In January, I developed a strange obsession.
In February, the sun returned. and we had a lunar eclipse. I also taunted Greenpeace.
In March, Way Way Up turned two.
I then celebrated by ranting against the anti-seal hunt crowd, over and over
and over and over.
In April, I visited a nearby
In May, there was Nunavut
In June, I visited the future mine out at
In July, I traipsed around Hungary.
In August, I returned to Arctic Bay in time to experience a
blizzard of sorts.
My sealift also arrived.
In September, we were invaded by icebergs.
In October, our school held its graduation ceremony. Nunavut also held its 3rd election, campaign posters and all.
In November, the sun disappeared for the remainder of the year. It still provided us with some interesting light shows though.
In December, I returned with my soccer teams from another fantastic tournament in Iqaluit.
And that's the year that was!
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
In January, I developed a strange obsession.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Link to Part 10
I was pretty tired after reaching Szeged. The bus ride was long and bumpy, but it was my only real option for getting across the south of the country. I stayed only one night and found the circular layout of the downtown a bit confusing to navigate but I did manage to get a few pictures before pushing onward the following day.
Tisza River - Hungary's second-longest after the Danube.
Serbian Orthodox Church.
Part of the Istvan Apathy College if I recall correctly.
Votive Church, completed in 1930.
Monday, December 29, 2008
I'll admit, I've done some crazy things in my life - climbed icebergs, gotten up close and personal with bears, held out hope of the Leafs winning Lord Stanley's Cup in my life time. I can now add Boxing Day madness in Belleville, Ontario to the list. It's not like I was specifically looking for bargains, though I was hoping to get a new pair of winter boots (my current ones were 4 years old, and 4 years in the arctic pretty much makes them senior citizens).
But my crackers, was the traffic not insane! The city is simply growing faster than the traffic infrastructure, and slippery leaps and bounds too. I find that I can only stand the crowds for so long. I'm sure there were several times more people crammed into the malls (or even just Future Shop by itself) there than live in Arctic Bay so it didn't take long for me to feel a tad claustrophobic. Aside from gawking at Ontarians insane driving habits and the prices on Macs at Future Shop, I still managed to get everything on my (very short) list, the aforementioned boots, a couple good books at Chapters and 3 big rubber totes in which to mail home all the Christmas loot I've picked up over the past couple weeks.
Three more days of rainy, soggy Ontario weather (aka December) before I fly home to Arctic Bay. At least the puddles give me a chance to test out the new boots. At the moment I am dealing with the slowest Internet connection known to mankind. Apparently, this is high speed, which is light years slower than my connection back home. Go figure. Anyhow, all this is to say that I hope this post publishes so I can vacate my parents' office and head off to a TV to cheer our Canadian Juniors on to victory this afternoon.
Monday, December 22, 2008
The big joke every year when I visit my parents over the Christmas break is "You're welcome to come....just don't bring the weather with you." But I can't take responsibility for the wrath Mother Nature has unleashed across Southern Ontario the past few days. I've actually had it pretty good. No major delays on the way down. It was a bit slow going through Iqaluit ("Like a shopping mall on Christmas Eve," as one lady in the line behind me said) and Ottawa, where it took a couple hours to pick up my luggage. All in all, no big headaches. At least I didn't have to catch a connecting flight to Toronto like a few of my colleagues did. I overnighted in Ottawa and by the time my train reached Belleville, the skies had actually cleared up quite a bit. My hopes of catching one of my nephew's hockey games were, unfortunately, scrapped due to the foul conditions of the roads in many areas.
I bumped into quite a few people from around the territory on my flight down (Nunavut can be such a small place) and even a couple I had once worked with. Through them, I bumped into a fellow blogger on my sidebar (as I said, Nunavut - small place).
Getting back to the subject of weather, yesterday was actually the first time I had to wear my long underwear for the first time in many months. November is usually the month I break down and start wearing them but not this year for some reason. I must be getting used to Northern winters - finally. So months of winter in Nunavut no long undies. One day in Ontario, long underwear comes out. Go figure.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Generally, there are only two times I pay close attention to the weather - if I'm going to be outdoors for an extended period of time (a rare occurrence during the dark season) or if I will be catching a flight in the near future. Other than that, I don't pay much mind to it. The majority of my day is spent inside and other than the walk to and from work, I can't really complain about the cold. So...tomorrow my flight leaves for Ottawa. For the first time in awhile, the weather forecast has called for a steady improvement in the weather conditions for flight day. When I first checked the forecast Monday, Saturday called for overcast skies with a 60% chance of flurries. A couple days later it was overcast with a 30% chance of flurries. And last night, it had changed to clear skies. What I'm used to seeing is the weather starting out questionable and then progressively getting worse leading up to flight day. Gotta love our ever changing weather (and the fact that "they" built Nanisivik Airport on the side of a mountain).
Anyhow, all this is to say that I will be out of town for a couple weeks and away from my blog. I've left a couple posts that will publish toward the end of the month to tide you over, just so you know I haven't entirely disappeared. Until then, adieu, and see you in the new year.
Here is a small sample of the kind of comments that DON'T normally make it onto my blog - and for good reason. More and more I've come to realize that these types of things speak more about the character of the person making them than the people they propose to denigrate. (I corrected all the spelling errors, because, obviously, this person needs all the help they can get.) You have to admire a person who adheres so strongly to their convictions that they lack the guts to even identify themselves.
Culture is about power - there is nothing inherently good about culture, although sometimes the idea is comforting. Some cultures allow their members to exert power over certain beings, while carefully drawing a distinction between those beings with power and those beings without power. The Nazi culture and tradition allows Aryan beings to exert power over non-Aryan intelligent beings, and even encourages the killing of non-Aryan intelligent beings. Apparently the Inuit culture and tradition encourages Inuit intelligent beings to kill non-human intelligent beings the same way.
Well, this one is easy. Yes, culture is about power (along with many other things too)...and apparently you feel that you, as part of your culture, have the power to dictate to other people how to live their lives. Thank you for recognizing this. Kinda ironic huh?
On your second point, however....Inuit kill wildlife like the Nazis killed non-Aryans? You're kidding me, right? I had no idea any intelligent person could possibly conflate the two in their "brain". Evidently, I assume too much of my fellow human beings. Inherent in Inuit culture is the idea that people are a part OF nature, not apart FROM it.
Funny that animal rights people (and I'll assume you are one since you make assumptions about me) tend not to draw distinctions between human and non-human life forms...just like the Nazis you speak of.
Killing of intelligent beings is killing of intelligent beings no matter how you cut it. If that is your culture, then embrace your culture - but at least have the decency to be honest about it: "Yes, our culture demands that we kill intelligent beings, and laugh about it, thank you very much."...Can you deny this truth of Inuit culture?
Indeed I can deny it for the reasons stated above. Your wording here is ignorant. Hunting and surviving on the land is no joke. Don't be an ignorant urbanite. Walking in the woods an hour outside a city is not wilderness and camping in a provincial or state park is not real camping.
At least Watson is extremely honest about where he stands. PS - I'm ugly and my mother dresses me funny. (Ok, I admit to taking a page out of the Paul Watson propaganda playbook, twisting the truth and adding that last sentence in.)
Hmm...I also have no doubt that Toronto Maple Leafs fans are honest in their belief that "next year" will be the year for their beloved blue and white. But that in itself doesn't make it reality.
Why is it that people like yourself, who often enough, have never been up here, assume they know all the answers. Indeed it was this very attitude that helped create a great deal of the mess that I see and deal with on a daily basis. Yeah, thanks. So please, spare me your "solutions". What is needed is respect for difference, concrete goals based on an understanding of Northern realities, a willingness to change your thinking and an appreciation of both the history and culture of this land, not blind hysteria, ignorance or hate speech. You have moved past commenting on the original issue of the narwhal because you are ignorant of stark Northern realities and moved on to attacked the people themselves. True class "sir".
Kindly don't refer to me as a Nazi. In fact, just do us all a big favour this holiday season and crawl back into the sewer from whence you came!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Since I like to brag about my nephew, Cole, and the stellar hockey season he is having....I thought I'd do some more. His Triple-A Minor Bantam team (that would be the Quinte Devils) is atop their division with an impressive 17-4-4 record. I'm holding out hope I will be able to see a game this season. My sister filled me in tonight on some of his impressive stats when she called me earlier. In his 15 starts in goal Cole has a record of 11-2-2 and he's had shutouts in his last 2 games - only one goal allowed in his last 3 games. Apparently, my bad skating ability was not passed along to him. Last time I fancied myself a goalie, in any sport, I came up with a slight injury. The team is producing a magazine with all of its players and their stats so far during the season so I look forward to getting my hands on a copy. Get them while they're hot!
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Since the animal-rights crew had a hissy-fit over the recent narwhal cull in Pond Inlet, I found this story of cat chaos and hamster havoc quite interesting. Let's turn this around for a second, shall we? I'm curious to know why all those cats (and hamsters) were even there. Metropolitan Oshawa has about 330 000 people. That's a lot of potential households for a mere 140 feline and 60 hamster refugees! Surely a large place like Oshawa (with a population 11 times that of Nunavut) would have no problem finding a place for all these cats. Cats and hamsters are furry just like baby seals after all. Some cats and hamsters even have white fur. You mean to tell me that in a large city enough animal lovers can't be found to give these cute, adorable critters a warm home? (Sorry PETA, but I just think its funny you condemn subsistence hunters in the North who have lived around wildlife for centuries. Wildlife is used here for the social, cultural and health benefit of the community. What is the urban solution to dealing with wildlife no one wants? Why, get rid of it! Lock it up!! Out of sight, out of mind as they say.) Really, at the moment Oshawa has trouble enough making cars that people actually want to buy. So why listen to animal-rights people from there when it comes to something simple like animals? Are cats and hamsters on the endangered species list? I'm sure they are. What...someone ought to look that up? Heavens, no. I'm sure if I just make the assertion loud enough it MUST be true. I'm sure those people are on their way straight to Oshawa to protest this tragedy, placards in hand. They must have just been a little delayed by all that snow they got down there. Man, it must suck that the natural world sometimes has other plans.
Anyhow, moving on. I'm curious. Why didn't they send a fire truck on time? Surely, a city must have at least one fire truck. Its not like they have to travel that far to get there....like say, an ice breaker would have to travel from Halifax to the North Baffin to rescue trapped narwhals. Really, this isn't good. I think more should be done. Cats are intelligent, social beings. I'm sure if someone had just had the courage to bust down a wall, those cats would have chewed through their cages and followed their human saviour straight out the front door, carrying the hamsters with them no less. Hey, don't laugh. It could happen. (Hey, aren't hamsters considered a food source in some cultures? I sure hope they don't let all that go to waste.)
All those fire fighters should be fired. I don't know how the fire was started, just like the Sea Shepherd Society people don't know how all those narwhals came to be trapped but that doesn't matter. Someone should be blamed. I'm not really sure why they are mad at the government anyway. They got to choose the government. You don't get to elect your firefighters. But just because I have a partisan view of firefighters, for no better reason, they should be fired.
The vast majority of urbanites are so totally divorced from the natural world that it takes a tragedy (or two) to shake them out of their caffeine-induced daze on the morning drive to work to realize that there is actually a natural world out there beyond the Golden Horsehoe. Perhaps if cats and hamsters were a more integral part of southern culture and were seen as important for its identity and survival, perhaps if they were not as quick to cast stones, perhaps THEN they might be able to understand the view from up here.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Ah! I just love the payback! It's a.......well, something. I've been following the latest hysteria on the little cold snap in Western Canada and wondering how this is news.....Canada being a Northern nation and all. But no, you'd think the four horsemen of the Apocalypse had arrived...winter horse shoes and all. I know the air up here is drier so it often doesn't feel as cold as the thermometer might read but still...if I can go from from spending 7 years traipsing around Windsor, Ontario and its environs in shorts during February to walking through Iqaluit blizzards and -47C temps in Arctic Bay, anyone can do it. And really, -40C isn't all THAT cold.
The past few years I've amassed quite a collection of harpsichord music on CD and I've toyed with the idea of owning an instrument of my own one day. Getting one of these fragile things up to the Arctic and keeping it from warping or going too badly out of tune in the dry climate here would be big challenges. Still, I can always dream. Perhaps if I just buy enough Lego bricks I can build my own, just like this one here. Oh, the things you can build with Lego. Who knew?
Monday, December 15, 2008
I've been meaning to discuss the Nunavut Land Claim Agreement (NLCA) for a long time now. The NLCA for those who don't know is the Agreement through which the territory officially came into existence in 1999. Mostly I held back due to my own lack of familiarity. I've found though that there tends be a great deal of misunderstanding surrounding the Land Claim (and I readily include myself in this group). I don't pretend to be an expert by any stretch of the imagination but there are a few comments or misconceptions that get tossed my way that tend to rankle me. I thought I'd start out with a couple of the more common ones I hear. I refer to the official version of the Land Claim here when I discuss a few myths or misconceptions regarding Nunavut. I consider myself a "normal" person (whatever that means) and I find I can only read through so much legalese before my eyes start to twitch but I will, as they say, give it the old college try.
Myth #1- Inuit own all of the territory known as Nunavut.
Fact - The landmass of Nunavut comprises 1 994 000 sq. km. Only a small percentage of Nunavut is Inuit-owned, a total of 353 375 sq. km (136 000 sq. miles) or 17.7%. The remainder is Crown Land. Inuit-owned lands include areas with "surface only rights" and subsurface rights". Inuit-owned land can only be traded or sold to government. (NLCA Article 19)
Myth #2 - Inuit do not pay GST (Goods and Services Tax) or income tax.
Fact- Inuit lands are not reserves under the Indian Act and do not qualify for the tax exemption available for Indian Reserves. Inuit pay income tax as well. Inuit and Inuit organizations pay tax on money they receive for renting or leasing Inuit-owned land. (NLCA Article 30)
Generally, Inuit do not pay taxes on Inuit lands unless businesses, services or buildings are present. Most Inuit lands lie outside of municipalities. Within municipalities, property is taxed if it is provided with electricity or water service, or if it has a business on it. Outpost camps are not taxed. (NLCA Article 22)
These are the two big misconceptions I hear most often that I wanted to get off my chest. An official version of the 1993 Nunavut Land Claim Agreement can be found here for your viewing pleasure.
Link to Part 9
Pecs (Paich) was a true cultural and architectural gem. I took tons of pictures and narrowing the number down for this post was a big challenge. Here is a small sample of what I saw.
The former Pasha Gazi Kassim Mosque, known more familiarly as the Mosque Church. It is the largest structure remaining from the Turkish occupation and indeed the very symbol of the city.
Ruins of the 16th century Pasha Memi Baths.
Basilica of St. Peter.
Crypt inside the Basilica.
The Basilica's stunning organ.
Pasha Hassan Jakovali Mosque.
Jug Mausoleum dating from the 4th century. The entire area underneath the Basilica was crammed with early Roman and Christian tombs along with the remnants of city walls from earlier times. I spent a good hour exploring the (thankfully air conditioned) labyrinth below the old square.
A pleasant walk up into the Mecsek Hills north of the city walls brought me to the ruins of a 16th century bishop's palace, later used as an Islamic monastery.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
A good high school chum sent me an email earlier in the week to let me know that he was doing well and is now back in Canada after another mission in Afghanistan. Sadly, 3 Canadian soldiers will not see their families this holiday season. I really don't know what to say other than rather than espousing political views, I wish people would take a moment to appreciate things from our soldiers' prospective rather than trying to score cheap political points. On that point, I would highly recommend the writings of Sgt. Russell Storring on the CBC website for a glimpse of the life of a Canadian soldier on a tough mission. Interestingly, I know Sgt. Storring. We grew up not far from each other and both of us spent a few years in the same Army Cadet Corps growing up. Read up for a perspective many Canadians do not get to see and, fortunately, because of the selfless actions of Cpl. Hamilton, Pte. Jones and Pte. Curwin, do not have to endure.
Posted by Way Way Up at 14:51
While doing some reading last night, I came across a blog post about the whole religion versus science debate in schools south of the border. I won't say too much here other than I'm glad that in Canada, for the most part, this is pretty much a non-issue. Perhaps if you pull my leg a bit, I will flesh out my own views, but for now, take in the aforementioned post for what it's worth.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
I spent some time culling through my growing collection of European vacation photos and came across this one where I accidentally put myself in the shot. I'm not sure exactly where I was but I think it may have been Veszprem a large town not far from Budapest. As it turned out Kossuth, the 19th century nationalist, became an "idee fixe", linking many of the places I visited in Hungary. Pretty much every burg I went to had a street, building, statue or square named after the man.
Several days ago, I mentioned the Canadian Blog Awards and my hopes of seeing at least one Northern blog make it into the Final 5. I had intended to follow up on it but a sports tournament and a few other things got in the way and my little project of organizing some sort of block vote amongst Northern bloggers was pushed to the back burner. However, I can now happily report that a Northern blog DID make it into the Final 5. Fawnahareo's Place, a blog from Yukon, finished in 3rd place in the "Best Family Blog" category. Go check out Northern Canada's contribution to the Canadian Blog Awards. Congrats Fawn!
Clare has recently announced the return of the Nunie Awards so more voting fun in the near future. Perhaps I will improve on last year's 3rd or 4th place finish. Time will tell.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Yesterday morning an announcement was made over the PA system at the school to the effect that we should conserve water as both water trucks were "broken down". True to form I ran out of water last night which meant no morning shower. This is only the second morning this has happened this school year so I'm not complaining. (Last year, it was 13 out of 16 Monday mornings with no water by my count.) It's easy to tell at work who ran out of water among the staff. The large hoodies, toques and ball caps are all tell-tale signs. Apparently, many of us got dinged with empty water tanks this morning.
My morning greeting to a colleague went something like this: Morning. Try not to get too close! I ran out of water this morning so I couldn't get my morning shower. I don't think I stink that bad though so don't worry!!
I turned back as I walking down the hall to my class and added: There's probably not too many work places in Canada where you'd say "Good morning! I didn't shower this morning!!"
Psst...but don't worry though. Both trucks are now functioning fine and one dropped by to deliver its precious cargo shortly after I got home from work this afternoon.
UPDATE - Darn....I think our furnace just died -- in -31C weather. Oops.
I've always loved old photographs, particularly old black-and-whites. We have a lot of old and not so old photographs lying around the school and last week a large number of them were put up in the large display case in the main hallway. When I was younger I read a lot of books on the North and some would have old black-and-white photos similar to what I've seen in the display. It's really neat to see the originals. What wonderful treasures they are. I can even recognize a few people from town in some of these old photos. There was one person though I never would have recognized if a couple staff members hadn't pointed her out to me. I'm not sure exactly where the above photo was taken, whether here in the community or not, but the young girl at the bottom right is, according to my sources, Eva Aariak, our newly-elected Premier.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Just because I haven't posted many photos lately (our current light levels are really not conducive to outdoor photography at the moment), here's one for you. This is Adams Sound looking off toward the southeast. It was taken from the top of King George V Mountain back in June when there was a little less snow and considerably more daylight than we have at the moment.
Monday, December 08, 2008
Happy Birthday wishes to my stepfather, ever the confidante and voice of reason. A few more grey hairs, but then, if you had to raise my sister and me, you'd have a few grey hairs too.
(...and I won't even say the age)
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Since I haven't done a post all weekend yet feel compelled to write something...
1. The semester is winding down fast. Only five more teaching days before exams start. I still(!) don't have my Christmas travel plans finalized but I'm working on it. I've spent a quiet day reading, doing some summer vacation planning and watching a couple episodes from the 'Band of Brothers' HBO series. So, yes, all in all, not exactly a productive day.
2. Speaking of my summer vacation plans, I haven't nailed down my next country although there is one I'm heavily favouring at the moment. And that would be Slovenia. Although I haven't ruled out Slovakia, Romania or the Baltic States quite yet. But its not like I'll be setting off tomorrow so I still have plenty of time to make up my mind before June 2009 rolls around.
3. I am taking a short hiatus from my coaching but plan to get back to it in the spring. I have the email for Nunavut Soccer so I plan to fire of an email to find out what the age divisions will be. Since next year will be Territorials rather than Regionals like it was this year, my guess is that the age divisions will be 14-and-under and 16-and-under, though I will double-check to confirm it. Anyhow, next year I'm hoping to start up a 13-and-under or 14-and-under girls team since it is one of the last divisions I haven't worked with that much. Funny thing is, I was only planning to coach soccer for a year or two but next year would be tournament number 5 for me. It can a lot of hard and sometimes thankless work at times but I do still enjoy it in the end.
4. My wrist is healing up nicely. There was one day last week where I didn't bother wearing my splint but I did have to wear it Friday after I aggravated it while stepping in between a couple young lads in my class. Of course I'm probably not doing myself any favours by trying to rush everything I do when I get frustrated having to do a few things with one functioning appendage. Patience grasshopper, patience. (I'm sure it was the pain that put me into the black mood that precipitated my rants of the past couple days.)
5. I should also mention a nice book I picked up while I was down in Iqaluit last weekend - 'A Complete Guide to Arctic Wildlife' by Richard Sale. I've been looking for a good guidebook for sometime now. It's nice to have, particularly in the Spring when I am outside more so I can comment more intelligently about the wildlife I see. The book also discusses the geology, climate, geography and ecology of the planet's arctic regions. So, while it does have a lot more science than I'm used to reading and I don't have a particularly strong scientific background, I find I can still follow it pretty closely. (My high school science teachers would be impressed.) At any rate, its a 400+ page hard-cover tome, which should keep me occupied for awhile.
Friday, December 05, 2008
I normally pay no mind to my e-mail Spam folder but tonight for some reason I got brave and decided to take a peek inside. Amongst the ads for Cialis, Viagra and a nudist colony was a reply from Captain Crunch....or rather Paul Watson to the rather strongly-worded e-mail I fired off to him the other night. Apparently Prince Paul is down in Antarctica saving the whales from Japanese whalers (because the Japanese are such a naval threat). I was impressed that Watson had time to respond, given how he's down there dancing with penguins, jumping from iceberg to iceberg and generally making a fool of himself. According to Captain Crunch here, labeling him a racist makes me a pathetic individual. Right. Of course, he asserts vehemently that if it weren't for the fact that he is in Antarctica, he would have been up here with a ship, busting a channel to free the narwhal. Right. And if hadn't have sprained my wrist over the weekend I would have been drafted by the NFL.
I have to laugh though that this e-mail was directed to my Spam folder to begin with. Watson is just like Spam. You remember that stuff from when you were a kid? The can looked kinda cool from the outside but then when you opened it up......ick. So at the moment Watson's e-mail sits there in my Spam folder along with something to do with "Enbridge Money Lubricating Pipeline Route". I haven't opened THAT e-mail yet but, just like Watson's e-mail, I'm sure its full of unintelligible nonsense as well.
Given all that's been going on in the past few days with the psychological train wreck that is Paul Watson and the mess on Parliament Hill, I'm amazed doctors always tell me what low blood pressure I have. Isn't it typical that we elect politicians for a (usually) 4-year term and they sit and do nothing for me most of the time but now that there is a "crisis", they want me to do something for them? Spare me. Don't call me. Don't e-mail me. Grow up. Get over yourselves. I would have much more respect for politicians these days if they would simply for once.....for once.....be honest. Admit for once, that you are only out to look out for and serve yourselves rather than "ordinary" Canadians. THEN, fix the system. Politics is not about YOU. It is about working for the good of the country. Harper, Dion, Layton.....Canada just lost 3 more soldiers in Afghanistan. Do you even care? Or are you too busy counting seats, party donations and sending me unwanted correspondence?!
Political parties always remind me of unions. They just want my money. And they always put on a facade of wanting to help. You need to do a better job NOW...PERIOD! Or I will give you the same advice I'd love to give my own union. Get out of my way. Stay off my side. I can do it better myself.
Now, I've heard it suggested that Canada adopt either a proportional system of government or a consensus system. And while I have a few doubts about these alternatives, I must admit that anything would be a vast improvement over the joke we now have. What? You want me to vote for you? Recover from your cranial-rectal inversion and we'll talk. But don't call me. I'll call you.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
When I received the copy of Paul Watson's editorial referenced in my previous post Tommy, from our local Hunters and Trappers Association, mentioned Watson also had had the gall to fire off some disgusting and incendiary emails to QIA (Qikiqtani Inuit Association - the regional Inuit organization.) Although I was curious at first to pursue it, I let the matter drop since I had not seen those emails. However, later this evening I received an email containing some of what Watson wrote. I re-produce it here not to give Watson exposure. He doesn't need it. I do it to give people a sense of the kind of garbage Inuit have to deal with on an almost daily basis from people who profess to be experts but who, in the end, really have no common sense, no clue about Northern realities or Inuit culture, and no human decency. (For a man who professes to be so pro-environment, the man seems to do a lot of travel, no doubt creating quite the carbon footprint.)
The thing about idiots like Watson is that they like to talk.....and talk and talk and talk. Eventually their thoughtless and insensitive rhetoric crosses a line. What follows is clear evidence of this. I really hope the media gets wind of this and that both QIA and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (the organization responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Nunavut Land Claim) sue this moron and his organization into the ground. The man has committed a hate crime here....and no amount of spin or fancy rhetoric can change that.
Read it at your peril.
[Terry Audla, the man referred to in this exchange by "Captain" Watson is the Executive Director of QIA if I am correct.]
Prepare yourself for comments such as “every man who pulled
a trigger on those whales is no different than the men who slaughtered the
defenseless people in the pit at My Lai, Vietnam.”
But first, a piece of hate e-mail received by QIA:
“Culture” is no excuse for unecessary murder. You’re not going to eat 500
[expletive] Narwhals. “Hunters.” Give me a [expletive] break. You people are
poachers. I hate you so much.”
Subject: Mr. Audla, this is my response.
A Conversation with the Narwhal Butchers
Terry Audla, the Executive Director of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association did
not like my commentary on the cruel slaughter of the Narwhals.
This is his response with my comments added where appropriate.
Terry Audla: A sad sad commentary. To say that “Inuit killers roared and
laughed barbarously as they inflicted torturous death upon these gentle
creatures” .points to the true ignorance of Inuit culture and our current
state of affairs as Canadian Inuit. This statement from an organization
that puts the plight of animals before the plight of its fellow world
citizens is the true definition of ignorance. Sad to see it being
perpetuated through a hazy rose-colored outlook of life on earth. Grow up
!! How it that what the Inuit are doing is any less humane than say a
pig/cow/chicken/lamb slaughter house!?!?!?! Cultural ignorance at its
Captain Paul Watson: Of course it is a sad commentary. The slaughter of
500 defenseless Narwhal that could have been saved but were butchered
instead is a very sad affair indeed. I would ask Mr. Audla to release
video of the slaughter to prove that the killers were not taking pleasure
in their sadistic kill. I have seen aboriginal kills in Siberia, Alaska,
the Faeroe Islands and off the coast of Washington and I have witnessed
the laughter and the amusement that the killers demonstrated. Mr. Audla,
you can of course prove me wrong by releasing the video of the slaughter
to the public. As for his accusation that we put the plight of the
Narwhals before the plight of humans, I must agree. We do. The Sea
Shepherd Conservation Society represents our clients -- the whales. And by
the way Mr. Audla, the Narwhal are “fellow world citizens.” We defend,
speak for, and work for the welfare and the survival of marine wildlife.
We are not a people organization although I should add that if we fail to
protect and conserve marine wildlife, it will diminish diversity in the
oceans and if the oceans die than all of humanity will perish, so
ironically we work more directly for the interests of humanity than most
It is also true that I do not respect a culture that slaughters wildlife
to sell to the outside world in exchange for material benefits like
snowmobiles, rifles, television, appliances etc. There is no traditional
hunting for survival anymore -- there is only the capitulation of the
Inuit to the fur industry and as guides and bearers to rich white hunters
who are motivated out of perverse desires to kill large predators like the
polar bear. The Inuit want the materialistic benefits of the
industrialized society and they still want to slaughter wildlife.
I was on St. Lawrence Island in 1981 and saw the Yupik slaughter Walrus
with automatic weapons and it was a bloody massacre and I saw them
laughing as they killed those magnificent animals. So Mr. Audla, I am not
speaking out of ignorance. I witnessed enough atrocities and it is these
scenes that enrage me.
500 Narwhals Mr. Audla! You can’t eat them all. It is the long “unicorn”
tooth you want because that’s where the money is and you will be making a
great deal of money off this slaughter. Or do you deny this also?
And of course there is the expected comparison to the slaughter of
domestic animals. First, I don’t support the slaughter of domestic
animals. My ships are vegan vessels and we do not support the meat
industry, which by the way is a greater contributor to greenhouse gas
emissions than the auto industry. But there is no slaughter house in the
civilized world that would condone the shooting in the barrel approach of
this unspeakably inhumane killing of whales with rifles as they
desperately seek to escape from death as their family is torn apart around
them. This is a horrific way to die Mr. Audla and every man who pulled a
trigger on those whales is no different than the men who slaughtered the
defenseless people in the pit at My Lai, Vietnam. This is a crime against
nature and I have absolutely no apologies for condemning the butchers of
I may not be politically correct but I choose to be ecologically correct
and the slaughter of so many endangered species cannot be justified in the
name of culture. I would rather be ignorant of such a culture than to be a
part of such an ignorant culture.
And don’t throw back the race card on me. I don’t discriminate when it
comes to humans. I oppose anyone of any colour, of any culture that
slaughters endangered species and especially when they do so in such an
unbelievably cruel manner.
Terry Audla: Within our Inuit culture we have always had the respect and
will continue to hold that respect towards the animals that feed us. We do
not want unnecessary suffering of the animals that we have always hunted
and will continue to uphold that belief! The narwhals being culled will
feed many families within the Eastern Arctic and just in time for
Christmas ! It is truly a time to celebrate ! Families not able to feed
themselves through store bought groceries (the most expensive in Canada)
will now be a little more at peace during the holidays now that there will
be food. Food given through nature’s own way of adjusting to those that
will benefit the most: natures own inhabitants who have always been close
to nature and are attuned more than most to their own surroundings. This
culling is the most humane and least form of suffering available to these
poor narwhals, outside of a miraculous melting of the ice. which by the
way we do have a bone to pick with the rest of you on a global scale. I
wonder how much more are trapped suffering and to eventually suffocate
away from the prying eyes of us humans?? Through this culling families
will now be fed for months to come showing that God does work in wondrous
Captain Paul Watson: Don’t give me that mealy mouthed tripe about respect.
What the men with the rifles did to those intelligent and gentle sentient
creatures was NOT respect by any stretch of the imagination. Justify it
any way you wish to appease your conscience but what occurred was not
respect -- it was a savage display of human arrogance.
The Canadian government could have broken those whales out of there. They
spend millions defending those barbaric Newfoundland and Magdalen Island
seal butchers. In truth I hold DFO responsible for this massacre. The
Inuit were merely the executioners but the responsibility lies with the
government of Canada.
I cannot believe however that you would actually use the word celebrate in
the context of defending this despicable slaughter. And as with all
killers, you justify the butchery by citing God as your guide and excuse.
Mr. Audla, there is no natural world anymore. We have destroyed it -- all
of us, there are no innocent humans. And don’t give me this “bone to
drivel about climate change. You participate in the destruction with your
snowmobiles, appliances, heating, rifles, aircraft and every other modern
convenience you use. You’re just as involved as the rest of us. I admit to
being a hypocrite because the entire human race is a hypocritical species.
Terry Audla: Merry Christmas to you and your families! May Peace & Harmony
be with you.
Captain Paul Watson: This Christmas, we will be defending whales from the
industrialized illegal slaughter by the Japanese whaling fleet. We won’t
be celebrating in a world where the non-humans have no peace and harmony
from the rapacious assaults by humanity.
Terry Audla: Enlighten yourselves.
Captain Paul Watson: We are always in the process of doing so Mr. Audla. I
suggest you do likewise.
Captain Paul Watson
Founder and President of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
(1977-Co-Founder -- The Greenpeace Foundation (1972) Co-Founder --
Greenpeace International (1979)
Director for Greenpeace (1972-1977)
Director of the Sierra Club USA (2003-2006)
Director of the Farley Mowat Institute
Working Partner with the Ecuadorian National Environmental Police and the
Galapagos National Park
Master of the M/Y Robert Hunter
Master of the M/Y Steve Irwin
Master of the M/Y Farley Mowat
“Sail forth -- steer for the deep waters only,
Reckless O soul, exploring, I with thee and thou with me,
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go,
And we risk the ship, ourselves and all”
-- Walt Whitman
I deny nothing that is of my culture nor will you push me in that
direction. Your intolerance and incitement of hate is dangerous... world
wars were fought to end your kind of single-mindedness.
Dear Mr. Audla,
You accuse me of hate after perpetuating the vicious act of slaughter on
such gentle and intelligent creatures. That is absurd and you know it. I
don’t hate your culture, I despise your actions and the mass slaughter of
these whales is a despicable and obscene act. How many tusks did you
“harvest” from this massacre? How much money will you receive from selling
these bloody trophies of cruelty? You have not said a word about the real
reason you slew these Narwhals. You killed them for money and in doing so
you are no different than all the other human vultures in the world who
are tearing this planet apart for material gain.
I’m sure the slaughter was video taped. Release the images to prove me a
World wars were fought to end my kind of singlemindedness? Really? Name me
a world war that was fought to prevent people like myself from saving
wildlife? There was a war to stop madmen from slaughtering people but I
can’t recall a war that was fought to stop people from saving lives and
caring for the living Earth except for now, when the forces of greed are
literally destroying life on this planet at an unprecedented rate. No Mr.
Audla, no such war has ever been fought until now and it is quite obvious
who is on the side of life and who is on the side of death.
Your slaughter of these Narwhals is a crime against nature and ultimately
a crime against humanity. The killers of these whales pulled the triggers
and unleashed a horror against these gentle creatures that you refuse to
accept or imagine.
I have no intention of pushing you anywhere nor do I have any intention of
asking you to deny your culture. You are obviously a prisoner of your
culture as are we all.
I confess that I am intolerant of death, cruelty and slaughter and that
kind of intolerance comes from a deep love of nature and of life and that
Mr. Audla is the very opposite of hate.
I have no respect for such slaughter and there is nothing on this Earth
that can ever convince me that what was done to these whales can ever be
Those tusks will soon be adorning some rich [expletive]’s mantlepiece and the
money will be yours. But it will be blood money and it will represent
another piece of flesh hacked from the living body of the planet. At some
point we will soon take to much and it will collapse all around us and
being human we will look around and wonder how could this have happened?
And we will blame all the other creatures and each other and we will still
not see that it is our own greed and arrogance that has brought it about.
Enjoy the fruits of your slaughter and celebrate Christmas with the
justification that what was done was right. I see nothing to celebrate
this Christmas and nothing to be proud of in my species. I can only mourn
for the deaths of your victims.
All over the world, people rush to defend stranded dolphins and whales.
Yet when these sentient beings came to you -- you chose to kill them in
the most barbaric manner imaginable.
Call me what you will but accusing me of hatred is absurd. I don’t hate
any of the men who killed those whales. I pity them for their ignorance
and their brutality.
Captain Paul Watson
What a complete hypocrite! What he says is indeed very hateful. He accuses Inuit of growing rich off this cull in Pond Inlet but I wonder how much money this clown pulls in annually from all of his protesting activities. Why don't you release THAT information? I believe Watson's savings account is the one thing profiting the most from all this.
If you can stomach it, take a gander at this sensational, inflammatory tripe written by Paul Watson in response to the recent narwhal cull near Pond Inlet. It was published in the Pacific Free Press on November 30. (My thanks to Tommy Kilabuk from the Arctic Bay Hunters and Trappers Association for bringing this to my attention.) I give you the article in full along with my own commentary, because, honestly, I can't read callous, ignorant crap like this and keep silent. (Note throughout how Watson resorts to some rather flowery prose, tugging at the emotions but falls short of facts and accuracy - a typical animal activist ploy.)
Well, here goes:
Before reading this, please understand that I write this essay with a smoldering rage deep within my heart. Canada, my country, a nation in which my family has resided since 1648 has just committed one of the most savage and disgraceful crimes against nature imaginable, and once again they have spilled innocent blood into the sea and filled the air with the screams of the most gentle and social of animals - this time it is the Narwhal, the unicorn of the sea.
Well, if you're that angry, you probably should keep your mouth shut, Paul, before you embarrass yourself by displaying your own ignorance. I'm happy your family has been in Canada since 1648. In my community, people have connections going back some 5000 years, much much longer than your paltry 350. 1648 rings a bell here for some reason. Oh yes! That was the year the 30 Year War ended in Europe. Perhaps your relatives came here to escape the bloody massacre Europeans had been inflicting on each other. And you accuse Inuit of being barbarous? [just read on] Spare me.
The Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans is the most evil, insidious, incompetent and dangerous bureaucracy in Canada. Nothing in our oceans is safe from the cold, calculating, greed-motivated bureaucrats that control Canada's most destructive government department.
What they have done in the past with the destruction of the fisheries, the slaughter of the seals, the damage to marine eco-systems and their abuse of the laws of the nation has been trumped this week with their decision to murder 500 trapped and defenseless Narwhals.
No government bureaucracy is perfect but this cull was undertaken after community consultations with government officials, community members, the local Hunters and Trappers Organization and local elders. Inuit have had a symbiotic relationship with Nature for centuries before your relatives showed up and starting screwing things up.
500 whales trapped in Arctic ice. Could they have been saved?
The answer is absolutely, they could have been saved. But hearts as dark as the foul breath of demons from the bottomless pit of hell have prevailed and where Canada could have delivered the gift of life, they have instead unleashed a torrent of violence that has spewed the hottest of blood into the frigid seas of the high north.
The government of Canada has a fleet of powerful ice-breakers. They have the money, they have the means. They could have reached the whales and they could have broken a path for them to freedom.
And the government's response to this humanitarian solution was that "the noise of the icebreakers would have been stressful to the whales."
"Hearts as dark as the foul breath of demons......" Could you spare us the inflammatory rhetoric here? Thanks. Fact: Canada does posses a fleet of ice breakers that can handle pretty much any Arctic conditions that Mother Nature can throw at them. Unfortunately, the fleet has long since left Arctic water for the season. Our closest naval base in Shearwater, Nova Scotia is hundreds of miles away. Do you honestly believe a ship could arrive in time to save every single trapped animal? I find it ironic that the "Save the Whale Gang" are among the same crew that would be most likely to oppose increased spending on icebreakers or military ships back in the 1980's when our military defense budget was being hacked to pieces. And now you expect the country to automatically have ships to come here on some sort of rescue mission?! The grim reality, whether you like it or not, is that these whales were restricted to a few small open leads. These leads would surely have frozen over completely in the -30C weather long before an icebreaker managed to get on scene. I have seen video of the trapped whales and trust me it was difficult to watch. These animals were already under great stress. However unpalatable, a cull was the only humane answer.
WTF! Insanity reigns supreme in the Department of Fishy Business. Instead of noisy slightly irritated icebreakers delivering mercy, we had dozens of ruthless Inuit killers blasting away with high powered rifles at screaming whales frantically trying to escape the bullets, desperate in panicked horror as they dove and surfaced, frustrated with no place to go. All around them the bodies of their comrades floated on the surface, gurgling blood and thrashing in frantic mortal agony.
This was a Dantean canvas of horror from the deep depths of hell and a reminder of just how utterly ruthless humanity can be.
Nice! Profanity and a reference to Dante. Really, you should be teaching creative writing courses in a university somewhere. Might I suggest the University of Windsor? Essex County is a nice place and a drive through it might calm you down some. It sounds like you could use that. Seriously though, HOW DARE YOU CHARACTERIZE AN ENTIRE GROUP OF PEOPLE IN SUCH A WAY! HOW DARE YOU!! I suppose you are just carrying on in the vein of good old Brigit Bardot - Love the animals, hate the Muslims and homosexuals. What a heartless mean-spirited thing to say!
To the Inuit it was like shooting fish in a barrel - literally.
And the Inuit were quite happy to pull the triggers. Narwhal tusks sell for thousands of dollars and this bonanza was 4 times their allowed "legal" kill. This was an opportunity to put hundreds of valuable "unicorn horns" on the market and to bring hundreds of thousands of dollars into the economy of the far North. That was the motivation for the decision to kill the whales and that is why the DFO chose not to save them.
It was a completely unregulated bloody massacre. Not a single DFO officer was on the scene and the Inuit killers roared and laughed barbarously as they inflicted tortuous death upon these gentle creatures. The DFO displayed incredible insensitivity and utter stupidity to suggest that icebreakers would stress the whales, yet can they honestly believe that what the killers were doing was not stressful?
Well since you characterize Inuit as nothing more than blood-thirsty killers, why not call them greedy too? You neglect to mention here though that the majority of the narwhal were female. Female narwhal DO NOT have tusks. But lets assume for a moment that they all had tusks. I have a 4 foot tusk at home that I bought for around $400. There are regulations in place. In order for me to get that tusk to Ontario I had to have a tag. Otherwise, it would have been seized if discovered by wildlife officials. Let's assume for the sake of argument that each animal had a tusk with a length of 6 feet and that they would be sold for a price comparable to what I paid. Well, let's see that's $100 a foot, $600 per tusk. Multiply that by 500 animals and you get a grand total of $300 000. Wow! But wait a minute. Nunavut's population is currently around 30 000 people so the "hundreds of thousands" of dollars of which you speak works out to a grand total of $10 for every man, woman and child. Perfect. I can now afford that box of Kraft Dinner I've been eyeing at the Northern Store for the past week! You make Inuit hunters out to be a bunch of incompetent, bloodthirsty killers. Obviously you have no experience in how a hunt happens. It is hard, cold and often dangerous work, no matter what the conditions are. Were you even there? How do you know the hunters involved were laughing the way you claim they were? Why didn't you send one of your ships up to cut a path. Come on. You guys must have a fortune from all the fundraising you've done over the years exploiting baby seals and traditional culture.
"Local hunters shot the narwhals as they surfaced to breathe in the only leads of open water," said Rebecca Aldworth, director of Humane Society International/Canada. "The DFO has tried to defend its unconscionable choice not to break the ice and free the whales, claiming that the noise of the icebreaker would have been 'stressful' for the narwhals. Clearly, the deafening blasts of the rifles, and the volumes of blood filling the water in the only breathing holes available is far more stressful."
The DFO spends millions sending icebreakers to break paths for seal killing ships every Spring. The [sic] spent over a million dollars dedicating a single icebreaker to trail the Sea Shepherd ship 'Farley Mowat' to prevent documentation of the harp seal slaughter. Millions spent to subsidize slaughter and not a penny to help break a path for 500 trapped whales.
Well, obviously they shot them as they surfaced. How else would they have done it? And exactly who is this Rebecca Aldworth anyway? Just another activist anti-sealing leader. How better to buttress your argument than to quote only those who are in agreement with your inflammatory, off-the-wall tactics? Obviously this lady has never been around a rifle as it is being fired. The noise is hardly deafening. In fact, when I mentioned this comment to some of my students (avid hunters themselves) in class this morning, they all rolled their eyes and laughed. Again, if you are such an activist, why did you not seize the initiative and get a ship of your own up there for a rescue mission? Or is it just easier to whine and complain about someone else after the fact?
As a Canadian, I am deeply ashamed to be a citizen of a nation that can so willfully condone lethal destruction of 500 endangered and incredibly unique sentient creatures.
The Narwhal is on the red list of endangered species published by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and this means that they are at the highest risk of global extinction. The Canada-Greenland Joint Commission on the Conservation and Management of Narwhal and Beluga and the Whaling Commission have both stated that narwhal hunting is not sustainable.
Canada this week just pushed the Narwhal 500 animals closer to extinction.
Every Canadian should hand their head in shame at this atrocious crime. That [sic] a bloody disgrace for a nation my country is!
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature is an international umbrella group for several conservation-minded organizations. in 1994, this group rejected membership for activist groups such as IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) which both Watson and Aldworth support. These clowns are too radical for the IUCN and they have had disagreements over tactics in the past yet Watson willingly cites them when it serves his purpose. There's integrity for you. I should reiterate that when it comes to marine hunts involving such animals as narwhals and seals, Canada has one of the most regulated hunts in the world. I could go on about this but that would require another post entirely. Wildlife is incredibly resilient. Events such as the large number of narwhal getting caught so far from the floe edge are very rare. This has happened occasionally in the past I'm sure back when there was no media around to witness it. It may happen again. This may not seem fair but that is how nature works. Watson clearly has no clue about how things work up hear and professes an ignorance of Inuit culture that truly disgusts me. Why don't you just substitute the word "Inuit" for "Jewish", "Irish", "Black", "Homosexual" or any other marginalized group, you disgusting, insensitive, ignorant, hate-filled man? You mention the bottomless pits of Hell in the opening paragraphs of your rant? Why not just take a leap in and spare us all? Say hello to Hitler while you're there too, you racist moron!
I can conclude by saying that I am a proud Northerner and a proud Canadian. I WILL NOT hang my head in shame. The only person I'm ashamed of is Paul Watson. If you truly loath this country as much as you profess to then please, do us all a favour and leave. Just go. And take Gilles Duceppe with you while you are at it.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
I was able to get to the health centre this morning and an x-ray confirmed what I had suspected - no broken bones, just a sprain with some swelling. My hand is actually in pretty good shape and although I wore my splint to work as a precaution, I'm confident I won't be needing it after a couple more days. I did have a close call this morning as I managed to slip on a newly-mopped floor outside my class. I came crashing down on my posterior. For the story on how the water got there in the first place, read up on it here.
Luckily my splint took the brunt of the impact. (I noticed a big crack in it when I took it off after getting home.) How I managed not to make my wrist even worse, I have no idea. Pure luck I suppose. So I went for an x-ray this morning shortly after my fall rather than wait until after work. Anyhow, hopefully I don't have any more mishaps before the holiday so I can enjoy a good Christmas dinner with two functioning hands. I don't have any major pain at the moment (Motrin works wonders) and I have to laugh at how silly I must have looked. My sadistic side actually wants to see the video tape of it since it was all caught on a nearby camera in the hall. I'm sure it would make for an interesting YouTube video.
Well, another tournament has come and gone. Arctic Bay sent 3 teams this year which I think is a record and the weekend went off without a hitch. I coached the 15 and under boys team and assisted with the 15 and under girls. We also had a 17 and under girls team head down as well. This was only my 4th tournament but over that short span I've been quite impressed by how much the calibre of the players, on all teams, has become. Teams that were considered "easy" just a couple years ago are now serious challengers. Four different coaches (with much more experience than me) actually commented on how impressed they've been watching our 15 and under teams progress over the last 3 years. They are considered a team to look out for by other teams so I'm very proud of them.
Our 15 and under girls have really stepped it up and actually beat Iqaluit in their opening match and tied the second Iqaluit team in their next match. They made it to the semis before being beaten by the eventual gold-medal winning team. Come to think of it, Cape Dorset was the only team that beat them the entire weekend, and in the world of indoor soccer, Dorset is a real power house. The boys also played well. We had a much younger and smaller team this year but they also made it to the semis before losing to Pangnirtung who went on to win silver.
For a community of our size, we generally do pretty good against the bigger teams. There are 3 or 4 we are quite competitive with and do well against Cape Dorset and Iqaluit, teams with more depth, players and facilities. So, in the end I can't help but be proud. We're the small community that has to travel the furthest but we definitely hold our own. And the boys new uniforms were awesome. I would have taken a picture but after the kids had been wearing them for 3 days, they (the uniforms, not the kids) needed a good spin through the washing machine.
My favorite team to watch was a young team from Hall Beach. They were in our pool and played well even though many of there players were 11 or 12 (playing 15 and under). The had energy I can only wish for and their smiles and fast running made them a definite crowd favorite. Even though they lost every game, there smiles and pats of the back the whole time - a perfect example of what sport is all about.
Okay, there was one small glitch in the weekend. After the closing ceremony on the last night, the gym was opened up for the kids staying at Inuksuk HS to burn off some extra energy. Since I've been coaching a bit now, I find that many kids from other communities recognize me each year, even if I don't always remember their names. Anyhow, several of them wanted me to play goalie so they could practice their shooting. Who wouldn't want to see a coach standing in those big nets? Well, can some of those kids ever kick the ball! I took a ball off my hand which bent back my wrist. Oh the pain. A reminder of why I haven't played competitively since grade school. Anyhow, I made a trip to the hospital this morning just to be on the safe side. Initially, the doctor thought I had hyper-extended it but its looking now like just a bad sprain. I'll be prudent and head to the health centre here tomorrow for an x-ray though once the rest of the swelling goes down.
So while it is slightly annoying having to do everything with one-hand, including typing these words (thankfully I'm a lefty), I couldn't help but have a chuckle with my team. This is probably the only tournament where the players were fine but a coach sustained a soccer-related injury.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Link to Part 8
Considering that the Habsburgs blew up Veszprem's castle and that most of its Medieval-era building are no more, the city still had plenty of sites to hold my attention. I should add that while finding the hotel I wanted was a bit tricky with the hills, narrow streets and alleyways, it was definitely worth the effort.
Heroes' Gate - built in the '30's but using 15th-century stones.
Remnants of the Dominican Convent of St. Catherine
The Gothic/Baroque/Neoclassical Firewatch Tower
Trinity Column in the foreground. I believe the structure behind is the Gisella Chapel. (Gisella was Hungary's first Queen.)
The Old Town was graced with many Baroque-era mansions, many of which are now museums or banks.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Assuming the weather cooperates I will be heading out tomorrow with my boys team to Iqaluit for a weekend tournament. We also have a couple girls teams hoping to get there. They were scheduled to fly out this morning but no plane was able to land. Apparently, for some reason, the runway wasn't plowed. So tomorrow the boys and I should fly out at 9am with the girls following on a second plane later in the afternoon. Getting to any major tournament from here involves a, 2400+ km flight down to Iqaluit (3 hours in both directions) and back so sometimes just getting there is a victory in itself. At times I miss do miss simply loading everyone into a big van for a 3-hour drive down to a neighboring school for a tourney as I was able to do in Saskatchewan a few years back. Ah, sweet simplicity.
I have a pretty young team this year and for at least half of them, this will be there first major sports tournament. We also picked up a new set of uniforms for this weekend's games so it would be a shame not to make it there. It is at these times though, that I try (with varying degrees of success) to adopt the Inuit perspective where you don't fret and stress over situations over which you have no control (ie the weather). It is simply wasted energy.
The weather had been looking pretty favorable all week but this morning the forecast calls for cloudy conditions and a 30% chance of snow. It will all depend on what the ceiling is like in the morning. Our airport out at Nanisivik is at elevation, if you recall from earlier posts. So while I'm a bit edgy about our chances, I remind myself that in the past 3 years, I've never had problems getting teams to tournaments due to weather. A couple years ago we came close to not being able to get out but then, as luck would have it, we made it and won a gold medal that year. So I'm taking that as a good sign.
In case you haven't heard, Round 1 voting for the Canadian Blog Awards ends this coming Saturday, November 29. I've been nominated in the categories of "Best Local Blog" and "Best Personal Blog" so thank you to whoever nominated me. I was planning to vote for my choices late Friday so I could see the result of my polls. As it turns out though, I will be traveling down to Iqaluit early tomorrow morning for a weekend soccer tournament so I partook in a little advance voting. It would be great to have your vote and if not, I might toss a snowball in your general direction but you're always welcome to stop by. (see Darcy: shameless pandering for votes) Fellow northern bloggers can use my poll results as a guide if people are interested in some sort of bloc voting for our fellow nominees. I enjoy our Northern blogs as an interesting read. They are part autobiographical, part educational and always informative and I'd love to see at least one make it to the second round (see Darcy: excessive vote panderer).
Good luck to all.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I'm not sure how much play the CBC story regarding the narwhal cull over in Pond Inlet is getting in the South. I can only read so much commentary (of increasing ignorance and hystericalness by the looks of things) before I start bleeding out of my ears. Perhaps a little perspective is in order.
10 000 casualties in the area of Long Point, Ontario alone? That seems like an awful lot. And this is only one small part of Ontario (and North America). People need to stop casting stones. It seems they should be focusing more on their driving habits instead.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I was actually going to write about this issue after I returned from my upcoming trip to Iqaluit but yesterday's post actually helps me make a better point. The culled narwhals will be used, among other things, for food for the community of Pond Inlet. Maktaq (sp?), the skin and its underlying fatty layer, is an important food source that has been consumed by Inuit for countless generations. Having so many animals trapped in this situation, while unfortunate, does provide an opportunity for local Inuit to harvest a bonanza of "country food", and, more importantly, provides food security. The issue of food security is not something faced by the North alone. People in many other parts of Canada, including any large city, also face problems of attaining a nutritious and ample food supply. As this story demonstrates, the problem of food security will likely only grow worse given the rather gloomy economic forecasts I've been hearing about.
Food security is a challenge in the North due to a number of factors, many of which are not issues in the South, or at least not to the same extent. So if you think the situation is dicey in Toronto or Vancouver, face North my friend. I guarantee you it only gets worse as you start to walk in that direction. High transportation costs, food quality and safety, high food costs, weather conditions, an increasing dependency on Southern foods, remoteness, economic and employment troubles and the increased costs associated with wildlife harvesting - all these factor into food costs up here. I know this from personal experience all too well. In one community I once lived in, I paid a whopping $23.99 for a dozen large eggs. (I made sure those were some of the best omelets I ever made, believe me.) A small brick of cheese here in town will set you back $7-$8. The talk amongst colleagues last year centred around the $32 cartons of 1.89L orange juice at one of the local stores. If you visit any of the blogs on my sidebar and read back far enough, I guarantee you the author will have a post on high food costs in there somewhere.
Of course we do have a Food Mail program here which I do make use of from time to time, and Government of Nunavut positions include a Northern Allowance to offset the cost of living. But, while these might help make food more affordable, not everyone collects a Northern Allowance. All the order forms I've ever seen for Food Mail arrive by fax so I imagine it would be a challenge for unilingual speakers to place and order. Did I mention that the faxes we get at our school for Food Mail are in French? Even with these programs in place, its still nice to have lot of choice when it comes to food and we don't always get that here.
Anyhow, this is all to say that the issue of Food Security is a big challenge in Northern communities. I'm not sure that most Canadians fully grasp how much of a problem it can be to sustain an healthy and affordable diet. (Little did I know...and it didn't take long to realize that all my supposed "solutions" simply reflected my Southern biases of the time.) I'm in no way denying these aren't serious challenges elsewhere in the country but often they are magnified ten-fold up here. Keep all this in mind when you think about narwhal being harvested for country food.
(To further illustrate my point, we didn't get a plane in this morning due to unsettled weather up at Nanisivik so the store was out of bread.)
Monday, November 24, 2008
Arctic Bay is not very far (relatively speaking for Nunavut) from the neighboring community of Pond Inlet, where, at the moment, there is a narwhal cull taking place. Funny, for all the stink Greenpeace raises during the Spring seal hunt, I don't see hide nor hair of them now. It must be the cold keeping them away I'm sure. It's much easier to throw stones from the warm confines of a southern metropolis than to, say, travel up here and help out. Or....maybe it's just that narwhals don't tug at the emotional heart strings in quite the same way that those adorable little white coats do.
Nah, it's got to be the weather.
For a Monday, its been fairly uneventful. My front door is in the process of being replaced. Since Kendra has dubbed her old door a male, I'll call mine female. I'm not sure if I'll be able to top her story. (Although occasionally, I am known to write a little poetry.) Housing began work on it today (just the frame) so hopefully tomorrow my old door will be taken to wherever it is that retired doors go once they've outlived their usefulness. I believe our building is about 6 years old so with all the settling and shifting of the ground, my door and frame, while not nearly as bad as Kendra's, could use a little face lift.
I've had a few posts in mind lately on some Northern issues but they may have to wait until after I return from next weekend's soccer tournament in Iqaluit. Speaking of the tournament, I pretty much have all the grunt work out of the way for it. I love the competition and the gamesmanship though in the past I've probably put a little more (admittedly self-induced) stress on myself than was probably warranted. But we you consider that we are undertaking a 2400+ km round trip to play I'm sure I can be cut a little slack. I just want to make sure all the "T"'s are crossed and all the "I"'s are dotted.
And of course, go vote for your favorite blogs at the Canadian Blog Awards. I see I've forgotten to add a couple blogs I my poll so my apologies. One of these is a blog I've known about and read about for awhile now. Oops. As Townie is one of the Godfathers of the Nunavut blogging world, I can only hope I don't wake up to find a severed polar bear head in bed with me. Time will tell.
Congrats on your win last night Cole! 12-4-3 so far this season. Not too shabby!
Sunday, November 23, 2008
In some ways it is very easy to define where I live and in other ways it can be difficult. "So where exactly do you live again?" I get asked.
"Up in the Arctic."
"North of the Arctic Circle."
"The North coast of Baffin Island."
These are all typical responses depending on the questioner's level of familiarity with "The North".
Defining where I live, the place I call home, is a tricky thing. There are so many many ways of delineating Canada's northern region, usually based on average yearly temperature, permafrost, vegetation, geo-politics, the tree-line or the Arctic Circle. These factors don't always correspond with each other. For example if you define the Arctic as "those areas of Canada lying North of the Arctic Circle (66.33 degrees N), then Inuvik, in the Northwest Territories (68.36 degree N) is clearly in the Arctic; Iqaluit, Nunavut (63.44 degrees N) is not. HOWEVER, if you choose to define Arctic as "those areas lying above the treeline" THEN the situation is reversed. Inuvik sits just on the edge of the treeline (just like Churchill, Manitoba, I might add) while Iqaluit, on the barren rock of Baffin Island is not Arctic by this definition. Clearly, by pretty much every definition, you choose, Arctic Bay is in the Arctic. It gets a little trickier for a few other places.
The Arctic can also be defined as "those areas where the average July temperature is below 10C/50F." I'm no geographer, but as I understand it, this line, the July Isotherm, is not static, but constantly shifting. The Arctic region is also a region of permafrost, areas where the ground remains frozen the full length of the year. That is certainly the case here where I live. I would assume that the permafrost line, also difficult to define, would correspond roughly to that "July Isotherm". I have lived in places though (like northern Manitoba), where there are areas of "discontinuous permafrost", or small pockets of it, depending on the rock and water levels beneath the surface. And to put a further twist on things, Nunavut is not entirely devoid of trees. The tree-line cuts down through the extreme south-west part of the territory near Arviat. Baffin Island, even to my amazement, since I lived here for 3 years before seeing one, even has trees. A few scattered areas support the Arctic Willow, a very small vine-like tree, that closely hugs the ground, usually near rocky outcroppings where it can pick up reflected heat from the sun in order to survive. But Arctic Bay is still well above the tree-line, even though the exact distance escapes me at the moment. (The airport out at Nanisivik which services our town for the time being is 1233km north of Iqaluit as the crow flies.)
Of course, many people also use the term "North". For most Canadians, the North begins at the 60th parallel. This is pretty convenient definition and I've often used it myself even though it is not very accurate. As, an aside, I lived for a brief time in Fort Smith, Northwest Territories, hugging the 60th parallel, which forms the northern border of Alberta. For the most part, the road leading out of town follows the border more or less. And while it was pretty neat to walk across the road several times and cross the imaginary threshold between what many see as "North" and "South", the novelty of it wore off after awhile. Crossing the road became just a way, the only way actually, to get to Wood Buffalo National Park. I never really felt as though I was crossing between between two worlds: North and South. It is a purely man-made construct in many ways. (And, not to get totally off topic here, but I remember as a child growing up in Southern Ontario, thinking the "North" began somewhere just outside of North Bay, Ontario. Clearly my definition has changed somewhat over the past 25-odd years.)
So what is my point with all this? I suppose one of the things that attracts me to the "North"/"Arctic" is how diverse the place is. It is hardly a monolith. In some ways I can describe or define this place and in other ways I cannot. Perhaps I can draw an analogy here to marriage (even though I am not married), in the sense that, part of the attraction is a familiarity but also a sense of wonder upon making new discoveries that continues to grow and enrich you over a lifetime.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Just a reminder that the deadline for nominations for the Canadian Blog Awards is today. Round one voting begins tomorrow and runs until November 29. To give us the best chance of seeing a northern blog make it to the next round, I've created a number of polls on my sidebar of all the Northern nominees. My techie skills leave a little (ok, a lot) to be desired so I was thinking if people vote for their favorite nominee in each category over the coming week and then check back at the end of the voting period on November 29, this should give an idea of who is the strongest candidate is. I'm not trying to tell anyone who to vote for but I that this way we might prevent some vote splitting and give us a chance due to our small populations.
And just a friendly suggestion if northern bloggers are ok with it - Since there were a few categories with only one nominee, my suggestion would be to vote for that person's blog in the first round of voting. Those blogs would be -
Best Blog Post
Levi Johnson's 2008 so far..." by Townie Bastard
Best Blog Post Series
Being David Hasselhoff Contest from Reflections in the Snow-Covered Hills
Best Cultural/Entertainment Blog
So go vote. Vote now.
NOTE - I will likely be away from my blog Nov. 29 since I should be down in Iqaluit for a sports tournament but I will do my best to follow up on my polls when I get back should some of our nominees get to the second round.
Ok, NOW go vote.
A little while back I mentioned the Canadian Blog Awards. Nominations are now closed and voting starts tomorrow. Now, I think there are some wonderful blogs out there, specifically Northern blogs. Unfortunately, due to our small population here it can be a challenge to make your vote count (see Canadian Federal Elections: Ontario decides). SO....in my own small way I'd like to highlight those northern blogs that picked up nominations to give them a bit more exposure.
(My apologies in advance if I've missed any nominees...there may be a few URL's I'm unfamiliar with and there are many nominees and I can only sit in front of a computer screen for so long)
Here goes...in no particular order...
Nominees for Best Blog
The House and Other Arctic Musings
Reflections in the Snow-Covered Hills
Best Blog Post
Levi Johnston's 2008 so far..." by Townie Bastard
Best Blog Post Series
Being David Hasselhoff Contest from Reflections in the Snow-Covered Hills
Best Cultural/Entertainment Blog
Best Family Blog
Dispatches From The Failed Mommies Club
The Adventures of Matt, Kara and Baby Hunter in Faro, Yukon
Just Below 63
Best Local Blog
The House and Other Arctic Musings
Tales From The Arctic
Way Way Up (blush)
Jen Of Nunavut
The Adventures of Matt, Kara and Baby Hunter in Faro, Yukon
Best Personal Blog
Dispatches From The Failed Mommies Club
Way Way Up (blush...again)
Jen Of Nunavut
Best Photo/Art Blog
The House and Other Arctic Musings
Best Professional/Career Blog
Habeas Corpus Under Aurora Borealis
Tales From The Arctic