Saturday, January 30, 2010

A PETA Moron Gets Her Due

When I read Townie Bastard's post suggesting PETA members needed to be given a taste of their own medicine when it comes to the whole "pie in the face" silliness, I admit I couldn't stop laughing. Really, if you are going to pie a Cabinet Minister, an East Coast Minister, you aren't going to make many friends in the Maritimes, regardless of your politics I would think. Pieing the President of PETA is on my life "to do" list. But I guess I'll take the pieing of some random PETA idiot for starters. I'm happy someone picked up on the idea of returning the favor to these wingnuts and followed through with it.

Emily Lavender, the pied protester in the CBC story, fits the description of the typical PETA nut job. She's young, idealistic and obviously clueless about the importance of the sealing industry to Newfoundland and the Maritimes. Really, if you're going to go and protest the seal hunt in downtown St. John's you're quite obviously lacking for brain cells. And she's from Vancouver too. Are you kidding me? Vancouver was recently ranked as the most expensive city on the planet to live in terms of housing costs. Why don't you go protest that instead, sweet heart?! My guess is that this MENSA genius got on a short bus intending to go off to some Olympic protest and wound up taking the wrong bus to St. John's instead.

Yes, I know I shouldn't stoop to her level and sure, this story has no doubt given her group media exposure they don't really need or deserve, but damn, it just feels nice to FINALLY see one of these loud mouthed imbeciles get their just this case pie.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Slow Return of the Sun

Here's what it looks like around 3pm this time of year. Both pictures were taken in Arctic Bay, Nunavut on this date, one year ago at about 3pm. See? The whole idea of 6 straight months of darkness is pretty much a fiction.....unless you live right on top of the North Pole of course, but really who does?

The sun will be visible from the community in another couple weeks. With the day lengthening roughly 14 to 15 minutes a day, I didn't really find the long hours of darkness all that bad.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Nunie Winners For 2009

The votes have all been tallied and Clare has announced the winners of the 2009 Nunie Awards. "Best Post 2009" goes to Newbie in the North, one of the new blogs to pop up this year, for her post "First Boating Trip". The post brings back pleasant memories of boating trips I took in Qikiqtarjuaq. I was fortunate enough to see a couple bowheads there (albeit from the shore) and I'm still kicking myself that I didn't have my camera with me that day. The history buff in me liked the mention of Pangnirtung's whaling past.

"Best New Blog 2009" went to The Arctic Post, a blog from one of Nunavut's smallest communities, Chesterfield Inlet. When I first began blogging it it seemed that most of the blogs were out of the Baffin region. It's nice to see how new blogs are popping up all over the territory now.

"Best Blog 2009" goes to Townie Bastard, blogging out of Iqaluit. This is the only blog on my sidebar, other than Clare's, that predates my own. I've seen a lot of blogs come and go over the last 4 years or so but not this one. A very deserving win.

I'd also like to take a moment and thank the people that voted for my blog. It suffered a little from the fact that I now reside in Nunavut in spirit rather than physically. Still I like to think I can pump out a good post or two every once in a while and I love how the Nunavut blogging community has blossomed, changed and grown over the past 4 years. A hearty congratulations go out to all winner and nominees. It is a honour indeed to be included in such company.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Last Drop

Having lived for a couple years in Qikiqtarjuaq (Broughton Island), this little recollection caught my attention. While it does serve to give a sense of the isolation faced by some of Canada's most northerly places. I found Harper's story interesting for a number of reasons. The Padloping Island the author mentions was once the site of a USAF WWII air base and a Canadian weather station. I never actually stepped foot on Padloping Island myself though I it was pointed out to me by a local elder once.

Kenn Harper, for those who don't know him, is well-known in Nunavut as a teacher, linguist, northern historian and businessman, who first went North in the 1960's. He remains there to this day. Not only did he spend time in Qikiqtarjuaq, but he was also one of the first teachers in Arctic Bay, the other Nunavut community I lived in. Ernie Lyall, mentioned later in the article, was the subject of an interesting book my parents bought for me a couple years ago, An Arctic Man. While chaperoning at a badminton tournament in Rankin Inlet not that long ago, I met one of Mr. Lyall's grandsons. Ernie Lyall also spent a period of time in Arctic Bay with the Hudson's Bay Company.

The North. It is a cold dark place in terms of its physical geography but also a small and intimate when considering its human element. The history of the place is always interesting too.

Don't Forget

Just a friendly reminder that you can still vote for the 2009 Nunie Awards. Simply head here to cast your vote if you haven't done so already. There are still a couple voting days left.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Importance Of A Good Breakfast

When I was a kid starting out my day with a good breakfast was just part of the daily routine. It was something I could count on, like the rising and setting of the sun. As an adult, I must admit I've grown a bit lazy when it comes to starting off the day with a good morning meal. Ultimately, if I feel hungry mid-morning I can only blame my own stupidity. Sadly, a good breakfast is far from a reality for many children, as this news item here reminds us.

I taught at a couple different schools in Nunavut and in both their were breakfast programs, funded predominantly by the Brighter Futures program cited in the above-mentioned news item. At the time, I was under the impression that only school's in Nunavut's smaller, de-centralized communities had breakfast programs. A fellow Nunavut blogger once pointed out to me though, that this is not the case. All communities can benefit with a breakfast program but not all can afford to fully fund them. (I know one Nunavut politician made a fully-funded territory-wide breakfast program a major plank in his campaign during the last territorial election.) One might think that as Nunavut's largest community (and capital) Iqaluit wouldn't have a need for a breakfast program, given the amount of employment available there in relation to say Qikiqtarjuaq or Arctic Bay. Just not the case, as it turns out.

It needs to be pointed out that this is not just a Nunavut issue. I'm sure you could find students in major centres like Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto (or any other Canadian city for that matter) that come to school on a daily basis without eating breakfast. Here in Janvier, we are fortunate to have a breakfast (and lunch) program at our school. It is generously funded by the oil companies. (The same companies which the protesters at the recent climate talks in Copenhagen say should simply pack up shop and leave Wood Buffalo. Ah, if only life were that simple.)

As a teacher and now a parent, this is an issue of some interest to me of course. I hear the argument that kids function well with something in their stomachs so it is important for schools to ensure a good start for their students. I hear that argument that parents have a responsibility to feed their kids and society shouldn't be burdened by the irresponsibility of parents. I hear many different arguments and often get it from both sides. While Tamara and Nicholas don't rely on the breakfast program to anything close to the extent of other children (teachers are well paid, despite what some would have you believe), we are thankful for the lunch program. It's not that we are unable to feed the kids, but rather its an issue of how the lunch hour at the school here is structured: 15 minutes for lunch followed by a 15-minute recess doesn't give enough time for the kids to get home, eat and back to the school.

As a teacher, I'm conscious of the fact that it seems that school are increasingly called upon to do more and more on top of educating. This is a tough issue for me. Part of me believes strongly in the idea of personal responsibility yet I have to acknowledge that when there is a well-run breakfast program in place, the classroom is full of happier, more alert students. I'm not sure that I really add anything coherent or original to this issue. The CBC article does remind me of how fortunate we are to be living here in Alberta.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

2009 Nunies

Voting is now underway for the 2009 Nunie Awards. You can visit Clare's blog to cast your vote for Best Blog, Best New Blog and Best Post. Voting is open until 5pm EST on January 21. The "Best New Blog" category has my attention and should be especially interesting. A few bloggers have left the territory in the past year and it's encouraging to see a number of new bloggers steeping into the breech. I'm up for "Best Blog" and "Best Post" so swing by and vote. Of course I'd love to have your vote but feel free to vote for any of the nominees. Just now!!

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Secret Is Out

When I first read this story about how Nunavut-caught arctic char is taking off in fine restaurants south of the border, my first thoughts were about the hypocrisy of the southern urban consumer. The image of an arctic char doesn't tug at the heart strings in quite the same way as a misty-eyed seal, even though both are valid food sources and have been in Northern climes for generations. Putting my initial thoughts aside though, it is nice to see a Nunavut resource making its mark. For those in the know, it comes as no real surprise.....arctic char makes for fantastic eating.

Arctic Bay 2005 (with snow)

Saturday, January 09, 2010

My Solution To Europe's Weather Issues

Seems our European cousins are experiencing a rather frigid blast of winter at the moment. And I know I shouldn't find humour in this but......I do. I'd like to think that perhaps they might be more appreciative of why Inuit use seal skins to keep warm. Canada has plenty for sale. You should look into it. Seriously. I can vouch from personal experience that seal skin will definitely keep you warm in -40C weather. But, hey, it's only a suggestion. Ponder it while you eat nibble your frozen little baguette down by the Riviera.

Arctic Bay 2005

A few pictures from my first year in Arctic Bay.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

No Biggie

I had two posts lined up for this evening depending on the outcome of the hockey game. I was hoping the following post wouldn't see the light of day but it is what it is.

I have a simple theory why Canada's Junior squad didn't win the gold this time round -- I didn't watch the game. The last 5 years I've watched the tournament pretty much in its entirety and the Canadians wound up coming out on top. (A couple years I really had to rush to get to my hotel in Iqaluit before the start of the wasn't pretty but somehow I managed to pull it off.) Okay, I know its a little more complicated than that but like I said, its just a theory. As my roommate and I discussed last year, 5 golds in a row is a fantastic accomplishment. There is always great pressure on each succeeding team to keep the streak going. Unfortunately, a time will come when they will lose. It sucks but that's just the way it goes. Hopefully the country doesn't go into a state of mourning over the lose.....really, there's no need to. Let's face it - since 1977, the U.S has won gold twice. Sure, both times they beat Canada to do it, but big deal. Canada has 15 gold medals and has won something like 25 medals in total...the US has 6 medals by my count. A U.S. victory will give the tournament a good boost in the American media, just in time for next year's tourney in Buffalo.

I should also add to that its refreshing to see that the so-called experts were way off when it came to who would finish where. No Canada- Sweden-Russia finish as predicted. A little shake up once in awhile is a good thing for the sport. And, hats off to Switzerland for beating Team Russia. Who would have thought? No friendly barbs to my Aunt Janice over in Switzerland this year. Beating a super power like the Russians gets my respect.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Return of the Nunies

Once again, its that time of year. Clare has announced the start of the Nunie Awards. For those who may be unaware, this is the Academy Awards for the Nunavut blogging world. The past year has seen a number of new blogs start which should make this friendly competition very interesting. If the format is similar to the past couple of years, there will be awards for "Best Post", "Best New Blog" and of course, "Best Blog". Stay tuned to Clare's blog for details.

Feel free to nominate my blog if you wish. Don't let my anti-seal hunt rants scare you off. Really, I'm a nice guy.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Qikiqtarjuaq 2004

Since I continue to be in photo review mode, here are a few more photos of Qikiqtarjuaq and area.

Kingnelling Fiord

The DEW Line station (FOX-5) as it existed in 2004. It no longer exists today.