Saturday, April 1, 2017

Late March (2017)

The school received several large batches of Nunavut News newspapers several days ago.  The newspapers were a little dated, March 13, 2017, but the information inside them was still good & current.  The school regularly receives copies of the paper every two weeks, I think, and classes use them for a variety of reasons (collages, current events, media studies, etc).  A small surprise lay within this issue.

I was briefly scanning through the pages when I came across a page-long feature article about Leetia, a former student of mine, who recently won QIA’s Inuktitut Literacy Month song & poem contest.  Naturally, I began reading the article and learned that she almost didn’t submit her original song but did at the last minute.  The article also gave a brief biography about Leetia and her musical upbringing & inspirations.  I knew she would mention her older brother as a source of inspiration – I taught him guitar in 2013 – because he is very musically proficient on guitar.  What I wasn’t expecting was to see my name in the article and her crediting me for teaching her “proper guitar.”  Whoa.  My profile in Nunavut just went up a notch.  I made a mental note to personally thank Leetia when she came back to Arctic Bay after finishing her studies at NS.
The feature article was also written in Inuktitut on page 21, and my name, written in English, was clearly visible in the sea of syllabics.  More unilingual Inuktitut speakers are going to know me, I thought.  I felt great that day, knowing the music program I started in 2013 was having positive effects on the Inuit youth of Arctic Bay.  Copies of the article were posted all around the school for everyone to see.
Nunatsiaq News Online posted an article on March 30, 2017 about the Canadian Museum of History’s – [sigh] Museum of Civilization sounded so much better – upcoming new exhibit containing a replica of a Thule man, based on the remains that were found near Arctic Bay in 1959.  The exhibit is scheduled to open this July (2017), just in time for Canada’s 150th birthday.  (The museum sent a representative to Inuujaq School in late 2015 to talk about the exhibit).  The article included photographs of the clay & silicone made replica and Grade 9 students from Inuujaq School who happened to be in Ottawa for an Encounters with Canada trip.  The students were given a private tour of the exhibit.  I can’t wait to see the exhibit with my own eyes!
March 27 – 31 was Inuujaq School’s Drop the Pop Week, a time when students & teachers are encouraged to stop drinking soft drinks and instead pick up more healthy beverages.  Drop the Pop Week (DPW) is an annual health promotion campaign in the Canadian territories that educates students about the dangerous effects of routinely consuming sugary drinks.  This year’s focus was diabetes and how the disease is related to sugar intake.
A quick recap for first time readers of my blog.  Pop – aka soft drinks - consumption is high in Arctic Bay and all of Nunavut.  I’ve heard stories of people consuming as little as one can a day, to as high as one case a day.  (One case = 12 cans in a box).  One can costs about $2.50 for most of year, and then the price increases to $6 in the late spring & summer.  Tooth decay is also rather high in the territories because pop is cheaper to buy than milk, juice, tea, & water. 
Reducing and/or halting your pop intake comes down to willpower.  I told my students that if they couldn’t stop “cold turkey” then just reduce their weekly consumption.
There were three main challenges: poster challenge, creative challenge, and student challenge.  The poster challenge is pretty much self-explanatory.  Create an informative poster about the dangers of sugary drinks.  The creative challenge was for classes who wanted to come up with a song, dance, poem, or video.  And the student challenge asked students to record the number of days they went without drinking pop.  The Grade 9 class held a Smoothie Making tutorial for all classes on March 28.
A Drop the Pop Assembly was held at the end of week on March 31.  The staff came to school in the early morning to prepare the breakfast for students, parents, and elders.  Bowls of fruit, vegetables, cheese, and bannock were made.  The gym was set up with tables & chairs, and a portable PA system.  When the food was brought over from the kitchen to the gym, the teachers went ahead and divided up the food, placing equal amounts on paper plates.  A beverages table was organized in a corner, stocked with juice boxes, bottled water, tea, and coffee.  The last thing to do was to decorate the gym with the many posters that were prepared by students. 

Pop Art - Grade 9.
Grade 4 Poster.
The posters came in a variety of sizes, from small to gargantuan.  The largest poster was made by the Grade 4 class, a giant Pepsi can that featured an important message about consuming three cans of Pepsi per day.  Three cans of pop roughly equals 1L.  And there are 365 days in a year.  The students used a 1L carton of milk and figured out how big of a rectangle 365 1L cartons would make.  It took four teachers and a lot of tape & staples to put up the poster.  We were glad the gym has a mezzanine floor.

Inuujaq School staff begin serving the breakfast.
JF's new kamiks.
The assembly began with opening speeches from the principal & DEA chair.  (DEA stands for District Education Authority).  The breakfast began after an elder said a prayer.  I came to the assembly wearing my black & brown kamiks.  JF was also wearing his kamiks, except they were grey, white, and just recently made.  His kamiks were made by Qaapik Attagutsiak, Arctic Bay’s prominent elder.  JF & I helped the staff distribute plates of food to the students & guests.
Me serving breakfast to students.
Grade 9 students and their teacher
perform slam poetry.
The creative presentations followed after the breakfast.  An elementary class performed a song, the Grade 8s did anti-pop rap, the Grade 9s did slam poetry with African drums, and the high school media class presented anti-pop video.  Unfortunately, I can’t present you with the video footage I took because the files are larger than what Blogger allows.  I’ll just say that all the presentations were creative and well received by everyone.  The winners of the poster challenge were given Co-op gift certificates.

I think the school did a good job of getting the message out about the consequences of drinking too much sugary drinks and what happens when someone has diabetes.  Whether we reduced pop consumption is up for debate.  Like I said, it all comes down to willpower. 

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