Tuesday, October 25, 2016

NTA & PI Meetings

JF & I boarded a First Air turboprop plane on the morning of October 21.  The plane had just arrived from Resolute Bay and was ready to continue with its flight to Iqaluit.  We were travelling to the "big city" to participate in a training conference for Nunavut Teachers' Association (NTA) Representatives & Professional Development (PD) Coordinators.  This was our second time attending the conference.  Last year's training sessions occurred in late September.  JF is the NTA Rep & I'm the PD Coordinator.  The conference this year was only for NTA members in the Qikiqtani Region.  Members in the Kivalliq & Kitikmeot regions already had their training sessions in September.
Inuit sculpture in downtown
JF & I met the NTA members from Resolute Bay & Grise Fiord.  Resolute was sending two teachers and Grise was sending its learning coach.  We briefly spoke about the lesson plans we prepared for the supply teachers prior to takeoff.        

Every school in Nunavut is required to have an NTA Rep & PD Coordinator.  The NTA Rep acts as the union's liaison between the union execs and the teachers at the school.  The PD Coordinator assists teachers in selecting and applying for funding to complete workshops, courses, and activities during PD Week in February.  Following PD Week, I help teachers submit substantiation reports with spending receipts.  Any money that is not spent during PD Week needs to be returned.  It's a lot of hard but rewarding work.

All participates were booked in the Hotel Arctic (formerly known as The Nova).  Unfortunately, the room reserved for JF & I was not ready.  We left our luggage behind the main desk and went to Yummy Shawarma for lunch.  I had been craving a shawarma since mid-August.  I ordered a large beef sandwich and it was delicious.  The weather wasn't as cold as in Arctic Bay, but there was snow on the ground, and wind occasionally blew across the streets.  We spent the rest of the afternoon visiting various stores and buying many things.  I mostly stuck to buying school supplies and several movies.  The conference would start the following day.
JF & I moved into our hotel room in the late afternoon.  It was night by the time we settled in.  The room was quite nice with two large beds.  I walked over to The Snack for dinner.  JF chose to stay behind.  The fast food establishment is owned & operated by a French family.  I had fries with gravy.
The conference began on the morning of October 22 at Inuksuk High School.  We wouldn't be disrupting any classes because it was a Saturday.  Memories of teaching music & senior English Language Arts in 2012 & 2013 flooded my mind as I walked into the building.  Everyone assembled in the library on the second floor for the official welcome.  PD Coordinators had assigned seats in the middle of the library.  We each received: a folder, water bottle, pen, apple stress toy, and several pieces of candy.  The folder was filled with important checklists & documents.  The NTA Reps would receive the same goodies except they were in a nearby classroom. 
Terry Young, NTA President and former principal of Inuksuk High School, opened the conference with a short welcome speech.  He was excited to see everyone and looking forward to speaking with everyone during the breaks.  Jeff Avery, the lead PD Coordinator, took over and explained to everyone that the next several months will be hectic and possibly stressful.  The contract between the teacher's union & Government of Nunavut is expiring next June and negotiations are starting near the end of the year.  The union's negotiating team will be kept secret so that they won't be bothered by union members.  However, a survey, asking teachers what they want negotiators to focus on during the talks, is being prepared. 
An excellent mural done by
Inuksuk High School students
in the library.
JF & the NTA Reps left the library and assembled in a nearby classroom for their meetings.  I stayed in the library with the other PD Coordinators.  The first part of the meeting was receiving and reviewing a new copy of the PD Manual.  Everyone was glad to see an increase in the amount of PD money each NTA member is able to access.  (The amounts vary depending on where you teach).  The second part of the meeting was looking at the changes of the registration website, applying for education leave, and how important it is for the teachers' union to keep the PD Fund under their control.  (The fund is always contested by the Nunavut government during contract negotiations).
Water bottles.
I spoke with other teachers in between the meetings about life in Arctic Bay and extreme ironing.  I'm sure JF talked about his time volunteering at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics.  Coffee, tea, bottled water, muffins, and selected fruits were served during the breaks.  The Frobisher Inn was the caterer.  Lunch was not provided so we were free to choose from Iqaluit's many dining establishments.  I already made up my mind.  Yummy Shawarma!  I'm probably one of their best customers.
Roast beef dinner.
A formal dinner was held at the Hotel Arctic in the evening.  Everyone wore formal clothing.  I wore a sealskin tie to complement my dress shirt, pants, and shoes.  JF outdid me by wearing a sealskin vest.  I need to find someone in Arctic Bay to make me one.  There was a cash bar offering a variety of alcoholic & non-alcoholic beverages.  The main course was roast beef, and the side dishes were salad, bread, vegetables, gravy, and mashed potatoes.  For dessert there were small cakes, fudge, and fruits. 
The conference ended the following Sunday morning with several briefings about the preparations for the upcoming contract negotiations.  I thought the conference would end in the afternoon, but apparently, several teachers had to fly back to their communities in the afternoon.  Terry Young closed the conference by personally thanking everyone for attending.  Just like the previous year, everyone was amazed that he correctly called everyone by their first name.  (There were around 40 people in the library).    
Iqaluit Aquatic Centre
The flight to Arctic Bay wasn't until Monday afternoon, so there was plenty of time to waste in the big city.  I walked around town, taking more pictures of places of interest.  I started with the new aquatic centre being built next to the fire hall.  The 25-metre pool is nearing completion and will open early next year.  The building looks pretty nice on the outside.  I just hope the facility will be worth the $40 million spent on building it.
Iqaluit's new airport terminal.
I also walked down to the new airport terminal being constructed off Federal Road.  The newspapers are saying the large red structure, eight times the size of the old yellow terminal, will be ready in late 2017.  The sooner, the better.  The old yellow terminal is constantly overcrowded at peak hours.  There were no workers present at the construction site but I didn't dare get too close.  There's always someone watching.
My older brother recently moved to Iqaluit to begin a new job and we went to the Water's Edge restaurant to celebrate.  The restaurant is located inside the Hotel Arctic.  Strangely, and coincidentally, the restaurant is where I had my first meal when I arrived in Canada's Arctic for the first time in 2012.  My older brother was following in my footsteps.  We ordered large juicy steaks and I paid for the meal.  We wished each other luck in our professions and called it a night.
Nunavut Legislative Assembly, right across the street from the Hotel Arctic.
A new building is going up in the downtown
area.  I wonder what it will be?
Monday, October 24, began with an power failure in the downtown area.  The power didn't come back on until two hours later.  During the outage, the teachers thought all flights would be delayed or cancelled.  When the power came back, JF & I learned that Arctic Bay suffered a power failure the night before and a repair crew had to be flown in from Iqaluit to get the power plant working.  We all got taxi cab rides to the airport.  All the school supplies I purchased were packed inside a blue Rubbermaid container I bought at the Northern Store.  The flight to Arctic Bay & Resolute Bay left a little later than scheduled.  The plane landed in Arctic Bay at about 5:30pm.  JF & I were driven into town by Frank.


Overall, the weekend trip to Iqaluit was a success and the NTA conference achieved its objectives.  

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