Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Something Lurking in the Water

Our last sealift ship for the year steamed into the bay this morning. I was actually able to watch through my classroom window this morning. After a quick staff meeting, many colleagues were off to sign for and pick up their orders. I popped down to the water front to get a few last pictures and lend a hand.

After getting a shot of the ship, I glanced down into the water and noticed an interesting piece of seaweed somehow eeking out its existence in the frigid water. I'm used to seeing ice when I look out over the water and don't usually associate seaweed with water this far north. The clarity of the water makes for quite a sight.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Back to School

School is now back in session for the high school students here and things are running pretty smoothly. Usually I find myself under a little stress at the start of each new school year, scrambling to get myself into my old routines. I've found that this hasn't really been the case here so far. With the exception of a couple large classes, the rest are small and quite manageable. A big advantage for me this year is already knowing the bulk of the students in my classes so I have a good idea of what to expect. Last year at this time year all I knew about my students were their names from my class lists plus whatever information I could glean from other colleagues.

We have a number of students who typically will register and then drop out after a week or two. So far I've noticed most of them getting to class on time and working quite well in class. It would be nice to see a few of them stick it out just so they can realize their own potential for themselves. I think our school here is capable of producing a large graduating class. Many are certainly bright and capable.

The small class sizes give me plenty of time to work one-on-one helping students, who are mostly ESL, rather than simply standing up in front of the room lecturing the full period like down South.

The staff was very happy to see two new photocopiers in the school which are a giant leap above the decrepit machines we suffered with last year. They collate and staple and are super fast, saving a great deal of time and energy. This year I teach one of my high school courses to both grades 9 and 10. Photocopying assignments for 60ish students was not something I looked forward to when I was thinking ahead to the new school year over the summer. These new machines are definitely a God-send. If they could do laundry and dishes I'd bring them home with me.

Today we also had a cruise ship out in the bay which I didn't notice at first until I was half-way down the hill on my way to work. The school seemed awash in tourists in the morning. They were treated to some throat-singing and drum dancing by a local performance troupe and took TONS of pictures. I have to admit I was a little annoyed with all the cameras. The younger students seemed to enjoy soaking up the attention but I found all the picture-taking a bit intrusive at times. I even had someone stick quite a large camera lens in through my classroom door as I was teaching my first period class. I didn't know my class would be such a novelty.

Anyhow, I digress. The weather is turning colder, the students are back, soon soccer and cadets will start. A new school year begins.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Thoughts on a New School Year and the Future

Tomorrow is the big day - the start of another school year. (For high school, anyhow. K to grade 9 classes began this past Friday.) Its a time that I always look forward to even though I know it will get very busy for me very soon. Tommorrow I will be back up in front of students and I will continue with my coaching as soon as I know the new gym schedule from the rec. department.

This year it looks like we will have 7 graduates at Inuujaq School, perhaps a tiny number by southern standards, but I think it may be close to a record for our school. The number of grads fluctuates every year. Last year, we had 3. In proportion to other communities, 7 is pretty good. For example, this year in Coral Harbour, a community of about 1000, they have 3 graduates. (Arctic Bay's population runs about 700). This year we have a student who was accepted into the psychology program at Brandon University. So our school has now produced 2 students who have gone off to university. Arctic Bay's first university-bound student is currently enrolled in a general science program in Peterborough's Trent University, close to my old stomping grounds. So every success is celebrated and we hope to build on it. As a teacher, it reminds you of the positive impact you can have.

The first day back to school is always interesting as I never quite know what to expect. In many ways, it will be easier since a) this will be my second year at Inuujaq School; b) a majority of the students know me now either through soccer or cadets and therefore know what my expectations are; c) I'm quite comfortable with the courses I teach since I've taught them for 3 years now.

Granted, there is always the X-factor, but for now I will continue to take each day as it comes. Inevitably, I always get asked how long I will stay in Nunavut. The honest answer is simply that I don't know. It's not something that I spend a lot of time pondering but I think that with each year that passes it will get harder for me to leave. In the meantime, I re-freshen my Sunday morning coffee, take a deep breath and focus on the up-coming week.

Friday, August 25, 2006


Wisely we decided to begin high school classes on Monday since many students were busy helping out with the sealift. With not many chances to earn money in town and getting $10 an hour, I can understand why the high school end is always pretty dead when the barge comes in. Among some of the bigger items on the ship for the town were a shiney new red water truck and a new school bus. There were also building supplies for some new housing units that will be constructed in the spring. 26 new units are planned to be built over the next 3 years.

A large blue sea can with a year's supply of materials was dropped off at the school and part of the day was spent by students and staff unloading it all. Boxes everywhere in the hallways of the school. I'm always surprised that a place can be found for everything. It didn't take very long for a few of the boys to come across the new soccer nets for our practices so I was very happy to see them finally here, especially since the ones we had been using last year were in pretty rough condition.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Ship Comes In

Today we had our visit from our annual sealift barge. The town will be a hive of activity getting everything sorted out and stored for the year. If memory serves me correctly this will be the first of two ships that will arrive. At any rate, I got down to the shore to get what I thought was a pretty good picture. The ship remains anchored out in the bay while two smaller barges (like the one in front of the bigger ship) ferry everything onto shore.

I didn't put in a sealift order this year (I'm still trying to figure out what to do with all the pasta I ordered from 2 years ago). I was still looking forward to seeing the ship though as it means that the soccer nets that the recreation department ordered for our boys and girls soccer teams are here. Originally, they were supposed to arrive by air but our $156 nets were going to cost an exorbitant $1000 to be flown in. Yikes! At that cost I could probably mail myself home.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Getting Ready for Another School Year

The school is now a hive of activity as our staff is preparing for a new school year. It looks like this year our school will not need any new southern hires so there hasn't been a big classroom re-shuffling. A small workroom in the high school end has been become the new office for our Program Support Teacher and our one co-principal from last year has moved into a vacated classroom to teach grade 7. It was nice to have such a low turn-over this year. Not many schools in Nunavut (nor many of the other schools I have taught in) can boast of this.

I'm slowly getting myself back into teaching-mode and my regular routine once again.

I had planned on posting a few other pictures I had taken over the past couple of days (a coast guard vessel paid a short visit today) but I think I've used up my internet allotment for the month already so it's been a bit of a pain getting them uploaded to my blog. Anyhow, I'll take this as a sign that I should probably be getting out more and I will look to get a few more pictures up shortly.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Frustration Thy Name is Canada Post

Leave it to Canada Post to raise incompetence to a whole new level. For the past 5 days I've been hiking over to the post office hoping to get all my summer bills sent away. And for the past 5 days, the post office has been out of its regular stamps. I'm not sure if its totally the fault of Canada Post. It could be First Air - but we've been getting flights in regularly as far as I can tell.

Apparently though, our Post Office has not received any stamps in awhile. Quite awhile - as in since mid-July awhile. When I heard this at first, I thought people were just pulling my leg but its turns out that a lot of people have had a lot of difficulty mailing things out. So I guess I can take some comfort in the collective frustration and misery.

Today I decided that one way or the other, my envelopes were going out. The only stamps left were $1 stamps so I ended up paying $2.13 to mail two regular-size envelopes. Ouch! Oh well, at least I won't rack up interest charges. And I can clear my desk of all that annoying spare change. A colleague of mine had it even worse as he had to fork out $11 to mail off a very small box. But like he said, when it has to go, it has to go and its going today.

Somehow, I doubt Canada Post will return my letters to me because of too much postage.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A Few More Pictures

We finally got a break in the weather though I'm not sure how long it will last. +7C never felt so good!

This car makes me feel much better when I think of my poor skidoo. Even a welders torch won't fix this.

Inuujaq School where I teach Social Studies for grades 10,11 and 12.

Another view of King George V - I love how the cloud slowly spills over the hills up here.

Ouch! But I'm determined to cut down on the soft drinks.

Mi Casa.

Monday, August 14, 2006

A Classical Evening

I am finally able to delve back into my classical music tonight. 700 CDs can take up a lot of space and they were a real treat to move. I'm in serious need of some shelves. I sure miss them from my last place. Just before leaving last month my latest box set arrived and I now have time to enjoy them - the entire opus of Franz Schubert's lieder (songs). A crash course in German and a tad of Italian and I'd be set.

I was never really "into" vocal music until my teenage years when I heard a superb recording of Schubert's song "Die Erlkonig" (King of the Elves), based on the Goethe poem and sung by the great baritone Dietrich Fisher-Dieskau. If I was ever stuck on an island somewhere with only one Schubert song, this one would be it. I love how the piano perfectly imitates the feel of a galloping horse and the entire piece just has an enchanting, mythical quality to it, strongly evoking the feel of a forest. Maybe I just miss trees. I'm a long way from forests up here. At any rate, Schubert was just 18 when he wrote it and it has stood the test of time.

Time to get down to some serious listening now before I get too busy!

New and Improved

The weather has been pretty dreary lately but I was able to get out and experiment with my new camera so that I could finally (FINALLY) post some pictures for my blog. I look forward to getting more pictures up, especially when the cloud leaves and I get more comfortable with the whole digital thing.

This sign sits atop one of the many large bluffs that surround the community.

This small structure was originally one of the out-buildings of the Hudson Bay Co. post - I believe it is the oldest structure in town.

This is a view out across the bay with Holy Cross Point in the background. The large building is the arena.

King George V Mountain, which dominates our view to the east - 1800 feet. It makes for a great hike with fantastic views.

A view of the town looking east.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Northern Blogs

The weather is still a bit blah at the moment and hasn't been conducive to picture-taking. In the meantime, I've added a few more Nunavut blogs to my sidebar that make for interesting reading.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Return to Paradise

After a pleasant 6 weeks in sunny Ontario, I returned to the airport in Nanisivik to face a driving rain....but very invigorating. I'll still take that over the heat waves of Ontario.

I wasn't able to blog as much as I would have liked while I was "down South" but this is a Nunavut blog afterall. At any rate I was plenty busy. I saw my new nephew for the first. Only 2 months old and growing like a weed. I don't know how my sister manages with 2 boys now.

I actually moved twice this summer. After moving to my new place across town here back in June I arrived home just in time to help my parents move into a new house back in my home town. 21 years, 3 months and 16 days in our old house and a lot of memories. Also a lot of boxes to move. Mother Nature decided to throw a heat wave at us during the move. Luckily, we had many dear friends to help us out.

It was a bit sad leaving since I had basically grown up there. My parents 2 little dashunds have now become the new queens of the neighbourhood. The new house backs onto a wide open green space at the edge of town so I was able to get my nature fix with rabbits, foxes, finches, bluejays, doves and hummingbirds in the area. Our new neighbours tell us to mind the cat and the dogs as a coyote has been known to frequent backyards in the early hours. Also a number of little frogs which I kept having to rescue from the yard lest the dogs think of them as a snack.

I also drank some pretty good wine and underwent a root canal. (Not in that order though.) The only 2 things that came to mind when I was told I needed a root canal were that 1) only old people get them and 2) they hurt like hell. Fortunately, I was proven wrong on both counts.

I was also able to buy a pretty decent digital camera while I was down to London to visit a friend. So I'm hoping to be able to finally post some pictures on my blog once this weather clears up here and I figure out what I'm doing., what is this cord for?