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

...in 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.