Saturday, September 30, 2006

A Deal Walmart Could Never Beat!

Nothing gets me out of the house faster than the chance to pick up some fresh arctic char. A colleague from the school called to let me know there was char down on the breakwater that some people from town had caught with nets. Better yet, they were free for the taking. There was quite a pile laid out on a tarp when I went down to investigate - at least 30-40 I'm sure. I had to go back to the house to pick up a garbage bag to carry them home and by the time I got back with a bag and my camera the pile was considerably smaller.

At any rate I picked up a couple decent sized ones and managed not to carve myself with my big cutting knife while cutting them up. I imagine down south two fish this size would cost a pretty penny. Yet here I can get them for free. Hah! Beat that Walmart!

Two new occupants for the freezer.

Apocalypse Now.......

Monday, September 25, 2006


We were finally able to get back to having soccer practices again after the community had been closed for renovations for the past couple weeks. When I tell people back home that we have soccer up here I can get some funny looks at first. Soccer played up here is much different from how most people imagine it.

The major difference is that here we play an indoor version of the game with 5 players on a side (including a goalie) rather than the more familiar outdoor version with 11 players per side. There are 2 30-minute halves rather than 45 minute halves. Although I still long for a nice outdoor pitch, the indoor version here is just as entertaining. The pace of the game is much faster and the ball of course bounces more and we have the walls to deal with. You'll never see a stoppage of play in the outdoor version for a ball being "too high" or for hitting the ceiling.

Sport Nunavut threw a curve ball at me this year. Not only was the registration deadline for the regional tournament moved up to the end of the month (argh Friday!), they also changed the age categories on me from last year. Last year these were 16-and-under and 14-and-under but now that has been changed for some reason to 15-and-under and 13-and-under. This played a bit of havoc with the teams of players I was anticipating to have. But at the moment it looks as if we will have a 13-and-under boys teams and a 15-and-under girls team. With luck I might be able to put together one more team.

Because we are a small community with a smaller base of eligible kids to choose from I found myself last year including a few boys who were 12 or 13 on our 16-and-under team just so we could make up a team. The result, when we played against a bigger school like Iqaluit which had all their players either 15 or 16, the result was predictable. However, this year it looks as if our boys team will be a bit more competitive. At least they will play against teams their own age.

The girls team is a different story as it looks like there will have to be a few younger kids included so we can at least field a team. Ultimately we go to have fun and a trip to the tournament (Iqaluit this year?) is good incentive for kids to get involved in sport and get active. I've set a goal of each team winning at least one game during the November tournament. So we'll see how we do. It's not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in dog.

Friday, September 22, 2006

More Pictures From Tuesday's Hike

This is King George from the north side.


This was one of the steeper parts of the climb, pretty close to the top. Hard going over the broken rock but the red coloration is something to see. One of the students I was with almost blends right into the landscape.

Lunch running away.

One of the smaller peaks we passed on the way up.

This is a view of Victor Bay to the north of Arctic Bay. The icey patches visible in the foreground are part of a small stream which I stepped in when I first climbed the mountain back in June. It was much easier going this time without the snow.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I'll Take Arctic Bay Over Big City Life Anytime

For a day that I thought would turn into one big frustrating disaster it all turned out quite nice in the end. My troubles actually began last night when I came up with the genius idea of re-arranging my livingroom/dining room and putting down the new piece of 12x12 carpet I bought that yesterday afternoon.

Now, my legs were still a bit stiff from my mountain climbing venture earlier in the week so I should have just gone to bed. But I have a stubborn side that got the better of me. I just wanted to get the new carpet down and wasn't looking forward to having to step over a big roll until the weekend when I would have more time. The end result was that I did get the carpet down but my legs were none to happy with me and let me know by stiffening up which made me look like a 90-year-old walking to work this morning.

When I got to work I realized I had locked my keys and my wallet in the house when I left. ARGH! I also remembered that I had to move my skidoo out of the shed I had been storing it in over the summer since the shed had been sold and the new owner wanted to move the shed this afternoon. Our school was also having a Meet the Teacher night which I was expected to attend of course and I was also pre-occupied with preparing for a substitute teacher as I anticipate being out of the classroom and filling in as acting-principal while our administrator attends a meeting for all of next week.

Throughout the day though, people came through for me. It always seemed that when I needed help and was juggling too many balls in the air, someone was there to help. On my way home, a man who worked for housing pulled up in his truck and gave me my keys. (I had called them, quite embarrassed, earlier in the day). This saved me from having to make a trip to the housing office. A student offered to help me move my skidoo from the shed over to his house where I know it will be in good hands and I can store it temporarily. Not only did he take off the drive belt with his bare hands so that the tread would rotate around the wheels, making moving it much easier on the skidoo, he also then went back his house to get a rope. We pulled out the skidoo and hitched up my skidoo to his 4-wheeler. The rope didn't look like it would do the trick, being pretty thin. I told him we'd just leave my skidoo there for the night since I felt bad about making any more work for him.

At that point, another student happened to come along. He was able to get a good length of rope which we then used to haul my skidoo across town. I thought the poor carbides would take a lot of abuse after being hauled over the bare gravel road but we took a look at them afterward and they weren't that bad.

To top off the day, I made it to our Meet the Teacher night at the school. Basically, the high school teachers gathered together in one class with parents to point out changes we had made to the school schedule as well as some new rules and expectations. We also explained how the whole high school credit system worked. I wasn't sure how successful we'd be as most of our audience were unilingual Inuktitut speakers and I know it had taken me close to a year to figure out how it all worked for myself when I first arrived in Nunavut. Any uncertainties were put to rest at the end of the meeting when a lady said through an interpreter, "Thank you for helping us to understand."

So I end the day on a high note. The day had the potential to be a stressful pain in the back side. But people from a small arctic community, through words and through actions, made all the difference.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Da Pain Boss.....Da Pain

After my big hike last night, I pretty much dozed off not soon after I got home. My leg muscles didn't stiffen up too much as I had feared.....until later on today. Even so it's not too bad....just a reminder of how out of shape I am. Ah, to be 18 again. Not that I was any more of a Schwarzenegger then but the muscles seemed to be able to handle more at that age. As long as I keep moving and stretching I'm sure the old legs will be back in my old football playing form soon enough.

At any rate, I can't whine too much. I bought a 12x12 carpet to cover my tile floor and it just showed up not long ago. So I see a lot of furniture moving in the near future.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

When Bunnies Attack

One of the things I like best about living up here is that you can do things spur of the moment sometimes and have experiences that you otherwise wouldn't be able to have. This afternoon I made a snap decision to head out on a hike after work with a couple students to the top of King George. One of the boys brought along a .308 slung across his back since "It wouldn't be good to run into a bear out there."

It was a lot smoother going this time than when I had first hiked to the summit back in June. Back then I had the misfortune of fighting my way through snow.....a lot of snow in some places. Up one of the paths I took was a small intermittent stream. I did not know it was there at first since it was covered with the slowly melting snow pack. After breaking through and plunging my foot into icy water, I discovered that stream pretty quickly. At least this time I could clearly see the stream and avoid it.

Anyhow, I left the house around 5pm and we made it the 1800 feet to the summit in 2 hours and 4 minutes according to the one student I went with. Going down was much quicker. You cover a lot of ground in a short span of time running down the side of a mountain......mostly on my feet.

So I had intended to take a bunch of pictures of our big ascent up the mountain until we came across this little guy. I was amazed at how close he let me get to him. But the zoom on my digital wasn't the best so I had to creep as close to him as I could in order to distinguish him from the surrounding snow and get a decent picture. Luckily for me, this little guy proved to be a willing and cooperative subject.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

All's Quiet

It seems this past week has just whizzed right by. I woke up to another dusting of snow so signs of winter are in the air. The snow has mostly melted off by mid-morning although up the top of King George has a light coating of white. Its a nice change from the brown I've been seeing since I flew back last month.

Next week our school is planning a "Meet the Teacher" night, something I wish had been done last year. I feel that I know most of my student's parents by now though its always good to meet more and catch up on things with ones I haven't seen over the summer. There are a few parents I see everyday just through my daily routine and I've been trying to get into the habit of talking to as many of them as I can in the course of my day, even if it's just a quick hello.

One of our big aims this year is to keep attendance up. Typically, in the high school, it starts of well but usually by the late-September/early-October, you start to notice a drop. I really hope our "Meet the Teacher" night goes well. I have a number of students that could do well if only they didn't miss so much class. Last year, we started with a high school enrollment of 60 and finished with 34. So as teachers, parents, students and community there is much room for improvement. I don't pretend to have all the answers. I have some ideas of what how I'd like to improve attendance. Not all of them are realistic or could be accomplished without taking a long-term view. Some issues students face are bigger than one person to solve. But any step in the right direction is always a good thing.

Well, time to finish off the coffee, shave before I start looking like a wookie, and enjoy the mostly clear skies we have this morning.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

First Snowfall

Of course, it had to come on a Monday morning. I woke up to see a bit of the white stuff on the ground yesterday morning. Even though it was gone by the middle of the day and even though we likely won't have snow that sticks around on the ground for a few more weeks yet, its a sign of things to come - and I don't mind it one bit.

Soon enough I will be able to cut across this field on my morning walk or ride to work instead of trudging on the roads.

This is a view back up the road toward my building (blue one on the right). Just barely enough accumulation to leave footprints and tire marks.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Technical House Cleaning

I've been toying with the idea over the weekend of moving my blog over to another domain. Not quite sure how to do that yet as I'm not the most computer savvy person but the current domain just ain't cutting it for me. Anyhow, it will likely take a few more days as I play around with the new domain site and get the hang of things. I set up the side bar of other Nunavut blogs and put in a couple short posts. Mostly just whiney pontificating about the cooler weather we've been getting here lately. Anyhow, hopefully I'll have everything all sorted out over the next few days.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Something Old and Something New

When thinking of traditional Inuit dwellings, the iglu very often comes to most people's minds. Less well known is the qammaq such as the one which sits along the shoreline here. These were constructed with a rock base and roofed with sealskins supported by a whalebone frame.

I'm not certain when this one was built though it had served as a community museum at one point before I arrived here. This no doubt explains the anachronistic tile roof and chimney.

Out in the bay (way out in the bay here) is the something new - yet another coast guard ship which has dropped anchor for a short visit in recent days. As noted by Clare, I believe it is the CCGS Henry Larson.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

First Snow Flakes

At the moment I'm pretty much back into school mode. I'm still pretty tired at the end of the day since I'm not used to thinking so much. Or at least my brain has to think differently from when I was in "summer mode." At any rate, I managed to get the bulk of the marking I had to do out of the way and come up with a short test for my grade 12's. By now I have a pretty good idea of how to tweak my courses to meet the students' needs rather than slavishly getting through "the curriculum". I always like to come up with new and different ways of teaching a particular topic or concept and so far this year I find I have more time to concentrate on that rather than the more unsavory aspects of the job (meetings, photocopying, discipline).

I even managed to sneak in a quick load of mid-week laundry without running out the water tank. Whether I can still slip in a quick morning shower tomorrow.....well, I guess I'll find out soon enough.

The weather has been getting noticeably colder of late so I haven't been able to venture out as much as I would like. I managed a nice walk yesterday, if only just around the community. The wind makes it a tad uncomfortable to be out for too long. Perhaps I'm just "weak" from all that Ontario sun over the summer. At any rate, I had better toughen up soon since today I caught the first sight of some falling snowflakes.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

They Want Me To Stick Around For Awhile

One week of classes down and plenty to go. As expected it was a busy week, but a good week as far as first weeks back go. Much of it was spent catching up on summer events with colleagues and welcoming back the students, including all the new grade 10s. I'm also adjusting to teaching grade 9's again which I haven't done in about 5 years. (My assignment is at home. Can I go get it?....I lost my assignment....My assignment was in my binder but I lost my binder.....Do I need a pencil?....When does this class end?) Once I make a few adjustments to my teaching and remain calm I don't think I'll have too many troubles though. I was also able to sit down and start marking a batch of homework assignments I had handed out for the week. (Oh no....not one of THOSE teachers.)

So, it looks like things are settling down nicely with little of the chaos and disorganization I felt the school suffered from last year. I finally received my renewed teaching certificate which I had been waiting for since last spring. Apparently, according to the address on the nice little letter they sent me, both the school and myself are in Hall Beach. Aside from that, my certificate is valid until June of 2011 so I guess they want me to stick around for awhile.