Friday, January 13, 2017

A New Year, A New Semester

Happy New Year Everyone!
Source: The Indian Express
My Christmas trip down south immediately began with an adventure.  The First Air plane lifted off the gravel runway on the morning of Saturday, December 17 and flew towards Pond Inlet.  I was travelling with four other teachers.  The plane was not in the much used combi configuration, (half cargo, half passenger), but full of passenger seats.  Upon landing in Pond Inlet, we learned that the flight would be delayed by an hour because of strong winds in Iqaluit.  What was also unfortunate was neither the local Northern Store and Co-op were open that early on Saturday morning.  We all hoped that the one hour wait would be the last and we would still be able to catch our connecting flights.
The one hour wait would later grow to four hours.  When the local Co-op heard about the delay, they came to the airport with a box of apples & bottled water for us to consume, free of charge.  Later in the delay, the flight crew had the ground crew remove the snacks onboard the aircraft and distribute them to all the passengers in the terminal.  A few of the teachers and I bought some snacks at the Northern store before we finally boarded the plane in the afternoon.
The plane landed safely in Iqaluit but the weather forced all flights to be delayed and/or cancelled.  We had no choice but to overnight in Iqaluit.  We were glad that there were rooms available in the big city.  When travelling in Canada's Arctic, you don't pack for your final destination.  You pack for where you may get stranded due to bad weather or there is a problem with the plane.  My four colleagues and I made it safely to our southern destinations the next day but on different flights.
I keep wanting to stay in Arctic Bay for Christmas & New Year's Eve but there are always things I have to take care of down south during that time.  I end up missing all the cultural activities that take place at the local community hall.  There were evening Inuit games and dances held every night from December 19 - January 4.  Maybe I will have time this coming Christmas to check out the games.
I spent my Christmas break with family and friends.  I also visited many stores to shop for school & cadet supplies.  I began packing for the return trip almost immediately after I arrived home.  I don't think I got carried away with my shopping spree but I did buy a lot of things.  In the end, I brought back five boxes, two of which had to be shipped via First Air Cargo.  I felt ready.
There are several things that I always notice when I travel south: more sun exposure, people everywhere, and the low prices.  It's always a surprise/shock to walk into a large grocery store and buy the same items I can get up north but at much reduced price.  I took a picture of a shelf stocked with 2L Coca-Cola bottles and selling for $5 for 4 bottles.  Four 2L bottles would probably cost $80 or more in Arctic Bay.  My students are going to be shocked when I show them this photo, I thought to myself.
I made sure not to repeat a very big mistake I made last Christmas (2015).  That mistake was not seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens in theatres.  This time, I made sure to go see the latest chapter in the epic space opera, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story before returning to Nunavut.  I saw the movie with my dad and we liked it a lot.
The southern teachers flew to Arctic Bay on January 2.  We only had to put up with a brief delay in Iqaluit.  January 3 was a staff day for teachers.  We all greeted each other before getting to work on preparing for the first day of school of 2017.  I would be teaching four classes: Grade 10 English, Grades 10 & 11 Social Studies, and Grade 10 Guitar.  By the end of the day, I had all my course outlines printed and the first few lessons ready.
The first day of school was more of an orientation day than a teaching day.  Even though my students already know me and the way my classroom works, I still went over the rules and routines.  (If you don't do it from the start, there will be problems down the snow path).  We also played several ice breaker games for fun.
Paulette introduces Candace & Leetia.
Two high school graduates came back to Inuujaq School on January 5 to give a presentation on the Nunavut Sivuniksavut program in Ottawa.  The two ladies have been attending the program since September 2016 and are former students of mine.  The Grade 9 - 12 classes assembled in the high school science classroom for the afternoon presentation.  When everyone was seated, the two graduates were introduced and the presentation began.
Leetia & Candace speak about NS.
Nunavut Sivuniksavut, or NS, as it's more commonly known in the north, is a two-year college program run under the guidance of Algonquin College.  The main focus of the program is Inuit studies.  Students learn "Inuit history, land claims, Inuit organizations and issues, and Inuit culture and language."  The program also prepares students for further post-secondary studies, and job opportunities in Nunavut.  The NS guest speakers also talked about life in Ottawa, their involvement in the Clyde River protests against seismic testing, and the cultural performances they participate in.
The teachers, and I'm certain the students as well, were glad to see two former Inuujaq School students attending NS and encouraging current students to do the same.  It sends the message that it is possible to pursue post-secondary education.  The NS guest speakers answered several questions before everyone was dismissed for recess.  They would stay in town for the next several days and then return to Ottawa to continue their studies.
I was having trouble turning my skidoo and assumed the carbide runners on the skis were flat.  I asked a former student of mine to replace them, but upon closer inspection, he told me that both skis needed to be replaced.  They were too flat & worn.  I was glad I bought replacement skis before the Christmas break.  Truth be told, the old skis were on the skidoo when I bought it two & a half years ago.  Replacing the skis & carbides only cost me $40.  In an isolated community such as Arctic Bay, it's always a good idea to buy spare parts in advance.

My old skidoo skis.

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