Monday, February 15, 2016

Return of the Sun & Valentine's Day

February 7, 2016
Dog Pen. February 7, 2016,
The sun returned to Arctic Bay during the first weekend of February.  Dark season was officially over.  I made sure to get out of the house and take pictures of the event.  The sun would only be visible for a small amount of time.  I drove out onto the ice and photographed the sun peeking over the mountains.  I also took pictures of the community and the iceberg bathing in the arctic sunlight.       

John - Emcee. Picture taken by Ryan.
Inuujaq School held its annual Return of the Sun celebration on Monday, February 8th.  My guitarists & I brought all the instruments, music stands, and sheet music to the gym after afternoon recess.  By the time we were set up, the entire student body was assembled in the gym.  I knew my guitarists were nervous about their first public performance; the expressions on their faces were clearly communicating that feeling.  I privately confessed to them that I was nervous too.  One student asked how I "deal with it".  I replied that I ignore and carry on like there's nothing wrong. 
Elder lighting qudlik. Picture taken by
The ceremony began with the gym lights being turned off.  (I believe this was to represent the darkness that enveloped the community since last November).  An elder at the front of the gym lit a qudlik, and slowly, the light emanating from the fire grew brighter.  The gym lights were then turned on to signify the return of the sun.

Grade 1 Class.  Picture taken by Ryan.
Grade 2 class.  Picture taken by Ryan.
The Grade 1 & 2 classes sang several Inuktitut songs to welcome back the sun.  They were all wearing white coloured Inuit-sewn shirts, and sun hats made out of construction paper.  The Grade 2 class wore sunglasses and two of the students played on Inuit drums.
Me addressing the student body. Picture taken by Ryan.
Two of my guitar students performing
"Amazing Grace".  Picture taken by Ryan.
My guitarists were the final act of the ceremony.  I was called up to the front to introduce our two songs.  We played "Ode to Joy" and "You Are My Sunshine".  (I'm getting better at speaking into a microphone).  Two of my students then played "Amazing Grace" as a way to remember a community member that recently passed away.  Our performances were well received.
Picture taken by Ryan.

Picture taken by Ryan.
An Attendance Awards Ceremony was held on Friday, February 12, to congratulate those students who achieved perfect attendance for the month of January.  It also gave everyone a chance to show off the red & pink colours they were wearing for Valentine's Day.  Valentine's Day would actually be happening on a Sunday this year, so the Friday was the closest school day we had to acknowledge the day.  The elementary school students made their own valentine hats out of red & pink construction paper.  I just wore a red dress shirt with a matching tie.  A Valentine's Day Dance was held at the community hall later that evening but I didn't attend.

KGVM Crown
On Sunday, February 14, I decided to spend Valentine's Day by driving up King George V Mountain (KGVM) on my skidoo.  I have done this before, but this time I would film the entire experience with my two GoPro cameras.  The resulting short film would show viewers the exciting journey one makes to get to the summit.  I also wanted to take pictures of the sun shining on the snowy arctic landscape.
Selfie Time on top of KGVM!
I wore several layers of clothing and heavy outerwear to keep myself warm.  My outerwear consisted of: Canada Goose Resolute parka, Tundra snow pants, and gloves; Baffin Impact Boots; a face mask, and a skidoo helmet.

Uluksan Point. February 14, 2016.
My backpack contained: a machete, spare sparkplugs, snacks, first aid kit, camera, binoculars, some snacks, and a bottle of engine oil.  On me I was carrying a Garmin GPS and SPOT Device.  One GoPro camera was attached to my helmet while the other was attached to the skidoo's windshield.  Even though my skidoo was fully fueled, I attached a three-gallon gas can to the back of the vehicle.  You never know.  When my skidoo was ready, I pressed record, hopped on, and began my excursion.
The weather was clear and sunny.  I drove across the frozen bay, past the Gas Station, and got off the ice near the garbage dump.  I continued past the dump and followed the road to Sewage Lagoon for some time.  I drove off the road and followed the skidoo trail to the left of KGVM.  I drove up one rocky hill, then down, around, and then climbed up the first steep hill.  I stopped at the top to admire the view behind me.  I continued driving into a long ravine behind KGVM that led to the second & final steep hill.  The bright arctic sun appeared when I reached the top.  As I have mentioned many times before, the summit of KGVM is a large & wide rocky plateau.  I followed a previously made skidoo trail to the side of the mountain where one can see the community of Arctic Bay.  I stopped my skidoo several metres before the edge and walked over to film some landscape footage.  By the time I hit the stop button, both cameras had recorded 17 minutes of raw footage.  I would have to devote an entire day to reviewing all the footage and editing a final cut.

Tom & Sarah looking at Arctic Bay.
I  was surprised to see Sarah & Tom taking pictures from the summit.  Sarah is the Grade 9 teacher and Tom is her boyfriend.  They had arrived several minutes earlier.  We chatted about the upcoming professional development week and took pictures of the surrounding landscape.  I stayed longer and took pictures of the airport, victor bay, the iceberg, the sun, and Arctic Bay.
Sewage Lagoon Sign.
KGVM from Sewage Lagoon.
On my way down, I took a detour and drove to Sewage Lagoon.  This was my first time visiting the place where all of the town's sewage is disposed.  I was glad the smell wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  From the lagoon, I took a very good picture of KGVM with the moon in the middle of the sky.

I took a second detour and drove out to the iceberg near the airport.  This was my first time visiting the iceberg during the day.  In the past, my visits were only at night.  (It was always eerie seeing the iceberg slowly appear in the darkness.  The experience made me think of the horror game Slender).  On this particular day, the sun was shining brightly and the sunlight was reflecting off the iceberg.  I took many pictures of the natural frozen wonder from many different angles.
Someone had built an igloo next to the iceberg.  I walked up to the entrance and peaked inside.  I wanted to crawl into the igloo but I felt I was wearing too many layers to fit through the entrance.  Plus, I didn't want to be "that guy" who accidentally caused the igloo to collapse.  I stood back and took pictures of the igloo on its own and with the iceberg in the background.
I drove back to my place and immediately began editing all the pictures I took.

(Update: My skidoo video is on YouTube.  You can view it here.  Enjoy!) 

Arctic Bay. February 14, 2016.

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