Wednesday, June 28, 2006

All Moved and Organized.......?

My move went off without a hitch earlier in the week. Adam and I moved everything over (minus a few small things I forgot about) in two trips with the RCMP truck. At the moment, the new place looks like a rummage sale going on with all the boxes everywhere. I'm sure I'll find a place for everything but the bulk of that task will happen after I return in August. For now, its just the essentials out.

One of the challenges of moving for me is that I can never remember sometimes which box I might have put something in. I've been keeping a paper journal for the past 4-and-a-half years but at the moment I haven't located it yet....although I know its hidden in this mess somewhere. At least it's not a wallet, keys or eating utensils.

The first phone call I got here was from News North, the territorial paper here in Nunavut, to get some feedback/thoughts on the Berger Report and the state of education here. I do hope I can grab a copy of it before I leave for summer vacation. We discussed the need for more school councilors to help keep students in school, consistent bilingual language instruction from K to 12 (long overdue)and attendance issues. Anyway, I'm looking forward to the article. I'm surprised they didn't track down someone with more teaching experience than me but then at the moment, I'm the only southern teacher still in town.

I was into the school this morning to oversee the second half of the departmental exams for both English and Social Studies. Thankfully, this was the multiple choice portion which tends to go a bit faster than the written portion, so I was all finished by lunch time.

So my professional responsibilities are all finished now. Feels like finishing a marathon. At any rate I can finally focus on booking my flight down to Ontario. Now if I can only figure out which box I packed the phone book in.........

Sunday, June 25, 2006

All Packed Up And Ready To Wait

This weekend I'm sitting in a nearly empty house save for all my boxes while I await the big move. I wasn't sure at first how I'd actually get everything up the hill and into the new unit so I've asked Adam, our local RCMP constable, for a hand. I just needed to wait through the weekend in case it was a busy one for him. We only have two RCMP members in the community, which means they are pretty much on-call 24/7. In my minds eye I wondered what it would be like if he got a call-out while in the middle of helping me. Any suspect would have to be pretty slow if Adam were to be chasing after him with all my junk in the back of the Jimmy.

So I'm down to the bare essentials now. Just my clothes, coffee maker, laptop and stereo. I've moved houses so many times now it feels like a hobby. I've also packed fairly quickly as I wanted to be out of my current place before I take off for the summer. If I break a few dishes in the meantime it won't be a tragedy since for some reason I have stacks of dishes - and for one person. But as long as my mass of CDs arrive safely I'll be a happy camper. It seems my old Venture stereo has nearly given up the ghost as only one of the 3 CD slots on the turn-table will play a CD. Finally I can get that big stereo and speaker system I've always dreamed of!

Any joking that I've done with my parents that they will never move out of the house I grew up in because of all the things they've accumulated over the past 20-plus years stopped this past week. I probably could go through a lot of boxes to see what could be tossed, sold or given away but it's something I've only made partial efforts at. I'm not sure why I have clothes I never wear or why I've got every pay stub I've collected over the past three years hidden away in a drawer, or 2 phones that don't even work anymore.

This has all led me to ponder on, and appreciate, the traditional simplicity of Inuit ways. Sometimes simple is better. I couldn't imagine carting all this stuff around with me a thousand years ago.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Longest Day

Today marks the time when the sun reaches its highest point in the sky in the northern hemisphere. Its a day that's a bit quirky up here. Back in my little hometown of Campbellford, Ontario, the day sees the longest amount of daylight in the calendar year. Up here in Arctic Bay, Nunavut, the daylight is really no longer than an any other day we've had recently. I can't recall the last time I saw a completely black night sky here (sometime back in early March if I remember correctly). From this day forward, though, the sun will begin to sink lower in the sky until around August 6, when it will once again start to dip below the horizon. We will still experience close to 24 hour light after this however.

I'm glad that I've been able to stick around in town for a little while after the end of the school year. Its nice to see the community during the different times of the year. Most teachers arrive up here in late August and depart for summer holidays in mid-June. This is the second time I've remained in a community for this long after my last day of classes. The first time was back in 2000 when I was in Fort Smith through July. I was transferring to teach in northern Manitoba, a decision I was later to regret. However, at the time I didn't know that yet and took full advantage of the long summer days to enjoy hikes along the Slave River, bike rides in Wood Buffalo National Park and some of the best fishing I've experienced anywhere. Gotta love the long sunny (most of the time!)summer days!!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


I was relieved today to hear that the next round of Departmental Exams arrived at the school from Alberta. So I won't have the headaches and circus events that I had to put up with from last week. I also managed to get hold of the housing association in town here and nail down a moving date. This is a big relief as I wanted to get moved before I leave at the end of the month. Mother Nature is also cooperating and giving us some sunny weather too. I take a look at the beautiful June scenery out my livingroom window which reminds me of why am here. And I fall in love with this place all over again.

All I needed to complete the hat-trick of good luck would have been for the poor Oilers to have won the Cup last night. Alas it wasn't to be, though I am happy for Eric Staal - a good old Peterborough, Ontario boy.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Just When You Think You Have It All Figured Out....

I had been debating with my self whether to blog about some of the craziness I've been dealing with lately. It all seems like fiction, which I suspect it would be in any other part of this country. However, this is Nunavut.

The story starts with a simple job ad for a co-principal position with teaching duties at my school. Actually, the job title morphed into an assistant principalship, but I'll get to that. Anyhow, I decided to put my resume for this administrative position. I figured I was a bit of a dark horse since I haven't been teaching that long. But I figured that with the high teacher turnover rates and my northern experience, I could at least get an interview. Of course this was back in late April. I'm still waiting for an interview.

It turns out that a great deal of confusion ensued between my employer and the local DEA over the exact title of this new position. (DEA - District Education Authority, essentially a group of local people serving as a liaison between the school and the community. They also have a say in hiring.) Anyhow, the DEA wanted a co-principal, while my employer wanted an assistant principal. It seems our other administrator was hired as a full-time principal. So the DEA eventually clued into the fact that by definition you can't have a principal and a co-principal.

I found this mildly amusing at first but it meant a delay while the matter was ground though between the union and the employer to discover that, yes, our principal really is a principal and not a co-principal. Of course if you hire a co-principal with teaching duties, it follows that our other administrator could also be assigned teaching duties which was not part of his original contract.

Ok, no problem. So our principal really is a principal and a second job ad comes out for an assistant principal. This was around the middle of last month. Once again I fire off a resume expressing interest since my first application was now void. (At least I assumed it was. No one from the board office in Pond Inlet returned my calls to clarify this for me.)

So no problems. Ad comes out, people apply, interview gets done and someone is hired. Simple. Not quite. Where it started to get goofy is that a there was one applicant applying without a Bachelor of Education and another that applied after the June 2 deadline. This touched off another storm because I found out these two applicants were being considered for an interview. Apparently, my B.Ed. makes me over-qualified for a principal position in Nunavut. Really, I swear I'm not making this up.

Then, a third job ad comes out, essentially the same as before except that it makes no mention of needing a B. Ed. let's see...why would my employer do this? Could it be we have applicants without a B.Ed. that someone (cough...DEA) wanted to be interviewed? Nah, that can't be it. That's just silly. When I contacted my union to find out why this third job ad came out, I was told - and this is where we go from farce to insanity - that during the second screening process, a grand total of ALL the candidates were screened out.

So at the moment, I'm in a strange limbo. No one has told me I'm not getting an interview, but to my knowledge no else has had one either. Once the position is filled the teaching duties part of the position can be worked out and we go from there to iron out the rest of our staffing issues. So while the higher-ups play games of politics and political correctness, the position remains unfilled which throws a wrench into all the other hiring for the school.

This is all becoming something of a long drawn-out soap opera. And just like a soap opera, its boring, needless and goes on forever.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Give Me a Break!

It turns out that invigilating the grade 12 English Departmental Exam was crazier than I had first thought. I had mentioned in previous posts how I spent several anxious days waiting for the exams to show up here from Alberta. My previous experiences with these exams had been pretty straight forward - exam shows up a few days before they are to be written, exams are written, exams are mailed off to the marking centre in Edmonton. Simple. True to bureaucratic form, for whatever reason, they were still not here Tuesday morning - the test date. I made several frustrating calls to some lady in Pangnirtung and apparently the exams, which were to be sent out from an office there, had not arrived. She, in turn, was trying to get in touch with Alberta Education. To complicate matters further, Alberta is two time zones behind us.

Some genius then decided to e-mail the exams to the school - to the principal who was due to fly out of here that morning. Now, I'm not sure how they expected me to access them off my principal's laptop. Fortunately, the plane he was due to fly out on, didn't make it in so I was able to get hold of him and get the exams down-loaded and photocopied. So, an exam that was supposed to begin promptly at 9am, finally got underway around 2pm. For some reason the exams were also faxed to the school later that afternoon which is really what should have been done in the first place.

I wasn't very impressed about this whole circus of events and doubly frustrated for the two girls writing the exam - especially as one had pulled an all-night study session in order to prepare for the big day. Raising graduation rates in Nunavut is challenging enough without this kind of nonsense. Anyhow, the departmental for my own grade 12 Social Studies course the following day went much smoother thank god.

......of course in 2 more weeks the second half of the exams for both of these course is to be written. Hopefully without an attached side-show.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

And the Academy Award Goes to........

.....Italy at the FIFA World Cup! Seems every time a Ghanaian player so much as breathed on them during yesterday's match, an Italian player was writhing on the ground in pain. Other than that, it was a pretty good match. Hats off to Ghana for hanging in there. At the moment, I have the Brazil-Croatia match on the TV. I'm glad the World Cup is on now that I have the free time on my hands. Personally, I'm rooting for Croatia, my sentimental choice, since I dated a girl in university who was half Croatian. I recall them getting to the semis in '98 before bowing out to France. Realistically though, I think Brazil will take this game though. I'd like to think I may pick up some pointers for my own in-door soccer team I coach here though I know the two versions are vastly different from each other.

Tomorrow I'm into the school to oversee some grade 12 exams which come out of Alberta. (We follow the Alberta curriculum here in Nunavut....still!) These exams count for half a student's final grade. Of course, the exams haven't arrived yet in the mail. No problem, I was expecting them to be faxed to the school yesterday - haven't received them yet either. So I'll be up early tomorrow checking the fax machine and hoping there are no last minute glitches........and I thought my school year ended 5 days ago. No rest for the wicked.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

All's Quiet

My roommate has headed back to Ontario, leaving me with a lot of extra space. I had to hand it to the guy, he didn't have the easiest of classes to work with for a first year of teaching. I know the staff admired him for sticking it out and keeping his humour and sanity to boot.

So I'm settling back in to being roommate-less. I'm not sure how long it will last as I may pick up a housemate for next year. It all depends on who is hired to fill the vacant grade 9 position. Because there is not enough government housing to go around, it is quite common for teachers to share accommodations. This is something I don't really mind. It kind of comes with the territory. Part of me enjoys the company though I do admit it is nice to have your own space. I suppose I could solve the problem altogether by building a house of my own. This is something that's been in my head for awhile, ever since I found out that there actually are lots for sale in Arctic Bay.

I even have my dream lot picked out. One of my favorite things to do on a sunny day earlier in the spring was to head over to it on my skidoo and park where I imagine my prospective livingroom would look out over the bay and King George V Mountain on the other side. It is a great view.

Of course, the dream is one thing, the cost is another and a cringe at how much change (to say nothing of the logistics) a guy would have to lay down to construct even a basic 1200-1500 square foot house way up here. Oh well, I'm finding the weather is too enticing and distracting to worry too much about such things at the moment

Thursday, June 08, 2006


No, not my baby boy, but my sister's. I was thrilled to hear today that I have another nephew. Carson David John Campbell, 8 lbs, 3oz, was born at 1:38pm in Peterborough, Ontario.

I realize I haven't done much blogging lately. The truth is that I've been dealing with a lot of nonsense regarding a position I had applied for within my school. Six weeks and 3 resumes later and I think I'm starting to make some progress finally. Needless to say, I had been waiting for some good news to blog about for a change - and now I have some. So congrats Amber and Scott. See you soon!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Reflections on the Year

There is a definite feel of things winding down around the school now with only 4 school days left on the calendar. This is the time of year where I usually step back and reflect on the year that was - what worked? what didn't work? what can I as an educator do differently? The one thing I am aware of is that there are so many challenges in education in the territory that one person can not solve them all. I think this is one thing beginning teachers need to keep in mind as teaching here can be overwhelming to begin with. This is a realization that I wish had dawned on me in my first year of teaching in the Northwest Territories.

Having realized this now, I don't have the feeling of being totally overwhelmed with work which I had the past couple of years. Coming to Arctic Bay is easily the smartest decision of my professional life and one of top personal decisions I have made since my university days.

In some ways this year was the complete opposite of the past five. This has been the first year where most of my stress and aggravations came from adults and bureaucracy rather than from students. I am happy with how I have built up a good rapport with the majority with students and while I know you can never win them all over, having a solid teacher-student relationship makes things so much easier in the classroom.

Arctic Bay has given me the opportunity to get involved in the Army Cadet program and in-door soccer. It feels good to be known around town because of my person and not because of my job function. All in all, without getting too sentimental, I've really taken to the community and it just feels good to be here.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

King George V

Ever since I arrived in Arctic Bay it had been a goal of mine to climb King George V. At around 1800 feet in height it dominates the landscape to the east of the community and I knew it provided from fantastic views. Today, I finally got my chance to have a go at it. A group of students from grades 6,7 and 8, along with a few high school students spent the day climbing to it summit.

The ascent was a good challenge and everyone made it to the top with little difficulty other than some wet feet. I thought I would be in more pain than I felt at the end since it had quite awhile since I had done something like. We hiked up the easterly side up a very steep and narrow valley to reach the top. I discovered very quickly that the snow running down the middle of this valley covered an intermittent stream. I didn't get too wet even though I did find myself in snow up past my knees at times (was today really the beginning of June?).

Despite the rolling banks of low cloud coming in from the north, the view from the top was quite the sight. We could clearly see Arctic Bay (the community) and Arctic Bay (the actual bay) well as Adams Sound and Victor Bay to the north. Uluksan peninsula on which Arctic Bay site stretched off into the foreseeable distance.

I felt fortunate to have been able to summit the mountain as I was pretty sure I may have to wait until after I returned in the fall to get my chance. All in all a great day and no aches or pains either for my efforts!