Sunday, October 28, 2007


I attended a pair of Saturday night Halloween parties last night. Check out more pictures over on Kate Nova's blog. I was able to make the transformation into a Mormon missionary frighteningly easily. No offence intended to actual Mormons - although if I happen to offend Republican mormon presidential candidate Mitt Romney, that would be fun, but mostly because he's a Republican. If I had planned better in advance, I could have ordered some Mitt Gear, my favourite being a novelty foam baseball mitt. "Great for Kids and Adults!" Because nothing is scarier than Republicans, especially waving foam mitts.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

increasing darkness, snow, and children

My week has been a hectic one. I started a new job on Monday, which I almost didn't start due to a police-check mix-up. My afternoons consist of a whirlwind of visiting classrooms with children who, at their worst moments, have climbed on top of their desks, climbed under their teacher's desk, sworn at me, worn laundry hampers on their head, and hit me in the face with said laundry hamper. Having said all that, mostly things have been going really well. Honest. I haven't planned any serious work yet, so we've mostly just played math-related games. Hopefully I can continue being the guy who visits the inuktitut classrooms and does fun stuff, with an increasingly focused plan to teach a full slate of math and English skills.

Hopefully, I will be able to keep a positive outlook as it gets dark earlier and earlier. It's already looking pretty gloomy by 5pm. I'm told we lose 50 minutes of daily light each week.

Also, it appears as though the snow has settled in as a long-term resident. My blog header shows the view from my window from a few days ago. My big red parka has became my new companion. Photos of me hidden behind my furry hood to follow.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Not quite Cape Dorset

Today I checked out the Cape Dorset print collection, which started showing in town. There was some amazing stuff! Like this:

Job List

For those keeping score.

1.) Daycare (weekdays)
2.) Library (2 weekdays + Saturday afternoon)
3.) Tutoring prisoners (volunteer, once a week)

1.) Reading tutor at elementary school (weekday mornings)
2.) ESL Math teacher at elementary school (weekday afternoons)
3.) Library (2 weekdays + Saturday afternoon, although I'll probably drop a shift soon)
4.) Adult ESL teacher at college (one evening a week)

So, it looks like that Education degree is of some use after all.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Outside of the library last week, whenever I looked out the windows onto the beach, I would see a group of ravens crowding around a white lump. On the weekend I went out to investigate, and found a dead seal, mostly intact, except for its head and bottom flippers. I'm not sure what happened to this guy, since I'm pretty sure hunters here are pretty good about using the whole seal, especially the meat and skin of the body. Maybe it died of natural causes. It was still pretty sad to see this particular seal washed up on the beach.

I thought of this seal yesterday, when I tried on a pair of sealskin mitts which still smelled like the sea. I realized that my friend lying on the beach wouldn't even have the dignity of the job of keeping someone's hands toasty warm.

Inuit hunters used to sprinkle snow into the mouth of seals they had recently killed, believing that it would ensure the spirit of the seal would not go thirsty. I'm told they don't really do that any more, which I think is a shame.

But maybe that's just because I'm a qallunaat.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Ontario: yours to discover

Hey, all of a sudden it's the Ontario election. And here I am in Nunavut, where it is emphatically NOT 30 degrees. But I have been paying some attention.

Thankfully, John Tory has managed to do for the Tories through his misstep on funding for religious schools, what Mike Harris and his years of financial mismanagement, corruption, and hatred of all things good and decent couldn't quite completely do (which is why Tory tried to position himself as the 'anti-Mike Harris'), and eliminate the party from contention.

This is probably going to lead to a majority for Dalton McGuinty's Liberals that they don't really deserve. I don't really dislike McGuinty that much - like most people, his total lack of charisma and android-like demeanor make me feel very little about him. Which I think may be the new key to success in politics - the politician as Nowhere Man. But, dude, that health premium sucks. Not to mention the promises to close the coal fired generating plants in, uh 2007, um, 2014, er, eventually.

Earlier in the campaign, there was the possiblity of a minority government - that's definitely what the NDP were counting on with their 6 priorities, that seem to be written as a list of demands in a minority situation. The Ontario Green platform is actually worth a look - it actually has some decent details - I particularly like their transportation plan, for instance. But, since the NDP is running on a green platform to use renewable power instead of nuclear and coal, invest in transit, etc, I'm not to sure the Green Party has much more to offer environmentally, or otherwise, especially when their leader describes himself as "fiscally conservative". Fiscal conservatism, as mentioned above, brought a $6 million deficit to a province during a booming economy.

But none of my opinions matter much, since the Liberals will get to do whatever they want for the next 4 years. With 40% of the vote. Which is why the only vote that really counts on election day is for Mixed Member Proportional (MMP). Go to Vote for MMP for more info. (You could also go to the sad excuse for an opposing MMP website.) There's also this blog that is largely devoted to the subject, and is worth a read. Sadly, like most of the parties I vote for, MMP likely won't win either, because it's gotten no publicity, so people don't understand what it is, and McGuinty has set it up to fail with a 60% threshold for it to win. Sigh.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Turkey Day, now with actual turkey

What a long time vegetarian looks like trying to help his girlfriend carve a turkey:

Sunday, October 7, 2007


Ever since I arrived in Iqaluit, I've heard about Broomball. Almost every male I've met in this town plays it. I've never had any contact with this sport until arriving here. Yesterday, I gave it a try. Let me give a primer to those who know nothing about broomball (which was me until a few months ago).

Broomball is played on ice with shoes. If this sounds absurd, wait 'til you see the special shoes developed for this purpose. These shoes first seem pretty brilliant, when you step out onto the ice and it feels as if it's spongy and soft beneath your feet. But when you try to move with any speed, the reality of shoes on ice hits you - ice is slippery, it's impossible to stop on, and is hard when you fall on it. Apparently, new shoes make a big difference. However, I'd say it's hard to avoid the laws of physics.

Broomball doesn't use brooms. Well, they call them brooms, but they're really short sticks with rubber bits at the ends that look best suited to smacking people in the ass. Maybe once broomballers used real brooms, in the early days before the special shoes were developed.

Broomball is played with a ball. They're about the size of a cantaloupe, and look like balls played with by young children. Except that they're smacked around by strange sticks, brandished by fully grown adults trying not to fall down.

Photos will follow. Probably of me flailing around on the ice with my pads falling off, trying to use my "broom" usefully. Thankfully, we wear helmets.

p.s. - in my broomball research, I discovered a broomball team in Illinois called - I'm not making this up - The Blazing Ptarmigans.