Where we are all from

Saturday, September 29, 2007
Since I put this blog up, I have been tracking where all of the visitors are orginating from using Google Analytics ... pretty neat to see where all of my followers are in the world.





Just as an after thought here.... the locations that I can see (as in track) are only the server addresses of your ISPs (Internet Service Providers). I cannot see where you physically are. All I receive from Google Analytics is the general location (ie: if you are in Victoria, I know you are in Victoria but I do not know what your home address is, or the address of where you accessed my blog from). Just wanted to clarify that.

Iqaluit Adventure - Day 4

Friday, September 28, 2007
Today was day 4 in Iqaluit for me. Today's sessions continued on our PI and NTU training (we are all being crossed trained, which is a good thing as that means that two people in the school will be trained in both Professional Improvement and Union matters). This afternoon we were addressed by the Minister of Education, Ed Picco (a long time resident of Nunavut and long time member of the Nunavut / Northwest Territories governments). I was very impressed with his speech to us teachers. Unlike other politicians that I have head talk, Ed did not throw policy or promises of what could be at us. Ed concentrated on what his vision Education in Nunavut should be taking and is taking and how he (and the government) is making this vision a reality in Nunavut. Ed concentrated on the successes of our Education system - the students who have graduated from our schools and who are now following professional careers, how we should be integrating more industrial arts back into the system, how we as educators should be ensuring that we are providing our students with skills that will allow them to be employed anywheres in Canada (and by extension the world) and how we as educators are making a difference in children's lives, in our communities and Nunavut as a whole. Ed's address to us teachers was down to earth and thought provoking and a great way to wrap up a jam packed Friday.

A little cultural and history lesson

Considering that I have been up in the North for almost 7 weeks now, I think it is time for a little cultural and history lesson for my southern followers.

A little “history / cultural” lesson for all of you back home following my journey way up North of 60.

Flag of Nunavut

The flag of Nunavut was officially adopted on April 1, 1999. The colors blue and yellow symbolize the riches of the land, sea and sky. Red is a reference to Canada. The Inuksuk symbolizes stone monuments which guide people on the land, and also marks sacred and other special places. The star is the Niqirtsuituq (North Star), and the traditional guie for navigation. The North Star is also symbolic of the leadership of the elders in the community.

Symbols of Nunavut

Rock Ptarmigan : While most birds migrate south in the early fall, the Rock Ptarmigan is truly and arctic bird, living in Nunavut throughout the year. Called Aqiggiq in Inuktitut, it is found throughout the circumpolar world. The Rock Ptarmigan is the official bird of Nunavut.

Purple Saxifrage: The Purple Saxifrage is one of the first plants to flower in the Arctic Spring. This plant most often grows in very rocky ground where no other plants seem able to grow. Called Aupilaktunnguat (”something like bloodspots”) in Inukititut, the petals of the purple saxifrage are usually a vibrant purple colour, although a single white flower can occasionally be seen. The purple saxifrage plays a number of roles in Northern culture. The full blooming of the flowers indicates the time of year when young caribou are being born out on the land. The flwers of the purple saxifrage have a sweet taste and are eaten especially in communities where berries are not adundant. The Purple Saxifrage is the floral emblem of Nunavut.

Canadian Inuit Dog: Called Qimmiq in Inuktitut, this dog is one of the world’s oldest pure breeds and is known to have been resident in the Arctic for at least 4000 years. This dog has been essential to the survival of the Inuit for generations, being the only draft animal for long-range travel and willing and capable hunting companion. The Canadian Inuit Dog is the official animal of Nunavut.

Carvings & Sculptures of the Symbols of Nunavut at the Legislative Assembly:

Iqaluit Adventure - Day 3

Thursday, September 27, 2007
Today was filled with workshops and info sessions about Professional Improvement and Union Policy and Procedure. Was pretty neat to see all 26 communities and 42(?) schools represented at the conference. This is the first time in years that the NTA / NPIC have been able to get all of the Union Representatives and PI Liaisons together in one area.... and we got a lot of swag too ... and a lot of manuals and guides to bring back with us to our home schools (I'm just going to mail them up via Canada Post rather than pay the 125$ for excess luggage on my flight home - and yes, I am submitting that expense for reimbursement... as if I had known that I would be brining back extra stuff I would have brought a larger bag here with me than the one that I brought down).

And as usual, when you have large groups of people getting together, we all start networking and congregating in areas to talk about our subject areas. The science people went off and did their thing, the math people talked about math ... and then there were us geeks. We all stood around chatting about recent Linux releases, new sub-compact computers, whether or not we were going to participate in the computers for teacher's program where we can buy a computer and the NTA would "loan" us the money to purchase it and then we pay them back through payroll deductions, and of course anything geeky.

Well... it's Almost a Nunavut License Plate

But at least now I can say I have a Nunavut License Plate :-)

Iqaluit Adventure Day 2

Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Today was another busy day in Iqaluit. After having my breakfast of a Yop, apple and banana I set off to explore more of Iqaluit. First stop was to Nunavut News to see if they had any of the tourist guide books still available as I wanted to find a map of Iqaluit that I could follow. Lucky for me, they did. And they also gave me directions to the Tourist Center for more information. So off to the tourist information center.

At the tourist information center, I talked with one of the tourist people there who gave me some places that I should make sure I visit and some additional information about Iqaluit. While there, I did take some time to look at and read the displays and got some more information about the Inuit culture (which is good for me and I now understand the seasons a little bit more up here now). They also had some pretty cool displays of traditional clothing and tools, as well as displays of the animals that can be found up here (polar bears, seals ....).

From the tourist information center, map in hand, I took off heading to the outskirts of Iqaluit and started just walking the roads from the bottom all the way up to the upper part of Iqaluit. I didn't go out to the Apex (which looked really close from on top of a hill, but it was windy, and I didn't have my mittens with me, so I went in the opposite direction after taking many pictures of the area up there). I walked around Iqaluit, and covered most of it (or at least walked on most of the roads) for 3.5 hours.

After, I went back to my hotel room to warm up and grab a quick lunch, as I was hoping to see if I could arrange a tour at the Legislative Assembly. Luckily, there was a pre-arranged tour going on at 2:00 pm and a group of us tagged along with it. The legislative assembly building up here is very beautiful inside - the architecture was stunning. While there, I met another tourist who graduated from STU/UNB and whose children go / graduated from STU/UNB - it was kinda funny. All of us there on the tour were either from NB, NS or NFLD. Go the Atlantic Provinces! And the legend of Harry Butt continues too, as one of the people there on the tour was from NFLD and once she found out I was from Arctic Bay, she asked if I knew Harry. I told here that I didn't know him personally, but I had heard many stories about his time up in Arctic Bay.

Once the legislative assembly tour was done, I decided that I would like to just walk around town and pick up some items that I can't find / get up in Arctic Bay. In particular CD / DVD mailers so that my DVD's home make it there in one piece. Good thing there is a post office in Iqaluit that is fully stocked with those "stranger" items. So now, I can send DVD's home without worrying too much.

Now, I'm just here relaxing in my hotel room getting ready to go to sleep as tomorrow is going to be an early morning with breakfast starting at the Forbisher at 7:15 am. Although, I highly doubt I will be there before 8:00... as I think I am going to walk to the Forbisher instead of taking the cab as it is only a 10 minute walk.... and the fresh air in the morning is a nice.


Why does it seem colder in the South vs. North of 60?

A couple of posts ago when we were all discussing the relative temperatures of where we all lived, Juanasi posted the question of why the cold temperatures in the North and South (although, they may be the same) seem different. Well... I have an answer from Bernard Duguay, a Meteorological Inquiry Specialist with the MSC National Inquiry Response Team Environment Canada.

"The perception of how cold it is, is affected by the humidity and by the wind. If the humidity is low, a temperature of -30 degrees will not feel as cold as a temperature of -30 degrees when the humidity is higher, provided that there is no wind, as wind affects more the perception of how cold it is more than humidity. However, please note that the temperature itself is not affected by humidity or wind, only the perception of how cold it is.

The reason for this perception is because even on cold days our bodies are perspiring. The sweat is evaporated into the layer of air next to our skins...cooling its temperature and making us feel colder. Drier air allows this evaporation to happen quickly almost unnoticed by us. The addition of our sweat to the layer of air next to our skin is so small as to produce little noticeable cooling. In higher humidity, the moisture lingers, dampens our skin (ever so slightly) and the evaporational cooling is much more noticeable. Thus, for an equal temperature, we feel colder when it's humid than when it's dry."

So there we have it. Why it seems colder in the South vs. the North although it is the same temperature according to the thermometer.

Signs in Iqaluit

During my adventure trekking through Iqaluit, I've come across many different kinds of signs ... some were the usual signs that are all over Canada.... others.... well.. I think are specific to Nunavut.

Speed Sign

Stop Sign

Entry Sign

Exit Sign

No Passing Sign

One Way Sign

No ATV Sign

The Road to Nowhere

How to Park

Iqaluit Adventure - Day 1

(this is a day late... day 1 was September 25, 2007 .. I had to find a Cat5 cable so I could connect to the Internet in my hotel room :-) )

Polar Bear Rock Carving from 'Downtown' Iqaluit

Yahoo! The plane took off! No cancelations due to the weather! Thanks to all of the Anti-Snow dancers out there :-).

The flight to Iqaluit was pretty uneventful. Many familiar faces on the flight - several of my students and fellow co-workers and some parents of students. I will say though, the plane that we took out to Iqaluit was much better than the plane I took from Iqaluit to Nanisivik when I first arrived in Arctic Bay. This plane looked (and felt) much more... well... safe. Not that the other plane wasn’t.. this one just wasn’t near the end of it’s flight life like the other.

Somewhere's over Nunavut (Baffin Island)

We arrived in Iqaluit around noon, which wasn’t a bad time. I checked into my hotel (The Nova - recommend it to anyone who plans to travel to Iqaluit; it’s an impressive place - reminds me a lot of the Delta back home). After I checked in, I decided to do a little exploring. So off I went with my camera, extra SD card and a little cash to explore and check out Iqaluit.

I have to say, Iqaluit isn’t as big as I thought it was (unless I”m really missing an area here... and I might be as I have yet to find one of those tourist information maps), but it is interesting to walk around.

View of Iqaluit from the Breakwater

The Big Tourist Map

My journey began by going down the street that my hotel is on and stopping off at a little gift shop to see what they had for local carvings (as I am on the hunt for a small Inuksuk pendant). There were some local carvings there, but not quite what I was looking for, but close. They also had some jewelry there that contained Nunavut diamonds which were very nice, a little pricey, but very nice. Being the tourist that I am, I stuck with the safe tourist standards of a small Nunavut flag and a Nunavut Patch for my backpack.

View from the Breakwater

From there, I continued down towards the breakwater .. and along the way I came across a pretty space age looking building. It’s a school! I have to say that this school was very cool looking, especially for someone who is used to schools being built out of concrete and bricks. The school looked like the “Dome of the Future” that used to be at Rainbow Valley (yeah, you Maritimers know what I’m talking about), so it brought back some fond memories.

Nakasuk School

From the school, I continued down and stumbled upon Arctic Ventures and Arctic Survival (two stores I wanted to stop in and check out to see if they had hiking boots - neither did :-( ), I continued down to the breakwater to take some pictures of the “bay” during low tide - and yes, there is a low and high tide here. I’m hoping that when I go back tomorrow that high tide will be in so I can get some pictures of that.

Continuing my journey around, I remembered that the museum was recommended to me by a reader of my blog. Not really knowing where it was, I was about to stop and ask for directions to it until I stumbled upon it (talk about serendipity). In the museum, there were many paintings and sculptures by Inuit artists, some from Arctic Bay too. It just amazes me what can be done with stone, bone and antlers to create a work of art.

After walking around Iqaluit for three hours, my camera’s memory card was full and the battery had died. So I headed back to my hotel so I could download all of the pictures and charge my camera battery.

Two hours later (or... two Star-Trek episodes later), I’m back out in downtown Iqaluit heading to the NorthMart so I could buy some rations for the next couple of days (as tomorrow I am responsible for all of my meals .. but I get a per diem so it all events out in the end). On my way to the NorthMart, I noticed that there were all of these huge (and I mean huge) rocks all over the place down town. Curiosity got the better of me, and I had to go check them out. They were outdoor sculptures! Out came my camera and click, click, click. I must have spent at least an hour and a half just taking pictures and examining the sculptures that are along the main road (tomorrow, when it’s a little warmer out, as it’s quite nippy outside right now, I’m going to see if there are other large rock sculptures and also find out where the high school and Forbisher Inn are as that is where the conference is being held), and see if I can get a tour of the Legislative Assembly tomorrow.

Now, I’m just sitting back, relaxing in my room watching Stargate SG1 while I wait for premier Tuesday to begin (NCIS, House, Law & Order, Bones).


Welcome Back Coast Guard

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Anti-Snow Dance

OK everyone ... let's all do the anti-snow dance so that my plane will take off tomorrow morning :-)

Hmmmm... Cookies

Saturday, September 22, 2007
Peanut-Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies... YUM!

Off to Iqaluit I Head

Thursday, September 20, 2007
Next week brings another adventure for myself. Tuesday morning (Sept. 25) , bright and early, I leave Arctic Bay for a conference in Iqaluit as I am our schools PI rep and all of the PI reps for Nunavut schools are all gathering together for training sessions / networking (I'll be down in Iqaluit until Oct. 1; I get back in Arctic Bay around 5:30 pm).

What is really nice about this trip is that I get to spend 1.5 days in Iqaluit before the conference even begins as flights down south only happen every couple of days, not every day. This is excellent, as my last stint in Iqaluit (the 8 hours in an airport) I didn't venture too far, but this time I can take the time to really go walk around Iqaluit and check the place out and visit as much of it as I can for the short time that I am there.

Crossing the Arctic Tundra

Sunday, September 16, 2007
This afternoon a group of us teachers and RCMP (myself, Paulette, Monty, Darcy, Salam, Aletha and Glen) went for a hike out along the arctic tundra to the waterfalls close to Arctic Bay. It was a pretty good hike out, lots of snow in some areas and green (well.. kinda green) tundra grass. And as usual, we had plenty of rocks that we had to climb down, up and across to get to our final destination.

The waterfalls were a pretty amazing sight. The falling water and ice formations were breathtaking and well worth the sometimes slippery hike along the rocks to the base of the waterfall.

The Arctic Tundra Hikers

The Season is Summer, the Weather is Snowy

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The first "real" snowfall of the school year (as I was told by my students today). All I can say is that it is kinda weird having weather that is similar to NB in the middle of winter in September... but enjoyable all the same.

I think I'll go outside and make a snowman.

I'm in the Arctic ... this is normal

I woke up this morning to about 1 inch of snow outside.. and it's still snowing now. It's only September 13, 2007. Laugh all you want. :-)

Outside my front door

Where is the bay?