Monday, August 15, 2016

The 4th Return

The summer of 2016 was good but short.  It's always surprising to see two months just fly by within the "blink of an eye".  I shouldn't complain, though.  There are plenty of professions that do not offer eight weeks of paid vacation.  This summer was about rest & relaxation.  A part of me wanted to visit another country, but all the land trips up north tired me out.  Sometimes it's good to just stay home and do nothing . . . until you can't stand it anymore and have to step outside.
I spent the majority of my summer in my hometown of Ottawa, but I did some travelling.  The "high point" of my summer, figuratively & literally, was when I completed the CN Tower EdgeWalk  in Toronto for the sixth time.  I'm quite the veteran.  The experience is a great way to see the entire city and to rid yourself of acrophobia.  The weather was hot but the skies were clear.  I could see the buildings that make up downtown Niagara Falls!  (Niagara Falls is 127km south of Toronto).  I stayed in Toronto for Canada Day (July 1) and filmed the celebratory fireworks at the Harbourfront Centre (Part 1 & Part 2).
As the month of July came to a close, I began the usual preparations for the return flight to Arctic Bay.  The fridge in my apartment was bare and needed to be restocked.  Two boxes of perishable & frozen foods were packed.  They would be my excess baggage on the flight.  I had prepared several other boxes to ship up north but they were placed inside a large sea container in Montreal.  The container would be shipped to Arctic Bay by boat, arriving in late August.  The container actually belonged to JF, the high school math & sciences teacher.  He offered space on his container, (for a price), to the teachers of Inuujaq School, if they wanted to ship goods from the south by boat.  (You save money if you do a sealift order but you have to order bulk items.  And you also save money if you do a sealift order with a group of people).  Several of us accepted JF's offer and we filled the container as best as we could.  The container was transferred to the Montreal dock before JF left for Rio.
JF would be arriving in Arctic Bay a little later than everyone else because he would be in Rio de Janeiro for the Summer Olympics as a volunteer.  He would be one of many Canadian volunteers, but probably the only one representing the territory of Nunavut.  He made sure to pack a Nunavut flag.  JF was a volunteer at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.  We all envied him; he was on a trip of a lifetime.  He promised to take many pictures and bring back a lot of stories of his travels.
The fourth return began on Monday, August 8th.  The first three-hour flight was to Iqaluit.  Upon landing in Nunavut's capital, there was enough time for me to grab a shawarma from the Yummy Shawarma & Pizza restaurant down the road.  The airport's security area was closed off because mold was discovered.  A temporary security area was created.  I can't wait until the new terminal opens next summer.
The flight to Arctic Bay made a brief stop in Hall Beach to refuel.  We were allowed inside the terminal to stretch our legs.  Two of the old DEW Line dishes were still standing next to the airport.  The plane touched down in Arctic Bay in the late afternoon.  The mountainous landscape looked the same.  Frank greeted me at the airport and gave me the keys to his pickup truck.  Quite a few people had arrived this time and he would be driving them into town in his minivan.  These included the school principal and a new teacher.  I drove myself, Ryan, and his wife into town, along with all of our belongings.  I was glad my food boxes hadn't been left behind.  I spent the next three hours unpacking and putting my apartment in order.  I returned the pickup truck when I was finished.
When I was driving towards the community, I noticed the iceberg had almost completely vanished.  There was just a very small piece of ice floating above the water.  I assumed the remnants would be gone in a day or two.

I went to see the newly painted school on Wednesday, August 10.  A couple of people said "Welcome Back!" to me as I walked to the school.  The building's exterior had been repainted with the same colour.  Personally, I would have preferred something more brighter.  The interior walls were painted white.
I entered my classroom expecting to see a large empty space, but instead, all the furniture and chairs had been placed exactly according to my established floor plan.  I assumed my students did this because I didn't leave a drawing with the painters.  Thank you.  The old carpet was gone, replaced by beige flooring.  My classroom will be brighter this year.  I spent some time moving my instruments and other items into my classroom before calling it a day.
August 11 & 12 were staff days; a chance for everyone to get their classrooms in order and to prepare for the first day of school on Monday, August 15.  A lot of handshakes and greetings were exchanged before everyone gathered for the first staff meeting.  The meeting began with a prayer before the principal welcomed everyone.  The two new teachers, a lady from Igloolik & a lady from Trinidad, were introduced.  Class schedules were handed out and the principal explained what was to happen on Monday.  We spent the next two days preparing for Monday.  By the end of Friday, I was ready for the first day of school.
New health centre.
The construction of the new health centre is coming along.  The exterior looks nearly complete and has been painted blue.  I'm not sure about the interior because I'm not allowed on site, but I can only assume that things are moving forward.

KGVM & Gas Station.
Arctic Bay. August 14, 2016.
On Sunday, August 14, community members and Inuujaq School staff gathered at Uluksaan Point to mark the start of the academic year.  The afternoon event was organized by the local Anglican Church.  I started walking towards the meeting area, taking pictures of King George V Mountain (KGVM) & Arctic Bay.  I know I already have too many pictures of them, but the water in the bay was very reflective and the sunlight was perfect.  I made it just past the cemetery when Paulette pulled up on her atv and gave me a ride the rest of the way.  Paulette is the high school arts & English teacher.
Hidden berry pickers.
There were a few people already at the point when we arrived.  Some had gone berry picking in the nearby hills.  A convoy of pickup trucks, atvs, and even the school bus arrived en masse several minutes after my arrival.  The point was alive with people.  Speakers, a keyboard, and several microphones were set up.  A small generator provided electricity.  When the berry pickers came back, the ceremony began.

The emcees were Rev. Leah May and Sam Willie.  They called each staff member to the front and introduced us to the audience.  We then sang two hymns in Inuktitut & English.  The ceremony concluded with the blessing of the food, brought by community members.
Cooked seal meat.

The food was cooked on Coleman stoves and over small open fires.  I was offered a large piece of cooked seal and some bannock.  The seal was quite good except there was too much fat attached to the meat.  I discarded the fat, leaving it to the birds.  When I was done with my meal, I took pictures of the large gathering and surrounding landscape.  Two people on a boat happened to be speeding by when I had my camera out.  I was able to snap a picture of them with the large pyramid looking mountain in the background.  They were most likely heading out fishing and/or hunting.


Frank gave me a lift to the school so that I could do a last minute check on my classroom.  The furniture and posters were in their proper places.  My lesson plans were ready.  I was ready.        



  1. I like reading your blog every time I'm homesick. I start reading some your blog about home and to see some pictures of home thank you