Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Qikiqtarjuaq 2003

I found myself looking through a few of my old pictures from Nunavut earlier today and thought I'd share a few from my first year in Qikiqtarjuaq (Broughton Island). I loved taking pictures there since the mountains provided great contrasts of light and dark on the land. I liked how the first few of these pictures turned out considering their age and that they are all scans.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I Can Smell The Hypocrisy Over That Dead Whale Smell

Two groups of stranded whales. Opposite sides of the planet. The reaction to their fate - also diametrically opposed. In both cases, you have Mother Nature taking its course, yet I find it interesting how the two groups of people involved can be treated so differently. When there are beached whales in New Zealand, they are "euthanized". No doubt the would-be rescuers will be seen by some as heroes.

When you have stranded whales in a different part of the world, the people there are demonized even though in this case, the meat from the whales will actually be used for a purpose more noble than scientific research.

On a somewhat related note, I happened across this little gem of a post and smiled.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Christmas Tradition

One thing I've done over the holiday season for as long as I can remember is watching the World Junior Championships. Usually with a combination of luck and skill I can catch the bulk of the games on television. One year found me racing against time to get off my flight in Iqaluit and into my hotel just in time to watch the gold medal match between Canada and Sweden.

This year's tournament will be of interest to me for a couple of reasons. Not only will Canada be playing for a record-breaking 6th consecutive gold medal but the roster boasts 4 players from Windsor Spitfires. As a former Windsorite, I love it. I have to admit I haven't followed all the hype and analysis leading up to the tournament but the teams' one forward line of 3 Spitfires should turn some heads over the next several days. I'd beg, borrow or steal a ride to Saskatoon to catch some live matches if my fiance wouldn't disown me.

I'm happy to see that the 2012 tourney will be played here in Alberta! With luck I'll get down to Edmonton to catch a game with the kids. What a fantastic way to carry on a childhood tradition.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Christmas Wish

I read with interest with how the federal government plans to counter anti-seal hunt propaganda. While it's nice to see the federal government stepping things up I have to wonder whether it might be a little bit too late. My Christmas wish this year is for all these idiotic protest groups to grow and brain, get a life and disappear, especially after hearing about idiocy like this and of course this story from back when I lived in Nunavut.

sigh....what a perfect wish....and what a better world it would be!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Cost Of Change

As with other economically disadvantaged regions of the planet, paying the costs to adapt to climate change will be a challenge for Nunavut. I like to think that all these protesters in Copenhagen, many of whom I'm guessing come from more wealthier nations of the planet, will follow their own advice and help pay for all the changes that they are advocating for. (Sorry for the short post, but I think a flying pig just hit the side of my house.....I must go out and investigate.)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Arctic Bay West Side Community Hall

It's pretty rare that I am able to do a current events update on Arctic Bay since I no longer reside there. Occasionally though, I luck out. During the last few months that I lived there, a new and much-needed community hall was under construction down the hill from my apartment. I am glad to hear news of its completion and only wish I could have been there to see the finished product in person. The facility fills a definite gap in local infrastructure. Recently, the building had its grand opening. The first three photos are courtesy of High Arctic MLA, Ron Elliott.

Here, Ron stands with the Inuujaq School grad (and former student of mine) who won the contest to name the new facility.

The two photos below are exterior shots from this past Spring when the building was still being constructed.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Dave was a real character. His silly jokes and wacky sense of humour never failed to put a smile on my face. (His Elvis impersonations are without equal). I've known Dave for most of my life. When I was much younger, growing up in Campbellford, he dated my mother's younger sister. After awhile, my younger sisters and I began referring to him as Uncle Dave even though technically he wasn't. He was, and remains, the only non-relative I ever addressed by such familial terms. He livened up the house whenever he was around. It never mattered what mood you were in before Dave arrived, after he left you always felt energized and cheery and ready to tackle whatever challenges life would throw at you. I know I sure did. Even after Dave and my aunt parted ways, he remained "Uncle Dave". Dave was a great friend to my parents and was a big part of their wedding. He was just one of those people you grow up around feeling that they will be there forever. Which is why the news that he had passed away from a sudden heart attack early yesterday comes as a great shock.

It's really hard to know what to say......2 weeks to the day before Christmas and his wife Jean and 3 kids are without a husband and father. My thoughts and prayers go out to them during this time.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Inuit Hopeful For Green House Gas Exemption

I read this story yesterday about Inuit wanting an exemption for the Circumpolar World when it comes to cuts to greenhouse gases and wondered why the big kerfuffle. It's not like there are tons of factories and heavily polluting industries up there as there are in other parts of the world.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

A Taste of Seal

I saw this news item on Canadian politicians thumbing their nose at the European Union. I just got off a plane from Peace River earlier this evening so I'm a little more tired than usual. Otherwise I'd be able to comment further. Suffice it say, I had a big smile on my face after reading it though. I got quite the kick out of the one commenter who, in their infinite wisdom, compares seal hunting to bombing babies in Afghanistan. HUH?? Going from the guy's name though, he's an NDP supporter, so I suppose I shouldn't expect his logic to be operating within the realm of reality.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Just Grow A Brain And Apologize Already

In my last post I talked about how the former Premier violated the territory's Integrity Act when he solicited campaign donations from senior staffers during the 2008 election campaign. Now, the Assembly has accepted a report, by a vote of 11-3, calling upon the Premier to apologize or face sanctions of some sort. The story has been reported on by both CBC North and Nunatsiaq News. I can't say I'm surprised at the 3 MLA's who voted against accepting the report. Tagak Curley and Louis Taparjuk are part of Okalik's "Old Boy" Club and James Arvaluk is a convicted felon. How sad that the concept of integrity is lost on a former and a current Education Minister.

An apology would be the right thing to do. Unfortunately, Paul Okalik has too much of an ego for that. I actually laughed out loud when I read Okalik's quote in Nunatsiaq News - "It is a little difficult to follow the laws when they’re being applied after the fact.” This statement is a little hard to figure considering that Okalik was also the Justice Minister. Either he doesn't know his own laws or the man simply too arrogant to care.

Friday, November 27, 2009

And On And On It Goes....

Thirteen months ago, Nunavut held its 3rd territorial election. This was the second of two territorial elections I was present for. I got a sense during the campaign that Nunavummiut were few up with the status quo and silliness of the actions of some of the old crop of MLA's and were hankering for change. Quite a few of the contenders seemed to make the concept of change a part of their campaign runs. Indeed, 10 of the 15 seats for which elections were held were won by first-time MLA's. People were hopeful. Change seemed to be in the air.

And for awhile, things seemed to be going better. A new crop of MLA's a new Cabinet and a new Premier. Then there is a news item involving former Premier (and current MLA) Paul Okalik violating the Integrity Act by soliciting donations from deputy ministers during the 2008 campaign. According to the Nunatsiaq News article on this same story, Okalik doesn't care. Then two stories of problems with alcohol, the first involving the Member from Baker Lake and the second involving the Member from Pangnirtung. At least Komoartak had sense enough to address the Assembly over his actions and express regret. But still....I was hopeful a corner had been turned, that integrity and trust would soon be restored. Sadly, this current crop of MLA's seems to be reverting back to old ways.

And don't even get me going on the current MLA from Pond Inlet James Arvaluk,who was forced to resign his seat twice in the past (1995 and 2003) due to criminal charges and spent time in jail. Yes, as a former teacher in the Nunavut education system, it gave me such a great feeling to know that the guy at the top of the education hierarchy, my ultimate "boss" beat his girlfriend giving her nerve damage and was incarcerated for 9 months.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

What A Waste

It's a bit dated now, but a recent edition of Maclean's caught my attention and it wasn't on account of Canadian university rankings. Rather it was this article that caught my attention. Pretty interesting when you consider how bent out of shape some animal rights activists get over Inuit hunting seals.

"...bureaucrats in Brussels have cooked up laws to ensure that all EU citizens are eating fruit and veggies of the same shape and size." Always a good reason to resort to food wastage while a great number starve. Speaking of sheer stupidity, I don't even know where to begin with this pathetic story.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Year Of The Inuit

It was with great interest that I read about Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Mary Simon's aims to create greater awareness of Inuit issues now that 2010 has been declared the Year of the Inuit. And why should 2010 be declared the Year of the Inuit? Because Southern consciousness of Canada's North must be broadened beyond issues regarding the construction of pipelines, tales of lost explorers, resources development, fights over the Northwest Passage and issues involving sovereignty. True, these issues are important (the last 3 especially so in recent years) but if you don't have a true North strong and free in terms of its human resources and capital then you don't have much.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Kugluktuk Grizzlies, The Movie?

I was actually looking for some information on another topic I was going to blog about when I came across this interesting little article from Maclean's Magazine. I don't have a subscription to it but I do hope to get a hard copy of it so I can read up some more on the aforementioned story. I've never been to the community of Kugluktuk although I did once work with a colleague who had spent some time there. (Plus, I "know" a blogger that used to live there too. Hi Kara!) Having taught in Nunavut for a few years, I've heard some great things about the Kugluktuk Grizzlies, their activities and goals. I've lost count of the number of times I opened a newspaper to read about one of their sports teams winning a medal at an indoor soccer or basketball tournament. I had the privilege to meet a few Kugluktuk students a couple years ago at a badminton tournament in Rankin Inlet and they were a great group of kids to chat with. So sure, I'm biased as hell, but I like to think a movie would be a fantastic idea. Nunavut-based movies aren't as far-fetched as you might think with Inuit-owned Isuma Productions award-winning films in recent years.

Go Grizzlies, Go!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Oh My God!

Generally, I have a low opinion of politicians but bravo to all Canadian MPs who partake of the seal meat on the menu of the Parliamentary restaurant. It's refreshing to see our elected officials supporting the little guy at times other than election times. I'm sure a few animal rights people and Euro trash politicians are freaking out at the notion but hey, I don't tell you what you should or shouldn't eat.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Good Doctor

When I saw a headline about a long-time Northern doctor having passed away I had a feeling it might be Dr. Otto Schaefer and when I clicked on the link it was to discover that the good doctor had passed away. I first became familiar with the man and his work through the book Sunrise Over Pangnirtung. For a number of years now, I've kept a little mental list of northerners I'd love to meet over coffee and Dr. Schaefer was definitely on that list. The closest connection I have to the man is through a chance meeting a few years ago with the grandson of his Inuk assistant Etuangat.

The North is full of people who move up from the urban South for a short while before retreating to sunnier climes. Dr. Schaefer was a welcome exception. For this, and for a life dedicated to improved the lives of his fellow human beings, the man has my utmost respect.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Oh Wow! An Exemption!

So the EU wants to ban Canadian seal products effective August 2010. Oh, but don't worry. They'll make an exemption for indigenous hunters. Yeah, that will work. And its not just now that seal pelts are going unsold. I remember full well hearing from members of Arctic Bay's Hunter's and Trappers Organization last year that there were similar problems at the Fur Harvesters auction. I wish I could say that if the European nanny-state wishes to dictate to its own people which products they should or shouldn't have access to then that is their right. But I can't. Simply put, what they are doing is ILLEGAL.

And please don't persist in this fiction that some sort of feel good exemption is going to make an ounce of difference to seal hunters in Nunavut. It won't. Given that this is Remembrance Day, I find this move especially annoying. Give me a break France. Canadians, including many Aboriginal Canadians fought for you guys to bail you out......twice. And to the thoughtless jerk who left me a comment a few months back comparing Inuit culture to Nazism, hey even some French collaborated with the Nazis. Guess it takes one to know one, huh?

A few days ago I watched a show on tv in which Bordeaux wine producers were whining about increased international competition and the accompanying drop in sales. Bordeaux is know the world over. Imagine if a number of countries unilaterally decided to stop buying your wine. Not that they'd be missing much. Personally, I'd much rather settle down with a nice big red from Chile, the US or Australia. (Australian Cab. Sauvignon is especially nice for a steak dinner after which you plan to propose I should add.)

Sorry for the mini-rant. Back to the original topic. The hunt is sustainable. Period. It is an activity that has been taking place for several centuries. The seals are not going to simply disappear. Seals are not all cute and fuzzy. Actually, I find their smell a tad nauseous. The EU likes to think it is some sort of Arctic entity yet they show through their actions that they are completely ignorant of northern realities. I would challenge any of these so-called politicians who are so concerned about the stability of the hunt to name one species the Inuit have hunted to extinction. Just one.

An exemption for the indigenous hunt? Whoopee!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Miss The Views

Having now moved to a land of forests I have to admit to sometimes missing the wide open spaces of Nunavut.....and the views that seem at times to go on forever.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Glad This Turned Out Okay

While its easy to romanticize about the North, there is an alternate reality. One that is much harsher. Certainly I am guilty of waxing poetic about Nunavut....its extreme temperatures and its rugged landscape. I've had my share of close calls out on the land I know a few others who have shared their stories of getting into tough situations. It doesn't take much to get you into trouble up there. The weather and the land can be highly unpredictable. I know even the most experienced of hunters have found themselves in a tough situation despite careful and calculated preparations. Consider what this kid went through.

I had an opportunity a couple years ago to meet a few youth from Coral Harbour when I was attending a badminton tournament in Rankin Inlet. Fantastic representatives for the community. Maybe the young lad in this story was there or maybe he was a friend of someone who was there. Who knows. All I'll say is that whoever this kid is, he deserves a lot of credit. (I know what I would have done had I been in the same situation, smack in the heart of polar bear country and it wouldn't be pretty). Nunavut youth get a lot of flak for many different reasons. But here's a kid who's survived an ordeal that would have killed a big city kid.

Hats off to the lad!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


It took me a little longer than expected but with this post I reach a milestone, one I never thought I'd see when I started this humble adventure several months ago. Yes, I've reached 900 posts! Who knew? I plan to keep the blog going with updates, perhaps not as frequently as I was once able to but now that I've reached 900, one thousand posts looks just oh so tempting. Thank you to everyone for stopping by.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

A Thank You To The Anti-Seal Crowd

Generally, I savage the anti-sealing nut jobs on my blog. Given the length of time I've spent in the North, and in Nunavut in particular, this is no big shock. Having come home from work and read this story though, I have to say a big thank you to these morons. Thank you for helping bring the MP's folder to national attention. They really do make great gifts. And you help support Nunavut sealers and their growing economy as well. EU politicians really need to get off their high horses and get one. I might even start buying their (slightly inferior to Canadian) wine again as a goodwill gesture.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Taking On The European Union

Coming as it does on the heels of my last post, I was pleased to read that Canada is challenging the European Union's seal ban at the World Trade Organization. If the Europeans were really that clued in to the Arctic, its people and its wildlife as they think they are then they would surely realize that A) seals are, if not the most, than certainly one of the most, numerous animals north of the Arctic Circle and B) proposed exemptions for Inuit subsistence hunting are meaningless and a complete joke. Honestly, can they name a single Arctic species that the Inuit have hunted to extinction?

Norway is both a European nation and a circumpolar nation and they purchase a large percentage of Canadian-harvested seal skins. Something in the order of 80% if I'm not mistaken. Frankly if I was an EU politician from France or Germany I would find this a tad embarrassing. Perhaps Norway understands something the French and Germans do not. So much for some sort of European solidarity. Please, stay in France and eat your pate de fois gras or stay in Germany and eat your wild boars. Do your bull-fighting in Spain and stick to your English fox hunts. Don't continue in the fiction that THOSE little activities long longer exist in your countries while taking shots at ours. Hypocrites!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Apparently, EU Politicians Failed Geography Class

I'm sorry, but when I read this little article I just had to laugh. "The EU is an Arctic entity." This according to EU rep. Fernando Garces. Presumably, this guy is from either Spain or know, those little European Arctic countries on the Iberian Peninsula. Austria..I've been through it, not Arctic. Ditto Belgium and Czech Republic. Italy and Greece? Definitely more Mediterranean than Arctic. Hungary...been there. In case European leaders are unaware, its a completely land-locked country...and no where near the Arctic or its waters. The EU IS NOT an Arctic entity, although they are very good at trying to weasel in and dictate to Northerners here in this country with all their ill-thought-out bans on everything from seal to polar bear products.

Let's see here....the European Union, as of 2007, has 27 member nations. And exactly how many of them could be termed "Arctic Nations"? Well, if you consider the circumpolar world as the land lying North of the 60th degree of latitude, then, sorry Europe, only two member nations meet this criteria: Sweden and Finland. And even then, both of these nations have territory lying south of 60 degrees North. I suppose I could include Denmark as the territory of Greenland most certainly can be classified as "Arctic", but Greenland withdrew from the organization in 1985. So much for solidarity.

The simple truth is that since the countries of Europe first became aware of the Arctic, their interests have been dictated by profit, exploitation and greed rather than any real altruistic tendencies. When it comes to the Canadian Arctic in particular, the EU's policies have shown nothing more than ignorance, selfishness and dare I say, outright racism. While Canada is far from perfect when it comes to our own portion of the Arctic, I like to think we have a better understanding than some politician from Slovakia or Malta.

I'm really sorry, EU. but if you really truly believe you are some some sort of Arctic entity, you need to go back to your high school geography classes.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bomb Threat

I'd be interested in hearing back from any Iqaluit bloggers after catching wind of bomb threat at a city hotel. The story caught my attention for two reasons. First, this is the first time I've heard of a situation quite like this. I could be wrong since I never lived in Iqaluit during my time in Nunavut, although I went through the place many times of course. I'd like to think that a story like this is simply something you file under the category of "weird news" rather than something more sinister. Someone's stupid prank I'm sure. To my knowledge, Iqaluit doesn't get that many bomb threats over the course of a year. I recall an incident a few years back where the high school was evacuated after some twit started a small fire in a bathroom stall.

The second reason the story caught my attention is that I stayed at this very hotel several times since it was built when over-nighting in Iqaluit. I'll keep my nose to the ground and see if anything else happens with this story. Likely just someone with too much free time on their hand. A bomb threat in Iqaluit is like a bomb threat against the bridge in Campbellford, Ontario where I grew up - it catches your attention but the odds of it being anything more than a threat are quite small.

The Great Womanizer And A Great Theatre

This post really has nothing to do with the Arctic but I thought I'd do it anyway simply because of my interest in music. Today marks the anniversary of the premiere of Mozart's opera Don Giovanni. Not only was Don Giovanni my first opera experience but I had the opportunity to see it in the very theatre where it was premiered in Prague. While Don Giovanni isn't my favorite Mozart opera (that distinction would go to Die Zauberflote), I found myself in Prague a couple summers ago and simply couldn't pass up the opportunity to see a performance. Only a pending train trip to Brussels prevented me from a second viewing.

The Estates Theatre is a real gem. It's original appearance has changed very little since its construction and to my knowledge, it is the only remaining theatre left standing where Mozart performed. I went all out with my ticket, getting a box seat just one balcony over from where Emperor Leopold II would have sat. For one evening the history bug in me was well satiated as I was transported back to another place and time.

All in all a fantastic way to spend a midsummer's eve.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Big "To Do" List

I keep a "to do" list handy in my day planner. Nothing fancy...usually just a sticky note (my work place seems to have a healthy supply on hand) with all the day's priorities in need of attention. For the most part, I'm good at keeping on top of things. I've only been behind because I moved and changed employment over the summer so there were times when I thought my "to do" list would never end. I suspect I'm not alone in this regard though.

A week ago I mentioned that the Government of Nunavut had undertaken a review of how things were working (or not working) now that the territory is 10 years old. Since I'm still on my old MLA's mailing list, I received a copy of the press release in my inbox this morning along with a link to an article from Nunatsiaq News which I've copied and pasted below.

The GN has quite the "to do " list on its plate. It makes my little lists pale in comparison. I wish them all the best. They have a formidable task ahead of them.

Nunavut MLAs flesh out the GN’s to-do list

“It’s never been done like this before”

Nunavut MLAs emerged Oct. 26 from a week’s worth of full caucus meetings to announce the priorities that will soon form the basis of a detailed action plan for the Government of Nunavut.
“It’s never been done like this before — we could have done it with cabinet only but it was critical to get input from all our members, ” Premier Eva Aariak said.
Between Oct. 20 and Oct. 23, regular MLAs and cabinet ministers sat down to study the recently-released Qanukkanniq Report Card to help them figure out how to carry out the Tamapta mandate statement they issued this past April 1.
Aariak said the exercise was a “historical” process that now allows her government to move forward with a program that comes directly from the people of Nunavut.
In a statement released Oct. 26, MLAs say they agreed to be guided by three core principles: self-reliance, open communication, and service to the public.
Then they set out a list of tasks to be done over the three-year period between now and the next election:
• ensure the government fully implements the new Education Act, Official Languages Act and Inuit Language Protection Act;
• develop strategies to combat poverty and increase the supply of housing;
• review the public housing rent scale and the income support program to remove disincentives to entering the workforce and help income support recipients gain skills;
• do a “functional review” of decentralization;
• introduce a new Child and Family Services Act within the life of the current legislative assembly;
• create “an independent position to represent and articulate the needs of children and youth;”
• introduce a new Liquor Act;
• strengthen the performance of the education system and create more daycare options for parents;
• improve the basic tools available to government employees to improve service to the public, including the GN’s financial, human resources, business planning and communications services;
• improve business climate by fostering better alternative energy, transportation and telecommunications;
• continued support for meeting the objectives of Article 23, while fixing capacity and performance gaps in the civil service and remaining committed to “a training culture that seeks to build a service-oriented, professional and culturally respectful service.”
Aariak said MLAs reached “full consensus” on most of the issues they discussed, and that no members were surprised by the findings of the Qanukkanniq team.
“One of the arguments I heard was ‘why are doing this, we know this already,” Aariak said.
She said the next step will be the production of a detailed action plan based on the consensus that MLAs reached last week.
To that end, Nunavut deputy ministers began meeting on the morning of Oct. 26 to create the action plan and to co-ordinate that work with planning related to the GN’s budget and departmental business plans.
“They now have clear direction from the government,” Aariak said.
In social policy, MLAs appear to agree there are limits to what government can do.
“Government programs and services play an important role in the life of our territory. However, members of the Legislative Assembly recognized that is ultimately healthy families and communities that provide a truly sustainable foundation for building our children’s future,” Akulliq MLA John Ningark, the chair of the full caucus, said in the Oct. 26 assembly release.
MLAs also reaffirmed their belief in the future of Nunavut by reiterating the “declaration of confidence” contained in the Tamapta mandate document: “We believe in Nunavut. We have hope for its vibrant future, built by our people pursuing their dreams.”

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Small World

And now for a little lighter fare. While out furniture shopping not too long ago in Lac La Biche I bumped into a person from Fort Smith, where I started my teaching career. I mentioned that me and my girlfriend were new to the area and that I had worked all over the north. When he asked for some specific places, I rattled off a few. He stopped me when I mentioned Fort Smith. Turns out the salesman had spent some time there as an assistant manager of the Northern Store and our tenures roughly overlapped. I actually knew the manager there quite well as I had his son in my class. I worked with the manager's wife at the high school and at the end of the year we ended up moving on to other places with our careers.

This was the first time I had met someone from so far back in my career. Not only did I buy a nice living room set but we a good deal of time catching up on things. One of the things that continues to fascinate me about the North is that even though it is quite large geographically, people-wise there is a level of intimacy and camaraderie that you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah...I Smell A Photo Op

While I was out for lunch with the family, I happened upon a copy of the Edmonton Sun with a story about Pamela Anderson flapping her gums, and other assets, over the seal hunt. I considered blogging about the article but didn't have an online version of the story until a cousin of mine passed one along to me via Facebook this afternoon.

I mean honestly, does anyone believe this bimbo has anything productive to say? Note to Pamela Anderson....clue're the embarrassment to Canada. You support an organization that claims it has nothing against subsistence hunting in the North but the very actions that people like this support are hampering good people from making a living. If you really cared about Canada, you would care about all Canadians....not just the rich turds that live in Hollywood or Vancouver.

Yoo hoo, Pamela, clue in.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Much To Be Done

Shortly after Nunavut's last territorial election (roughly a year ago), the new Premier, Eva Aariak, promised a review of how the government was serving (or not serving) Nunavummiut. Unfortunately, I left the territory before this report was released but came across this Globe and Mail article this afternoon.
As Townie Bastard mentions, ignore the comments section of the Globe article. I always find the comments section tells you more about the ignorance of the person making the comment than it does about the actual issues involved. I won't comment much other than to say that Education, Employment, Housing and Mental Health services should be priorities. Cutting down on government sloth and largesse would also be nice. It took a ridiculous amount of time before the Education Department was able to fulfill a request to forward some work-related information I needed on to my new employer in Alberta.

For those with a political bent, you can read through the report's recommendations here.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

MLA Blasts "Social Passing" Policy in N.W.T.

As an educator, this CBC story about social passing caught my attention. Having taught in 3 provinces and 2 territories over the course of my career this is phenomenon is definitely not unique to the Northwest Territories. All I can say is that in my experience, "social passing" simply doesn't work. I've seen no real evidence of it and proponents of it always give the same old tired line of how its best for the student to be with their peers rather than being held back. They claim there is research advocating "social passing" as the best option but never cite the research.

I won't say anything further other than education works best when you have teachers, parents and students working together. Clearly, in many educational districts across this country, we are a long way from this ideal.

Animal Rights Activist....Yeesh

You know, I truly don't get the logic of some people. Long time readers of this blog will know I am no friend of animal rights militants. This post doesn't change this. Hunting polar bears is wrong according to these people. BUT within 10 years, the Arctic will be ice free. Seems to me the bigger threat isn't hunting but habitat loss. But they want to end the polar bear trade, and by extension, polar bear hunting. Makes perfect sense to me.

I seriously doubt the polar bear population will be gone in a decade. In fact, there are many elders and much traditional knowledge to support the argument that populations are stable. A ban makes no sense. I've mentioned in the past how these bans only serve to devastate the economies of small Arctic communities. For the people who whine about Nunavut (or any other small community with a predominantly subsistence economy) being unsustainable, keep this in mind if you support these animal rights activists. Hey, it's okay to take a side. Just try to be consistent in your logic.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I Think I'll Have The Chicken

Combing the internet for some northern news, I came across this story of a turkey I'd rather not bite into. I'd like to think that this news item is something quirky - the kind that falls under the category of "weird news". Having spent 4 years in Arctic Bay, the community mentioned in this story, I can vouch that, sadly, this is a reality when it comes to the costs of food prices. The outlandish costs of food are something that I've blogged out before.

As suspected, Stage Left also picked up on the story.

For anyone thinking "boo hoo, those little northern places aren't sustainable anyway so really, they shouldn't get all up in arms over this", I would simply ask this - Are larger communities any more sustainable? How much money did government hand out when major corporations and banks failed as the economy bottomed out over the past year? Something tells me that this amount pales in comparison to the money Northern communities receive.

In the end, what this really boils down to, is not a question of sustainability, but rather a question of social justice. I hope politicians of all stripes bear this in mind as they sit down to a nice (presumably much less expensive) turkey dinner this evening.

Sunday, October 04, 2009


Since I began blogging in Nunavut, I've seen some good blogs come and go. A few blogs I used to read religiously have left the territory and I try to keep up with them as much as I'm able to. It seems my own little blog is dying a slow death given the time restraints I find myself under with the new not being in Nunavut anymore, I find myself a little out of the loop as to goings-on around the territory.

Nevertheless, I thought I'd mention a few new Nunavut blogs I've happened across, courtesy of Townie Bastard. Check them out if you wish.

Northernbound Nurse, blogging out of Arviat.

The Arctic Post, blogging out of Chesterfield Inlet.

Newbie in the North and Pangnirtung Bound, both blogging from the very scenic community of Pangnirtung, and well worth a trip there if you ever get the chance to do it, I might add.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wow! The Government Moves

After a lot of talk it's nice to see the government taking steps to include the North within the rest of Canada. The formation of a Northern reserve unit may be a small step, but one that is, in my opinion long overdue.

Having a Northern reserve unit is just plain common sense. Canada is a huge chunk of territory so it helps to have "men in the field" so to speak. It also, in a small way, integrates the North into the rest of Canada. It helps make the North equal partners with Canada. It's only a small part of a plan but a plan that has been sorely lacking for sometime.

News flash: The North was militarized long ago. Just look up the building of the Alaska highway or the construction of the DEW Line. The new unit will help support and gain knowledge from the Canadian Rangers, provide support for northern cadet corps, boost our search and rescue capabilities, aid with emergency disaster relief and many other things. Yes, it's only 100 soldier we're talking about here, a mere drop in the bucket compared to what other circumpolar nations like Norway and Russia have in their Northern regions. But it's a start.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Up All Night In Iqaluit

I first heard of this story a couple days ago and meant to comment on it but moving preparations got in the way. And there's a lot going on this story and I wanted to give it some thought. Having spent some time in Nunavut and having worked with young people, I can appreciate first hand that Nunavut lacks social workers. Having met and talked to a number of social workers I can tell you that they do a good job. The problem is that more often than not, they are working in isolation (particularly in the smaller communities) with very limited resources. Really, I tip my hat to them. I don't know how they handle it. I know I couldn't.

While more social workers and other such front line workers would be a definite help, I think a large part of it ultimately boils down to good parenting. I know this might not be a popular opinion in this day and age where people offer up any number of possibilities to explain society's shortcomings. Don't be the child's friend. Be a parent.

I should also like to add that with Nunavut we're talking about a population of a little over 30 000. Things stand out in a small population. It's hard to be anonymous. Problems with kids on the street can be found in any major Canadian city. They just tend to be more noticeable in the North.

I'm not saying this is the case here by any means, but in some instances, the street can be a better place than some households. If any good can come of all this I hope its that people and governments at all levels are more aware of the challenges and the problems. Perhaps rather than simply building careers, politician and bureaucrats will focus more on building a strong territory. Perhaps parents will be parents.

I know this post is a little scatter-brained and perhaps a little contradictory, but I just wanted to add my two cents. And I'm a little distracted here too. We're packing up to start our drive across the country tomorrow...and I should set this computer down and check and see where the kids are.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Make Sure to Stop on By

In case you've been dropping by, or if you're a new reader, and wonder where I've disappeared to I invite you to drop by and visit my new blog, Northland Adventures I hope to update the new blog on a regular basis after my big move to Alberta. I also plan on keeping this blog going as best I can. I will use "Way Way Up" to comment on Northern\Arctic issues as well as to offer my reflections on 6 years of teaching in Nunavut, a very unique part of Canada indeed.

So stay tuned....

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Top 10 Nunavut Experiences no particular order...and really this only just begins to scratch the surface of all the amazing experiences of the past 6 years.

1. Fantastic scenery

2. Kumaq...for breakfast!

3. The Majestic Icebergs

4. Fishing Derby at Ikpikittuarjuk

5. Fox-5 DEW Line Site

6. Polar Bear Dip!!!

7. Nunavut Quest Dogteam Races

8. August snow storm

9. Gold medals for soccer

10. Polar Bear in Resolute

Monday, August 10, 2009

Just Asking

Not to stir the pot or anything (you know I'm not one to do that) but I'm just curious here. I wonder why I didn't see any animal rights protesters the other day when I visited the Brockville Rib Fest*. They sure had a lot of ribs on the go. You could get them from quite a few vendors cooked over wood or charcoal and with many different sauces. My girlfriend and I got to wondering how many pigs met their end in order to satisfy demand. I'm sure it had to be quite a few judging by how long we had to wait in line to place our order. Yet, not one protester to be seen.

Meanwhile, during my time in Nunavut, my neighbors and many local acquaintances sustainably harvested a few seals every week and the animal rights' activists go bazurk. I don't get it. Surely pigs are just a cute and cuddly as seals. I mean really, come on now.

*For the record, it was my first time at Brockville's Rib Fest and I highly recommend this annual event to the serious rib connoisseur. It's definitely worth the long line ups.

Thursday, August 06, 2009


Normally when I accept a teaching position in a new community I head to the internet to dig up any bit of information I can find. This was particularly important this time around since I will not be moving to alone and we will have children of our own in the school system. So far, my findings have been a bit thin but I've been in situations like this before. Chard is a tiny community of around 400 and most searches I've done have led me to pictures of a green leafy plant. Apparently, chard is some type of vegetable. (Red stems AND yellow stems.....mmm...looks tasty.)

After 9 years of teaching in small, northern communities I like to think I do a pretty good job at getting a good feel for a place. I have a realistic view of what things are like "on the ground" and for the most part, I've managed to avoid unexpected surprises. Anyhow, all this is just a long-winded way of saying that for anyone interested in where we are heading, I've found some helpful information about my new school, Father R. Perin School, on the school board's web site. Since Chard/Janvier doesn't have a Wikipedia page yet (sigh), a little more information about my new community can be found here.

For anyone wondering (since I've been asked a couple times already), Father R. Perin School is not a Catholic school though the name suggests it. It's a public school although interestingly, it is named for a Catholic minister.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sarah MacLachlan Sucks

Well, I eluded to animal rights nuts in my last post and this article naturally got my blood boiling so I thought I'd have at it again. And yes, I realize this is old news but long-time readers and those who know me know that I take no prisoners on this issue. I really don't care how famous a person is or what organization they purport to represent. I recall back on Canada Day catching a short CBC interview with Sarah MacLachlan prior to her performing on Parliament Hill. MacLachlan sported a yellow t-shirt picturing the face of a baby seal. When the interviewer questioned her on it she responded by saying that she was wearing it to protest the seal hunt. According to her enlightened view, the hunt is cruel and barbaric and should be stopped.

Nice. So because some "famous person" says something shouldn't happen then that makes it so? Give me a break! What makes her think that she is anymore enlightened on the issue of the seal hunt than any of these other hippy protesters? So other than your feelings, Sarah, do you have any proof or facts to back up your stance? So you just demonstrated on tv that you have nothing of substance, that you appeal only to emotion. Hardly an original tactic. I'm very sorry to have to tell you this but in the natural world when something eats, something else has died. Pure and simple. And this includes plant life as well, not just animals.

As the interviewer pointed out just before asking her about her choice of t-shirt, MacLachlan hasn't put out an album in 6 years. I would respectfully suggest she focus on what she knows and avoid what she only thinks she knows about. Get back to me when you can formulate an argument that doesn't focus on a knee-jerk emotional reaction to a way of life important to Northerners.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Food Security

I intended to do a write-up on the issue of food security awhile ago. A newspaper article I read during my flight down from Iqaluit a little over a week ago caught my attention and I was reminded to finish up my intended post after a trip to a grocery store here in Brockville a couple days back. During the shopping trip I was floored by the amount of food choices in just one store. I quipped to Lisa that I could easily spend an hour in the bread section alone trying to decide what kind of bread I'd like for sandwiches. Humour aside, I have to admit to being a little overwhelmed by it all at first. And it wasn't just the selection that amazed me of course, but also the prices - substantially cheaper than the prices you'd find in small Nunavut communities. Long time readers of my blog (or anyone randomly searching through any of the Nunavut blogs on my sidebar) will no doubt find a mention of some of the crazy food prices there.

Here is the original article I read, referencing the Qanuippitali Inuit Health Survey - Half of Nunavut's Children Go Hungry.

As if to drive home the seriousness of the issue, I came across another article on this issue earlier this evening -
Seven in 10 Nunavut Families Go Hungry

For the sake of balance, people need to take responsibility for their actions. Lifestyle choices play an important role as this article illustrates. I'm not out to make policy or dictate how people should live their lives. In some ways I offer this post up as a rebuttal to the animal rights activists who put forth the facile argument that Inuit should just consume store-bought goods rather than harvest country foods. I know for myself that, even with sea lift orders and food mail, I'm finding it much easier (and less stressful on the wallet) to eat healthy now than I did just a couple weeks ago.

I wonder how many people entering a grocery store in an average southern urban centre realize just how good they have it when it comes to food availability.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Way Way Up...The Book?

Before Way Way Up, I kept a diary. I started it late in my rookie year of teaching to record my experiences and to help me reflect and cope during the rough days. And I was pretty consistent with it. I kept it for about 4 years and still managed to write in it occasionally after I started blogging. Gradually though, despite my best efforts, I found it easier to record my Nunavut experiences on my blog so my off-line diary petered out. So, in addition to my blog, I have plenty of little anecdotes down on paper from my pre-Nunavut days.

All this is to day that it was suggested to me some time ago, that I might consider one day turning my blog and diary notes into a book. So who knows? I wrote out a bunch of stuff long-hand awhile back and would gladly re-visit it if it wasn't packed up in a box somewhere between Nanisivik, Nunavut and Brockville, Ontario at the moment. I'm turning the idea over in my mind and haven't reached any firm decisions yet. But the idea of someday having a book appeals to me more and more. Who know? I suppose we'll see. I think I may have come up with a title already...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Final Flurry

My last day in Nunavut (this past Monday) was pretty crazy but I managed to get all my last running around done (you can relive my angst here and here if you wish)....and there was a lot to get done and yes a lot of running (at times literally). The workout went something like this - start one last load of laundry; go to Post Office at the Northern Store, little ticket maker thingy still broke so I can't mail the rest of my boxes...BUT it is being worked on; pick up mail...oh look the package from my new school board is here....yay! Oh bills came!; go to Housing Office to remind them of my checkout inspection that was supposed to be 2 hours earlier; am told they will be by "shortly"; go to Hamlet Office an close my water/sewage account; run home to wait for the Post Office to call to tell me I can get my stuff sent; open package from new board; freak out over all the paper work needing to be done; curse inability to get anything done; pace apartment; take a deep breath; finish up with laundry; go to RCMP for criminal record check for my new board....yay! something accomplished finally; go back to Hamlet Office to pay my last bill; go back to Housing office and simply sign a form to complete check out for my unit; reassured that a note will be sent to the Power Corp. to transfer power costs from myself back to Housing as of my check out date; run back home; Post Office calls; pray for a miracle; miracle answered; head down to Post Office to finish paying for the rest of my personal effects to be sent out; briefly consider setting it (my personal effects not the Post Office) alight considering all the grief its given me; exercise restraint; head home in a daze that I managed to get my stuff sent off and not have to re-schedule my flight out thereby condemning myself to a few more nights in an empty, foodless apartment.

...and for the record, I am pretty organized, even organized to a fault. Just trying to juggle so many balls and work with a bunch of different people simultaneously threw me for a loop at times and I sure much of my stress was self-imposed.

I recalled afterward that when I first moved to Nunavut from Saskatchewan I was in a similar situation, cutting it close and getting my stuff sent off and then hopping a small plane less than an hour later. Monday was deja-vu. So at least I'm consistent.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

On My Way

If all goes according to plan, I should be flying out of Nanisivik this morning for the final time.* Interestingly, it is 6 years to the day when I made my first flight up to Nunavut. It's been quite the adventure and a life experience few get to have. There is much more I plan to say but I will leave that for now. At the moment, I look forward to spending time taking a well-needed break in Ontario.


*If not then we'll all find out in a few more days since I am writing this up head of time (Saturday) and I had to return my modem on Sunday.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

From The Archives

Rather than bore you with my current plight I thought I'd dig back into the vault and pull out a few pictures of the St. George Society Cliffs. These pictures were taken about three years ago I believe.

Impressive views from 600 feet up.

The craggy finger of land is Holy Cross Point which separates Arctic Bay the water (left) from Adams Sound, on the right.

This was about as close to the edge as I was willing to get.

Can you spot the skidoo?

Friday, July 17, 2009

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

The title pretty much sums up events of the past couple days. I'm fast learning that moving out of Nunavut can be just as challenging as moving in to Nunavut. I've managed to get all of my boxes to the post office. I had to get them to the post office over the course of a couple days since the man who gave me a hand Monday had truck problems so I had to recruit a couple students to help me move the rest of my stuff on Wednesday. Monday's boxes were sent out with Wednesday's mail so I had a modicum of success. Things seemed to be moving along nicely. After that though, things started to go a little down hill. The little ticket machine at the post office decided to go kaput, meaning I've been unable to mail out my remaining boxes. Add to that that the Internet also decided to up and die a couple days ago so I've been unable to use my credit card to pay for the second round of boxes. Obviously, the Internet is now working, but the little ticket gadget at the post office was still kaput when I stopped by there this afternoon. So, I now have to wait until Monday and hope it's working. Add to this that my flight out is scheduled out for Tuesday and you can see the bind I find myself in.

If push comes to shove, I can always re-schedule my flight though I'll admit I'm getting quite anxious to get on my way. I can't keep re-scheduling my flight waiting for the problem at the post office to be fixed since I had scheduled my final check-out with Housing on Monday. (Not to mention I have to disconnect the phone, return my modem and close my water/sewage account at the Hamlet Office). The weather for Tuesday is looking a bit suspect at the moment so everything is quite up in the air. Sitting in an empty house the past couple days has been a bit trying but I'm managing. Did I mention I'm out of water too? Yikes! What is a fellow to do? I suppose I'm holding up pretty good, trying to be patient but I'd much rather be out of here as scheduled on Tuesday so I can start planning my move out West, which now seems as far off as ever. (I still have no idea when I'm expected to be there. My new employer sent me a package of information a couple weeks ago now, Priority Post, but of course being where I am, I haven't seen hide nor hair of it.)

I'm sure (I hope) I'll look back on this experience years from now and have a good chuckle and I'm doing my best not to let the events sour even further what has turned out to be a very trying and challenging year in many ways. In the end though, all I can really do is wait. There's a certain stoicism in my character I just have to reach deep down and grasp onto. In the end, I know things will work out. But man oh man what a ride!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Arctic Flora

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Relinquishing The Title

I'm not quite sure who came up with the moniker but for the past couple years Arctic Bay has oft been referred to as the "Blog Capital of Nunavut" among the Nunavut blogging community. With Kendra leaving for Yukon and yours truly soon to be heading to Chard/Janvier in Alberta, this now leaves Clare as the last Arctic Bay blogger standing.

And so, we reluctantly relinquish our title. Ah, but we were a pretty potent triumvirate. But alas, all good things must come to an end. It appears the new "Blog Capital of Nunavut" is now Cape Dorset as there are at least six bloggers there according to the side bare of Matthew and Michele's blog. Still, part of me misses the title. I briefly considered challenging a Cape Dorset blogger to an arm wrestling contest in order to reclaim the title, Jen perhaps. But Dorset is at least 1200km south of here and my arm (long and gangly as it is) just doesn't reach that far. Sigh, I'd probably lose anyway. Badly.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Worse Than A Little Old Lady!

Now that my packing is pretty much finished I can't help but roll my eyes and chuckle to myself at seeing just how much "stuff" I'll be sending off which I started this afternoon. I've decided (quite wisely as it's turned out) to spread my shipping out over a couple of days in order to lessen the credit card pain. And this is after I sold my television, living room carpet, assorted odds and ends and much of what was left from my August sea lift. After poking away at it for the past few days I've amassed 23 cardboard boxes (a great deal containing my library of books and roughly 1000 CD's), 19 plastic bins, 1 suitcase, 1 cardboard tube containing my wall hangings, my cross-country skis, one trumpet and one backpack. (I think someone really needs to explore the possibility of long-term storage.)

Now, as long as I remember to lift with my legs and not my back I should be just fine.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


I find myself in a state of limbo at the moment...all packed up and nowhere to go. While the new position in Alberta comes with a housing unit I have yet to be assigned one. I was hoping to move my belongings from Nunavut directly to the new community rather than moving back to Ontario and then on Alberta. I emailed the HR at my new board asking when I might learn of my new mailing address and was told that housing is assigned by the school principal but the school is getting a new principal this coming school year and he has yet to arrive there. HR forwarded my email on to Housing who informed me that housing will be assigned once I get closer to my moving date. I'm just not sure how I'm supposed to nail down a moving date when I'm not sure where to send my stuff to. At least I've arranged for a man in town with a truck to help me move my stuff. He comes tomorrow. So I really hope I wake up tomorrow to see an email telling me the new address. At the moment, I've made up two sets of labels for my boxes - one with Lisa's address and the other for General Delivery to Janvier, Alberta. I'd rather not have to use the latter address yet until I know for sure where exactly I'm going. I've taught in Nunavut for 6 years. My reward for this is that I get no help from Qikiqtani School Operations and have to move myself.

I'm considering moving my belongings to Brockville as that would make it easier to move my effects and Lisa's from one location rather than two. I don't even know when my first work day is in Alberta other than it is sometime during the third week of August. So time is of the essence. I'm just leery of my belongings not arriving in Brockville in time before we have to head out from there as we plan to drive there to cut down on costs. That, plus we enjoy road trips.

I wouldn't describe myself as a control freak by any stretch of the imagination but the idea that I can't make firm plans because I have to rely on the actions (or inactions) of others, drives me around the bend at times. I recently saw a news item which mentioned that the Dominion Institute of Canada had given the province of Alberta a grade of "F" for the teaching of Canadian history. I would add geography to this as well as it appears that someone there has no concept of what is involved of moving out of a community in the High Arctic.

I'm sure everything will work out in the end. I am an optimist afterall. I just wish a few people would get the lead out so that I could get a move on and get out of this limbo-like situation with dancing unicorns and singing frogs in which I currently find myself.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Past Connections

I won't bore you with the minutiae of my day, which for the most part has been taken up with packing. I'll just say that while things started off slowly, it seems the pace has vastly sped up the past couple days. In my haste to pack I have yet to pack something up only to realize that I still need it (knock on wood). I discovered the other day that I had left my camera back in Ontario so I won't be taking any more photos up here. For the moment I'll just have to rely on older ones from my library.

So anyway...on to my thought du jour. As one who has traveled around the country quite a bit, my interest is always piqued when I run across people or things that remind me of other places I've visited in the past that I hold connections to. During my PEI trip at one of the lighthouses I saw, there was a little display about the history of the Northumberland Ferry Lines. I had seen a few signs with NFL on them but wasn't sure to what it referred (and, yes, I did at first confuse them with the National Football League, I'm embarrassed to admit.)

Among the nice visuals in one of the rooms was one which mentioned one of the ferry line's earliest ships. The "Waubic" was built in Collingwood, Ontario, where I was born. In the 1930's, the Waubic was damaged in a fire in Kingsville, Ontario, the place where I did a lot of my in-class practicums during teachers college. The "Waubic" served faithfully until the 1950's, when it was finally gutted by a second fire in Nova Scotia.

Northumberland is also the name of the county in Ontario I grew up in.

So a few interesting connections to places from my past. Perhaps not earth-shattering to most of my readers but I thought it was pretty neat.