Dark season is in full swing. The sun no longer rises above the mountains, and it gets dark & cold at night. When I go outside, I wear my heavy Canada Goose clothing and always carry a flashlight with me. I started taking Vitamin D pills several days ago and they seem to be working. I’m still in good spirits and not feeling agitated. It will take a few more days for my mind to get used to seeing darkness in the morning. My skidoo works in the colder weather but it needs several more minutes to warmup. The ice in the bay is thick enough to support skidoos & vehicles.
3045 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps promotes the 3 “A’s”: Attendance, Attitude, Ability. It’s what the adult staff uses when choosing cadets to be on certain teams, attend summer camps, and representing the corps & cadet movement while out of town. Even though adult staff repeat these three words very often, the cadets tend to forget them. I decided to help the cadets remember these words by having them printed on custom made fidget spinners. The test batch arrived in the mail several days ago and I was excited.
I didn’t tell the cadets about the fidget spinners until Wednesday, November 22. At the end of the night, I called out cadet Willie, Lloyd and presented him with one in recognition for maintaining 100% attendance. I could see from the other cadets’ faces that they were jealous. I told them more 3045 fidget spinners were on the way . . . from a factory in China.
My Grade 10 English students were deep into the last unit of the course: oral pieces. They’re one-act plays. I’m glad the students find the plays I’ve chosen to be quite amusing. My students don’t have to get up and act out the parts but I do encourage them to read at least one character. What I like about the plays I use is that the playwright wrote characters that cater to the three kinds of students: those who like to read a lot, those who like to read a fair amount, and those who read only a little bit. There’s a part for everyone!
My Grade 10 Social Studies students are completing their study of the Canadian Residential School System. They’ve read survivor stories, learned about brave & influential voices, and listened to a residential school survivor tell his story about attending schools in Inuvik & Churchill.
My drummers & I are getting ready for the upcoming Christmas concert in December. We learned a few new cadences and some worked on their solos. My students felt as if they were on tour, having to prepare for a third public concert. In previous years, the drum class performs only twice.
The highlight of the month was me showing them the water effect. The deal was that everyone had to clean up the mess on the floor and their drums at the end of the lesson. You pour water on your drums and then play loudly. The water bounces upwards, creating a spectacular visual effect. We wore black aprons to protect our clothes from getting wet. Several drummers put forth the idea of using the effect at the upcoming Christmas concert, but in the end, we decided against it, because there would be too many microphone wires on stage. Nevertheless, the students really enjoyed playing with water.
When teachers from the south travel up north to teach in the communities, they do not realize that many Inuit are unfamiliar with English idioms. I do my best not to use too many in the classroom unless I’m prepared to explain what they mean. The high school students are getting better at recognizing and understanding idioms. Sometimes a little too well. Late in the month, my English students were working on their one act play assignments, some alone and some in pairs. Two of my students were complaining that they couldn’t think of anything (writer’s block) so I told them to their heads together and brainstorm some ideas. Well, they certainly did put their heads together! (See attached photo). I took a photograph of them before helping another student with their assignment.
November 24 was the secretary’s last day. She had found another job in town. The staff of Inuujaq School decided to do something nice on her last day. Two large Thank You cards, one in English, the other in Inuktitut, were written up and signed by students and teachers. After school, the staff gathered around a phone in the staff room while the secretary sat in the main office. The staff paged the main office and one-by-one, each staff member gave a personal Thank You message to the secretary. The secretary was then called down to the staff room for a social gathering.
|The secretary listening to the thank you messages.|
|The staff wait for the secretary to arrive.|
|Secretary shows off an her ulu|
The secretary entered the staff room and everyone applauded. She sat down on a couch and was presented a few gifts. She unwrapped each gift and showed them. The one I liked was the large ulu (knife). The secretary thanked everyone for the cards, gifts, and said she will miss working at Inuujaq School. We all enjoyed a variety of snacks after the gift unwrapping. I don’t think anyone ate dinner that night.
The afternoon of Monday, November 27 was filled with music. Dubbed Music Monday, the teachers & students of Inuujaq School went down to the gym to enjoy Inuit music performances. I believe schools across Nunavut held similar events the previous week, part of a territorial wide initiative to keep Inuit culture alive.
|Grade 3 Class.|
Once everyone was gathered, the assembly began with the Grade 3 class singing an Inuit song. This was followed by the Grade 7 teacher singing a different song and being accompanied by a high school Inuit drum dancer. The assembly took a brief detour to the Caribbean with the duet drum performance of the Grades 9 & 8 teachers. Calbert is from Jamaica and decided to show everyone that drumming is very important & popular in his home country. He & John played several rhythms on two African hand drums. John provided the accompaniment and Calbert improvised. The audience was really impressed. The last act was Debbie, the high school Inuit culture teacher. Holding a Yamaha acoustic guitar, she played & sang a joyful song in Inuktitut and got everyone to clap along.
|Calbert & John.|
I was asked if my drummers could perform for Music Monday, but we declined the invitation. We were still tired from performing at the Canada 150 Cultural Show and needed time to prepare for the Christmas Concert. Overall, Music Monday was a fun afternoon.
Even though Arctic Bay is surrounded by mountains, the community still receives adverse weather every now & then. The morning of November 29 was very windy, so much that school was cancelled. Rather than head home in the dark, Calbert, John, JF, & I decided to stay and get ahead in our work. JF, the high school math & science teacher, later recruited us to try out a new product that was sent to him.
The product was from FloorCurl.com. Basically, it’s a curling set you can play off the ice. Inside the large bag are 8 curling “stones” on wheels and two large scoring mats. We laid the mats at opposite ends of the high school hallway and took turns pushing the red & purple stones as close as possible to the centre of the mat. I have to admit, it was a lot of fun throwing/pushing stones down the high school hallway. Calbert, John, & JF agreed and assumed the students will also enjoy playing floor curling. The rules of curling are still a little confusing to me, but with much practice, I’ll get it . . . eventually.
|I try floor curling for the first time.|