Saturday, December 13, 2008

Getting Ready for the Holidays

Christmas time is as busy up north as it is back in the south. Jacques and I have been busy with parties, visiting friends, practicing for concerts, getting in the Christmas spirit and counting the days til we see our kids. One of the two airlines that flys up north puts on a huge Gala ball at the end of November to kick off the holiday season. The tickets are $125 and the money goes to different charity groups in Iqaluit. I think over 500 people attended this event. Jacques was lucky enought to get us 2 tickets. That meant we both had to get dressed up. I haven't had an opportunity to really get dressed up in years. Well I am glad I still had my slinky black dress. It's the only one I brought north with me. I hoped it would do for a "Gala"! I looked okay and Jacques was handsome in his nice charcoal suit. Boy what a variety of dresses. There were beautiful evening gowns, terrific looking cocktail dresses and even prom dresses. I wish I had gotten some pictures of a few of the gorgeous dresses lots of the women wore. The hairdos were another thing. I just washed and blew my hair dry. These women had all been to the hairdressers for updos with ribbons, pearls and flowers strung through their hair. I guess when it is the only major event of the year you make the most of it. They had drinks and appetizers first. The appetizers were scallops wrapped in bacon and mini chicken shish kabobs. The bar was open and the liquor flowed. This was followed by a buffet meal prepared by the Frobisher Inn. A very nice meal! After the meal they presented cheques to the different charity groups and had a draw for some plane tickets and a beautiful sealskin coat. Darn! I didn't win anything. The evening ended with a dance to a fun band they had flown in from down south. Jacques and I boogied to the disco beat for a while and then caought a taxi home. All in all a lovely evening.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Our Inuit Art Gallery

I am taking you up on your idea Donna P. Here is a peak at the beginnings of the Deschenes' Inuit Art Gallery (Ha! Ha!)
The two Bears is a piece we bought because the fellow knocked the price down to $10. I think it will actually look great in the right frame.
This picture on the right is our favourite piece. We wanted it as soon as we saw it. It is from a local artist here in Iqaluit. We hope to get a few more of his pieces. It represents celebrating after the kill of an animal (I think)
The set of three pictures at the bottom are about a hunter trying to catch a seal. Each picture we have purchased is different in the techniques. So many different works of art to choose from. I hope to select a few carvings to add to our collection sometime in the future.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Well report cards are done and parents have been in to the school to pick them up. I feel like a weigh has been lifted off my shoulders. I worried about how the process would go up here. It was great to know that I could use what ever format I was comfortable with. I went with the report card style I used back at Kingston with a few tweeks. Other teachers here in Nakasuk liked my format and used it as well. It was so nice to here the positive comments from the parents about how their children like coming to school. It made my day!
Went out to the Kicking Caribou to celebrate with a few friends. Jacques tells me he got out extra money to do some Christmas shopping. I know that sounds weird to shop at the bar but that is what we do sometimes. A lot of the local artists have people come into the bars and restaurants selling carvings, jewelry, pictures and even clothing like mitts or hats. We have done a bit of shopping that way. Jacques bargained a picture priced at $260 down to $200. He got a set of 3 pictures the other night. We will probably have enough pictures for an art gallery in our living room when we go back home.
The Frobuild Family Apartment Building
Thought I would tell y'all a bit about our apartment here in Iqaluit. There are 6 apartments in the building. Everyone in the building works for Frobuild. There are 4 one bedroom apartments on the first floor and 2 three bedroom apartments on the second floor. We were lucky to have one of the 3 bedroom apartments. It gives us lots of room and has one of the best views in town. We see the airport and all the planes landing and taking off as well as the harbour and part of Frobisher Bay. No boats out on the water anymore. The harbour is frozen over already. Check out the pictures of our apartment.
The top 2 balconies are part of our apartment and our

entrance is at the side of the

Above are 2 views of the kitchen
The dining area and the living room below
Our Bedroom
The spare room I use as an Office

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Halloween Time in the North

Well, Halloween has come and gone. We had no Trick or Treaters so Jacques and I get to eat the box of chips we had ready. We live in an area that doesn't have many children. It was also a very cold and uninviting night to be out Trick or Treating. Imagine wearing a snowsuit over your Halloween costume!
I did have a busy day at school. The children all dressed up for the afternoon and so did a lot of the staff. All I had was an orange shirt and black pants. I didn't know that they went all out for Halloween. I'll have to bring up a costume to wear next year. We had a party in our class that afternoon. I never so so many goodies. The children took home as big a haul of treats as if they had gone trick or treating in my room. Many parents made up bags of goodies for every child in my room as well as cookies and other treats. I had to find bags for all the loot they took home from school.
We had a costume parade in the Gym half way through the afternoon. The teachers did some crazy dancing in the middle of the gym and then each class paraded around so everyone could see all the different costumes. There were lots and lots of little princesses. I saw some very elaborate costumes. I had pirates,the Hulk, Spider man, many princesses, vampires and monsters.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

First Snow Day

A Storm Day so I have no school!!
Well I got the call at 7:00 am that school had been cancelled for the morning. Because all students go home for lunch they could have us back in class this afternoon. The way the wind is blowing...I don't think so! It started around supper time last night with a bit of wet snow then the high winds picked up. By 7:30 you couldn't see anything out the windows. Our back bedroom windows are covered in so much snow you cannot even see out of them. At least the building doesn't shake so much now. The posts must be frozen in the ground with the cold weather we have been having. Snowmobiles are now a better way to get around. They have started zooming up the roads here this morning. That means Jacques will be itching to buy us a couple. Imagine us roaring over the tundra together. Boy that would be some picture!
I have been a busy girl since I did my last post. Things are going well and I really enjoy being involved in a new system and school. I guess a change is as good as a rest. I have started Aqua Fit classes with 4 other ladies from school. We go Mondays, and Wednesdays from 6:00 to 7:00 pm as as Saturday mornings at 9:00 am. All go to breakfast after the Saturday morning class. The pool is in the same building as the Frobisher Inn. They serve a nice breakfast and a great Sunday Brunch!
I am getting back into sewing so it was a good idea that I shipped my sewing machine up here. Got some blue material to make my first Inuit parka. Very excited to get started on the coat and know it will come in handy in the winter snows.
Did pick up a Canada Goose coat which is good for the minus 50 weather we will be getting later. My aunt figures it must be made of gold threads form the cost of it. Too Much!! Check out Donna the big Brown Bear! It feels like I 'm wrapped in a huge duvet. I could fall over and the coat would break my fall with all the padding it has. I bought a blue knitted hat and learned it is a Pangirtung Hat. They come from the community of Pangirtung which is a short airplane ride from us. It fits nice and snug on my head and has been very practical on cold and windy days supervising the playground.

Took my class swimming a couple times in the last few weeks. They love it and it is fun watching them splash and play in the water. Our first swim day was after about 6 inches of new snow had fallen. We have to hike up a steep hill to get to the pool. That's buses to take us there. It was a beautiful walk in the new fallen snow. On the way back we all slipped and rolled down the hill. The children had as much fun on the walk back to school as they did in the pool. So did I!
We just got our first piece of Inuit art. Bought a drawing when we were out at a bar one night. They come around to your tables in restaurants and bars trying to sell clothes, earrings, purses, mitts, hats, carvings and pictures. We have bought a few things when we have been out. Jacques has wanted to get some pictures since he arrived in Iqaluit. Check out the photo of our first piece of art. Well enjoy the fall but remember us snuggling down for a long winter's nap.
PS It is Jacques' birthday but I cannot give him his present because I left it at school. He could use it today as it is a nice pair of handmade leather mitts. Oh well, they will come in handy over the rest of the winter I am sure we will have!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Building a Home in Iqaluit

I have been fascinated by the way they build homes up here. The ground and weather don't lend themselves well to putting in cement basements like back south. They start with large steel posts that are pounded into the ground using this crazy machine...don't have any idea what it is called. The ground is all rocks and then you hit the permafrost. Not easy to deal with when you want to place a home on it. The homes are actually above the ground. That means the main floors need to be well insulated. The floor has steel and wooden beams for support then they are insulated.

Once The floor has been laid then they go to work on the walls, one side at a time.

When all of the sides have been raised then it is on with the roof.
They use metal for all the roofs here. Just like our old house in Greenwood for those who remember our home on Dalmation Drive. When it rains you hear that drip drip noise on your roof.

Now they have a roof and they can work on the inside away from the wind and snow. Right now there are a lot of homes going up on our street. They are working 7 days a week to get things set before the real snows come through. I will update this blog when they actually finish the outside of the house.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends!

Donna and Jacques

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Almost Two Months in Iqaluit

All is quiet here on Sundays except for the builders across the street. They even work Sundays. I guess you have to take advantage of the good weather while it is here in order to get things done before the snows really arrive.
We had our school Terry Fox Walk on Friday(Sept 26) and had milder weather for it. We walked a circle around the main roads of the city and back to our school. It stopped a lot of traffic and lots of people came outside to cheer the children on. It did seem a bit strange walking in ski jackets and gloves. When we got back to school they gave the kids a longer recess. Seemed just like back home.

No classes on September 29th as we had a staff inservice day on Picturing Writing. I love the program already cuz I get to play with watercolour paints. My students love it too. We hadn't done much except play with the paints on dry paper and wet paper. We did have the priviledge of learning more under the program developer herself- Beth Olshansky. She came to our class for an hour every day and worked with the children. She focused on the sky and how it changes during the different times of day. They did paintings of twilight and sunset. They also started to write about their paintings too. We will soon have enough work together for them to each have their first published book. Check out some of their paintings.

These are pictures of Twilight up in the North done by grade 1 and 2 students. The picture below is a finished Sunset page for one of their books which will be called Painting the Sky.I am very proud of my little artists.

Leaving you with a real Iqaluit sunset. No snow today!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Snow in September

One minute you couldn't see down the hill to the airport and the next the sky is clear again!

I wasn't expecting to dig out my boots, ski jacket and gloves so soon. We has small snow showers on Sunday (the 14th). Looked out my window one minute to a clear view and a whiteout the next. It was over as soon as it arrived. It has snowed on and off all week since.

When we got up Tuesday(16th) morning there was a couple inches of snow on the ground. I was on duty all day and had to deal with snowball. I should say dirtballs because our playground is all sand and gravel. We do not have pavement only days here. No pavement to speak of anywhere around the school. By supper time there was no snow around but it keeps coming back in spurts. We did have a high wind warning on Wednesday night. The buildings rocked and rolled all night. Being up on stilts means these buildings move a bit in strong winds. I got rocked to sleep that night.
See the metal posts that hold our building up. We live on the top floor, too!

This was the sunrise on Thirsday morning. It was like the sun painted the ground with a golden paintbrush.The mountains in the distance look beautiful with their white dusting of snow. You can actually see the snow showers coming off in the distance when the cloud cover is not too low.
That's all from "way North of Nova Scotia" This week!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Starting Over Again

Wow! It is hard to believe that I have been here almost 4 weeks now. It was strange walking into a different school and trying to set up a new classroom. The school looks like a big octagonal marshmallow in the center of town. It is are located across from the main grocery store, too. At noon and supper time we even have some traffic. There are no traffic lights. We have lots of 3 and 4 way stops. The speed limit is 40km/hr or 30 in front of the hospital. Jacques has a hard time keeping down under those speeds after spending years doing so much highway driving. We have already gotten into a daily routine. He goes to work at 5 or 6 and then is back to pick me up at 7:30. Check out his vehicle. It is a good thing it is 4 wheel drive as the roads are real rough out here. We have checked out most of the roads in town but haven't gone all the way out the Road to Nowhere. I'll need a couple gravol for that road!
Well back to school life. Classes start at 8:45 am and we sing O'Canada partly in Inuktitut then french and finally in English. I haven't retained any Inuktitut yet. All the children take off their outdoor shoes at the entrance and carry them to class. Imagine trying to do that at Kingston School. I have a class of 21 students. There are 8 grade 2 students and 13 grade 1's. They only have 1/2 day Kindergarten so many of the children are not as ready for grade 1 as those with full days in primary in NS. Different systems. They do provide a lot of materials for the classroom. I have oodles of math manipulative's compared to back home. My class was well supplied with books and other materials. This picture is the bulletin board outside my room.

We finish our morning at 11:50 when everyone goes home for lunch. We have 3 buses to take those that do not walk or get picked up. I had one student just stay on the playground the first day because she just wanted to swing. That afternoon when we got her on the bus she didn't get home. They found her on a playground in her neighbourhood on the swings. We have to make sure she gets to the bus daily. My students call me Donna. It was very strange when they called my name for the first few days. It's a Hey Donna here and a Hey Donna there! We get recess at 10:30 and the children have snack time before we go out. We provide Cheez Whiz and crackers for those without snacks. There are also apples and oranges as well. The picture below is my Word Wall and the shelves where my students leave indoor shoes and snacks.

Everyone is back in class at 1:05. It gives Jacques and I enough time to go for lunch at home or out to one of the restaurants. We usually end up at the Snack because it is quick and the often serve Quebec style food. My class has language lessons at 1:05 everyday. Some go for French and the others go for Inuktitut. Every second day I pick them up from language and take them to Gym, I get 1/2 hour prep on Day 1 and an hour prep on Day 2. They only get music if I sing to them...poor kids! Thank goodness I brought a couple tapes and Cd's with me. Send me children's music, ladies! Below is our carpet area with my calendar and math board

Our school day ends at 3:45. Boy am I exhausted by then. We have staff meetings on Thursdays after school. I usually get home around 5:00 or 6:00 depending when Jacques comes to get me. It is too far a walk up the hill after school . This picture shows our reading and listening area with pillows and carpet. Every table seats 4 students. The gap in the wall is a space to go into the next classroom. We have cupboards and shelves blocking it from both sides. The room is a weird shape. (all rooms are weird shapes)I am excited about getting my student computers up and running. I have a teacher computer with a colour printer. I can even photocopy pages on it. All student materials are supplied by the school. We have a storage room where we go and get what ever materials we think we will use in our room. I found lots of supplies in my room so had lots to get me started the first week of classes. There is a little side room on the right side of my class if you are entering the room. I can set up a painting area there for art or have quiet assessment time with students. I have a fully stocked art cabinet so I am set to be creative!This picture shows more white boards and my math bulletin board.
I have oodles of math manipulatives in the bookcase and beside it. I do not have to go searching the school for math supplies because I have most everything I need at my fingertips.

This is my little area with storage and a work area plus 2 sinks. I have a blackboard, too.

Check out the only window in my class. It is like we are in a boat with this porthole.

My Bank of computers which are yet to be hooked up. Below is the teacher's corner where I get to work once the students have gone home. Hope you liked the tour of my class. I am enjoying setting up a whole new class and experience.

Catch you again in a week or 2. I have started watching the procedure they go through when building a house up here in the North. One is just getting started across the street from our apartment.