Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Summer In A Flash

Sculpture in Iqaluit
My summer of 2014 was quick but very exciting and full of adventures.  I covered a lot of ground in eight short weeks (figuratively & literally).  I could write a separate blog about my vacation so I'll give you the Coles Notes version. 
Construction on Iqaluit's new aquatic centre.
Creekside Village
I spent a few days in Iqaluit, catching up with a few friends and revisiting Inuksuk High School.  I spoke with the teachers but only met a few former students.  I figured that in a year or two, I would be anonymous to the entire student body.  Creekside Village, a collection of residential houses owned & operated by Nunastar Properties, completed construction on a new row of townhouses, replacing the ones that burned down in February 2012.  The townhouses are colourful and look spacious on the outside.  The ice in Frobisher Bay was melting, but in random spots, giving way to large boulders of ice and snow.  I walked down to the pier and snapped a few photos of them, wondering how long it would take for them to completely disappear.
I stayed away from the small peninsula to the south of the airport because the garbage dump was smoldering and I didn't want to breathe in any toxic fumes.  At the time, the dump had been burning for almost 4 weeks because flammable waste had spontaneously combusted.  Little did I, or anyone, know the fire would continue to burn throughout the summer.  In fact, it's still burning as I write this post.  The city is about to spent around $3 million to extinguish the fire.  I hope it's a success. 
Iqaluit from the air - June 13, 2014.
I spent the majority of my vacation in Ottawa with family & friends.  The last two summers had been devoted to taking professional development courses at the University of Toronto (U of T), so I wanted to have a break from going to summer school.  In its place, I attended several well-publicized events in Canada's capital.
On June 22, I attended the annual Tim Hortons Dragon Boat Festival at Mooney's Bay Beach.  The festival was celebrating its twentieth anniversary as North America's largest dragon boating event.  This was my first time in attendance.  The festival grounds occupied a large portion of the beach, filled with bleachers, food & clothing vendors, a beach bar, "amplitheatre", and team area.  The few races my friends & I watched were quite good.  It was quite interesting watching twenty people per boat paddling in unison towards the finish line while being taped by an aerial drone.       

When we had enough of watching dragon boats, my friends & I travelled downtown to indulge in an unlimited supply of ribs being BBQ'd along the Sparks Street Mall.  June 22nd just happened to be the last day of Ribfest.  This would also my first time in attendance.  The entire length of the mall was packed with hungry people lining up at the many rib booths that were "pumping out" delicious racks of ribs in minutes.  Almost every booth had a trophy display on the side, proudly showcasing all the awards their ribs had won them.  We spent some time walking around and taking pictures before finally buying 1/3 rack of ribs from Swine Fellows.  They were pretty good.  We also tried Pappy's butter beer for free . . . after buying a mug.  By the end of the day, my friends and I concluded that for next time, we won't eat at the dragon boat festival and instead save our entire appetites for ribs.

Spectators eagerly wait for the start
of the evening fireworks show.
(Canadian Museum of Civilization in
the background.)
Canada Day (July 1st) was the next big event on the summer calendar.  I spent the entire day in downtown Ottawa, enjoying the festivities, dining at restaurants, visiting museums for free, and watching the late night fireworks show.  The one thing planners at Parliament Hill need to improve is installing bleachers so that everyone can clearly see the Changing of the Guard ceremony.  My friends & I watched the fireworks show from the Quebec side of the Ottawa River, at the marina next to Jacques Cartier Park.  We had clear views of the fireworks being launched behind the National Gallery and exploding high in the night sky.  The show was almost spoiled by rain but thankfully, the rain stopped just in time.  Happy 147th birthday Canada!
Sir John Carling Building before the
Speaking of explosions, the last publicized event I attended in Ottawa was the implosion of the Sir John Carling Building on July 13th.  The building was built in 1967 and served as the headquarters of Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada until 2009.  Unfortunately, the building suffered from long term neglect as far back as 1994 and by 2009, the building was deemed too expensive to fix.  Employees were moved out, deconstruction commenced, and the building was imploded, costing the federal government $4.8 million.  A sad end to a building with good looking architecture.  I filmed the implosion from a safe distance, standing on a bridge next to Dow's Lake.  I was surprised by how many people came out to see the big bang.  I guess it's because building implosions rarely come to Ottawa.  The only implosions we see are in the House of Commons and City Hall.           
Several months before the end of the school year, I was going over my options on how to "spend" my summer vacation.  One idea that kept coming up was travelling to another country.  The last time I travelled overseas was to Australia in 2010, so it was time to pick a new destination.  As luck would have it, I managed to kill two seals with one harpoon by combining an overseas vacation with a professional development course.
Terminal 1 - Charles de Gaulle Airport
Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland
The Juno Beach Centre (JBC) was holding its 10th Annual Professional Development Tour for educators in late July to early August.  The 10-day program is for teachers wanting to visit Canadian First & Second World War sites in France, learn more about Canada's contributions during those tumultuous times, and find ways to share this knowledge and experience with their students.  Since I was one of those teachers, I submitted an application, and was accepted after much anticipation.  The trip cost me $2,000 but JBC covered the other half.  Obviously, I was very excited to travel to France.  The last time I visited the country was in 2005 but only Paris and a brief stop in Vimy Ridge.
Thiepval Memorial
The chosen teachers and JBC coordinators met at Toronto Pearson Airport on July 27 and boarded an Air Canada flight for Paris.  I had arrived in Toronto several days earlier, enjoying the sites and completing the CN Tower EdgeWalk for the fourth time.  I was the only teacher representing Nunavut and the other two territories.  I was expecting at least one other teacher from my "neck of the tundra" but that wasn't the case.  The other 20 teachers came from down south.
Vimy Ridge Memorial
We came, we saw, and learned so much in ten short days.  The itinerary was packed with tours, activities, photo-ops, meals, and leisure time.  We visited Arras, Beaumont-Hamel, Dieppe, Bayeux, Vimy Ridge, the Normandy Beaches (except Utah), Pegasus Bridge, Pointe du Hoc, Abbaye d'Ardenne, Caen, the Juno Beach Centre, Falaise, Paris, and many Allied and German cemeteries.  On top of that, there were many French foods, wines, and other delicacies to enjoy.  But that is just the tip of the iceberg.  I would have to write a dedicated blog to cover everything I learned and experienced.  I also got to meet & network with teachers from across Canada who shared my interest in Canadian history.  Naturally, they "interrogated" me about teaching and living above the Arctic Circle, to which I was more than happy to explain.  I spoke enough French to get by but not enough to become fluent.  Regardless, the trip was definitely worth a 1000 pictures. 
Dieppe Beach
I recounted my experiences in a phone interview with CBC North.  I answered all the questions posed by the reporter to the best of my abilities.  I was glad the interview was not live because if I had made any mistakes, it would be too late to correct them.  Thankfully, the reporter assured me that everything I said was alright.  The interview was broadcasted over the radio on August 5th, while I flew back to Canada.  For additional exposure, the sound bites would be heard on Nunavut television with accompanying photographs.  When I hung up the phone in my hotel room, I knew my trip to France would be the topic of discussion upon my return to Arctic Bay.
Pegasus Bridge
Me at Juno Beach.
Upon arriving in Canada, I only had two days to pack my belongings before catching my flights to Arctic Bay.  I included a box of food with my travel luggage because the refrigerator in my apartment was empty.  Those last two days of vacation were gone in an instant and the next thing I knew, I was on a First Air flight to Iqaluit.  There, I would transfer to a smaller First Air turboprop that would fly me the rest of the way.
Omaha Beach Cemetery
As I mentioned from the start, my summer was quick but very exciting and full of adventures.  Now that I'm back in the north, it's time to return to the familiar academic & blogging routines.  I'll do my best not to fall too far behind in my blog posts, but as all teachers will tell you, there's always something to be done.

Chateau de Falaise

1 comment:


    I– A true History to read :

    2– A stolen Museum – A scandal to denounce :

    New :

    the great pain of the actors of DDay…….Major J. Howard…….
    .14 years of impunity……………complaints still going on against him…………………..
    Any visit paid goes to the profit for the robber……………….;;

    Musée de Pegasus Bridge & Batterie de Merville
    BP 5
    14860 Ranville