Monday, August 24, 2015

The Hectic Days of August - Part 1

It didn't take long for the month of August to become very busy.
I spent the first weekend of the year at school, tuning the drums, photocopying handouts, and arranging my classroom.  There is a designated student table near the window where my students can place their binders & notebooks, and find pencils, pens, scissors, rulers, erasers, scissors, and glue.  The challenge this year will be keeping the binders properly stacked.
August 18, 2015.
The weather up here has gotten colder.  There is no snow on the ground but the sun sets in the evening and low temperatures makes everyone think of autumn.  The wind has also picked up in the last few days, forcing everyone to zip up their coats, pull over their hoods, and wear warm hats.  The wind was particularly strong on August 18th but it gave me a great opportunity to take a landscape photo of the bay.  The water on the surface was being blown away from the shoreline.
Late August happens to be narwhal hunting season.  Several of my students had to excuse themselves from class to go hunting with their relatives and/or elders.  (Whenever someone says they're "going boating" in the north, it usually means they're out hunting wildlife).  Pods of narwhals were spotted in Arctic Bay & Victor Bay.  Several were successfully caught by locals but many others escaped.  A pod was pointed out to me by a fellow teacher from a school window.  They were swimming away from the shoreline except we couldn't see their long tusks.  Narwhal tusks can sell for quite a hefty price in the north.  The price doubles down south and then skyrockets when it's a double tusked narwhal.

Several teachers got together on the evening of August 22 to celebrate the birthday of one of our coworkers.  The gathering was also a good way to make the two newly arrived teachers feel welcome among the staff.  Inuujaq School hired two teachers from the south: John for Grades 7 & 8, and Jean-Francois for high school math, science, and physical education.  We also invited one of the local nurses who prepared the birthday cakes.  She did an amazing job.  We had all brought snack food to the party but it was the cakes that "stole the show".  Greg, the Grade 6 teacher/birthday man was truly honoured by the amount of effort and support put into the party.
Second Bridge
On Sunday, August 23rd, Roland & Lena invited me to an evening BBQ at the Second Bridge.  Both work at the school as student support assistants.  Roland assists the pre-school students while Lena assists high school & middle school students.  They had recently purchased a new BBQ and wanted to try it out on the land.  They also invited Paulette, the high school art teacher, Kaitlynd, the student support teacher, Sara, the Grade 9 teacher, and her partner Tom.     
Paulette takes a walk along the rocks.
The Second Bridge is located on the Road to Nanisivik, about 16km from Arctic Bay and around 12km from the abandoned Nanisivik Airport.  It is here where the cadets of 3045 Army cadet corps usually hold their fall field training exercise.
Roland attaches the propane tank.
We drove out to the Second Bridge in a convoy of two pickup trucks.  Roland led the way while Tom followed closely behind.  We encountered several parked cars and atvs between the First & Second Bridges.  Many locals were out blueberry picking.  Once we arrived at our destination, we carefully unloaded the barbecue and brought it over to a pair of picnic tables.  While Roland got to work on attaching the propane tank, Tom performed a quick repair on one of the picnic tables.

The tables were set with beverages, plastic cutlery & plates, beverages, and condiments.  Roland fired up the barbecue and covered the grill with hot dogs, steaks, pork chops, and potatoes wrapped in tinfoil.  Just looking at all the meat being cooked at once made our mouths water.  The small stove top attachment was used to cook a pot of vegetables.  When the food was ready, we all grabbed plastic plates and helped ourselves.  The food was delicious.            

Co-op staff set up their barbecue.
Two vehicles appeared in the distance as we were enjoying our meals.  They turned out to be the Co-op pickup truck and a van.  When they stopped at the Second Bridge, several adults and children emerged from the vehicles.  It turns out that the local Co-op store had organized a family barbecue at the same location.  The Co-op staff unloaded their barbecue, cooking supplies, and food, and brought them over to the picnic tables.  A cube van appeared two minutes later and unloaded more people and food supplies.  The children explored the surrounding area while the Co-op staff got to work setting everything up.

We stayed for a little while before packing up and heading home.  I took some pictures and spoke to several people before taking a seat inside Roland's truck.  We stopped along the Road to Nanisivik to check out the berry picking areas.  The blueberries that grow in the north are quite small and the plant they're attached to do not grow very tall.  You have to be careful where you step or you'll crush the berries you're trying to pick.  I took several pictures of the road, landscape, and distant cliffs while Roland, Lena, & their children looked for berries on the side of a hill.  Paulette & Kaitlynd also took some pictures and looked for berries.  We didn't stay too long because there weren't that many berries in the area. 
Road to Nansivik, looking in the opposite direction, towards the entrance to Admiralty Inlet.
I was dropped off at the school where I went back to work planning lessons for the very next day.  The BBQ was a nice break from my normal working routine.      

The Cliffs (right of centre).
To Be Continued . . .

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