Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Iceberg & Thanksgiving

First Air was able to place all my baggage on the flight to Arctic Bay.  The check in clerks had prioritized each item because they thought my boxes would have to be delivered on the following flight.  First Air is the only airline that regularly services Arctic Bay, delivering food, mail, and medical supplies, and transporting passengers.  This good fortune allowed me to quickly restock my refrigerator with frozen foods, and bring all the school supplies to my classroom.
My students asked me if I enjoyed my time in Iqaluit and I replied that I did in fact have a good time at the training conference.  They were surprised to hear that even teachers still go to school to upgrade their skills & abilities.  I explained that this kind of learning/training is called professional development.  I added that my time in Iqaluit was not all-work-and-no-play.  I did explore the town where I used to live, photographed the landmarks, and shopped for groceries & school supplies.    
I showed several clips of the soccer game I filmed in Iqaluit.  The clip they enjoyed the most was the two girls from Arctic Bay scoring the winning goal.  I think we watched that clip at least 10 times.               
In Grade 10 Social Studies, we were nearing the completion of our study of the four Inuit land claims agreements.  The agreements were signed between 1975 & 2005 and contain detailed rules & regulations that govern the lands from the Yukon to Labrador.  They also include concessions to the Inuit people in exchange for giving up their title to the land.  Resource exploration in the north led to the creation of the agreements because the Inuit felt they were losing control of their lands to the white men.  We focused on the nine major concessions the Inuit of the Northwest Territories received.  The most visible concession is the creation of a separate territory called Nunavut.
One concession that was controversial for my students was the federal government's payment of $1.14 billion dollars for 82% of the lands that would make up the Nunavut territory.  Only 18% would left as Inuit Owned Lands.  My students felt that it should have been 50% or higher.  I agreed with my students but added that it was the best offer at the time and the Inuit received other concessions for giving up control of so much land.  For example, 85% of all government jobs go to the Inuit, the territorial government receives a share of royalties from mineral & resource development, and Inuit have the right to hunt & harvest wildlife throughout Nunavut. 
My Grade 11 Social Studies students finished the European imperialism unit and moved on to Nationalism & the First World War.  We looked at the unification of Germany, how nationalism plagued the Austrian-Hungarian empire, and the root causes of the First World War.
I gave my drummers a short break from the regular routine of practicing rudiments by showing them the 1997 musical STOMP Out Loud.  The DVD features the dance troupe Stomp performing live in front of a studio audience using a variety of objects, such as, broomsticks, basketballs, and trash cans.  I used the film to show that percussion music can be made with everyday objects.  The film got me thinking about starting a bucket drumming club one day.
I began counting down the school days we still had before the Halloween concert.  My drummers thought I had begun the countdown too early but I argued that the days would go by quickly and there wasn't any time to spare.  Since they were a beginner drum class, they needed as much time as possible to get ready.  I also introduced my drummers to the basics of playing/writing a drum solo.  In short, a solo should have: a beginning, middle, and end; dynamics; and showmanship.
It's been a year since the infamous house fire of October 6, 2014.  Even though the interior was destroyed by fire and water, the house was not torn down.  It remained boarded up for several months and then the house was slowly repaired and renovated.  The interior was completely redone, the exterior walls were repainted, the windows were replaced, and electricity was reconnected.  I'm sure the original owners were delighted to have their house back.        

I accompanied three teachers on an evening excursion to Uluksat Point on Thursday, October 8th.  We heard that a large iceberg had floated into that area and we wanted to take some pictures of this frozen wonder of the arctic.  If the rumour was true then this would be the first time an iceberg has drifted so close to town since I moved to the community in 2013.  In the past, I only saw icebergs in Victor Bay.

Teachers excited to see the iceberg.
We were driven to the point by Kaitlynd, the school's student support teacher.  Uluksat Point is located south of the local cemetery, on the western side of the bay.  The iceberg came into view when Kaitlynd drove over a small hill.  A collective gasp of amazement followed.  We all underestimated the size of the iceberg.  Jean-Francois (JF) also happened to be there with his pet dog.  He teaches high school math & science.
Block of ice.
We spent about thirty minutes taking pictures of the iceberg from various angles.  We would have stayed longer but there was a strong cold wind blowing.  I also took pictures of large blocks of ice that had fallen off the iceberg and floated ashore. 
"I can't wait until the water freezes," I commented to everyone.  "Then I'll be able to do extreme ironing on top of the iceberg!"
"I can already picture you doing that," added JF.  He biked back to town with his dog running beside him.
The rest of us got a ride with Kaitlynd.  I hoped the iceberg would stay for the winter.
Thanksgiving potluck.
Several teachers got together at JF's house for a Thanksgiving pot luck on Sunday, October 11th.  He prepared the turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, and loaves of bread.  I volunteered to prepare my favourite green salad, Caesar Salad.  You can't go wrong with that!  Other teachers brought mashed potatoes, stuffing, shrimp, salmon, broccoli/potato salad, and pumpkin pie.  We dined like royalty that night.     
The construction of the new health centre is coming along very well.  The building is quickly taking shape with every passing day.  Construction workers are now working in three shifts spread across 24 hours per day.  They are trying to get as much done as possible before December, when the temperature plummets to freezing and blizzards are more common.  Tall & bright floodlights assist the night workers by illuminating the entire construction zone.  The people who live next to the construction area have to keep their blinds closed in order to sleep.    
Arctic Bay's new health centre. October 12, 2015
Some people have already started driving their skidoos in town but I'm still waiting for more snow.  My skidoo was kept in storage at the Gas Station over the summer.  It was dropped off at my place by Frank.  

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