Friday, June 6, 2014

Early May

Amber and her husband Sean.
The month of May began with a going-away party for Amber, Inuujaq School's student support teacher.  She was leaving early to begin her maternity leave and the party was a way for the staff to say thank you for all her hard work over the last two years.  The party took place in the staff room after school on May 2nd.  There were speeches, gifts for Amber, and snacks for everyone.  She thanked everyone for the surprise party, gifts, and for helping her make Arctic Bay home for the last two years.        
In the north, expecting mothers in remote communities are strongly encouraged to go down south to give birth, so that in the event of an emergency, the proper medical staff & equipment are readily available.  The Government of Nunavut (GN) pays for the plane tickets and accommodations.  The accommodations are only covered if you deliver in Nunavut.  Expecting mothers leave their communities at least a month before they're due.  In the Qikiqtani region, Inuit women travel down to Iqaluit.  I'm not sure what it is like for women on the Nunavut mainland.  I think they're allowed to go to Iqaluit but they may travel elsewhere.  For Amber, she decided to have her baby in Ontario.  Her husband, Sean, would join her at the end of May. 
Inuujaq School staff come together
to thank and wish Amber all the best.
Since April, the sun has been shining 24/7.  Even when it dips below the horizon, the town and surrounding area is still bathed in natural light.  It has been a challenge getting a good "night's" rest because the body thinks it's the middle of the day when in fact, it's the middle of the night.  And it doesn't help hearing skidoos & ATVs driving by and/or children playing outside.  There were a few times when I woke up in the middle of the "night", thinking I was late for work, only to look over at my alarm clock and see that it was 4am.  Sigh.
The Project North Team being introduced.
On May 8th, Inuujaq School held its attendance awards assembly for the month of April.  Except this one would be a little different.  As students and teachers gathered in the school's gym, they noticed the presence of out-of-town visitors.  They were introduced by the principal as members of Project North, a "not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children in Canada's north" through literacy and fitness/recreation programs.  Also in attendance was Michelle Valberg, an Ottawa based professional photographer, who started Project North in 2009.   Also part of the group were two professional hockey players from the NHL.  (Unfortunately, I have forgotten their names and the team they play for.  I think it was the Florida Panthers?)  

Valberg and her team were in Arctic Bay to deliver 25 bags of new hockey equipment to Inuit youth.  Each bag contains enough equipment and apparel for one player or goalie.  Some of the items that are included are: skates, stick, gloves, jersey, helmet, pants, and safety cup.  A complete Player Bag costs $1000, while a Goalie Bag costs $1950.       
Innujaq School dances.
After the introductions and speeches, the Project North team stepped aside, and along with everyone, congratulated those students who achieved perfect attendance for the month of April.  The team took centre stage again to lead Inuujaq School in fulfilling a small request from Project North's travelling cameraman.  He needed video footage of the students dancing.  (Don't ask).  I quickly made my exit from the gym and went up to the mezzanine to take photos of the spectacle.  When the music stopped, the K-6 classes returned to their classrooms.  The middle & high school classes stayed behind for a short Q&A session with the NHL players.
In the evening, Project North held a hockey game event at Dead Dog Lake, near the road to Victor Bay.  It was a chance for the community to come out, play some hockey, and watch the kids try out their new hockey equipment.

As a final contribution to the youth of Arctic Bay, Valberg held a two-day photography workshop for eleven high school media students.  They each received a free digital camera for their participation.     
Perfect high school attenders for the month of April.
Q&A Session.
With just one month left in the semester, teachers knew there was little time to teach any new topics.  For us high school teachers, close to half of the month would be devoted to review and exams alone.  Originally, the school's spring camp was scheduled for the second week of May, but the upcoming fishing derby forced administrators to postpone the camp until the first week of June.  (More on these events in future posts).  This also meant high school exams needed to be written a week earlier.
Inuujaq School dances even more.
In Grade 10 English, my students finished watching the movie Stand and Deliver, and completed all the accompanying activities.  Despite the film being set in the 1980s, my students enjoyed the story and the characters.  They were reminded that there would be film-related questions on the final exam.  The last module of the semester was paragraph/essay writing.  The module would teach them how to use a paragraph as a way to develop an idea and/or point of view.  I knew it would be a challenge because my students would be writing in English, their second language.  Of course, they would be required to write a paragraph on a given topic on the final exam.
The hockey players giving free Hi-Fives.
In Grade 10 Social Studies, we continued with the Residential School Module.  This learning resource was recently developed to educate students about the Canadian residential school system, and how it affected Inuit, Metis, First Nations, and Aboriginal children all over Canada between 1831 and 1996.  We began by looking at Inuit life before residential schools, how education was acquired through life experiences and not in classrooms.  Parents were the teachers of children and they taught their children how to survive out on the land.  We then moved on to what it felt like to be forcibly taken away from your parents and put in a white-man's school far away from your homeland.  From the personal accounts we read and listened to, it wasn't nice and it led to many negative repercussions.  At the time, the federal government believed that the ways of life of all Aboriginal/Inuit groups were inferior and felt the only way to "improve their standard of living" was to forcibly assimilate them into the dominant culture. 
And finally, once my guitarists understood how to read and interpret accidentals (flat, natural, & sharp), we moved on to power chords, palm muting, bass runs, and major scales.  We had a lot of fun.

May 12, 2014

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