Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Late October (2017)

Representatives from the Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA) came to Inuujaq School on Friday, October 20, to talk to the high school students about offshore oil & gas exploration.  The QIA doesn’t do the exploration but it does pay attention to the oil & gas companies interested in seeking and extracting the fossil fuels from beneath Arctic waters.  For the last several years, the Arctic has been viewed as a large area of undiscovered resources.  Many mining & oil companies believe there is a lot of money to be made in the Arctic extracting these resources and this worries the QIA.  Extraction means disrupting animal habitats, changing the landscape of certain areas, pollution, and leaving contaminants behind.

The representatives explained the many uses of oil, how it’s discovered & extracted from the land, and how the QIA works with other Inuit organizations on making sure the land & animals are not damaged by mining operations.  They also made the students aware that climate change is causing the polar ice caps to melt at a much faster rate than before, opening up many waterways in the Northwest Passage.  More open waters mean more ships and more people.  The Inuit need to be prepared to control & regulate this increase in activity, otherwise they, the land, and its animals will suffer.  The representatives hope some of the students will consider joining the QIA after completing high school. 
The territorial election was just around the corner.  The vote was set for October 30.  Nine candidates were competing for the Quttiktuq seat that covers Arctic Bay, Grise Fiord, and Resolute Bay.  The nine candidates were: Rachel A. Qitsualik-Tinsley, Leo Eecherk, Mishak Allurut, Andrew Taqtu, David Akeeagok, Kataisee Attagutsiak, Isaac Shooyook, Gary Kalluk, and Mavis Manik.  Several of my students joked that I should have run for office but I said that I wasn’t ready to enter Nunavut politics.
Kataisee came to Inuujaq School on October 26 to talk to the high school students about the upcoming election and her platform.  She is the same Kataisee that took me ice chiseling in 2015 and is the head of the local District Education Authority.  She spoke in Inuktitut & English, explaining what she will do if she is elected as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA).  She also answered questions posed by students & teachers.

Student Council staged a mock vote on Election Day so that high school students can experience what it’s like to cast a vote.  The mock election was held in the math & science classroom.  There was a registration table and several voting booths.  The students lined up, signed in, were given a piece of paper with the listed candidates, and instructed to walk behind a privacy board, and mark X on their candidate of choice.  They then placed their folded ballots in a sealed box.  The high school teachers reminded them that in some countries, you’re not allowed to choose your leaders, so it’s important to exercise your democratic rights.
Students voting.
I cast my vote at the local community hall.
Student Council President casting her vote.
The newly elected MLAs were announced on October 31.  David Akeeagok won the Quttiktuq seat.

3045 Army Cadet Corps staged a Fall Biathlon competition on October 28.  The event is designed to train cadets on what to expect when they compete at regional & national biathlon competitions.  The school’s gym was converted into an air rifle range with three shooting lanes and three plinker target boxes.  Participants would be running & shooting, but not at the same time.  The junior cadets had to run twice and shoot three times.  The senior cadets had to run three times & shoot three times.  All the participants would be timed.

A week before the competition, I walked with the cadets the one-kilometre course they had to run. 

The cadets were formed up and I explained the rules of the competition.  I also made the cadets aware of the penalties they could incur.  Once everyone understood what was expected of them, the cadets were dismissed and three cadets were selected to begin the competition.  There were 10 competitors in total.  I was timing and recording the penalties.  I had the cadets who were waiting around help me replenish the pellet bowls. 

The competition lasted about 90 minutes.  There was running, shooting, more running, and more shooting.  I was glad that I had enough stop watches to have all the competitors start at 00:00.  I wouldn’t have to do some crazy math to figure out their total times.  Once everything was cleaned up, the cadets were allowed to play some sports.  The winners would be announced on Wednesday.

The following day, I walked into my classroom to get ready for the upcoming school week.  When I flicked on the lights I saw my desk, a guitar, and many office supplies covered with green & orange gift wrapping paper.  “Well, that’s a wrap,” I commented to myself.  Apparently, someone decided to make my birthday memorable.  Thank you!  I took pictures of the spectacle before unwrapping everything.  I was glad I came in on the weekend.  I didn’t want to spend Monday morning unwrapping everything. 

Speaking of birthdays, JF made me a delicious marble cake.  Thanks!

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Bonfire & Parents Night

Arctic Bay.
Operation Bonfire 17 took place on the evening of October 14 behind the airport.  The cadets of 3045 were transported to the airport by truck and atv.  I drove my skidoo because I could use it to ferry cadets down to the bonfire site.  (The site is actually located behind the airport, near the open water).  We brought many essential supplies: roasting sticks, marshmallows, hot dogs, buns, juice boxes, matches, flashlights, Firestarter sticks, a shovel, and a first aid kit.  Night was beginning to settle as cadets collected pieces of wood and constructed the bonfire.

Roasting over an open fire.
The senior cadets were able to light the fire despite the cold weather.  Everyone gathered around the fire to warm up.  We slowly fed the fire with more pieces of wood and after about 10 minutes, we got our bonfire.  The roasting sticks and snacks were brought out.  We surrounded the fire, roasting hot dogs & marshmallows.  There was enough food this time for seconds & thirds. 

Me roasting a hot dog.
Artistic photo.
I passed my camera around and many photographs were taken of the event.  There would be enough pictures by the end of the night for me to create a photo album on the corps’ Facebook page.  The bonfire lasted about 90 minutes.  When it was time to go, we extinguished the fire using snow and cold water. 

Group photo.
The cadets & the leftover supplies were transported back to the airport parking lot using atvs and my skidoo.  The experience made me feel like an Uber driver.  Two pickup trucks were waiting for us to transport everyone home.  I followed the trucks to Frank’s shop where a quick debrief was held.  The shop also gave the cadets a chance to warm up. 

3045 Army Cadet Corps of Arctic Bay held its first Parents Night Parade of the 2017-18 regular training year on Wednesday, October 18.  The parade would give parents the opportunity to see what their children were learning at the corps and to be present for the awarding of badges.  A local RCMP officer would be act as the Guest Reviewing Officer (GRO). 

The parade began at 6:30pm.  All the cadets were formed up in the middle of the gym wearing their green dress uniforms.  I marched in, escorting the RCMP officer to the “front” of the parade square.  The audience stood for the playing of the national anthem.  The cadet platoon commander escorted the GRO through the open ranks, inspecting the cadets.  I used the time to welcome everyone to the parade and briefly explain the aims of the Canadian cadet movement.

Cadet Willie, E receiving his
The cadets did a March Past to showcase everyone their drill skills.  The GRO then gave a short speech to the cadets & the audience.  The GRO assisted me in presenting the marksmanship & fitness badges.  There are four marksmanship levels that a cadet can attain.  They’re conveniently numbered 1 to 4, with 4 being the highest.  Attaining a Level 1 requires a cadet to shoot 10 rounds at two grouping targets and each grouping has to be a minimum of 3cm in diameter.  To earn a Level 4, the groupings have to be 1.5cm in diameter or less.  I called out the cadets one by one and the GRO presented them with their badges.  They also had their pictures taken.

Three cadets salute after receiving their badges.
Cadet Pauloosie, S receives her PT
Physical fitness/training is one of the main components of the Canadian Cadet movement.  The cadets have a PT Test once a month.  I participate despite my old age.  My body gets a good workout doing all the required activities.  There are four PT levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Excellence.  Again, I called out each individual cadet and the GRO presented them with a badge. 

The parade concluded with the Advance in Review Order and a General Salute.  I escorted the GRO out of the gym and the cadets were dismissed.  The audience applauded the cadets.  Everyone stayed for 20 minutes to enjoy the snacks prepared by local volunteers.           

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Early October (2017)

Arctic Bay. October 9, 2017.
Round table next to woodpile.
I drove out to the airport on Thanksgiving Monday, October 9, to check out the woodpile the cadets collected in September.  There was enough snow the ground for me to use my skidoo.  I drove alongside the road, carefully avoiding the many small rocks sprinkled in the middle.  Despite the arrival of snow, it would still be several more weeks before the water in the bay would freeze.
St. Georges Cliffs.
I turned off the main road and drove across a field, around the airport’s perimeter fence.  The snow was fluffy and deep, but not a problem for my skidoo.  I reached the woodpile where the cadets & I did the beach cleanup just last month.  The pile was buried in snow.  I would need to recruit several senior cadets with shovels to help me clear the snow off the pile.  Only then would it be easier to have the annual October bonfire.  I took several pictures of Arctic Bay & the cliffs before returning to my residence.
Grade 3 winners.
Inuujaq School held its first Attendance Awards Assembly of the 2017-18 school year on Thursday, October 12.  Everyone gathered in the gym to see the students who achieved perfect attendance for the month of September.  The recipients would receive a certificate and a backpack full of school supplies.  I was the official photographer.

Grade 6 winners.
Custom made fidget spinners.
I was called down to the Grade 9 classroom on Friday, October 13, to be the adjudicator of their fidget spinner contest and select the top 3 spinners.  The challenge was to create their own spinners.  Fidget spinners are the latest craze that’s sweeping the globe.  They reached their peak in the summer of 2017, but they’re still popular in Arctic Bay.  Most teachers find them annoying & distracting, but I’ve embraced them with open arms.  They remind me of POGs, (aka milk caps), the popular game that took over schoolyards in the mid-1990s, the same time when I was in elementary school.  I’ve already started my own fidget spinner collection and I think it’s going to grow substantially over the coming months.

Being thorough.
Third, Second, First.
I was presented with 10 custom made fidget spinners.  I gave my camera to a Grade 9 student so they could take pictures.  First, I congratulated the students for stepping up to the challenge and putting their creativity on display.  I carefully picked up each fidget spinner, examined the design, and did my best to spin it.  I pondered & thought after testing each spinner and narrowed them down to the three I liked the best.  I then arranged them in order of third, second, and first.  The top three winners would receive a prize of some kind.  I thanked the Grade 9 class for selecting me as their judge.

Hunter Tootoo, Nunavut’s independent MP, spoke to the high school students on October 13.  The last time he visited Inuujaq School was in April 2013 when he was visiting communities with the Mace of Nunavut.  In his presentation, he talked about his role as Nunavut’s MP to the House of Commons in Ottawa, what he does, and how he brings Inuit concerns to the federal level.  At the end of the presentation, several photographs were taken of him with the high school students.            

I did return to the bonfire site with two senior cadets later that evening.  We spent a good thirty minutes shovelling snow off the woodpile.  The bonfire would take place the following evening.