Thursday, October 30, 2008

Resolution

For the benefit of anyone wondering over the content of my last post, I can say that things are working out well. Thank you to all for your concern. Mom, you can sleep easy tonight. I'm perfectly fine and well. My face even looks more or less normal, or at least what passes for normal for me. I was into work this morning to type up a report of yesterday's events and fill out a few other forms. I have one last form to fill out at work tomorrow. (Ah the fun with forms! I must work for the government or something.) My love tapper was released this morning but with very strict conditions so I'll just leave it at that.

I plan to pay a short visit to the pysch. nurse tomorrow. Really just to debrief and pick up some advice I'm sure, not because I'm nuts. Hopefully, there won't be a next time but at least then I will know to duck a little faster. Given the same circumstances though, I know I would do the exact same thing. Perhaps I would try talking a bit more, but really by the time I arrived on the scene I really felt like I had no options but to act immediately. No one, and I mean no one, puts their hands on one of my students and goes merrily along with their day.

In a small, isolated community, news travels fast and can get twisted pretty easily so who knows what's been said so in the afternoon, I plan to spend a bit of time at the school during the Halloween activities, just so the younger students know I'm okay and they are not unsettled. At any rate, its nice to feel some closure. The wind has been kicking up a fuss all day. Our MP is now the federal health minister. I lost my hat. I have a great book to read that I borrowed from Clare. Life goes on.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I'm At A Loss

There's been a reason why I haven't spent much time in the past while discussing work. Generally I try to keep my professional life and personal life separate. In a small community, where you are often defined by your job, this can be a tricky thing. Another reason for this is because this school year has been difficult. I get tired of having to make difficult decisions and getting jumped on for them. Today, I was jumped....literally. A situation arose where I had to physically intervene to ensure the safety of a female student and another colleague. A male student then took it upon himself to use me as his personal punching bag. At the moment, my face looks a little like a Halloween mask although I can assure you all that I should heal up quickly. Its actually not as scary as it looks.....other than a sore arm and a nasty cut to the nose...and a pounding headache.

Ironically, this incident took place as we were having an elder into the school to speak with our junior and senior high students about issues of respect and why you shouldn't punch holes in walls. Before I go further, I think its important to add that the majority of students I work with are good students. I feel deeply saddened that their education is being dragged down by a small group of terrorists. There are other issues I would like to comment on but much as I would like I realize that it would not be appropriate to do so so I will leave it at that.

So tonight I'm a) frustrated, b) a little sore and c) a little angry. Now I know its probably not the smartest of ideas to blog when you are a) frustrated b) sore and c) a little angry, but I need a small vent. I need to go into the school briefly in the morning to handle some paperwork but otherwise, I plan to take the remainder of the week off to reflect, gather my thoughts and perhaps make some important decisions about my personal and professional future.

Heh, Why Am I Not Surprised

Well I make it no secret that I'm a huge fan of a certain AAA Jr. Bantam goalie down in Ontario. I've been following his progress pretty closely this season as this is his first year on an AAA team. I have to be a bit cautious just because the last couple times I blogged about an upcoming game, his team ended up losing. But given the team's recent progress, I think Uncle Darcy can be permitted to brag just a bit.

So how are things going? Over the last weekend, they played 3 games. Its not often during the season that 3 games are played in such a short span, and fortunately for my sister, it looks like only one of the games was a road game. Anyhow, Cole started in goal for 2 of the games, giving up a goal in a 3-1 win and then getting his 4th shutout two days later with a 3-0 victory. (And what's this I hear about you giving up your little girlfriend to focus on your games? My oh my. I'm sure my sister is breathing easier though.) Anyhow, thanks in part to my nephew's totally awesome goal tending, his team has managed to climb into first place in his division (7 teams in total). The Ontario Minor Hockey League's website shows (and Uncle Darcy unapologetically brags) that the team is now 6-2-2. Only one other team has a record comparable to this. The rest are well back.

So its been a fantastic start to the season. Regardless of where the team finishes they are off to an amazing start and, yeah, I'm just slightly biased. But really, if your nephew's team is giving up, on average, less than 2 goals per game, I'm sure I can be forgiven for walking around with a certain strut and grin the past couple days.

Monday, October 27, 2008

And I Thought That Char Got Chopped!

Well election coverage has just wrapped up. It took some time for the results to come in from the smaller communities. One thing that amazed me was the number of incumbents that went down to defeat. I count 10 new members to the 3rd Legislature. A few cabinet ministers went down to defeat as well. I take all this as a sign that people are looking for change. Speaking of change, I saw that in my own riding of Quttiktuq. Ours was one of the last ridings to report final results but it looks like Ron Elliott has won the seat - by a mere 8 votes. I have to admit I was sweating it out over the last hour so I'm glad I can breathe now. My little sign just might have made a difference. Who knew? The last riding I lived in saw the incumbent returned by just 6 votes. Yikes! At this rate, no politician will want me in their riding. Apparently, I'm a scarier guy than I thought.

Now technically the election process isn't over yet, a couple byelections are still to come and then it will be a few more weeks before a Premier and Cabinet are decided. I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a couple of recounts. But if tonight is any indication, change is definitely in the air.

There's A Newfy In My Genes

Kendra returned from her weekend conference down in Iqaluit and showed up with a nice char that was given to her. Now, it's been awhile since I've chopped up a char but since Monty was working on report cards, I volunteered my services. We were waiting for results from the territorial election to roll in (or at least I was) and I had time to burn. I normally don't take pictures of myself doing something as bland as butchering a fish but, yeah, I was really bored.

Another unsuspecting victim.


Me trying to look like I know what I'm doing...and trying not to cut myself.


Trying to make the insides the outsides...Is it just me or does the top of my head match the colour tone of a char?!


Apocalypse now.


Fish in a baggy...or at least what was left of it.


Kendra takes in the shocking aftermath.


For more scenes of carnage,
CLICK HERE.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Quiet Election

Those of you from outside the territory (which I suspect may be quite a few readers, or at least I hope) could be forgiven for not knowing of tomorrow's election. On Monday Nunavummiut will cast their vote to help select members for the 3rd Legislative Assembly. For the most part, its been a rather muted affair, almost to the point of being comatose. Here in town you would see little of the evidence usually associated with a five-week-long campaign. No door-to-door canvassers, negative campaign ads or election signs, other than my own little sign of course. We have no political parties here so there's none of the hysteria of a carbon tax or being crushed under the jackboots of a Harper majority. Instead, for the most part, real issues are focused on - education, housing, employment, health care, the way it should be.

This is not to say there have not been a few glitches. In Iqaluit Centre there was controversy over whether one of the candidates met the residency requirements under the Election Act. At the moment, her name is off the ballot. In Akulliq riding (the communities of Repulse Bay and Kugaaruk) the race there has been postponed due to a court challenge by a candidate, also over the issue of residency. And in South Baffin (Cape Dorset and Kimmirut) there will be a byelection on November 3 since nobody had announced their candidacy before the deadline date. In two other ridings, candidates were acclaimed. So, tomorrow only 15 of our 19 seats will be decided. Eventually though, once the dust has settled, those elected will meet in Iqaluit to vote on a Premier who will then select a Cabinet of 7-8 ministers. The remaining MLA's function as an opposition. For the most part though all MLA's do their best to work together for the betterment of the territory (federal politicians take note). Of course, the speculation over who will be Nunavut's next Premier has long begun. I have a few ideas myself. Tagak Curley, Iqaluit mayor Elisappe Sheutiapik and current Premier Paul Okalik are names I've heard bandied about through the grapevine.

Much was made over the fact that only 49% of the voting public here actually voted in last week's federal election. The numbers are much better when looking at territorial elections. In the last election in 2004, the voting turnout was something like 93.7%. Here in my own riding the figure was 81%. Two factors likely account for this discrepancy between federal and territorial turn-out, which go hand in hand. There are no political parties so people often end up voting for who they know and since populations are very small up here, the chances of knowing your riding's candidates are excellent. (I'm pleasantly surprised by how many candidate names I know throughout the territory either through meeting them in person or by name.) What are the odds of walking into a Subway restaurant and bumping into an MLA? Or walking down the main thoroughfare of your community while in conversation with, say your principal and the Minister of Education? Both of these have happened to me.

I'll leave the debate over whether the territory should continue with the consensus model or abandon it for the party system for now. I'll cast my vote on my way home from work tomorrow and then tune into the radio later in the evening to catch the results. Finding out the results for my own riding is actually quite simple. I just need to make a phone call.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Yearbook

Last year our principal embarked on a project to create a school yearbook, more like a community yearbook actually. For some reason I remember seeing a copy of a community yearbook from down in Sanikiluaq floating around our school shortly after I transferred here. Interestingly, this is where our principal taught before joining our staff last year. Anyhow, we now have a yearbook of our own. We've had yearbooks in the past but not a fancy-bound one like this.



Looking at this picture, I'm amazed at how much the community has changed already with all the new building going on. Those with good eyes can see the houses of the entire Arctic Bay blogging community (all three of us) in the foreground.


Aside from a few mug shots of yours truly, I contributed a short write up on the history of our town. It (the writing, not the town) actually began life as a blog post from earlier this year. You can find it here.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Situations They Don't Teach You About In Teachers College

I've sat down to do this post a number of times but just can't get the words to come in the manner I want them to. After a great deal of thought I think I have something halfway coherent and thought-out so here goes:

When I started teaching in the North a few years ago now, I knew there would be challenges. Some are easier to deal with than others. At least for me. 24-hour daylight bugging you?? Tinfoil the windows. 24-hour darkness getting to you?? Buy a sunlamp (or borrow your house mate's), take up a hobby, or hey, start a blog. Cold wind cutting through you like a knife?? Dress in layers and suck it up. Rough day in the classroom?? Take some time for reflection, find a healthy way to vent, put the wheels back on and jump right back in.

Two incidents over the past few days have left a pretty big impact on me. I've often been told I wear my heart on my sleeve but in this case, I just can't help it. It's just part of who I am. A couple days ago I sat down on the floor next to a young kid who told me he was deciding whether or not he wanted to hurt himself. This always rings alarm bells. Bluntly put, it's code for "I'm deciding whether or not I should commit suicide." I'm not a trained social worker but I have learned a few things over the years when confronted with issues such as this. I ended up sitting with him for several minutes on the floor outside his class. It was really tough. I remember thinking to myself "I can't leave this kid. I have to keep talking. What the hell do I say?" Here's a kid not much younger than my own nephew and he's all depressed.

After a few minutes I got him around to talking about soccer. He's one of my star players and that helped bring a smile to his face. One thing I've been taught by social workers is to ask the student to make a promise. And that promise is that they won't do anything to hurt themselves. By mentioning they want to hurt themselves, the child is asking for help. Generally though if you ask them to promise not to inflict any harm on them, they will agree under most circumstances. So that is what I did. He made a promise and I let him know I'm always available to talk to. I probably shouldn't comment more on this than I have already but as this story shows, this is not just a Nunavut problem. A call to Mom and the social worker followed. So hopefully, the ball is in motion for some intervention.

The second incident happened the following day. Again, it was outside of my teaching time and outside of my classroom but equally as troubling. A male student was confronting a female student in the hallway and preventing her from going to her class. I see/hear about this stuff more often than you might think - the jealous, controlling boyfriend. Guys like this really are the scum of society. If you think you are so big and tough, why pick on a young girl?? Go beat up Mike Tyson if you think you are trying to impress me. Anyhow, I intervened, was threatened and called a few names. I was told he didn't have to listen to me because, well, I'm not his father. All I remember thinking was "Kid, you have no clue how lucky you are that my stepfather isn't your father right now." Thankfully the confrontation remained verbal. To make a long story short, I called the office and the principal arrived pretty quick to resolve things. In the end Mr. Tough Guy was suspended for his troubles, and hopefully charged as well.

Here's the kicker. The following day the female student comes into my class early, thanks me for getting involved and then, before I can ask her how she is doing, SHE asks ME if I'M okay! Wow, I thought, what a totally selfless question! I was quite touched to say the least. I'm sure there will still be fall-out from this over the next little while so I won't say too much more. I think this was the first case of threatening behaviour toward a female student I've seen in my career. I REALLY REALLY hope it's the last.

And so I did what I could, or at least tried to do the best that I was able in both situations. This is not intended as a dig at any one individual, group or government bureaucracy but I just find at times that supports in these types of situations are sadly lacking. It's well past time someone holding the levers of power put some serious thought into these issues.

For the sake of our kids.

And to end on a brighter note, I received any email a couple days ago that Sport North Territorial Assistance Program has approved funding to cover 90% of my soccer team's travel costs to Baffin Regionals next month.

Score!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Malaise

Nope, I'm not experiencing writers block. There are a few things weighing on my mind at the moment. I just need a few days to figure out how to say it so that I say it in the right way. Sorry to sound enigmatic. But don't worry. I'm not incarcerated, anticipating major surgery, or pregnant.

In the meantime, life chugs along. The sun is up for about 7 hours of the day and so its growing noticeably colder on my morning walk to work (-13C here at the moment.) If the forecast is to be believed, and lord knows it can be pretty finicky, the wind chill is supposed to be something like -25C tomorrow morning. Time to pull out the long underwear.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Random Pictures

Because I have nothing particularly interesting or enlightening tonight, I give you a few pictures from Nunavut Quest 2008 back in the spring.





Monday, October 20, 2008

Graduation 2008

Tonight our school held its graduation ceremony. I am especially proud of our grads. They are to be commended for their hard work and determination. Graduation is tough. Graduating high school in a small isolated community is even tougher given all the extra obstacles that need to be overcome. This graduation was special for me in that this is the first one during my time here where I have taught courses to all of the graduates. It's been a true privilege and pleasure to have worked with these young people and I wish them all the best in their future endeavours.

Graduating class of 2008. We had a total of 5 grads, but one was working down in Iqaluit and unfortunately, couldn't make the ceremony.


The stage is set.


Every graduation starts with the ceremonial lighting of the qulliq (traditional stone lamp). Qaapik, our eldest elder, does the honours.


Our grads.


Our grads on stage.


This art work was made during the recent hip hop workshop I mentioned a few posts back. It reads 'sapiliqtailigit' if I've read my syllabics rights, meaning 'never give up'.


The cake, courtesy of Clare.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mom Would Be Soo Proud

The weather has decided to become pretty foul today, with plenty of blowing snow. In the meantime I've immersed myself in some of my travel books and set about finding a much-needed item. Something I rarely use. The high school graduation is tomorrow night meaning that it will be one of the few occasions I will need to wear a suit here. Once I had one dug out yesterday, I figured my dress shirt was pretty wrinkly - but it was clean at least. Now, I had to set about finding my iron. This is something I rarely if ever use. Actually, I think its only purpose since moving North has been to iron dress shirts on those rare occurrences when I actually wear them. I checked the bathroom under the sink, into the far recesses of my closet and went through several boxes stacked up in my bedroom. I came close to giving up in despair. Finally, last night, I found the iron - buried behind several cans of Irish stew in a kitchen cupboard. Success!

And, even though I haven't used the thing in awhile, I did a pretty good job with the shirt. I did have other shirts I could have worn but the particular shirt I wanted was the only one that went with a certain tie I haven't worn in a long time. It also happened to be the only tie that was actually, well, tied. And I wasn't looking forward to fighting with an untied one. So at least now I will look presentable tomorrow for the big night. Which is a good thing, since I will be handing out a reward at the ceremony.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Politics in the North

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Okay, The Truth Is...

...I've developed an addiction to travel. Or at the very least, an addiction to travel books. I swear by Lonely Planet. They just work best for me and the type of solo adventuring I love. They've been a constant companion the past couple summers, never far from arm's reach. A few weeks back I ordered a few travel books to peruse through the dark season. Some countries will surely become future travel destinations - other books, just a great read. Regardless, I was pretty pumped when my order arrived earlier in the week.

Full Moon

6pm this evening.


The days are growing noticeably shorter now. We haven't yet reached the point of 24-hour darkness and I'm not quite walking to work in the dark but I will be very soon. Because I sometimes get asked about sunrise and sunset times this time of year, here they are -

Sunrise - 0918h
Sunset - 1734h

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Dust Settles

I've seen a few comments on the blogs following last night's federal election. I don't really have anything particularly new or enlightening to add but I thought I'd comment anyway. I was up quite late waiting for the results to come in for our riding here. Nunavut riding spans 3 time zones and communications can be touch and go at times. Plus, it was a very tight race, as I suspected it would be. Political junkie that I am, I just couldn't call it a night without knowing the outcome. Partisanship aside, I feel we had a pretty good slate of candidates to choose from, much better than other ridings I've resided in for previous elections. I'm curious to see how the fact that the 3 territories did the CON/LIB/NDP split will be interpreted by Ottawa - or if they even notice us up here.

It would have been nice to see a larger voter turn out here. Only 49.4% of voters bothered to vote. I'm sure some will use the argument that Leona's win is meaningless given she only garnered something like 2800 votes. But I figure, hey, nationally, her party won 37-38% of the vote which is what all the polls leading up to the election were predicting. Polling samples only involve small numbers of people, after all. I've always been of the mind that if you don't vote you have no right to complain but I can understand the argument that a voter may not like any of the choices on the ballot. Ultimately, though, democracy depends on individuals participating in the process. Really, it would be nice if this number is was higher.

I'm not that surprised the Liberals took Yukon though I did think the margin of victory would be higher. As for Western Arctic riding, I have to admit I was annoyed the NDP'er won. He is a former mayor of Fort Smith where I lived at one point, and though he wasn't mayor when I was there I did know the man a little. Too much of a firebrand complainer for my liking. I'm really glad I don't live there anymore. There's only room for one firebrand complainer per riding -- and I hate competition. :) I was pleased to see that the riding where I grew up also went Tory blue though I honestly thought the race would be a lot closer than it was. It wasn't quite a blowout but it was heading in that direction before the vote counters mercifully ran out of votes to count.

In less than 2 weeks, Nunavummiut will vote again in a territorial election. So cue the music. The sound and dance will soon begin again - this time without the fungus of political parties.

Hungarian Highlights - Part 6 (Eszterhazy Palace)

Link to Part 5

THE highlight of the trip for me was without a doubt, the little day tripper from Sopron out to the Eszterhazy Palace in the small town Fertod. The main building has now been more or less restored to its former glory although some of the outbuildings are still in rough shape. The palace began life as a hunting lodge and then was slowly expanded by the Eszterhazys, a Hungarian noble family in the good graces of the ruling Hapsburgs. When it was completed in the 1766 it was referred to often as the Hungarian Versailles. Maria Theresa, mother-in-law of France's Louis XVI, spent a few nights here. Sadly, it was abandoned in the 19th century when the place was used as a stables. During WWII, it served as a hospital. During communist times, the palace continued to languish since of course restoring the house of a wealthy noble wasn't very high on the communist priority list. But more important to me than all this historical trivia was the fact that the prolific Austrian composer, Joseph Haydn spent the bulk of his professional life here.

Stranger at the gate.


Eszterhazy Palace from the front yard.


A view from the rear garden.


Some of the out buildings are still in rough shape. If I remember correctly, this structure once served as a carriage house.


100+ rooms and I still found the piano.


A little further searching led me to a second one.
The music salon where Haydn premiered his "Farewell" Symphony, in addition to many other fine works.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mark Your "X"

After all the rhetoric and nastiness of the past 5 weeks, it all boils down to an "X". I cast my vote on my way home. Tonight Monty, Kendra and I are having an election party of sorts, just a quiet get-together to view the carnage. We're all glued to the TV, watching the results as they come in. It's a bit raucous at times depending on which way the numbers go but very civil all-round. My apologies if this post comes across as choppy and incoherent. I'm typing this post, watching the TV results and conversing with my colleagues simultaneously and as my mother would tell you, I'm horrid when it comes to multi-tasking.

I've resigned myself to the fact that my party of choice will fall short of a majority but then it doesn't look like any party will reach the magic 155-seat mark. For the first time since I've voted in any election, the person I voted for may actually a) get elected and b) belong to the party in power. This is something I've never had happen so it's nice to feel that in some small way, my vote may actually mean something this time. So we shall see.

In other election news, the territorial one, we had both candidates for our riding in this morning to speak with our high school students. Since all candidates here run as independents, I find the "debates" are more like "discussions" and consequently, they are much more palatable. So in just under two more weeks, residents of Nunavut will head to the polls again.

I love politics, but I have to admit, I will be glad when this is all over.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Little Barge That Could

The offloading of the ship was postponed yesterday due to too much ice along the edge of the bay. I caught a rumour that the ship may have to head to Nanisivik and offload there. But this morning when I looked out, the ship had moved in a little closer to shore and the tug had managed to cut a channel through the ice to get the barges to shore. A bit of a wind and some wave action then helped break up what was left of the ice.



It was also nice to have clear skies and better weather generally so I didn't have to fight my way across the road through a snow squall to get this picture too.

My Union...The Hilarity Continues

I love my union. Really I do. If it wasn't for my union, I actually would have had nothing to post today. They just have this illogical logicalness to them - or is that a logical illogicalness? The plan was to vote on an Inuit Member-at-Large to the Central Executive. Now, you would think that since we are talking electing an Inuk member that the voting forms and other correspondence would be in Inuktitut. That would make sense right? But no its all in English. Add to the mix that the four individuals on the ballot were people most of us had never heard of before and things get interesting. How do you cast a vote when you know nothing about a person, their experience level or their plan. I imagine there are a few other staffs around the territory in this situation too. (Ah, the outcome would be soo meaningful then.)

So what to do? One colleague chose the "eeny-meeny-miney-moe" method. I was debating following the "I know this person and she seems nice" advice but in the end I simply left my ballot and headed off to check my mail. I'm not sure how one can be expected to make a sound decision without good information. But then, passing along information in a timely and efficient manner seems to be a wee bit down the priority list.

Union logic - Let's decide. OK, let's decide how we are going to decide....after we already decided. Okay, better to re-decide instead. How are are going to decide this? Okay, let's decide on that....majority rules? 50% plus one? Let's decide on that. Now, let's decide how we are going to decide....etc, etc, etc..

Sunday, October 12, 2008

There's A Ship In There Somewhere



Ah....there it is.


The last ship of the season arrived today. This is the first time we've had 3 sealift ships...at least in the time I've been here. Not the best of conditions outside at the moment although it seems to have died down a little bit.

On another transportation/supply note. We got our first planes in yesterday - 4 of them, the first flights into Nanisivik in about 10 days. I think a lot of Thanksgiving turkeys showed up today - just in time.

Walrus



This isn't my carving but I really wish I could say it was.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Inuksuk Carvings


I've picked up quite a few nice carvings the past few years. I have to say I'm a bit envious of my housemate who purchased these two inuksuk carvings off a local carver in recent days.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Nunavut Votes 2008 - Quttiktuq Riding

Lost in the bru-ha-ha of the current federal election here and the circus election that appears to be occurring simultaneously down in the United States is the fact that an election campaign is also underway here in Nunavut to elect the territory's 3rd Legislature. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Nunavut uses a consensus-style of government. Elections here, particularly outside of Iqaluit, tend to be a lot more muted. No fancy election signs, publicity stunts or volunteer armies here.

My riding of Quttiktuq takes in the communities of Arctic Bay, Resolute Bay and Grise Fiord, making it the northernmost constituency in the territory. On October 27, voters here will choose between two candidates. I'd like to take a moment and tell you about Ron Elliott, candidate for Quttiktuq riding.**

As this recent article from Nunatsiaq News explains, Ron is running against a well-known incumbent, a cabinet minister no less. But I've always known Ron as a man that takes on challenges. I've known Ron for 3 years. He was one of the first people I met when I transferred here. Ron is very involved with the youth in our community and it shows. He played a big role in bringing in the Hip Hop group that I mentioned in a post from yesterday. He is the commanding officer of our army cadets corps, he's involved with Nunavut Youth Consulting and the CAP (Community Access Program) Site at the college. In the past he's been active on the District Education Authority, the drug and alcohol education committee and the recreation committee. Lately, I've seen him around town teaching driving lessons in his own vehicle. Ron also has a great sense of humor, he's easily approachable and I can't count the number of times I've gone to him seeking advice on how to deal with students at the school or how to approach certain situations that arise. He has been an instructor here at the Nunavut Arctic College campus for the past few years as well. As Ron mentioned to me and as the above-mentioned article also points out, Ron is big on getting out the youth vote, something I also believe in very strongly.

Because our riding includes two other communities and because airfare costs are pretty insane this far north, getting your message out is a big challenge for any candidate in this constituency. With luck the weather will not prevent him from visiting the other two communities before the election rolls around. (We haven't had any flights in or out in about a week now.) So, by a remote chance, if you happen to live in Resolute or Grise Fiord, or have friends or family from there, pass the word: a vote for Ron Elliott is a good choice. Successful or not, Ron will continue to play an important role in our community and I feel privileged to know the man.

**NONE of the information presented here was gained as a result of my employment. I am only discussing my personal acquaintance with the candidate and why I feel he would make a good representative.

Game Night

This is just a special good luck wish to Cole as he gets ready for his game AAA MInor Bantam game tonight against Peterborough. The team has a 3-1-2 record so far in the season. When he has started in goal, my nephew is 2-0-1 with a couple shutouts. Not too shabby. Keep up the great work bud. Uncle Darcy is proud of ya!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Bust A Move, Strike A Pose

Beginning yesterday and continuing through the weekend Arctic Bay will be alive with the sounds of hip hop. The Canadian Floor Masters and Blue Print For Life combine social work and hip hop dancing to reach out to youth. The response from the community has been strong with about 100 young people signed up to learn some dance moves and participate in various workshops. I popped down to the gym a few times yesterday and again this afternoon when I was free. Here are a few pictures from this afternoon.


















Its A Bird...Its A Plane



A strange sight met my eyes last night when I took a peek out the window around 9:30pm. Initially, I thought it was our last sealift of the season. It looked strangely different from other ships I've seen with all the fancy flashing strobe lights. On board are building supplies for the new community hall and some new exterior doors for our school. I've heard a number of different dates so far, the latest being tomorrow, so I just assumed the ship turned up a day early. When I walked out my door for work this morning, the mystery lights had disappeared. "Wow, that was the fastest unload I've ever seen seen," was my first reaction.

Turns out though that the lights were just the new runway lights out at the new airport being tested out. I probably should have clued in to that seeing as the "ship" appeared in the direction of the airport. But as I blogged about last night, my brain was a bit on the slow side.

The latest is that this last ship should arrive tomorrow, which is a good thing since the bay is starting to show signs of freeze up.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Sigh...October...October

October has to be one of my least favorite months. We are losing light at the rate of roughly 15 minutes per day. It also means I am losing sleep. Because the sun rises later and later each day, my brain feels as if it is waking up earlier and earlier when in fact I wake up at pretty much the same time each morning - 6-7am. October is a big transition month. While we won't quite be in 24 hour darkness by the 31st, by that time the sun will barely clear the mountains to the south of us so for all intents and purposes it will be dark most of the time. Its this transition time that always gets me. This is my 6th October in Nunavut so I thought I would be used to this by now. Perhaps in this respect I make a poor Northerner. Once we hit the dark season my circadian rhythm is actually fine. Perhaps this is because I'm more of a night person than a morning person. A short little snooze after work usually straightens me out. I needed one today and it worked wonders.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

What If There Was An Earthquake but Nobody Noticed?

Apparently there was an earthquake early this morning. It was too far away and too deep in the earth to be felt here but such occurrences are not all that unusual from what I have learned. We had an event similar to this a couple years ago if I recall correctly. We don't have major fault zones here along the lines of say the San Andreas Fault in California but there are enough smaller cracks in the earth's crust up here to cause a little shake, rattle and roll from time to time. Helps keep me on my toes.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Liar Liar

I have to admit that the wheels fell off a bit today. A student made some poor decisions which led to a suspension and, a bit later, an RCMP escort. (Sadly ironic is the fact that the court session was due to start here this afternoon in the very gym that the student was escorted out of.) I'm frustrated because although the kid had choices and although I kept giving him chances to the point of absurdity to alter his behaviour, he kept choosing to make bad decisions. Naturally, Mom feels I am a liar and made the point of showing up at the school at the end of the day to tell me just that. (Being screamed at outside the Northern Store on my way home from work isn't a pleasant experience either). I don't like being called a liar. I have better things to do with my time than invent stories. (see FOX news) It's been some time since I've had to deal with such an irate parent and I had quite the streak going - almost to the point where I figured all that sort of silliness was long behind me. Guess not.

I'm a bit frustrated that although I've been here for over 3 years now and I've been on staff longer than any of my other Southern colleagues, I still run into unfortunate situations where some people feel the need to treat you like garbage. I like to think I've earned some brownie points along the way. Obviously for some people its never quite good enough. Just don't show up at my place or work and let loose on me. I extend the same courtesy to you afterall.

I know that I can't be responsible for the decisions other people choose to make. Its just frustrating when people seem to think they can do as they please AND avoid consequences at the same time. I have a great empathy for law enforcement here. I don't make the rules. I may not always agree with the rules but I am still expected, as part of my job, to enforce the rules. That's just life. I'm sure I wasn't always an angel growing up either but really, there comes a point when someone has to take responsibility for their actions, and until that happens, the consequences are usually the same old thing. In the end I don't want to sound like a prison guard or a traffic cop. Work with me and we can accomplish things much more easily instead. :)

(On the brighter side, I'm just waiting to get a quote on some soccer uniforms and then I can go ahead with the order. The boys are going to look pretty sharp this year I tell you. Can't wait to see the snazzy new duds)

Hmmmm.....

Well, I have no idea what this is but apparently my blog is ranked #4. Interesting. Apparently, I must be doing something right.

My Short Acting Career

I dabbled in acting in high school, taking part in a couple high school productions. I never had any dreams of becoming an actor, let alone making it onto television. As luck would have it though, I was able to make the jump from the stage to the small screen, if for only a few brief moments. At the end of my grade 12 year, I managed to get a small acting role of sorts in a tv movie, a 1993 CBC mini-series on the failed Dieppe raid of World War II. Really, I was just an extra, but it was an interesting little experience, to say the least. My high school chum John, who was part of the local reserve regiment, got me interested since his unit was asked to supply extras for the project. Since I was 18 at the time and the school year was just finishing up and since I was casting about for something to do, I jumped at the opportunity.

For a few days in June of 1992, I was down on the beaches of Prince Edward County, south of Belleville, running around in an old wool uniform with a mock weapon in my hands. The film makers got hold of exactly one WWII-era landing craft which I spent some time riding around in. Thankfully the waves out on Lake Ontario were fairly cooperative as I couldn't imagine what it would be like to spent any more time than absolutely necessary pitching about in those flat-bottomed boats. Special effects were later used to make this lone craft appear as a large swarm, storming the beaches Presqu'ile Provincial Park and to add in the cliffs of the town of Dieppe.

The film was shot between Toronto and Presqu'ile throughout that summer and John and I, along with a few other friends waited patiently for the big premiere, in early 1993. I watched patiently all through the landing scenes, hoping to spot myself but to no avail. Much to my delight, I discovered I had about 3 seconds in the spotlight about 5 minutes from the end of the movie. The camera pans the carnage of the beach and there is a brief still-shot of me lying on my back in the hot sun. I could tell it was me by the rather impressive bloody eye injury one of the make-up artists had given me. I had been hoping the editors would use that shot rather than consigning it to the cutting room floor. So that was my few seconds of movie fame. I remember being pretty excited at the time, though part of me also considered that the "dead" soldier with the freaky eye wound was able to get up, walk away and sleep in a comfortable bed that night, unlike the real deal.

Two things about this experience I found quirky -

1. One of the regiments that took part in the fiasco was the Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment, based in Windsor, Ontario, were I was to attend university the following year.

2. I was also in a brief scene where the brains behind the raid, Lord Mountbatten, gave a speech, detailing the coming raid and imploring the men to fight a good fight. Mountbatten was played in the film by Canadian actor Victor Garber, who played a role in the 1997 blockbuster "Titanic". Of course I didn't get a chance to speak with him since I was standing in a huge crowd of extras. But Garber was and is the biggest actor I've come in contact with.

I'll leave the merits of the film to the critics who can, I'm sure, comment much more intelligently than I. (The film is limited in scope and concentrates mostly on the landing on Blue Beach. The film does a good job though, at depicting the life of a regular soldier.) From the perspective of a small-town 18 year old kid, though, it was all a very interesting and unique experience.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

...And A Few More From the Day

Ice by the breakwater


Boats on the bay.


Snow-covered qarmaq (traditional Inuit dwelling) along the shoreline

Sunday Snow

A couple pictures from my afternoon walk around town after we received a few inches of snow yesterday. I have a few more pictures I hope to get up in the very new future when my internet connection decides to cooperate with me.


Saturday, October 04, 2008

Inuit Wildlife Harvesting



Its pretty rare that I get comments on posts older than about 6 days, let alone 6 months. I did, however, find that my blog was getting a number of hits searching for information on the seal hunt as it pertained to traditional Inuit life. I received an email yesterday from a reader in France, I believe, who had read this post from last March. As Megan subsequently commented, it's nice to get a person who is actually interested in this issue and doesn't swear or make death threats. Indeed.


So, I will post this here rather than in the comments section with the hopes that my visitor will discover an answer to her query more easily.


Here is the original comment:

Anonymous said...
Dear Blogger,
just to let you know that we actually have seals in france ! Reaaaaally, many grey seals sunbathing in complete peace and freedom in Bretagne, north west part of France ! Don't worry, not one single critic in my comment, which was more an informative one.
Ok, the purpose of my message was first of all to thank you for your posts on seal hunting. Pretty nice to read your point of view on this. But also for the future borrowing of some of your pictures I will do since I already read that you agree with this!
And last of all, I am going to present something pretty soon about the role of the seals & polar bears in the Inuk culture and to be sure that I get it all about the hunting seal thing in Canada, do you have a local or lets call it traditional seal hunting by Inuit AND a commercial seals hunting by Canadians and/or Inuit. And if you considere that there is clearly two kinds, do you have any information about the proportions of seals cautght in these 2cases.
One more qusetion. An open one... If you had to say anything, inspirated from your feelings, experiences, readings, talks, whatever, about the place of the polar bear in the Inuk culture, what would be your words ?
Thank you for answering and helping, and actually thanks for writting about Nunavut! Nice gift for people so far away from this "land"
Aurore

5:26 PM

Rather than respond right away, I ruminated for awhile. I forwarded the comment to Clare since he has more experience than I do in these matters. The following reply to my visitor's question then, is more Clare's answer than mine.


Aurore,

If you are inquiring as to whether there is a commercial aspect to the Inuit hunt, there is. Some pelts are used locally to make kamiik (seal skin boots), clothing etc.. There really are no "proportions" to distinguish between the two hunts, the commercial hunt is incidental to the other. The complete seal is used for food while others are sold. It is very important to point out that the traditional Inuit hunt is nothing on the scale of the Atlantic commercial that my little Green Peace "buddies" are so fond of showing up at.

The protests of the 1980's severely diminished the revenues Inuit hunters collected from the sale of their harvested pelts. So devastating was this drop that it has yet to fully recover. The same can be said for other fur bearers such as Arctic Fox which were also trapped for income and the main reason for the existence of the Hudson's Bay Company posts up here.

I wasn't quite clear on what information you were looking for in terms of the polar bear. They too, are hunted up here for food and for their pelts which are used to make traditional clothing. As Clare points out, and I can certainly vouch for, they make great pants. Clare also mentioned a story to me about a local young man who raised an orphaned polar bear cub as a pet. It was later released but locals believed it would recognize them out on the land and "visit".

Hope you find this post and find it insightful, Aurore. Come back and visit any time.