Friday, August 28, 2015

The Hectic Days of August - Part 2

August 24, 2015.
Monday, August 24 was an exciting day for everyone because the first sealift vessel had arrived.  The large container ship had spent a day or two unloading cargo destined for other communities at the Nanisivik dock before sailing to Arctic Bay.  The Coast Guard will pick up the cargo at Nanisivik and transport it to those communities that are inaccessible by sealift vessels.

The summer sealift has been a staple of arctic life since the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) established trading posts across the region in the early 1900s.  These posts received their supplies from the south by boat during the brief summer months when the seas were free of thick ice.  The HBC used the goods, such as guns, tobacco, tea, sugar, & metal knives, to trade for furs caught by the Inuit.  The commercialization of the sealift did not occur until after the Second World War.  More communities were being established and the onset of the Cold War led to the construction of the DEW Line in the 1950s.  The cheapest way to transport all the necessary equipment and supplies for these mass projects was by boat.  Boat traffic only increased with every passing year, and today, many sealift vessels service the northern communities between July & October.  It's expensive to do a sealift order for the private citizen, but it's much cheaper than shipping everything by air.

What nobody was expecting was rolling fog.  When I woke up that morning and looked out my porch window, I was stunned to see the entire town enveloped in fog.  I left for work earlier than normal because I wanted to photograph this strange natural occurrence.  The fog was thicker in the town centre and out in the bay.  The fog surrounded the sealift vessel.  I could barely see the boat at times. 
Construction of new health centre.
I snapped quite a few pictures on my way to school.  I pointed my camera at the new health centre being constructed, the Arctic Bay sign, the sealift ship, and a tugboat towing a barge loaded with containers and vehicles towards the shoreline.  I also managed to snap a photo of a seagull standing on the roof of the school. 
Seagull sitting on the roof of Inuujaq School.
As I have already mentioned on several occasions, Arctic Bay lacks a docking facility to allow a much smoother delivery of supplies.  And I have also mentioned that no northern communities in Nunavut are equipped with deep sea ports.  There is only a small craft harbour in Pangnirtung but it was not built to handle large container ships.  Sealift companies & the territorial government have been lobbying the federal government to provide funding to build deep sea ports in the north but progress has been dreadfully slow.  Current & past governments have made promises but failed to deliver.  This problem is now a federal election issue.  We shall see which promises from political candidates will win over the Nunavummiut.
I knew several of my students would be away helping out with the sealift.  The majority of food supplies on the boat had been ordered by the Northern Store and the staff needed extra help unloading and restocking its warehouse.  People who signed up were paid $11/hour for their work.  I didn't mind that some of my students would be away working.  They were earning money and learning the importance of hard work and teamwork.
Boxes of paper.
Half of the school's sealift order was on the ship.  It was delivered to the school by a loader in one large blue container.  The driver was paid for the delivery.  (Loaders deliver your sealift container(s) right to your front door as long as you're ready to pay a reasonable fee).  The principal of Inuujaq School got several high school volunteers to bring all the supplies inside.  The school's main hallway was filled with boxes of paper, cleaning supplies, art supplies, and other things for the next several days.  The supplies would all be put away and distributed once the secretary completed the inventory paperwork.  The other half would arrive in early September on the second sealift ship.
Cleaning supplies.
Most of the teaching items I ordered in June arrived on the first sealift.  I had ordered several English textbooks, privacy boards, and educational games for my students.  There are just a few items left on my order form that need to be delivered.
The sealift vessel stayed for only a day.  On the morning of August 25th, the large container ship was gone.
Yamaha Powerlite Snares.
Tuned and ready to go.
My drummers finally got the chance to play the "real" drums after practicing on drum pads for two weeks.  However, they first had to learn how to set up the drums and carry them in their cases.  Unfortunately, the walls of Inuujaq School's high school section are not that thick, forcing me to find another classroom where the sounds of our drums would not disturb anyone.  That room was the Home Ec room downstairs.  Having to move all the instruments, equipment, and music back and forth between rooms teaches my drummers the importance of depending on yourself and others.  It also shows them why drummers are the first ones at a concert and the last ones to leave.
Naturally, the volume of the class increased significantly once all the instruments were set up.  One of the first things a percussion instructor must do is to eliminate all childish attitudes from beginner drummers.  Drumming is never about who can play the loudest or rolling until the sun sets.  My drummers are beginning to sound like a drumline after many days of practicing rudiments and counting exercises.  As a reward, I introduced them to their first performance piece for Halloween.      
The adult staff & senior cadets of 3045 Army Cadet Corps held a brief meeting on the evening of August 25th to plan for the upcoming regular training year.  The meeting was held at the Hamlet Office (aka City Hall).  We discussed upcoming events in the fall and how to go about recruiting new youth into the program.  Some of the events we are looking forward to are: the community beach cleanup, recruitment, parent's night, and Remembrance Day.
RCMP Officer explaining the use of fingerprinting in police work.  The officer is from is from Quebec, which is
why his presentation is in French.  He translated all the information into English.
Students crowd around to see their
fingerprints being dusted onto paper.
Arctic Bay's two RCMP officers paid a visit to Inuujaq School on Thursday, August 27th, to give a lecture to the high school students about forensic science, specifically the use of fingerprinting.  The best part of the lecture for students was when the officer brought out his equipment and began dusting their fingerprints on white paper.  Volunteers had to wipe their hands on their forehead before placing them on the paper.
Most northern communities have only two or three RCMP officers to maintain order.  They are on call 24/7.  If there is a situation that requires more resources, an RCMP crisis response team is dispatched from the south by plane.  The officers on the ground have to keep the situation contained until backup arrives (and that can take many hours).  Having more officers would be very beneficial except there aren't that many officers down south who want to come north.  And currently, the RCMP is having difficulty attracting Inuit recruits.  I heard that if Arctic Bay had a third RCMP officer, the workload for the other two would decrease substantially.  All three territories in Canada do not have their own police forces; the task of maintaining law & order is given to the RCMP.  (The RCMP is Canada's version of the FBI in the United States).         

To Be Continued . . .

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