Saturday, February 26, 2011

Kids gone wild!

What a week! We had a group come up from down south armed to deliver science concepts to both the high school and elementary students. We learned about light and sound, animals and the stars. We played laser tag (so fun), got to go inside an inflatable planetarium and see a moving light show (for about a minute before it broke) and meet a lizard and a hedgehog. The group (elephant thoughts) was set up at Sam Pudlat school and my class got to go up twice to participate. We had a great time and the kids got to have some new experiences which is always great. However, it made the week crazy! When there are big changes to the kids schedules it brings out the crazy behavior. For the most part, my students are a pretty good group. They look out for one another and make good choices. I am generally very proud of my class, but there were a few moments this week that made me shake my head. By the end of the week I had to suspend two of them (a boy and a girl) for assaulting other kids on different occasions. I haven't had to suspend a kid for that since school began! I have been told that as we get more daylight that the kids get a bit kooky because they stay up later and get less sleep. We'll see if this is the case. Obviously, I hope this is not the case. The sun is rising at 7:30 am and setting at about 5:30 pm right now. But we are fast approaching long periods of light which I am very interested in seeing how it affects us. Both Margot and I have been feeling a bit low lately (energy & mood) and I am really looking forward to my parents visit. It is nice to have something to look forward to and seeing family will be a real treat. We have not left our little town since we got here in August. It has been a strange thing being trapped here. We have always taken road trips on weekends and at holiday times down south, but up here, it's just not possible. It just costs too much to justify a trip out. Even flying to Iqaluit from Cape Dorset return is over $1000 each. So, having loved ones make the trek up at spring break (1 week off work) will bring a bit of home up here. Don't get me wrong, our life up here is very comfortable for the most part. We have a nice place, good jobs, great friends and Lily is loving daycare. But, I do miss being able to pop out to a larger community for a break.

Warning: Proud Parent moment

Speaking of Lilibeth, she is able to speak and understand so much Inuktitut, it's amazing. We often get comments from the Inuit about how surprised they are at her ability to speak and understand both languages. She knows so much more Inuktitut than me at this point. It is the dominant language that is spoken daycare so she spends all day, 5 days a week immersed in it. It is really great that she is leaning another language. This has really made me step up my game and given me yet another reason to keep trying to learn and use Inuktitut daily.

I tried to setup a jam session this week with a few other musicians who have been wanting to get together but was very disappointed when only one showed up. It was cool enough as we played together, but not the same as a full band. I am hoping that we can try again as I really miss playing music with others. But, I do get frustrated when plans are made, then abandoned without letting other know. Grrrrrrrrrr.

Yesterday after school I popped down to the Co-op to get gas as I needed to top up my machine and fill a spare jerry can. When I got there I was told the pump was broken and I had to estimate how much fuel I need, prepay for it then drive all the way out to the tank farm. The tank farm is at least 1 km from the Co-op and is where they to store all the fuel for the community. So after a bit of hullabaloo with my new credit card's pin, I headed on down to the farm. I had been expecting to see maybe a snowmobile or two there, or none at all. That I could simply get my gas and be on my way. Well, that was not the case. I arrived to a lineup of at least 15 vehicles (quads, snowmobiles and trucks) all lined up. Each had a plethora of jerrycans with them. I had to wait for over an hour to get my fuel. Did I mention I was not wearing long undies or fuzzy pants. Just my work clothes and in town snow clothes (not insulated pants). It was about -34 C temperature (not incl. windchill.) I was OK, but pretty chilly by the time I got out of there. They did have a little office I could have waited in, but it was small and there were elders and women there who had little ones in their amouti's so I did not want to take up space someone else may have really needed. It was quite a bizarre thing to be in a lineup again, and I must say I haven't missed them at all. It's going to be a big shocker when we go south on our next visit.

Some sad news. A local man committed suicide yesterday. I am sorry to say I don't recall his name but he worked at the Co-op's gas bar and was in his early 20's. It is such a shame and a waste to hear of a young person making this choice. It is especially hard in a community like this one in which there are so many close friends and relatives that it effects. I am very sorry for the family's loss.

That's been my week. Thank for stopping by and leave a comment. We love to hear from our readers!


Sunday, February 20, 2011

My big day out on the land

What a day. It started off a bit chaotic because when I showed up in the morning the fella who had said he was selling me one, the one I was going to use today, had sold it to someone else. I had not given him cash yet as it was not done. Grrrrr, I was pissed!!! All this work and prep to put this trip together, getting excited and having to get up early on a Sunday morning all for nothing. Well, I was having none of it (teehehee). I drove down the street and stopped at a house that had numerous snowmobiles and Qamaitiqs. There were two older people warming up a snowmobile. I stopped in, introduced myself, told them my story and who I was taking out hunting and asked if they would rent me one. The best part was the man, who spoke little English. When he heard that I was going hunting, started hooking a well used Qamatiq up to my machine before we had even talked money. I think he would have just lent it to me had I asked. What a nice guy, I was so impressed and surprised. Most people, myself included, tend to be quite protective of their possessions. But here was someone giving something of value to a total stranger. Wow, I think there may be a lesson in here for me. Once I got loaded up, I went back to Gabriell's (my friend whom I went out with today, also my mechanic) place and off we went. He was quite surprise to see I had solved the problem in under 5 minutes, as he did not know anyone he was willing to ask to borrow one from. It worked out really well. Anyhow...

Off we went. What an amazing day: 150 kms, numerous ocean/river/stream crossing, "mountain" passes and so many amazing veiws. Sadly, no Caribou but we did have a great day. I had a mild breakdown when one of the steel runners under the ski broke and peeled back. I was very glad I have a toolkit from which I was able to fix things with (thanks Mom!). We stopped into an Inuit camp in which people still have cabins that get used frequently in summer. Gabriel's family has one which was a nice place to stop off for an americano (I love good coffee) and lunch. We noticed a couple of snowmobiles across the bay heading to check on their nets which are deployed in a nearby lake. We decided to go a check it out, which turned into a really neat experience. For those of you who might not know, I love fishing. When we got to the lake, there were two groups checking nets. The first we visited were both women who had it down to a fine art. It was pretty neat to see the whole process. I helped remove fish from the nets and re-deploy the nets. After the work was done, she gave us a good sized Arctic Char. I was quite honored by the gesture but gave it to Gabriel for his family. We then headed over to the other group who was just finishing up. After chatting for a bit, we were offered fish again. This time we got one each, and mine was quite a good sized one. I knew Lily would love it for dinner. Then we headed for home. Sadly, the Qamatic was very old and rotted. The front had already been "repaired" at some point, but did not hold. Right near town as I was slowly working my way around the boulders of frozen ice as we got onto the sea, I was stopped dead fast. The front of the Qamatic ski had dug in after the tip broke off. I was feeling very bad, but realized I had done nothing wrong to cause the damage. This is why I hate borrowing things and always end up buying/making my own. Anyhow, I was very worried about what the owner was going to say, but I explained what had happened, gave a bit more cash to cover the repairs and he was very understanding. Again, what a great guy. So our day ended well. No major breakdowns or injuries and so much tasty fish for dinner we invited a friend to share. Other than being exhausted and having very sore eyes (no goggles as they froze and I could not see well enought to hunt), it was a great day.

It was really great to see so many Inuit values that we (teachers) teach the kids, put into action today. I am sure they happen in town, but I don't often see them the way I did today. I saw generosity, trust, friendship, and a true appreciation for the land and it's resources. Getting away from town and the politics that go along with it was very re-invigorating for me. I am wiped out, but feel very recharged.

All of the photo's from today were taken on Margot's Itouch. What a handy camera, not the best quality pictures, but the battery actually last all day!

PS: I apologize for any errors, grammatical or otherwise in this entry. It's late, I'm tired and can barely see the screen anymore.

Have a good night!






Saturday, February 19, 2011

My first Caribou hunt tomorrow!

So am I a bit nervous tonight as I am going on my first big trip out onto the land tomorrow morning (early) to go Caribou hunting. I am taking an Inuit friend and we are heading out for the day. The ice is very thick I have been told and both of my snowmobiles (he is borrowing one) are finally in good shape. I have also bought a new Qamutiic (sled) that was built by a local carpenter which is towed by one of the snowmobiles to carry anything we catch. It's not a big one, but is big enough for what I need.

I must admit to being a bit nervous about the whole thing as it is quite chilly and it is a 3 hour ride to the area he thinks the Caribou are. Then there's hunting time, cleaning (assuming we get something) and then travel time home. It's not like down south, where you can stop and make a fire to warm up! I should be just fine as I have good, high quality gear, but....

I have spent the evening gathering up all the things I think I will need (I tend to be over prepared - thanks Dad)and am headed to bed early tonight. I will post some pictures and such monday to let you know how it goes.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

A LONG week

This seems to have been a VERY long week! Monday started the week off just fine but things quickly went sideways. On Tuesday we were suddenly told that we would have to meet with the district Elementary program co-ordinator. This meant giving up our prep. It was frustrating as late last week I asked if we would be required to meet with her and was told only if we scheduled a meeting. This meant that I was not fully prepared to go into a meeting. It would be nice if we got the correct information! However we were given some great information (that I wish we had gotten in August). It was also nice to be re-inspired about what we can accomplish with our students. Wednesday seemed like it would be okay but then... near the end of gym a student came to get me saying that a boy was hurt. This is unfortunately a common occurrence in gym class so I said "okay" and started walking to the gym. The student said "No, really hurt, with blood." So I started running. I arrived and there is one of my boys lying on the floor with Kathy (the other grade 3 teacher) and he is gushing blood from his head. I took over from her and sat with him applying pressure. Our VP said she would call the ambulance. We don't really have an ambulance but the health centre does have a vehicle that they use when necessary. 10 minutes later we are still waiting so she called back and whoever she talked to this time said that no they were not sending anyone as they didn't have a vehicle available. I looked at my principal and said "we need to get him to the hospital now!" He agreed. The social services van had just arrived to take another student home and my principal said we would take it down. Other adults nearby started trying to tell us that we couldn't take the van as it was working. We both looked at them and said "we are taking it, now." So I bundled the boy in a blanket and scooped him into my arms. My principal led the way and hijacked the van. He drove us down to the health centre where we went inside and the nurses, after an exam, said he needed three stitches. By this time Mom and Dad had arrived. I stayed nearby in case I could help. Mom had to step out but Dad was great. That poor kid. What an awful experience. We sent them off home and as I was just thinking how I would get back to school I see the Social Services driver (who is also the dad of one of my students) waiting for me to offer a ride back to school. I was so thankful as all I had on was my sneakers. So back to school and although my request for an afternoon of stress leave was denied my principal took my supervision duty so I at least had 20 minutes to eat lunch and get ready for class. After lunch my class and I had a BIG conversation about safety and appropriate behaviour in gym class. We then wrote Jason a book all about him and cards for him. After school I had to rush down to pick up Lily so we could all get tested for Tuberculosis. It was not very pleasant but Lily, as always, was a trooper and afterwards thanked the nurses for 'having fun'. They really did work hard to make it okay for her and then gave her prizes, stickers, and a cookie. I send them a great big THANK YOU. Thursday I went to sewing as I often do. We had about 5 minutes to sew and then a meeting started. The ladies are creating a Resource centre committee. We had a big round of nominations and then voting. I got voted onto the committee along with 6 other ladies. Immediately after the voting the seven of us had a meeting to start the process and try and make some progress on a funding proposal. It was an interesting meeting mostly held in Inuktitut. One younger lady very kindly translated for me. Things took a long time and suddenly ended when one of the women walked out. Apparently she felt that things were not orderly enough and got frustrated. Not sure where this leaves things but I do know I have another meeting Wednesday...
A frustrating delay has just occurred!! I got an iPod for my birthday and have just started using it. I have been taking lots of notes and had written down things I wanted to blog about. Well I have just accidentally deleted the whole page of notes! Super frustrating and I have no idea if it is recoverable. Suggestions anyone?!?...
Anyway I do think that was everything except that Saturday was Hockey Day in Canada and we celebrated with Hockey Day in Cape Dorset. Lily and I went up to the arena in the morning where kids were playing hockey. We also went next door to the youth centre where there was free hot chocolate and hotdogs. She had a great time and loved seeing the kids. It was extremely windy and for the first time she agreed to wear her goggles. Of course we then couldn't find them. I think they may have been left at daycare. On the way home the wind had picked up and we only made it about 50 feet on the snowmobile before Lily was miserable. I decided that she would ride home on my lap facing me. This way she could tuck her face in my coat. She clung to me with her little hands. It was so cute. She was pretty happy and we made it home in one piece. Then she had some "big news" for Daddy about the crazy way we drove home. That afternoon I went to sewing and the good news is that another parka is well under way. Saturday night was another dinner with friends. It has been called the Dinner Club by our principal's wife. A very nice relaxed evening with good food and a good game. So ends a very long week and the start of a new, hopefully better week.
Thanks for reading,

PS. Maybe the deleted iPod notes means I get a fresh start for this week. And that would be okay with me!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

So cold my watch froze

I went riding on Sunday for about 3 hours and it was amazing. However, it was so cold (-35 C temperature, not wind chill) that not only did my camera die (no longer works at all, even after charging) but my watch froze in my pocket. I kept looking at the time and realized it did not change after a while. Now that’s chilly! I explored and rode all over our island and got to so many places I could not get to before due to the increased coverage from the recent snow we have gotten. It is pretty amazing riding up here. I rode in the mountains in southern BC as a kid, but with the trend to restrict where motorized vehicles can go (no judgment), it’s pretty neat to know I can ride anywhere I want up here. There is so much land and it’s wide open, hilly, challenging and you are totally alone if you want to be. I find it very peaceful and reinvigorating to find isolation outside. I spend time with others so it’s nice to take a break alone sometimes. I was able to do a full lap around (and back) without using any existing roads, which was a fun challenge. The snow here gets so hard here when the wind picks up a snowmobile will climb just about anything you are brave enough to ride up. Needless to say, I was able to get up to some new places!

I came across fresh polar bear tracks while I was traveling on the far backside of the island. Even with the strong wind we have had, they had not been blown in yet, so they must have been very fresh. As soon as I realized what was happening, I loaded up my 12-gauge shotgun with deer slugs (large bullets) and carried on my way. I do not ever want to get into the situation where I have to use my gun on a bear, but I also don't want to be fast food for a hungry critter. The tracks were about 10” wide! Sadly, the camera had died so I was unable to get some pictures. I asked the elder that works with my boys at school about the bear and after I explained how big the tracks were, he figured it was a very big male bear. Yikes, they can be up to 16 feet long!

The view from our kitchen. It so nice to see and feel strong, direct sunlight. Ahhhh, I missed it.

Up high on the hill. The ocean freezing over in the distance. I love the steam or heat coming off the ocean. It is quite a sight.

Inuksuks. The one in the foreground is at least 8 feet tall. They are quite a sight.

Cape Dorset and the airstrip far below.

Wide open and ready to ride!


It was an amazing day. Sometimes it's really great up here!


Thursday, February 3, 2011

A snow day and Lilibeth's parka

I spent my lunch hour playing my drums today. It was really nice to play, as I never seem to make time to play. For those who did not know, I am a drummer and have been for most of my life. I brought a drum set up with me that I leave at my school. We have a very nice music room that so far seems safe. I have actually been working with a couple of girls teaching them how to play, it's been fun. Anyhow, another staff member found me and told me the news: snow day! It was nice because Margot and I were able to get a bunch of errands done which included a trip to the Government of Nunavut building. Margot had never been inside as was quite impressed as it is very nice.

On numerous occasions I have tried to get to know facebook but have always been pretty turned off by the whole thing. However, many people up here use it so I thought I would try it again. Well, it was pretty neat. I got in touch with some old friends, made amends with others. Overall a great night spent on the computer. Being so far from loved ones also means that having a relationship on the computer is much more acceptable. Down south, it had always seemed odd to me to talk on the computer with your friends rather than hopping on your bike to go hang out and talk in person. But up here, well that's just not an option if your friends live elsewhere.

This is Lily checking out a recent Arctic Char that I bought. Mmmmm, I can't wait for Sashimi! Lily then started telling me stories about when her and I would go fishing or the trip she took with her cousin and her "Papa" in the little boat. Lily loves fishing.

This is a carver posing with a bear we just bought. His name is Noo Atsiqq and he does beautiful work. Note the "steam" in the picture. It is about -35 C and that is the humidity from the house freezing. Brrr, to think these carvers all work outside.

Lily playing with her Amouti (note the dolly in the back). So cute!

Lily in her new parka. Margot did an amazing job.

That is the look of big trouble! Lily posing with her seal mittens, or as we call them, her furry mittens. They really are amazingly warm.

The twins warming up. We decided to treat ourselves and go out for dinner tonight to the restaurant.

The girls posing for a quick picture inside our restaurant.

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