Saturday, June 27, 2009

Travel Bonanza

This summer is turning our to be pretty busy travel-wise considering I'm not heading to Europe as I have the past couple summers. Tomorrow evening Lisa and I will be driving out to Prince Edward Island for a week to visit some of her relatives. A couple days after I get back I will be flying back up to Arctic Bay (stopping in Iqaluit, Hall Beach and Resolute along the way) in order to finish my packing and get my stuff shipped off to Chard. I'm hoping the government paper-pushers are quick (and that can be asking a lot) and things run as smoothly as possible since I won't have much time to dawdle before I have to get back down to Ontario to do some more packing with Lisa. Around the middle of August, we will leave Ontario and drive to Alberta to new employment and a new home. That's 7 provinces (plus one territory for yours truly) in less than two months.

Sounds simple enough.

Friday, June 26, 2009

I Wish I Had A Picture

Lisa picked me up a pair of flip flops this morning (I've been told I need to get some sun on my pasty lower legs). I've never owned a pair of flip flops before in my life, much less worn them so I'm modelling them at the moment trying to get used to them. Apparently, I walk a little funny with them (like a toddler in its mother's high heels, I've just been informed). My brain is fighting the sensation that the things will just slip right off me. So why am I sharing visions of my alluring legs with you?

Lisa's comments reminded me of something I saw in Ottawa last week shortly I got off the plane. While awaiting my luggage I stepped outside to get a sense of the new temperature. A big dog on a leash rushed past me at one point, taking a small, dark-haired woman (presumably its owner) for a walk. After a 3 hours on a plane, the pooch was just as happy to have an chance to stretch its legs as I was. The dog led her to a small grassy area. As the dog began heading for a nearby tree, I noticed it walking in a very unusual manner. I really wish I had a picture of it. Fido began walking very tentatively, stepping as though he was walking across hot coals. The impression I got was of a football player running in for a touchdown who starts high-stepping a few yards from the end zone after knowing he won't get creamed by some big line backer.

The dog's behaviour drew curious looks from a few other people than just myself. It was just a quirky moment. I've spent lots of time around dogs and I've never seen a large dog act in such a timid fashion before. Was it hurt? Full bladder? Hot Paws?? We didn't have to wait long for answer.

"He's okay," the lady said, "He's just never seen grass before."

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Alberta-Bound

Well, I can now let the cat out of the bag. I resigned my position in Arctic Bay yesterday morning and accepted an offer to teach grade 6/7 at Father R. Perin School in Chard/Janvier, Alberta. I look forward to the new challenges and am confident that I have made a good decision. We will be within a 2 hour drive of Ft. McMurray, a place I've been through a few times before. I feel that the new community provides a good combination of rural living within reasonable distance of urban convenience.

Not only does the position come with a house, but I managed to find a small rough street map of the community and discovered it has street names! After 6 years of having an address consisting of just a house number, I will now have a street name! An actual street name!! Yes, I know I'm being overly dramatic here but I'm sure anyone who has spent any length of time in an isolated, Northern community will know where I'm coming from. As for my blog, I'm not sure what it's future will bring although I do hope to keep it going. For the moment, I can only invite my readers to stay tuned for updates.

So, that's where things stand at the moment. I can expect to do a great deal of packing and paperwork over the coming weeks, but I still hope to fit a summer vacation in there somewhere as well.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Reverse Culture Shock

So I left Nunavut a few days ago and now find myself in Brockville Ontario. As usual, I find myself readjusting to new surroundings but I've found it hasn't been as bad as I first thought. I cut the lawn yesterday for the first time in probably 6 or 7 years and only stalled the mower twice. (I also knocked over a lawn ornament and gave a rhubarb plant an unintended shave, but hey, at least I cut the lawn in straight lines for the most part.) While not reeking havoc on plant life or gawking at the low sale prices at Loblaw's I've also managed to fit in a couple interviews. I've also had a couple of offers in the past 24 hours which my girlfriend Lisa has just informed me is due to me being here in Brockville to see her and the kids.

I had to miss a special Kindergarten graduation ceremony yesterday in order to do an interview which I wasn't able to reschedule. I did get a call back from a superintendent about this position this morning. At the moment, it looks like I will accept the offer. I still have to resign from my teaching position in Arctic Bay so I won't reveal where the new position is quite yet. Call it my way of building suspense into my blog. But stay tuned as I will soon be free (internet connection willing) to reveal the identity of this secret location in the very new future.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Time To Fly



While you're reading this I am (hopefully) airborne somewhere over Baffin Island (hopefully strapped securely in to a plane a bit larger than the one pictured above) en route to Iqaluit and eventually Ottawa. I made an executive decision Wednesday to head off to see a special someone rather than wait by the phone for potential interviews. (I figure I can just as easily to a phone interview from Ontario as I can from my place here.) Having said this, though, I do have couple more set up in the coming days - one for a school in Alberta and a second for the middle school in Iqaluit.

My blog will quiet down somewhat though I plan to keep posting intermittently when I am able.

It will be a busy summer as I have a lot planned, not to mention a potential move to a place yet to be determined. But for now, I will enjoy and rejuvenate.

Whack-a-PETA aka "I Got The Sucker"

A couple of fellow bloggers brought to my attention the recent story of Barack Obama killing a fly (on live television no less) and wondered if I might comment. Well, I hate to disappoint.



Sealers, hunters, trappers, furriers, leather workers, Inuit and Aboriginal groups who have harvested in a sustainable manner for generations!! Are you tired of animal rights' groups cramming their ideology down your throats? Fed up with uninformed, ignorant opinions? Sick of gross generalizations and distortion of facts? Do you just wish some people would buzz off??

Then rather than using one of PETA's inferior "humane" fly swatters, try our vastly superior "human" fly swatter....Yes the Whack-a-PETA. Our Whacka-a-PETA fly swatters quickly, yet gently, trap the offending protester so that you can release him or her back into the real world...the natural world...outside the urban bubble. Where food is not grown in a fancy garden or on a large farm, where meat is still attached to the animal and running around, where it actually dips well below room temperature and only fur will do, where wild animals actually hunt and kill their meals the way nature intended and where you actually see wildlife outside the confines of a zoo.



Yes, buy your very own Whack-a-PETA today! Order to day for the low low price of only $9.95 (in shades of orange, green, fuchsia, or blue...offer avoid north of the 56th parallel)** Plus, if you act now we will send a second Whack-a-PETA....absolutely free! Don't suffer through another season of annoying pests, order your Whack-a-PETA and whack some common sense into your pest problem TODAY!!!

*Generally, it is too cold above this latitude for these annoying pests to inhabit, plus First Air grossly overcharges for shipping anyway.

DISCLAIMER - While PETA members may have suffered brain injury, no bald white guys were injured during the creation of this blog post.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Pure Ambrosia

For no particular reason, I awoke extra early yesterday morning. The sky was a stunning indigo and the wind of the previous had died down. It seemed the perfect day to head out and just enjoy the scenery, so that is what I did. I decided to head up the road to Victor Bay as I had been planning to do earlier in the week. One thing I love about this time of year is how the land is so transformed by the lack of snow. There is very little left in the immediate vicinity of town other than what can be found along the various nooks and crannies of the surrounding rock that the sun has difficulty getting at.

The road to Victor Bay is a pretty steep grade up over the top of the peninsula to the other side. It's always worth the effort as I've found some great views from up there.



Shortly after reaching the top of the hill I reached Dead Dog Lake.



Ah the views. I tried guessing how far away these mountains were but for some reason, in that moment, it just wasn't all that important to me.



Northern flora abounds, if you know where to look. Flowers here, while small, are incredibly hardy - and colourful.





While intending to go all the way out to Victor Bay I stopped when I reached this second, slightly larger lake. I stopped and debated whether to continue along the road or explore the area around the lake instead. At that moment, I felt my walk was mimicking life in many ways. What to do? Slowly, I turned and followed the short spur road to my left which lead me to the shore. I spent a good half hour simply wandering and taking in the tranquility.



A slight wind and the sound of the water from this small stream leading into the lake were the only sounds to be heard. A raven soared overhead, snow buntings flitted amongst the rocks - even a bumble bee flew a lazy curving flight line past me. It was so calming and such a welcome relief from what was at times a hectic work year. It was transforming. Everywhere I looked was so different now without the snow. I almost felt as if I was in a totally different place. My photos can never really do justice to what I gazed upon this morning. It was just magic.



In the end I'm glad I chose to stop at that second lake and follow off the road. You set a course, end up taking a different path and end up being rewarded in the end. Life is funny that way.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Well, Thanks For Clearing That Up

Perhaps First Air reads my blog, perhaps even my most recent rant about the insane air fares here. Okay I humor myself. Anyhow, after firing off a letter to my MLA and then a strongly worded email to First Air, I did get a heads up from Clare that there was a seat sale on. So I decided to check it out. Apparently, if I wait just two more weeks, that whopping coronary-inducing $4565.75 fare I mentioned earlier gets knocked down to a mere $3800 and change. Wow! On bended knee, I thank you First Air!

After a couple days though, First Air DID respond to my e-mail. Apparently some of the money they gouge off its paying customers does find its way back into "Customer Service" afterall. (I guess should be glad I heavily edited my original draft, removing several colourful words.) Here was their response:

Dear Mr. Steele,

We received your comments in our office and we thank you for taking the
time to write to us. We forwarded your email to our Marketing & Sales
department and we were informed that the price quoted was a function of
advance booking and seats already sold. Some flexibility with travel
dates can reduce the price of tickets.

The cost structure in the north is very expensive: fuel, staff costs,
flying more flights than necessary due to weather. Nanisivik and
Resolute Bay are the two highest cost routes in our system. It is not a
function of mileage/cost, it is a function of the market size (revenue
customers) and costs to operate at those bases.

We hope this clarifies your concerns and that you can understand our
position.

Regards,

Indira K. Barthelemy
Customer Relations & Baggage Claims
First Air

No, it doesn't clear up my concerns and I certainly do not understand your position. If everything is just so gosh darn expensive, how on Earth did First Air come up with a whopping $1.5 million in bonuses last fall?

Building Boom

With the lengthening daylight hours comes a flurry of housing construction. These new units (around 20 by my count) are all going up in my end of town. When I first arrived in Arctic Bay, much of what you see here was just one big open space. No longer.











Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Success!

So when I'm not griping about toilets, PETA or First Air, I like to do a little photography. I haven't done nearly as much lately as I would have liked but I'm hoping to make up for it with the free time I now find myself with. I planned a little jaunt over to Victor Bay this afternoon but found it just a tad too windy to make for an enjoyable outing.

One thing I've been trying to do is get a decent picture of a bird in flight. For the most part, though, I haven't always been that quick with getting the camera out of my pocket in time as they fly over. I swear they hover overhead just to tease me and then fly off as soon as they know I have my lens aimed at them. As a result, most of my shots tend to come out looking like this...



Last "night" though, the big breakthrough finally came. I was able to capture this gull, a glaucous gull I believe, in mid-flight. While it's nothing to write home about, this is the extent of my wildlife photography so I'll take it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Thanks For The Dough High Arctic!

Hi! My name is Scott Bateman, President and CEO of First Air.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank all the residents of Canada's High Arctic for lining my company's pocket books this year - especially mine. At First Air, we believe in competition. We compete fiercely in all the big markets like Ottawa, Yellowknife and Iqaluit. Those other tiny places we fly into - well who cares, right? They're not important. The important thing is that we are competitive and offer good value in our urban hubs. We remain competitive against Air Canada, Canadian North and even West Jet by offering the best possible prices - everyday. The best part is, we can make up for any losses simply by over-charging those people flying into those smaller, unimportant communities - like Nanisivik, Resolute, Clyde River and even Qikiq....Qik....Qikiq......um Broughton Island. You know? The places where we pretty much have a monopoly. So you see, financially we are quite sound. Those huge corporate bonuses we paid ourselves last year were a big help too. Well, not to you of course. You're not important. But don't worry about us, we ride through these tough economic times with steak and lobster - washed down by the finest merlot of course.

Truly, this would not be possible without the hard-earned money our customers fork over. Remember - if you love us, you will help us. I would like to call on the residents of Resolute to back away from the idea of a High Arctic Research Centre being built in your community. You see, the thing is, it might open open up competition for us with Canadian North. Heck, we just want to keep the status quo. We've got the contracts for Canada Post and Food Mail and we charge upwards of $5200 to Ottawa to Nanisivik and back. Changing this would be bad - especially for me and my family. Nanisivik means "a place where something is found." And that "something"....is your hard-earned money!

Sorry to go off on a tangent like this, really I am. But you see, I skipped all my classes in business ethics at university and really I just have a weather vane where my heart should be. My hairline is receding faster than my human decency. What it really all comes down to in the end though is that I got a HUGE corporate bonus last year and you didn't. I love my money and I want to keep it. I love YOUR money too and would like to keep it. So we'll keep charging those inflated fares because in the end I'm just a blood-sucking capitalist out for your buck and I look out for number one. And that just ain't you.......sucker!


HA!

Okay, Maybe Not

After yesterday's silliness with First Air, the thought of mailing myself really did enter my head, if briefly. I got thinking about whether this was possible. I'm sure it's highly illegal of course, and not that I'd be foolish enough to actually do it but I wondered if this was something that had really been tried before. Turns out it has. Some people had a good reason for trying it. Some people though, well, apparently they're just idiots. I can't say I'm as desperate as the former but I like to think I have a little more common sense (at least on most days) than this latter fellow. So until they develop some sort of particle transporter it looks like I'll have to grin and bare it.

In the meantime, I've written about the matter of insane airfares to my MLA and a newspaper. I intend to write First Air as well, as soon as I calm down a little more and rid my head of 4-letter words. Other than pure and simple GREED, I doubt I'll get much in the way of a straight answer.

On a more positive note however, my MLA did suggest I use him as a reference for my resume. He was an instructor for Nunavut Arctic College at one point and since I'm focusing on positions involving adult ed., I jumped at the offer. How cool is that?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

First Air Just Loves Monopoly

Wow! I'm not even sure where to start with this one but I'll give it a shot.

Having decided it would be more desirable to head to Ontario for a spell rather than fritter away vacation time waiting here for phone calls from potential employers, I decided to check into booking a flight online here. I can only shake my head and laugh at the sheer greed and stupidity of First Air. Now, I've spent my entire career in the North and 6 of those years in Nunavut, so it takes a lot to faze me. Generally I expect to pay in the neighborhood of $3200-$3500 from Nanisivik to Ottawa return....but truly I'd love to know the rationale for the insane price I just looked up.

Are you sitting down?

I can wait.

Okay?

Okay.

$4565.75!!

Are these people insane?! Oh wait! Maybe I'll choose the $4497.50 fare instead. Yeah, I feel much better now. I'd love to know what formula these geniuses used to come up with these numbers. Honestly, last summer I flew return from Montreal to Zurich for a little over $1300. I know part of it has to do with weight but seriously, I didn't gain THAT much over the course of the last year. Honestly. Now, it could just be a typo of some sort. Goodness knows, I've seen some insane prices on the First Air website only to have a potential coronary prevented by calling a booking agent and hearing a (slightly) more reasonable price. While I've been around up here awhile now, I understand there are certain realities. But really, this is ridiculous. No amount of PR can gussy up this disgrace. Forgive me if I roll my eyes when airlines cry about declining revenues.

I have a running joke with my step-father that in the long run I'd be better off just stuffing my carcass into a plastic container and mailing me through Canada Post. I know for a fact that at my body weight I'd save a fortune.

Sigh...now....where did I put that container?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I Agree With PETA

Never thought you'd visit my blog and read a title like that now did ya? Reading about PETA's latest little promo urging people to boycott Canada's maple syrup producers yesterday initially elicited a big laugh. Upon further reflection though I have to say I actually agree with the MENSA wannabes for once. Flying up gallons of maple syrup, to say nothing of shipping up the ingredients for making the pancakes themselves, is insanely expensive. I should know. I paid $4.05 for a litre of milk yesterday so I can only imagine what one of those large tins I so often see maple syrup being sold in would go for. Not only would it hit me in the pocket book, but the act of flying all that tasty goodness here would create one heck of a carbon foot print, what with the aviation fuel and all the other energy that would need to be expended.

My solution, which really isn't a solution since it's been happening for over 4000 years, is to eat seals. Not only are they healthier for you, but as an added bonus they are locally grown, leaving a much smaller environmental impact in getting them to the dinner table. So thanks for the heads up, PETA. Granted you're a little slow since people here already eat a lot more seal than maple syrup, but I will encourage everyone (not that they really need it) to continue eating healthy seal meat. I'll ignore the fact that a maple syrup boycott will do little as the sale of this commodity accounts for less than 1% of the Canadian economy. But I will overlook your silly little oversight here and raise a chunk of seal meat to your idea.

Oh, and just between us, PETA, if you REALLY want to impress me, since you're doing VERY well today. I had a question for you I'd LOVE an answer to. I've been asking it on message boards and web sites for over 3 years now, but no one seems to be able to answer it. I'm wondering - Can you name one species of Arctic wildlife that that Inuit have EVER hunted to the point of extinction?


Thanks.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Bay Watch

The two pictures below are a little deceptive for two reasons. It's likely a bit difficult to tell but there is a bluish tinge to the bay. You can get a better idea of it from these recent pictures here. Anyway, it isn't open water but merely all the water that's collected on the surface of the sea ice. I'm guessing it's been forced up by the tide from underneath through cracks in the ice though I'm sure some of it is also from the spring run-off or from the upper layer of ice melting.

The second reason is that, although with the overcast sky it may appear to be all cold and gloomy, it was a rather balmy 10C according to my thermometer here at the house. I was actually sweating walking back up the hill from my morning mail run.



Thursday, June 11, 2009

My Toilet Is Possessed

This will probably make no sense to anyone who has never lived in a place where their house is on trucked water and sewage but for about a week now, my venerable porcelain throne has been making some interesting noises. I think it might just be a case of air in the pipes or a water pressure issue of some sort but its persisted long enough now so that it could very well be something else. Every so often, usually when I'm sleeping or just about to sleep, the contraption emits some rather difficult-to-describe sounds. I just hope I'm not sitting on the darned thing if it explodes on me!

"To Increase the defence presence in the North, as part of the government's strategy for Arctic defence."

I need to start out by saying that there is a military background running through the family tree. I was even a reservist at one time in my life myself. But having read a lot of northern history on such things as the Northwest Passage, the Gold Rush, the Construction of the Alaska Highway, the CANOL Road and the DEW Line, I read a Lieutenant-Colonel's quote and get the feeling that history is repeating itself.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Little Job Search Update

As part of the on-going saga of "where am I going next year", a short update. After sending off a flurry of resumes, and having a few sporadic interviews, things had quieted down somewhat, to the point I was get a bit worried about hearing from anyone. (A couple of what I felt were strong interviews didn't lead to the hoped-for result and a couple other places I turned down simply because I didn't feel the position involved would be a good fit for me.) This afternoon though I received 3 or 4 emails confirming receipt of my resume for positions predominantly involving adult education. So the ball is rolling again. I actually have 2 interviews set up for tomorrow for an adult ed. position in Nunavut and a second one over in the Northwest Territories. I'm not so sure about the first position simply due to housing concerns. Actually, I was told last week when the lady first called me that there was no housing for this position. How that's supposed to work, I'm not exactly sure. The details were a bit vague. I can't exactly drive down to this community this weekend and walk into a house renting office of some sort. But no matter, an interview is still an opportunity and I'll still explore it.

My last line of defense is that I've decided to stick around here in town until roughly June 20-25. If by that time, I don't have a position nailed down, I will return to Ontario to see family and my significant other. I'll return to Arctic Bay mid-August and continue the search. I've also considered, as has been suggested to me by a few people, the idea of taking a few months off, perhaps a full year, to recharge the batteries. It's even been suggested I use the time to perhaps write a book.* I'm thanking myself for remembering to put my parents' phone number on my resume just in case something come up in the few weeks I'll be out of the community here.

In spite of the the few not so pleasant events this past year, I am saddened by the likely idea of leaving Arctic Bay and possibly Nunavut. I've spent over half my career here. I've seen quite a few teachers come and go in the 4 years I've spent here in Arctic Bay alone. I can only think of a handful of teachers off the top of my head that I know spent more time here in this community than me. This is the second big staff turn over I've seen in my time here and I know I reached the point where I felt that although many teachers have moved on, I was bullet-proof so to speak and could outlast pretty much anyone. In the end though, it turns out I'm quite human just like anyone else.

But, change is constant and usually it is a positive thing. If anything, I like to think I'm a pretty adaptable type of individual which will put me in good stead for my next big adventure...wherever that may lead me.

**To which I jokingly responded, "Why anyone would PAY to read my drivel when they can just suffer through it on my blog for free is beyond me."

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Canada Needs An Arctic University

Lost amid the bru-ha-ha over the Governor-General eating seal meat in Rankin Inlet during her recent visit was another story. One that really is deserving of more attention than it got from the media. (I mean really, I had chocolate-covered almonds last night but THAT didn't make the news - as it shouldn't. Just as the G-G eating seal meat was an non-news item as well.) A much more important issue is that of creating an arctic university here in Canada. The Governor-General was in Nunavut to advocate for the creation of one. Unfortunately, I have the feeling it didn't get as much attention in the corridors of power as it really should. And really, there is no excuse for Canada not to have an arctic university. When you consider just how much of Canada is in the Arctic and how much land mass Canada takes up in the circumpolar world AND that Canada is the ONLY circumpolar nation NOT to have an arctic university, there really is no excuse.

It's refreshing to see our 3 northern colleges leading the push in this regard. So often it seems that "the South" dictates a lot of what happens here in terms of policy, quotas, development etc.. It would be really nice to see a university by, for and of the Arctic. Sure, Canada is a member nation of the University of the Arctic, but let's not stop with that.

Rather than simply building ice breakers and arctic training bases, let's tap into the wealth of human knowledge we have here in the North. We already attract hordes of scientists and plans are in the works for an Arctic research station to be set up in the future in either Resolute, Cambridge Bay or nearby Pond Inlet. This could all be tied into a future university for Canada's North. Mapping the Arctic sea bed? Making a claim for sovereignty over the Northwest Passage? Providing opportunities for Northerners to future their education? Tapping into the rich cultural knowledge of our Northern elders? An arctic university could go a long way toward promoting all of these things. If the federal government is truly serious about helping to fulfill the land claim agreement rather than treating Nunavut like the retarded little brother of Confederation (which so often seems to be the case to me), a university would go a long way toward creating an educated and productive workforce, benefitting all Northerners.

As one who came to Nunavut 6 years ago to teach, I can sincerely say that Nunavut, and the North, have taught me many more things in return. An Arctic university for Canada, in whatever form that may take, is something well past due. There is much to be shared and learned between cultures. Let's tap into this rich resource. It will truly help to make the "true North strong and free" as our national anthem goes. And Canada as a whole will truly be the better for it.

Photos From My "Evening" Walk

Here a few photos from an "evening" walk last Friday.

Arctic Bay (the bay) as seen from the top of the hill near the Kiggavik B&B.





Down along the shoreline.



The new community hall nearing completion. It should be set to go later this fall and is sorely needed as it will take pressure off the school gym which is currently used. The original community hall on the other side of town, now condemned, is older than I am, and hopelessly small.



A picture of Arctic Bay without snow.



...and of course I can never post up a series of photos without King George ending up in the mix somewhere.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Money Talks I Guess

When I eat this...



more commonly known as this...



...certain groups of people freak out.

When I slap a slice of this on my plate...



...the howls grow suddenly much quieter.

And when I sample a few of these little guys...



(cue crickets chirping)

I guess it helps to have special interest groups and money on your side.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Headin' On Out



With school now over, a number of people are starting to head out on the land. I noticed a great number of skidoos and qamutiik loaded and waiting on and around the shoreline during an "evening" stroll last night. I have a few more pictures I plan to post in a couple more days once my internet speed kicks it up a notch.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

What Do I Do? Spit On This Thing Now?

Fire isn't something to be treated lightly, more so in a land with out piped water and fire hydrants to help you out. So when I noticed a growing fire behind a house on my walk home from the school I didn't mess around. I think a couple of small kids had been playing with matches next to a shed. At first I thought it was just kids being kids until I saw the fire grow in height as the side of the shed started burning. When I saw the two little kids bolt off I knew whatever games they were playing were definitely over. Luckily I was almost to my house so I bolted through the door and grabbed the fire extinguisher out of the kitchen. Running perhaps one hundred yards across a muddy, puddle-filled field is tough-going and I was sucking wind by the time I reached the house. (I REALLY should stop smoking.) It was at this point I realized I had no real plan about what to do. I was half way there when it dawned on me that I've never even used a fire extinguisher before in my life. I just hoped it was charged.

At any rate it was charged and I was able to get a good chunk of the fire out before the extinguisher was spent. I had actually taught a Workplace Safety course this semester, part of which involved the use of fire extinguishers. (And they say you can never use what you learned in school in the real world.) Whatever had been burning on the ground (it looked like a roll of insulation) was out pretty quickly but the shed wall just inches from the residence was still burning and flames were just starting to lick at the house itself. The extinguisher was now spent. At this point I was screaming inside my head for backup since I obviously wasn't going to be able to do much more. I really hoped no one was inside. I had got a rather nasty blast of fire retardant pushed back into my face by the prevailing wind and was hacking like a cat with a fur ball. It was then to my great relief that two more young guys arrived with fire extinguishers. The owner of the house also came out with an extinguisher at that point and between the group of us were were able to kill the flames.

Say what you want about small town people being nothing more than backward hicks, but when the stuff hits the fan, people work together to help you out. I was happy no one was hurt and other than a few scorch marks, no serious damage was done.

As an interesting addendum to this, one of the kids who arrived was a kid I had been having a lot of problems with the past several weeks. I passed by him on the road when I was coming back from the health centre. (No worries, Mom, I just needed a little oxygen. I'm right as rain now.) I extended my hand and he extended his. "Thanks a ton, man. I was freaking out a little there until I saw you come charging with your fire extinguisher."

I got a big smile in return. "No problem. It's all good."

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Wrap Up

Things are winding down quickly here this week in terms of the school year. We've held various games, a garbage cleanup around the outside of the school, a scavenger hunt and a barbecue so far this week and report cards are due to be given out tomorrow afternoon. This afternoon we had our year-end award ceremony in the gym. It was also time to pay recognition to those staff members who will be leaving at the end of the school year and not returning. We have a number leaving this year. High staff turn over is something I've discussed in the past with all the myriad reasons. For the most part, this time around however, the majority of those who are heading on where those who were on 2 year contracts which have not been renewed in order to make way for the soon-to-be-graduating NTEP (Northern Teacher Education Program) Teachers. Their graduation ceremony will be this coming Monday if I recall correctly.

Some teachers will remain in Nunavut, heading off in all directions to other communities - Arviat, Kugluktuk and Sanikiluaq. Kendra, as she was already announced on her blog, will be heading to Yukon. Two other teachers will be heading to Ontario. Our current high school math/science teacher will take over the reins as the new principal in the coming school year. Three other teachers will also be staying on at the school.

So I guess that leaves little old me. Interviews are curious things and while I've written off a few places I had a couple interviews I felt were very strong but have yet to hear back a yay or nay so far. Such is the cut-throat world of the job application process. I've cast a pretty wide and varied net though so, like a patient fisherman, I know I'll land the big one eventually. And, for those curious about the future of my blog I will say that I fully intend to keep it up and running if at all possible regardless of where I eventually find myself.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Send Me To The Principal's Office

Since my summer plans, and indeed my professional career, are in a state of limbo at the moment, it was refreshing to get a certain phone call late this afternoon. I had sent off a resume just last night to a school out West and they were calling me back. If you're a follower of my blog you will know how interesting it can be on the phone calling across time zones. What made this call a little different from others I've received, other than its promptness, is that it is for a Principal's position. It wasn't an interview per se - more of a sizing up the candidate beforehand kind of thing. Interesting. I can't say that I expected to hear back from the place and I'm still reeling a bit in shock.

At the risk of jinxing myself, I'd love to get an interview. An administrative position has been a long-term goal of mine for some time now. However, if today's phone call is as far as it goes then I'm quite pleased with that. I'm flattered my humble resume was worthy of this man's time and I know Rome wasn't built in a day. I'll get there eventually.

But still, an interview would be rather sweet.