My students were indeed shocked when I showed them the photograph I took in an Ottawa grocery store during the Christmas Holidays. Two-litre Coke bottles were being sold at 4 bottles for $5. Such a deal does not exist in Arctic Bay. A two-litre bottle of any kind of soft drink would cost between $15 - $25 if you factor in shipping costs by ship and air. My students wished the pop prices were the same as down south, although, many also agreed that such prices could lead to an increase in diabetes.
The routines of my classes were well-established by the end of the second week of the semester. The days also began to go by at a faster pace. I guess that usually happens when your body & mind become accustomed to routines.
My Grade 10 English students focused their studies on literary elements and how they’re applied in short stories. We read a variety of short stories written by Canadian, America, British, and New Zealand authors. For Grades 10 & 11 Social Studies, my students examined globalization and how it affects Canada and the world. What I like about the textbooks is that they contain case studies of people responding to the challenges of globalization. I also included examples from Nunavut. The students were surprised to learn that globalization reaches every corner of the globe, even isolated communities like Arctic Bay. For the month of January, my guitarists focused their attention on learning how to read traditional notation, playing simple songs, counting, and playing as a group.
The cadets of 3045 Army Cadet Corps were ecstatic on January 14, because they received new blue toques that were adorned with the RCAC & NEAS logos. NEAS, the sealift company & the corps latest sponsor, supplied the toques. We took several photographs and emailed them to NEAS as a way of saying thank you.
January 14 was also a special day for Qaapik Attagutsiak, a prominent elder in Arctic Bay. CBC News North wrote an article about her passion for traditional clothing, being a seamstress for 86 years (and counting), and teaching youth “the value of traditional Inuit clothing and sewing skills”. I met and spoke with Qaapik two years ago when I went ice chiseling with one of her daughters.
My older brother made his first visit to Arctic Bay during the second week of January. The Nunavut Court of Justice (NCJ) was in the community to hear & preside over various cases involving community members. The court party included: judge, two crown prosecutors, one crown witness coordinator, three defence lawyers, and one sheriff. My brother is Nunavut’s latest crown prosecutor based in Iqaluit. I had fair warning that my brother would be visiting my “neck of the Arctic” and made the necessary arrangements prior to his arrival. He would be staying at my place for the duration of his visit while saving the NCJ several hundreds of dollars on hotel accommodation.
Nunavut’s court system functions differently than the rest of Canada. For starters, Iqaluit has the only dedicated court house in the territory. When the judges & legal teams travel to the communities, the courts are held in buildings that provide the most space. This can mean community centres, schools, or whatever is available. Hotel accommodation is also a challenge because the hotels are small, and reservations only guarantee a bed, not the entire room. Local elders sit in on court proceedings and their input is considered by the judge before a verdict is given.
I still had to teach while my brother was in court. He had a suitcase full of documents that needed to be reviewed before the proceedings. Arctic Bay’s community hall was turned into a makeshift courthouse for the next several days. It didn’t take long for the community to discover that my brother was in town. My students periodically came into my classroom to tell me that they had met my brother. They commented that he was following in my footsteps. I replied that they were correct to some extent. We both came to the north seeking employment and adventure, but in different professions.
When my brother came to the school during lunchtime one day, I introduced him to the staff, and showed him my classroom. Later that evening, I gave him a lift home on my skidoo. He was nervous when I drove out onto the frozen bay but I reassured him that the ice was thick enough for a large airplane. My brother flew back to Iqaluit on January 17. He thanked me for my hospitality and said he would return in June for another round of court proceedings. The judge and the rest of the staff continued on to Resolute Bay & Grise Fiord.
|Amy S., from the Law Society of Nunavut, speaks to the students.|
|Local elder Kigutikarjuk, S. speaks to|
Three representatives from the Law Society of Nunavut spoke to the high school students on January 18. They wanted to explain the role of the courts, how they work, and why do they exist. Four elders were also in attendance because they sit in on the court proceedings and assist the travelling judge(s). The elders spoke about the emotions that can surface when in court (as a suspect, or witness), how the stress can lead to suicidal thoughts, and how to overcome such stresses with resilience. Snacks were provided to everyone in attendance.
And finally, I’ve noticed that my collection of Inuit carvings is steadily getting bigger as the months go by. I’m starting to run out of space to put them. The centerpiece for my coffee table used to be a qulliq (traditional oil lamp). Now it’s three carvings of a polar bear, inukshuk, and a standing narwhal. The three carvings are made by the same local carver. I still have the qulliq; it’s just been moved to another suitable location.