! Lisa and I managed to finish our Kamiqs and they are gorgeous! I'll post pictures at some point but I have to learn how because the system has changed so for now just information. (Sorry.) We may have had no children but the week was jam-packed and tiring. On March 25th Sam Pudlat had a carnival in the afternoon. Arranged by Scott one of our grade 4 teachers the kids were so excited. It was hectic and chaotic but fun for all. I was in the 'chill zone' where we were showing a movie or colouring or just playing while others were at the carnival. The kindergartens came in the later afternoon and I actually had 2 fall asleep sitting colouring at desks. On the 26th Lisa and I organized a penny sale which very well thanks to the help of so many people at school. Our staff really is great about pitching in when needed.
On to April. April 1st is the day that Nunavut became a territory. Apparently someone has decided that it should be celebrated in July so April 1st is no longer Nunavut day is now Hamlet Day. So either way we got the day off work. On top of that they had another round of outdoor games like we did at Christmas. This time however Richard and I competed. I started with a crawl across the field and back race. We like to think it was a polar bear race. I was convinced by the children to participate and as I was standing at the start line waiting to go I noticed that everyone else was wearing snow pants and I was not! Uh oh! Anyway off we went. I was doing pretty well until I was attacked from behind. A crazy Lily decided that not only should she run with me but jump on me and sit on my foot. I continued anyway dragging her along with me. I lost terribly but she thought it was great and asked to do it again. My next event was the harpoon throw. I got up there and just threw it. But then was told my throw was disqualified as I had been using two hands. The down side of not knowing the rules is: you don't know the rules. So I got to try again (after asking for the rules again) and threw it as hard as I could. Many, many women competed but in the end I WON!!! Amazing! Plus I won $40.00. The last competition I did was sort of like a tug of war. Only two people compete at a time and you have your backs to each other with a rope around the back of your neck and under your arms. It was very hard especially as half way through I realized that wearing my Kamiqs was a big mistakes. They have no treads and are just bare leather so I was slipping and sliding all over the place. I gave a valiant effort but definitely lost! Richard had been keeping an eye on Lily most of the time but after each lady's event was the men's. He tried the harpoon throw but lost however he was the champ of strange tug of war. He had to defeat lots of people but did it with Lily and I cheering him on. Days later you should have seen the bruises on his arms where the rope was pulling. That evening there were more games at the Community Hall. We went down for a while and took Amy with us. Lily loves it there with all the people and the freedom to play and play and play. We all tried a few things but were knocked out pretty early until Richard and the dice game. He made it down to 5 people and because he was the last man he WON. He was especially excited as he won a Qamatiq hitch. Yeah. Didn't mean much to me either but Richard has recently built a Qamatiq (a sled for behind a snowmobile) and this hitch is worth $250.00. So YEAH Richard!!! We were just beginning to talk about leaving when another strength competition started. Some of the young people were encouraging Richard to try it. So after watching for a bit (and learning the rules) he decided to compete. We were a little bit worried about offending anyone with our winning but as he was being pushed into it he decided to give it his all. So Richard beat 4 men (16 and over) by sitting feet to feet and holding onto a broomstick between them and trying to pull each other over. He was finally beat by a young man. So we thought it was over but then our lack of understanding of the rules became obvious again. No it was not over because the man who beat Richard also beat 4 men he and Richard had to battle one more time. And...Richard WON!!! No doubt about how people felt as Richard was cheered in riotous fashion and swarmed by well wishers. He was pushed towards the stage where he was given his prize of $60.00. So all in all not a bad day. Tones of fun and $140.00 and a hitch to boot!!
Birthday notices: Happy Birthday (in date order not importance) Kala, Rosamond, Joy and Grandpa!!! The beginning of April has been busy for me as it is report card season. They were due last week. It is only my second round and I was very concerned if I was doing them right and if they would get done and make sense. But they got done and my principal was extremely complimentary of my work so all is well after all. On Friday April 8th the staffs of both Sam Pudlat Elementary and Peter Pitseolak High School went out on the land for a 'cultural day'. It was amazing. We drove for a good 40 minutes out over the water and over the land and over the water and on and on. We got out to a lake and set up camp. A tent was pitched with a stove to heat up caribou stew. Holes were dug with the auger for fishing and we all got to it. We followed the others lead and Richard brought on of our machines over beside the hole where we sat on it and fished. Nothing was biting despite my using all the Inuktitut I knew and learning more to try and get the fish to bite. I said the straight forward Qaigit (pronounced hi-gee meaning come here), the unusual Nagligivagit (pronounced Na-lee-gee-za-geet meaning I love you and here it is in sylabics ᓇᒡᓕᒋᕙᒋᑦ) and following Ernie's lead I yelled Iqalamai (I made up the spelling but it is pronounced EE-ha-la-may) or here fishy, fishy, fishy!! That got a lot of laughs but not a single fish. Lily was very disappointed that there were no fish and we had to go home and pull the two out of the deep freeze so she could poke them. The day was great but I am hoping that when we go next time we will actually catch something! The next night we went to a good old fashioned Kitchen Party. Ahh, the legacy of the Newfies. Actually very, very fun as our student teacher Jennifer is a harpist and she played as did David, a GN employee, Scott, one of our grade 4 teachers, and Richard. (They were all playing the guitar.) Everyone chatted and ate and drank and listened and sang. A very good time and a good send off to Jennifer who after being here for a month is headed back to Halifax. There I end this very, very long post as the next saga is the arrival of Richard's parents.... later I promise but it is bedtime now...
Goodnight to all and thanks for reading.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lily turns 3 and Richard goes hunting

Sorry for the lack of postings the last couple of weeks. It seems like if we leave it too long then it becomes such an undertaking to get caught up with the backlog that it then gets put off even longer. So this posting is a bit of a mish mash.

Lily’s birthday:

She had a great time. We had a party and invited a few of her friends. We had a friend dog sit for us as the puppies may have scared some of the kids. Everyone arrived, played and had a good time. We all had hot dogs and Kraft dinner with a cake Margot made. MMMMMM. Then after Lily’s nap we had a couple of adult friends over and had another party for Lily. She had a great time turning three.

Personal Improvement Week:

We all need to improve (some more than others) ourselves, and this week all of us teachers in the Qikiqtani region got to do just that. We were given a set amount of money and it had to be used towards professional development. We had to set up what ever we wanted to do and put a proposal together that needed approval. Some did course work both up here and down south, others had projects they were working on and some chose to learn about Inuit culture. Margot and I both chose to go the last route as we are new and very interested in what is important to the community in which we live and teach. It makes for a more authentic teaching and learning model when you have personal experience with a subject. So Margot is making seal skin kamiq’s (boots) and I am learning to carve stone and have arranged for a local guide to take me out on the land to hunt and fish the Inuit way.

I love GPS:

A bit of back-story about hunting and I. When I was a kid in southern BC my dad was quite a hunter and I grew up hunting birds (using a small 22 caliber gun, not a shotgun) and such. I have never shot a large animal and I stopped hunting in my teen years. It has never been something I really wanted to get back into, but having lived up here, it reignited my interest in it. This community and the Inuit people have such a strong foundation built on hunting and fishing. It was something I really wanted to be a part of, to be a true hunter up here. I wanted to be able to relate to my students and members of the community about something that is important to them. I can only learn so much from reading books and watching educational videos. What follows is not a story about blood lust and my desire to kill. It is about my wanting to experience a new part of the culture that is important for the men in my community. Also I wanted to feed my family and share with my community. Trust me, nothing goes to waste up here. I was very conflicted about killing such a beautiful animal, but I also know that is how the food chain works if one eats meat (which I do) and these animals have been harvested for hundreds of years and are being carefully managed now. I know this is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I am here to experience Inuit culture and this is part of it.

My day Caribou hunting started well after picking up the snowmobiles, loading up gear into the Qamutiq (I built, with help) and getting fuel. As we were departing, I set up my new (borrowed) GPS unit to track our day. This would allow us to follow a trail home in case we got turned around or bad weather came in. Gabriel, my guide, scoffed at my GPS a bit, but didn’t say too much. I told him it was just in case and that I did not really know it very well. I reassured him that he was the one who was going to get us home.

It was an amazingly clear day and around -32 C (not incl. wind chill). We headed off and began our journey on the frozen ocean. I must admit how terrified I am of being on frozen water. It does not help that everyone I talk to who has been traveling/hunting on the ice has some horror story about how they have either had a snowmobile fall through or the ice they were standing on break off and float away. That’s scary stuff. So, I was very careful and we followed other fresh snowmobile tracks. We traveled 45 miles north east across the southern tip of Baffin Island. We traveled through some amazing terrain and it was so very beautiful. At times it was a bit frustrating though because it was so cold, I had to cover my face to avoid frostbite. But, when I did that, the condensation would eventually make it’s way up into my goggles, eventually forming a thick layer of ice that made it difficult to see. So, we would stop, thaw out and then carry on. We drove for about 2 hours passing over frozen mountains, wide open flatland's, lakes and streams. We passed over numerous tracks, both Caribou and Polar Bear but still no animals. I did see an arctic hare streak across our path which was pretty cool. It was the first wild, non-airborne animal I had seen since we moved here. Right about the time I was starting to give up hope, we came across two Caribou. They were in the lee of a large hill and stopped to watch us as we prepared our guns. In hindsight, this would have been good time to put on some thin gloves, like mechanic or biking gloves to stop the intense cold and wind from freezing them. However, in my haste to leave the house I forgot them, along with a camera and my binoculars. Anyhow, as we began to approach them they began to trot at a leisurely pace away from us. Gabriel did not seem too concerned as we neared them and he tried to shoot the larger of the two, which turned out to be female as they both were. He missed a few times and then asked if I would try to shoot the other. Now, as an aside, I am a resident and a licensed hunter who is legally allowed to shoot up to five Caribou this season. I did not bring up a rifle to Nunavut, but I am having one shipped up now. I did bring along my model 12, 12 gauge Winchester pump action shotgun that was my grandfathers. It is a very nice gun. I brought along rifled deer slugs for bear protection, but they are also used for hunting thin skinned, large game. Now on with the story:

Caribou are a strange animal. I have never seen an animal stand and watch you while you shoot at it. Generally they run away, but these ones would run a couple hundred yards and then stand and watch, as we would try again. It took about 10 minutes for the actual hunt, during which I had exposed hands while holding my gun and driving. We would drive, stop, get off, shoot, reload and repeat. By the time I took my last shot, I could not move my thumbs and was trying to load my gun by shoving shells in with my burning, frozen, unmovable thumbs. It was so very painful! It took us a few tries but eventually we did shoot them. It didn’t help that Gabriel’s gun was not sighted properly. I was quite impressed with my shot. It was at least 125 yard, using a shotgun in the wind, using open sights on a gun I had never hunted with. Gabriel was very impressed which made me feel pretty good. I took a total of 7 shots. 4 misses, two body shots and one final one to kill the animal quickly after it was on the ground shots. I don’t want to see an animal suffer needlessly. Gabriel’s Caribou was a full grown female with antlers, mine we estimated to be about two years old. It had small antlers and a bit smaller body. They are much larger than the deer down south with large hooves, noses, eyes and long, long legs.

Then the work began. I stood back and tried to help, but soon realized that I was only slowing Gabriel down as he expertly skinned, limbed, gutted and butchered both animals. He told me that when he lived back home in Coral Harbor, Nunavut, he butchered over 30 Caribou in one day. His hometown has a very large heard and they supply many communities with Caribou meat. It took about 25 minutes per animal. We lined the qamutiq with a tarp then used the skins to hold the meat, innards, legs and heads. The only things left were the intestines, everything else was used. I took some ribs, the shoulders and the hind quarters from the smaller one that I shot for my family and friends. I also took the hides, one set of innards (a delicacy), and the vertebrae, which I gave away as a thank you to an older Inuit woman who has worked with both Margot and I at our schools. She sent her son over to help me butcher the pieces of Caribou into specific cuts of meat, which I then processed later. Gabriel took the rest of the meat, limbs, innards and heads to feed his family and friends.

After we got cleaned up and had some bannock and tea we began our trip home. By this time, it was about 2 pm and the sky was still clear but a very cold wind was tearing across the land. It was very cold. We figured we had another 45 minutes before we should start heading home. Gabriel led the way as we continued our hunt. After passing over a never ending criss-cross of old snowmobile tracks and a few more mountains Gabriel admitted he was a bit turned around and asked if my GPS was working. At this point I was concerned and brought out the GPS that I had hastily set up to track our route prior to leaving town. We both looked at it and the map I had brought and he figured he knew where to go and we set off again. 15 minutes later, he stops and says he’s lost and wants to see the GPS again. After a couple of "comments" from me he smiled and said he knew where we were. I said so do I, Nunavut, but that doesn’t help me get home. He asked for the GPS again and he used it for the next 30 minutes until he got us back on our old tracks. Now, I am sure we would have been fine and figured out which way was home, but GPS is amazing. I also was sure to bring extra batteries, fuel, emergency food, tools, clothes, maps and such. I tend to over prepare which usually turns out to be a good thing.

We then began the long and very cold trip home. There was one section that was about 15 km long in which the wind was hitting our side with such force that it was blowing the qamutiq (fully loaded and heavy) sideways a bit as we traveled at a pretty quick speed.

We made it back to town and filled up our fuel. Many people gave us big smiles and were very happy for our successful hunt, however, most also “jokingly” asked for either an invite to dinner or some of the Caribou. I had to drop Gabriel off, stop by the store and get Lily and Margot also. By the time I got home there was a small army of kids wanting to know about the hunt. Two girls refused to believe that I shot one of the caribou, or that I built the qamutiq or my harpoon (with help) and called me a liar. I asked is it because I am a teacher and therefore have no life or skills outside school (from their perspective) or a qallunaat (non-Inuit) and they told me it was because I was qallunaat. After explaining that what they were saying was racist, I suggested they should go home.

Lily thought the whole thing was very exciting, as did we. We called up a few friends to come over and check it out and have dinner. Kala and Smoot were also very excited. Margot spread out cardboard on the kitchen floor while I brought everything inside. I then went and returned the snowmobiles. I had been told to throw the hides out by numerous people because they were not good for making anything this time of year, but Margot got on the phone with an elder, Qupi (Hope-ee spelled phonetically) and she sent over her son to get them. He will use them as bedding while out camping once they have been cleaned, stretched and dried in the spring. He also said he would help me with my meat as I was completely out of my element. He and his girlfriend arrived with a gigantic cleaver/axe and after I assured him I had our dogs, who were sequestered in the living room, under control, set about chopping and portioning up the Caribou. Within ten minutes he was done. He commented on how often he has done this before and I believe him. After we said goodbye, I began the arduous process of cleaning, trimming and packaging everything up. Lily thought it was great and went and put on a party dress for the special occasion then desperately wanted to sit on my lap as I sliced and diced. I explained to her that she needed to put on other clothes if she was going to “help”. That night we ate bbq’d Caribou steak for dinner and it was very tasty but a bit tough. I think that is why many people up here eat it frozen and raw with soy sauce (I haven’t tried this yet) or in stews. Sadly it was too rich for the dogs and they were both a bit ill that night, along with Margot. We did not get done until about 8:30 pm. I must admit, I love bleach. The kitchen was such a bloody mess afterwards (literally) that I created a mixture of pine sol, sunlight and bleach. Margot and I then used it to clean and scrub every surface in our kitchen.

It was quite a day and I am still processing everything. It will be a day I never forget, that’s for sure! Thanks to everyone’s help and generosity as it made the day a success.

Conquering ones fear:

I had planned on spending another day with Gabriel as my guide setting up fishing nets under the ice in a nearby lake. But sadly the plan fell through, as he could not locate the nets. So, as a plan B, we spent the day out on the ice floe edge. Now, I am terrified of being on frozen water. I have seen people and snowmobiles break through ice after being reassured “don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe. You could drive a truck on this!” This is why I have waited so long to go out on the ice, and never by myself. I managed to hook us up with another hunting party who was also heading out. They even had a little boat. They use the boat to go pick up whatever they shoot in the water off the flow edge (seals & walrus). It was also nice to go with men who go out on a daily basis and have a very good understanding of this area, currents and ice thickness. Also, the more the merrier I say!

As we left the relative safety of town and firm ground for a day of ice, I must admit to being quite scared. But, it seemed as good a day as any to conquer my fear, so off we went. It was really amazing to feel the difference between regular snow and the snow on frozen ocean. On regular snow, my snowmobile just scoots along without much resistance, but on the frozen ocean it felt as if I were towing a heavy load. The engine struggled to overcome the resistance from sticky frozen ocean’s snow. As we approached open water, I could feel a slight panic attack coming over me and I had to work very hard at calming down and trusting the men that I was with.

The floe edge was very beautiful. The day was clear with blue skies, a moderate wind and about -30 C (temp, not wind chill). The cold air blew across the frozen land and ice and when it hit the open ocean, created a thick fog about 50 feet out that extended high into the sky. I was told that when it warms up, the visibility will increase on the water. We parked about 50 feet from the edge and everyone used their harpoons (I am glad I made one) to stab at the ice to ensure it was thick enough. If after one stab it goes through it is dangerous, 2 stabs okay for one man, 4 stabs it’s okay for many men and snowmachines, 6 stabs and it’s safe for a truck. We were at about 5 stabs. It still seemed very thin. I explained that I am a large man and maybe their stab scale was only for smaller Inuit men. They all laughed and one man said his dad was very fat and would be safe out there too. So with that we all watched the ocean looking for seal heads.

The day proved to be unsuccessful for hunting, but we did get to explore much of the shoreline, meet other hunting parties and get some good riding in. We left Cape Dorset Harbor and headed across Parchetuk bay, over a couple islands known for duck hunting, past Negus Bay and out to the Neta Islands in search of weed. When I asked what we were looking for and was told “weed” as we all poked at the ice with our harpoons, I must admit my southern BC brain was not thinking seaweed. When I explained my confused look to the group, they all had a good laugh.

It was a calm day filled with lots of stories about the past and how things used to be. How people had to fight for their lives and work together. I was told a story about a man and his friends who had a the piece of ice they were standing and hunting on, break off and float out into the open ocean. They would fall off and the waves would lift them back onto their ice again. They huddled together to keep safe and warm. Finally after two days, they were rescued by helicopter. Another story that stuck in my mind was a group who also had a large piece of ice they were on break off. They rushed over to their snowmobiles and raced across the ever widening gap of deep, black ocean water that separated the piece of ice they were on and the new floe edge. They lost 1 snowmobile and 2 guns. I cannot imagine being faced with these challenges. This is not a place for games or to not take nature seriously. I am still afraid of the ice, but I am very happy I got to experience it with so many warm and friendly people.

Lily in the morning. She decided she need to wear her some of her snow clothes while we watched the news. What a funny kid!

Some people drive trucks, others drive snowmobiles and quads. This person rides their scooter all year. It's the funniest thing to see them flying down a road so icy that kids can use their ice skates. The riders keep their feet down like outriggers and often have passengers! What a crazy place.

Lily and Daddy at the dump looking for a snowmobile part. This is a place the locals call "Canadian Tire".

Lily on the phone wearing daddy's boots.

Lily getting ready to "go out" in her play amouti

Give Lily a pack of stickers and guess were they end up?

A man cleaning snow off the vent stacks with no safety equipment. He almost fell twice, so scary. A WCB nightmare!

Margot and Lily out for a big walk.

Lily and Kathy using Margot's smartboard in her classroom.

Margot commuting home from work.

Richard coming home from work.

A hunter on the floe edge.

Snowmobiles on the floe edge.

A destroyed seal den. This is what they build to have their pups in. It must have been crushed by a hungry bear.

Hunters planning our next move.

Looking for weed.

A very icy island.

My gun and seal skin mittens.

A view looking east from the Neta Islands.

An elder on the floe edge waiting to help a group of hunters with their canoe. They will be returning, hopefully, with walrus.

The edge of the floe edge.

My Qamutic.

My Qamutic returning full after a successful hunt before I returned the snowmobiles.

Lily and Kala enjoying a Caribou foot.

Lisa and Lily checking out our Caribou.

Amy and Lily check out the action. Notice Lily's fancy dress. I thought Amy did pretty good considering she is a vegetarian.

Richard learning how to butcher Caribou in the kitchen. Notice his gigantic knife on the floor beside him.

Lily's birthday lunch.

Lily's birthday presents.

Lily enjoying a ticky loopy after the party.

Lily playing on her new bike.

Lily and Daddy have a bit of wind-down time.

Lily checking out the glove from the new Michael Jackson dancing game.

Lily giving the new sweater her Grammy made for her a 'yes' face.

Lily enjoying the new toque from her Mama and Papa

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