Saturday, December 8, 2012

My Saturday without water

I know this is part of the whole culture shock experience but sometimes I just wish things would be NORMAL.  Does anyone have days/weeks like that?

I got awoken at 2am this morning by a loud buzzing sound.  It sounded like it was coming from the heating system but an hour later, when I flushed the toilet it stopped.  So it must be my septic system that was causing the problem.  I sat here for an hour, unable to decide what to do with no one to call, having no idea who was the emergency contact for a possible heating problem and I was worried I might succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning so it was a crappy morning. 
I think one of the hardest things about moving somewhere new is not knowing what to do if something serious happens.  Who do you call?  The 'helpful' advice I got on Facebook was to call a plumbing guy.  "Of course, I never even considered that. Duh."  *rolls eyes*  There ARE no heating and plumbing guys here or I would have called them. Sheesh. 
 It makes me worry for the next place I go.  If it's a different country and I have to add a language barrier to the mix, what might happen then?  What if one of us gets really sick or something serious happens and I can't get help?  Scary stuff.  I know I'm resourceful but last night showed me also how vulnerable I could be too.

So the latest news on the front has been this: 
I have been talking to a Vancouver recruiting agency about a possible job in Brunei for the next school year.  I passed the initial interview and was asked to submit more paperwork. Currently I am waiting to hear from the interviewer in Brunei itself. 
I also received a call from a company that manages schools in China and getting a job there is also a possibility. The recruiter from that company only hires BC certified teachers and he called me 2 years ago to set up an interview but I had already accepted a job elsewhere for that year.  He said they will definitely have positions next year and I am on the list to be interviewed for them.
It has also been mentioned that if I am interested in becoming an administrator in Nunavut, it wouldn't be a very long road to achieving that goal and I could have an opportunity at the end of this school year to take the administrator's course. That would be an upward movement in my career and it's worth looking in to.
So there are a lot of possibilities on the horizon and I don't quite know which way to go.  Another possible option, should there be a spot, is to go back to the school that I liked so much from last year.  I would certainly love to teach science there again.

I know I have no control over what happens next but I would very much like to know how this is going to play out!  It would be amazing to spend two years in tropical Brunei and I think that is my first choice.  I'm stuck a little on the second choice because although I want to teach in another country, I also would like to teach at the school I left last year as well.  The principal there was amazing and when I left I felt that I could have learned a lot more from watching her for a longer period of time.  I also miss things about that place like being able to run and eat fresh veggies and eggs right from the farm. water has just been fixed by the housing guy and now I can have a shower and wash my dishes!  :)  I have waited all day so this is exciting news!  Such little things can make you so happy here because the little things are all we have.

Here's some  photos for you:
My son sliding down a hill

Fields of white

Lake Harbour

Sunrise in my backyard


The Arctic sky

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Project based life

I was looking over my blog today and realized, much to my embarrassment, that I haven't posted anything in over a month!  Terrible blogger that I am, I have many times thought "I just have nothing to say" while excusing myself from writing.

Here is my blog about my projects and how to stave off the boredom of living in a northern place:

First of all, there often isn't much to do.  I absolutely do not miss the rat race of having so many things to accomplish in a day that you are never finished but there are days here that are boring.  Now I know I live in this amazing place where the land goes on forever but going out on the land by oneself is somewhat dangerous and it is bloody COLD out there.  Often my weekends consist of a one shopping trip to our small grocery store and then trying to find things to do at home.  To help me pass the time I come up with projects and read ideas about how to become a better person/mom/teacher. 

Project 1:  I  have a guitar which I am trying to learn how to play and my father gifted me a violin before he died that I plan to learn how to play once I get the bow re-haired in my Christmas trip "down south". 

Project 2:  I have been reading about the evils of wheat from Dr. Davis' "Wheat Belly" book and have decided to change my diet to eliminate wheat just to see if he's right.  This takes a bit more planning than if I lived south of here because our food choices are severly limited up here in the north.  So I've ordered some of the ingrediants I need to replace the wheat and grains in my diet and will have to wait until my Christmas trip to get the rest of the stuff I need to replace wheat.

Project 3:  Exercise.  I miss running so much and yet all my efforts to get a treadmill up here have met with failure.  However, I did manage to get an elliptical machine and I have purchased some Xbox Zumba games that I have yet to try out.  The elliptical is very helpful and I am glad it got up here.  I am very unhappy with the 15 pounds that I have gained back since I moved here and haven't been able to run.  I am in the process of coming up with a realistic plan for exercise that will help me feel better.

Project 4: This blog (and we know how well THAT'S going).

Project 5: Come January I will be taking two university courses online for my professional development.  I recently found out that the teacher's union here will pay up to $2500/year for courses for the teachers in their organization.  Why isn't everyone doing this??  We talk about how lucky the kids are to receive free education but some of us aren't appreciating when we get it.  So I am taking the courses to become a better teacher and less of a hypocrite. (I have decided on "ESL" and "Tech in Education - part 2)

Project 6: This is my most exciting one yet.  I have been applying to interesting jobs overseas and have met with some success so far.  I received an email recently asking me if I was interested in apply to a job in Brunei.  I applied and did an interview with the recruiting firm in Vancouver and got accepted to their firm!  Now I have to wait to see if the Brunei office is interested as well.  I should hear by the middle of December, I'm told.  So I may be living in a completely different place next year!

I should also mention that I recently was told that if I applied to a teaching leadership program up here to become an administrator in Nunavut, my application would be supported and in a few years I could move from teacher to administrator (Principal or vice-Principal).  I have mixed feelings about this:  First, it would be a great career move to move upwards into admin and I could change a lot of things I see wrong with the system if I was higher up the food chain.  However, my goal was to work here to be able to go overseas so I could experience more of the world and gain a wider perspective on everything.  So it's a tough choice.  If I chose the admin route I would be 'stuck' up here for a few years, minimum.  If I choose the overseas path I would be travelling and teaching but may never really change anything in the profound way I wanted to when I started this teaching career.  I'm completely torn.

A word about the title of my blog:  There is a lot of talk about project based learning in education and it's seen as the way of the future especially amongst technology-in-education types.  However, I wonder at living a project-based life as a way of feeling like you are accomplishing something worthwhile and being happy.  Just an idea I'm playing with.

Only 2 and 1/2 weeks to our Xmas trip down south!  I cannot wait for a break!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

It's the little things

People are always asking me what it's like to live here in the Arctic.  I tell them 'hard' but that hardly covers it.  So I've compiled a list of things that make it hard and the reasons why the people who move north do it.
For those of you new to JustGolda, I should mention that this is the second time I have lived in an Inuit community.  I started my teaching career in Umiujaq, Quebec which is a village of about 350 Inuit residents.  I was a Secondary one and two teacher (equivalent to grade 8/9) in my first year and I stayed for two years before returning to northern Ontario.
This year I am living in a hamlet of 415 Inuit residents in Kimmirut, Nunavut.  This is quite a bit further north than I was before and it's already getting darker.  The differences between the two communities are more than I thought.  People in Kimmirut are on average, friendlier and more welcoming to newcomers.  Not to put down the people of Umiujaq because some of them were awesome. It's just that the ones that were racist towards us left a lasting impression and I have not encountered much racism here yet.  Also, here in Kimmirut the kids don't throw rocks at my windows at night and that is something that happened a lot in Umiujaq.  It's the little things...  :)

OK, so here are some of the things that are different from living in southern Canada:
1)  We have water tanks and septic tanks in our house.  There is no sewage and water system in this hamlet so all of us need to get water delivered to our house.  This is not overly difficult until the water or septic truck break down.  If you don't get water delivered or the septic tank is full, you don't have water to use until it's fixed.  It happened quite a few times in Umiujaq that people had to go for days with no shower or running water because of a septic or water truck breakdown.  Another thing that happened in Umiujaq was that if you pissed off the person driving one of the two trucks they might 'forget' that they had to deliver water to you.  Either this doesn't happen in Kimmirut or I haven't pissed anyone off yet. 
2)  Everything is delivered by plane.  Everything.  There are no roads up to northern communities so food, bottled water, soap, absolutely everything needs to be flown in.  If there is a snow storm you have to wait for new stuff for quite awhile sometimes because the plane can't land.  Here in this small place we go lots of days with no plane.  Also, in Kimmirut we have a small landing strip so the only planes that can land are Twin Otters and they are TINY.  This means that if I want something like a treadmill, too bad for me because the plane door is too small for it to fit in there.  (This has happened to me this year already.  I cannot get a treadmill delivered)
The twin otter       

Inside the twin otter

3)  OK, I lied because there is another way to get stuff in here.  The sea lift is a huge ship that comes twice a year with goods.  It is far cheaper to ship in bulk through the sea lift so really organized people order a full year of canned food on the sea lift and get it around the middle of October.  This is also how they get ATVs and snowmobiles into the community.  I have also seen whole houses delivered by sea lift.  A fairly big box of space rents for about $500 on the sea lift so if you want a whole load of canned or dry food you can get it this way and save money on groceries during the year.
4)  Most communities are restricted for alcohol so you can't just go to the store and buy it.  You also aren't allowed to bring it in without a permit.  Some communities are 'dry' so there is no alcohol at all.  In those communities they sometimes don't even allow you to buy bakers yeast without being given a good reason because it's too easy to make alcohol with yeast (as if you couldn't do it by just fermenting it over time!)  This is difficult for those of us used to having wine with dinner and drinks with friends.  I must say though, it is incredibly easy to get around these laws and it's almost easier to get alcohol in banned communities than in restricted communities.  I find so far that in restricted communities people make at least some effort to abide by the process put in place.  I'm not saying that I personally am breaking laws, just that I know it's easy to do so. 
5)  There are things we just can't get.  Some companies refuse to deliver up here at all.  It's annoying.  I will never understand why they won't just charge more for shipping instead of cutting us off altogether.  (Yes, I'm talking to you, Avon Canada.  You suck!)  Other companies have started charging MORE for shipping than it actually costs them (Sears Canada). 
6)  It's quiet.  REALLY quiet.  When I go outside at night there are no sounds and it's a relief to the ears. There are no traffic noises, no background hum of millions of people, nothing.  Sometimes when out on a hike you will hear the flapping of a crow's wings but aside from that, total silence.  I love that.
7) It's cold of course.  We need heavier winter gear. As long as you have that you are fine.
8) In this smaller community there are no cars.  None.  There are a few trucks, mostly owned by the store, airport and hamlet but there are no cars. If someone has a vehicle it is an ATV or a snowmobile.
9)  The sky is alive.  I don't know how to accurately describe the Arctic sky.  At night, even when there are no auroras, the sky seems alive to me.  It's an amazing sky and one of the reasons people love the north so much.  It's also a wide open sky with no big buildings or trees to get in the way of the view.
10) Oh yeah! No trees!  We have no trees here because we are above the tree line. I personally don't have any strong feelings about trees but know that some people are bothered by the lack of trees.
From my back porch

11) There are only two stores.  The Northern store and the Coop store.  The Northern store is one that is southern based (Winnipeg, I think) and has a southern manager.  The Coop is Inuit run and probably based in Iqaluit although I'm not sure.  At the Coop you buy shares and actually make dividends every year.  Unfortunately, the Coop often has expired food but is cheaper overall than the Northern store.  I'm very glad to have two stores!
12)  It's often very windy.  That wouldn't be as much of a problem if I wasn't driving an ATV instead of a car.  :)
13) The culture is different and so you have to go through culture shock when you come up here.  Culture shock usually consists of three main periods of time: when you first arrive you are amazed and enthralled by all the new ideas and think everything is great.  Then you start to see the bad stuff and start to think everything is really bad. Then you come to the conclusion that your ideas of good and bad need to be adjusted and you come to terms with both your culture and the new one and can allow them to co-exist in the world without judging them.
14)  There are polar bears.  You in big cities may have to look around outside your door for drive by shooters and kidnappers but here we have to look around outside before we go out so that we don't get eaten by a polar bear.  We also have to be careful when wandering around in this vast land to not run into a hungry animal.  As the sign in Timmins, Ontario says "Bears are dangerous".  ha!  (I have always found that sign to be hilarious.  Imagine...having to warn people that bears are dangerous).
15) Lastly, it's darker here during the winter.  I am expecting in December, the darkest time of the year, it will begin to get dark at 2pm and get light much later than the south.  We are closer to the north pole here so the summer will be brighter than the south.  This isn't bothering me yet so hopefully we will get through it without too much sadness.

There are many other differences but these are the main ones.  If you have any questions, I would be glad to answer them.  Later I will write about how teaching is different here. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Leaving Kimmirut (temporarily)

My last post was so negative that I had to write this one just to even it out.

I am currently in BC, where I started from two months ago because I got a call two weeks ago asking me to call my brother and ask him to come early because if  he wanted to see my father before he died it was imperative that him come immediately. I made that call and my brother left early to come down from his home in northern BC. When I mentioned this at work, several people asked me if I was going. At first I didn't even consider it. All the reasons: its too expensive, I'm a new employee and won't be able to get leave, etc.  Then it occurred to me that this is not something you don't do because of money.  There are no do-overs after death. So I bought a ticket and with the help of my principal, managed to get compassion leave from work.

I have to say this: when the chips are down, a small community in Nunavut is the best place to be. People who barely know me and have never met my father were making cards and praying for us.  They have been so kind, all of them. People who have lost their own parents came up and hugged me and didn't say stupid things that don't help. Just hugged me. Because they know how much this hurts.

I'm in BC now and have been since Friday. My father isn't doing well. He is in pain and we know he wants to let go.  He is scared and it's hard to see but I'm glad I am getting to spend this time with him and will be able to say goodbye.

It seems so unfair.  A man like my father, having to die this painful and undignified death. In this day and age of men who don't take responsibility....   My father was a man who always took care of his family first. He went to work his sheet metal job while my mother took care of their five kids. They were both strict parents, took us to church every week, upheld high standards for us, always behaved well in front of us kids. No swearing, drinking, drugs, etc. They both worked hard and were always there for us.  I grew up not even knowing how awful life could have been if I didn't have my parents because they didn't let us see the hard things in life until later.

Originally this post was going to be about how much I appreciated the support I got in Kimmirut before I left but I see it's morphing into something else.  I will wrap it up by saying tht this is one of the hardest things I've had to go through and the support I received from almost strangers was touching.  I will be back in Kimmirut on Tuesday and will pick up where I left off.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Culture Shock

Hello there, readers.  I must apologize for not writing for so long.  Most of the time I have been here I have had limited acces to the internet and didn't even have a phone for 3 weeks.  It's been a rough start.
I think in my first post since I moved to Kimmirut I want to talk about culture shock.  I had been under the mistaken assumption that because I worked in an Inuit village before, I would not have to go through the same culture shock.  However, I am discovering that you DO have to go through it all over again when you come back.
Things are tough here for several reasons:  First of all, there is a complete lack of access to things you are used to being able to access.  Alcohol is prohibited or severly restricted, all goods are limited to what can fit into the small stores up here and a lot of companies either charge exhorbitant prices for shipping or simply refuse to ship up here at all.  A second challenge is the lack of respect students show to teachers.  I wouldnt even say it's a lack of respect, it's more of a contempt.  For someone who has mostly gotten along with students and classes, this was a tough one for me.  Things I say in class are largely ignored and when I explain how inappropriate this is, they laugh at me.  Thirdly, it is shocking what kids do here on their free time.  The other day I went to the daycare to drop off my son and the kids had stomped holes in the steps and the patio of the daycare. Of all buildings to destroy, the daycare?  My cultural assumption is that this behaviour is disgusting.  Not inappropriate, disgusting.
So I should say that not everything is bad.  I have been holding back on writing this blog because I didnt want to come across as ranting or putting down the culture I have chosen to live in.  I guess that didn't work out very well, did it?  Back to the good things:  I find that you develop different interests up here.  I have become interested in tea since wine tasting is largely unavailable.  Since I don't usually have the internet I have decided to buy movies and watch what everyone else used to talk about.  I didnt watch movies before because my attention span is too small.  Another good thing about this particular village is the people.  They have been very welcoming and friendly.  The arctic is very silent and clean too.  The air is without pollution and when you go outside you hear silence instead of the steady hum of traffic and people.  I was hoping to go out on the land more often but that has been difficult because polar bears are all over the place and we are advised to only go out with a rifle.  I dont own one so I havent gone too far.
This last two weeks have been difficult as the realities of teaching a grade 7 class  in an Inuit village set in.  I have even, for the first time in my career, seriously considered leaving before my contract is over.  This week was so difficult that I told the principal I was considering leaving!  Since then I have gotten some more support and a lot of suggestions from my colleagues and all of that has helped tremendously (which is why I am typing a blog instead of packing my boxes).
Well...I should get to preparing for the day so that I can finish my friday.  You know what would be nice?  A beer at a pub after work today!  Ha!  Happy friday to all.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

On my way to Kimmirut-wonderings

I am sitting in a hotel in Ottawa tonight.  Behind me are all the goodbyes I had to say which was extremely painful.  Goodbye to my daughter until Christmas because she lives with her father in Ontario.  Goodbye to my father, which is likely our last goodbye.  Goodbye to all the friends that actually bothered to say goodbye and goodbye to family that actually came to say goodbye.  Goodbye to restaurants, wine, starbucks, trees, rain, rude mainlanders, and a lot of other things.

I am wondering so many things here on the cusp of my move to Kimmirut.  Will I like it there? Will I get along with the people I am in the community with? Will I like my job? Will I get along with all my new colleagues? What are the challenges I will face that I havent been able to predict?  Will the rain be too much for me? Will the dark in the winter be too hard to bear?  Am I really prepared or have I been fooling myself? What will I REALLY miss?  I have guessed the things I would miss and have tried to send them all up there but what things did I forget?  Will my bags get searched at the airport or was I being paranoid?  Will my son have a hard time in daycare or will it be okay?  Will I be able to conquer the problems i had the first time?  To be honest, last time I lived in the Arctic I tended to isolate my life from other people.  I always do that.  However, to get the most of this opportunity I need to stop doing that so I hope that I can reach beyond my usual.

Well...I need to get up very early so I should get to bed.  Tomorrow I fly to Kimmirut!


Friday, August 10, 2012

Going North in less than a week I am, sitting in my parent's house in Chilliwack, BC in the middle of summer.  Its gorgeous outside today and will likely be a warm-enough-for-the-beach day again.  The birds are singing, the vegetation is lush and the people seem to be getting nicer (although their driving is not any better).  This all leads me to the inevitable question: "What the hell am I doing going north?"

This happens every time I move anywhere.  Near the end when people in my life are either clinging or pushing me away, when everything I'm leaving behind seems sad even if it's things that I hated while I was here, when I realize how many people I know and like, when the things I can get, things I have achieved and moments I have all seem bitter-sweet all of a sudden; this is the time when I regret leaving and wish I hadn't decided to go.

Don't get me wrong: I still need to go.  If I had decided to stay here I would have felt trapped. Trapped by the mountains, the rain, the rude people, the high prices and low wages (comparatively speaking: my employer was generous but the price of everything is so high here).  I would have wished I was going just like I wish I was staying at this moment.  So I decided to make a list of things I will miss about the south when I am gone to Nunavut:

1) The availability of goods. - I am really going to miss being able to go to the store and buy almost anything I want or need.  Some of the places I thought I could order from when I am in Nunavut actually doesn't ship to there. An example is Avon Canada.  That is a company that sells beauty products and for some reason they have decided to stop shipping to the north.  In small town Nunavut, there are two stores: the Coop and the Northern store.  They are usually quite small and carry only so many products.  An example of this is cereal: in the last village I was in they only had 5 kinds of cereal.
2) Restaurants - There are no restaurants, no coffee shops, no fast food of any kind up there.  Fortunately, I am a fairly good cook but it is nice to be able to go out for a prepared meal every once in awhile.  I remember coming out at Xmas time when I was in Umiujaq and heading to a pub after getting off the plane.  We ordered chicken wings, fries and all sorts of other fried stuff.  I was so sick!!  After 4 months of having no fried food and no prepared meals, that kind of food made me very ill.  So maybe it's partially a good thing.
3) Alcohol - I am going to a community where alcohol is restricted so I won't be able to get alcohol in easily. I will miss being able to have a glass of wine or beer every so often.  I will be missing it especially on te 23rd of August when my divorce is finally through.
4) Fitting in - I know that I will be a minority and while that is a good thing for us, I will miss just blending in
5) Safety - I was fairly certain of my son's safety at his daycare here in BC. There are a multitude to choose from and I think I chose really wisely and trusted those daycare teachers without reservation.  However, there is only one daycare in Kimmirut and I don't know them yet and no matter what I think, Im going to have to leave my son with them. Scary.
6) My family - I will be so far away!  If my father wasn't dying it wouldn't be so hard but leaving them now and not having them there for me too is going to be really, really hard.
7) Fast internet - Oh I am SO going to miss fast internet!
8) Driving my car anywhere I want - This community where I am going is fly-in only.  To be honest, I didnt miss my car last time and actually started to enjoy the slower pace of walking places and not having to rush all the time.  So I am guessing about missing my car. Maybe I won't at all.

I think that does it for my list of things I will miss.  As I said, they are guesses becuase Im not there yet and may not miss those things at all. Who knows. I may miss completely different things than what I imagine right now. In the interest of being balanced, here is the list of things I will NOT miss:

1) Rude people - as a result of being in a large place wih lots of people, many people feel anonymous so they feel free to be rude and obnoxious. In smaller places, they usually try to be nicer to everyone.
2) Traffic and bad drivers.  I had a lady yelling at me the other day because I wasn't going fast enough for her liking.  The reason I didnt go through the intersection was because there was a pedestrian there that she couldnt see.  Rude.
3) Boredom - there is something boring about having everything right in front of you and never having any challenges.
4) Rain - Oh I hate this incessant rain so much and it's about to start again soon. I will not miss that rain.  I know there is a lot of precipitation in Kimmirut too but it will start snowing soon.  No rain.
5) Rushing - people rush everywhere here and there never seems to be enough time for anything.  I spend entire days shopping for groceries, running to this store to get that bunch, that other store for produce, another one for other things.  In the arctic there are two stores and you don't get too many selections so once a week you shop and it takes a half hour and then you are done. This lack of shopping will free up a lot of time. 
6) so many people all over the place, crushing each other. - I know in canada we have wide open spaces and compared to other countries, we have a lot of space for each person.  However, here in the south it seems so FULL of people. I am going to a village of 411 people and it will be quite different.  Also, in the north there is more a of an emphasis on outside activities and outside is wide open.  No neighbouring towns so there is just a lot  I cannot wait for that feeling of freedom to kick in (after the price shock at the grocery store, of course)
7) Prices vs income - huge disparity here in BC.  disturbing.  My rent was $950/month plus heat and hydro. My car insurance, despite the fact that I have never had an accident, was $160/month and groceries were expensive too. Gas is ridiculous.  In Nunavut prices are higher. $1440 for rent, no insurance and heat is included but groceries are supposed to be even more ridiculous.  However, they are paying me $40,000 more a year so maybe it evens out.
8) Not having time - There is always a list in my head of 1,000 things that must be done and it never gets done because there isn't enough time.  Down here in BC there just isnt enough time for things and it has been affecting me having time with my son.  In Nunavut, since there is nothing to take up time except for work, I anticipate having a lot more of it.  With the extra money Im making, I will have time to get that MEd degree I've been wanting to start.

Ok, this blog is getting so long and you people probably have little time too. So I will leave it there.

5 days to Kimmirut!

Monday, July 30, 2012


I have been meaning to write this post for a couple of weeks now but it is a difficult one to write. I am facing a lot of endings right now and it's been difficult.

The first ending was the one to my trip.  It ended way too soon and I really wish we could have gone for longer and further. Right now I am back in BC and missing the tent.  The outdoors, the freedom and the family time that we are no longer having is what I am missing (not the bugs)  I fully plan on making that trip to NFLD next year and really hope it happens.

The second ending I will face is on August 14th when my cherished daughter (now 16) goes back to live with her father in Ontario.  It rips my heart out every time this happens.  I don't talk about it much but it hurt SO much when she chose to go across the country to live there instead of here with me.  I miss her everyday and wish things had turned out differently.

The third ending I will face is the day after when I leave BC and head for Nunavut.  Normally I would be excited about this but because of recent circumstances I am finding this hard.  I will talk about those circumstances in a moment.  The ending to southern life is bitter sweet.  On one hand, I am leaving the rat race, the rude people that I encounter here in BC who are reacting to being afraid of other people all the time, the consumerism that I have been caught up in, the high price of living and low wages (comparitively speaking), THE RAIN, and the lack of quiet and solitude.  On the other hand, I am also leaving a place where I can: use my cell phone, buy a coffee at a coffee shop, pay less for almost everything (compared to Nunavut), buy almost anything I want, go for a run at any time of year, spend time with family, and go skiing and swimming in the ocean on the same day(not that I ever actually DID that but I COULD). So leaving is bitter sweet when it comes to things I am giving up vs things I wont miss.  I am excited about Nunavut because I know how peaceful it is in the far north. I know I will encounter people who are more like me, adventurous, brave, and with a different life view. I will also be around Inuit again and I really miss them.  I kind of regret not going to Nunavik (northern Quebec) for several reasons too although by the time I decided to go north again they had already done their hiring for the year.

Ok, now for the final ending that I am having the most time talking about: my father.  He is very very ill.  When I decided to go north again he seemed to be getting better but now it is quite clear that he is going to die. Soon.  I cannot even begin to express how bereft, guilty, sad, and desperate I feel about this.  I wish with all my heart I had chosen to wait another year so I could be here for the final days and then for my mother afterwards.  In two weeks when I get on the airplane I will be saying goodbye to my father for the final time and I cannot bear even talking about it.  Not only will I never see him again, I will also not be present for his funeral because when it happens I will likely just have arrived in Nunavut and will be unable to leave.  I am staying in my parent's house right now and the sadness here is palpable.  It is a weight.  My father has begun to give his possessions away because he now accepts that he is dying. (he was denying it for a long time, hanging onto hope that he could beat the cancer).  Last night he gave his only winter hat to my son so that Brogan could be warm.  The symbolic nature of this gift was heart breaking because it means he doesnt think he will be here for the winter.  My mother is trying to be brave about it and doesnt really talk about how she feels but I see the pain in her eyes and the weight of sadness on her and I wish I could stay and help her after he passes.  My brother is leaving as well (moving to northern BC) and she is going to lose everyone at the same time.  It seems so cruel.

I don't know what else to say about all of these endings.  I would be so excited for my new adventure if things were different right now.  As it stands today, I wish I had made different choices in the last few months because this is very painful.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Winnipeg-Moose Jaw-Swift Current-Golden

My goodness, what a long day. I feel a little bad about not writing until now. The last time I wrote is when I was in Saskatoon! Since then we have been to the set of Corner Gas in Saskatchewan, Moosimim, Saskatchewan, Winnipeg, Grand beach in Manitoba, Regina, Moose Jaw, Swift Current and now we are in Golden, BC. We should be home tomorrow.
Today was a long day because my daughter decided she would like to be back in BC by Sunday (her birthday) and I thought today was friday instead of thursday. So I drove for 10 hours today instead of our usual 5.
I should mention our trip so far: We saw the set of Corner gas, one of my favourite Canadian TV shows. It was neat to see it in real life. After that we spent over night in a small Saskatchewan town called Moosimim and since it was pouring rain, we decided to hotel it again. Worst. Hotel. Ever. So stinky!
After Moosimim we travelled to a small farm outside Winnipeg, Manitoba. We were there for a week because my best friend lives there. While visiting we went shopping in Winnipeg, went to the Forks (famous place) and Grand Beach (the only white sand beach in Canada)
By the time the week was done we had to turn around and come back because my sister's wedding is August 3rd and we need to be back in BC by then. On the first day we made it to Regina and stayed there overnight. Then we went to Moose Jaw (just because of the name), walked around there for awhile, went for lunch and then moved on to Swift Current, Saskatchewan where we tented for the night in a campground. (Ponderosa is a GREAT campground by the way). Now we are in Golden, BC and because of a ridiculous rain storm we are again in a hotel.
I am sad our trip is ending so soon. It seems too short by far. Hopefully next year we will get to go to Newfoundland like i originally planned for this year.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Travel camping across Canada-from Saskatoon

Well we have made it to Saskatoon. Since the Calgary Stampede I have mainly been in places where finding wifi is difficult and I am sort of regretting not buying the data plan for this trip. However, maybe it's best to hold off on that until I know that people are actually reading and MAYBE enjoying my writings.

So after leaving Calgary I made my way up to Goose Lake, Alberta where a colleague and friend has a cabin. We stayed three nights in a very rustic cabin (so cool!) where we showered with rain water, sat around the campfire in the back yard at night listening to the buzz of a billion bugs, woke in a BED which suddenly seems very luxurious to me. While camping I swore off on the sticky, sweaty air mattress and went with a sleeping pad. Sleeping pads are nicer I think. At this cabin we got to go to a northern, clean lake where my son learned to not be terrified of floating. Mind you, he needs two floating devices to feel safe so far but we are making progress. After saying goodbye to my friend, we made our way to Edmonton.

I have to say this: I never cared for Edmonton. I am not entirely sure why aside from the fact that I found it a very frustrating city to get lost in while travelling to Yellowknife a long time ago when I lived in Yellowknife. So I went into Edmonton already a little hesitant about it and it did not disappoint! In the first 10 minutes of being there I almost got arrested. We stopped for a potty break and left our dog in the car. When we got back (10 minutes!!) my car was surrounded by firemen (FOUR of them) who were discussing my arrest for abusing an animal and considering breaking the window to rescue him. Someone had called 911 and told them she had been watching the car for 20 minutes and the dog was suffering. (She lied) When I opened the door and showed them how cool it was in there from the just-turned-off air conditioner they called the police and told them not to worry about arresting me. I got a lecture about leaving a defenceless animal in a hot car and they all left. Sheesh. First ten minutes in Edmonton and my daughter is saying "Why dont we just get out of here and keep going?" However, I was determined to keep our plan intact despite the over vigilance of a lot of nosy, self appointed and self righteous Edmontonians. I refuse to believe, even now, that they are all like that woman.

So next stop was our campground. Nestled right in the heart of the city it is difficult to believe while there that it is even in a city. It is fairly quiet (especially compared to the other ones we stayed at). You could hear traffic but it was faint and the campground was clean and well maintained. The best thing was that most people there were easterners and therefore very friendly. The first few hours we had visitors from other sites just to say hi. One little guy brought the dog a bone and EVERYONE said hi in the morning (unlike the other campsites where campers mostly try to pretend everyone else is invisible). THe staff is also friendly and I let them know at the end I thought they had been the best campsite so far. Rainbow Valley for those of you interested. ;)

The next frustrating thing that happened was me having a VERY difficult time finding a dog sitter. Since now I know how much people care about dogs in Edmonton I was shocked that no one would want to dog sit him in the WHOLE city. One of the main reasons was that I didnt have proof of his shots. Why would anyone want to carry around proof of shots of their animal? I dont even carry that for my children. Ridiculous. In the end someone DID end up taking him and grooming him for me while we shopped at West Edmonton mall.

I did enjoy West Edmonton Mall. It is one of the biggest malls in North America and boasts of a full amusement park, water park with waterslides and a wave pool, and a sea animal habitat and show as well as many many stores. It is an entire city block and took us all day just to walk through it. I dont know if I would do it again but it was good that I finally got to see it. We went to many stores, window shopped at stores that sell expensive clothes and my son and I got to go on the little round boats that shoots water at people. He had a blast.

Now we are in Saskatoon. We decided, for several reasons, to book a hotel for tonight. First reason is that my son has two badly skinned knees that keep getting re-skinned everytime he falls down (at least twice a day). They are both getting infected and hurt a lot. Red inflamed skin, greenish pus...Im getting a little worried about it and wanted to soak it in a bath or something. This hotel (Travelodge) has a pool and it's already looking better. At least the dirt is gone out of the cuts! Second reason is that it was supposed to pour rain tonight and I was not looking forward to packing up the tent and equipment after a downpour. So we made an embarrassing decision to come to a hotel. Call me a wuss if you want. :P

Hopefully I have an easier time keeping this blog up to date in the near future! It's hard to cram so much experience into one blog without it being too long (too late for that I guess).

Tomorrow we are heading down to the town (Rouleau?) where they filmed my favourite Canadian show, Corner Gas. After we visit that place we want to head past Regina and camp somewhere for the night. Then we are off to Selkirk to visit my best friend, S.

Until next time!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Calgary and the Stampede

I can't believe we only arrived here in Calgary yesterday. Right now it seems like we have been here for a long time. I actually found a campground that had a spot for our tent. I thought that was rather miraculous since the Stampede is going on and all. However, the spot we have is up at the top of the campground, making it a long walk anywhere. It's also mostly amongst RVs AND we had a few partying neighbours last night. Apparently the cheaper booze here in this place makes for a good party atmosphere.

I have been pondering a lot how it was to move to Calgary all those years ago. When I was here before I had just left my first husband and moved here to get away from everything. Parents, overly controlling relgion and husband and all the trappings of the life I was supposed to want but really didn't. I came here and experienced freedom for the first time, packing up what I could fit in my car and moving to a small house in SouthWest Calgary without a job or a clue of how to get one. I did get one, and a girl I worked with in BC decided to come with me so I had a roommate as well. It was all very exciting. We were dirt poor while I was here. Rent was high (ish) and minimum wage was only $5/hour. I remember once not being able to afford food because I needed the money for gasoline for the car if I wanted to get to work. I didnt have many coping skills for poverty. I didnt even think to visit a soup kitchen or anything like that so I just went hungry for awhile. It made me super careful not to ever let my cupboards get bare though!

So I moved here and remember feeling so HAPPY for the first time. I sat in my little living room the first week (alone because the roommate came later) and just enjoyed the feeling of not having to conform to anyone else's ideas for the very first time ever. I drove around Calgary just to experience it, got lost, met new people and life was just a huge, open highway of hope and promise. It was amazing. I vividly remember knowing that I had made the right choice, no matter what.

Last night I sat and looked out at the city lights, remembering these things and being glad I took the path I did. I understand that most people love or need that conventional life with the picket fence, the husband, the 25 year marriage. I just dont think it FIT me and even though I knew it all the way back when I was 21 and getting divorced for the first time, I didnt really realize that it would never be me until now. I have tried to fit it. I got into relationships that could have worked. I had the children (and am VERY glad I did), I bought the house and worked hard. But it doesnt fit, it just doesnt. I get this incredibly strong itch to break the mold, to become something different, to be somewhere else and I eventually have to do it no matter how much I wanted to conform so I finally decided to just be me and stop trying to be someone else. back to the Stampede. It was not what I expected at all. I can't say I was disappointed but I wasn't thrilled either. There were a lot of rides, it was very expensive, a LOT of people, VERY hot and a lot of vendors. I was hoping to taste some amazing steaks at the very least but the steak sandwiches were kinda blah and I have tasted better in Northern Ontario. So I don't know if I would come back to it again but glad I finally did it.

So tomorrow we are heading north to near Edmonton to stay at a cabin with a friend and colleague who invited us. Sounds like a peaceful little place and I am looking forward to it. For some reason, the usual gregarious Golda is not having much luck meeting new people this trip. Maybe it's the scowl on my face from tent camping at cramped and overly strict campgrounds? Or the hours of driving that leave me crabby and hard to like? I dont know but it hasn't quite clicked as much as I had hoped. However, the kids are having fun I think. I am very glad my daughter is here because I think 24/7 with the little guy with no break would have been too hard even for me.

Well...I promised to go swimming with them so I should get off of here before I have to pick up the dog. I will say one thing: Doggy daycare is an AWESOME idea. Thank you to the doggy daycares out there!!

Until the next wifi...

Friday, July 6, 2012

First day on the road!

Well we did it. We finally got to leave Chilliwack and make our way to the eastern part of Canada on our month-long camping trip. We got to Salmon Arm and decided to stop for the night. I was hoping to make it to Revelstoke but oh well.
As I set up the campsite with my soon-to-be-16 year old daughter (meanwhile struggling to keep my three year old son around the campsite where I could see him) I thought "Hey, I did it! I actually got out of my comfort zone and am doing this crazy thing, camp travelling across Canada. Yay me". Ha!
I think the most challenging thing so far has been the fact that the first campsite we stopped at was unfortunately close to the highway and I was awake for most of the night as transport trucks screamed by. The dog is also a challenge because he is SO ANNOYING with his incessant barking. The second challenge was getting all the camping equipment back in my tiny car when we had so carefully packed it for the first day. I actually didnt think we were going to do it but with some stuffing and yelling and gnashing of teeth, we did get the doors closed on the car after cramming it full.

Well...we are well into the second day and hoping to make it near Calgary for tonight. It's already 2pm so Im not sure if that is going to happen or not... We are only in Revelstoke so I think the best we can hope for is inside the Alberta border. WE really want to attend the Stampede even though we missed the parade.
Im in the process of trying to convince the 3 year old to eat instead of laying down in A&W to sleep. Hey, did you know the price of food at these places increases a LOT in small tourist towns in the mountains? I did NOT know that and am slightly annoyed.

Until tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Kimmirut, Nunavut

Well, three interviews later and I have been offered (and have accepted) a teaching position in Kimmirut, Nunavut. Kimmirut (formerly Lake Harbour) is in southern Baffin Island. It is an Inuit village of 411 people and is half an hour from Iqualuit by plane. They have the shortest runway in Nunavut and are only serviced by Twin Otter planes. Will be an interesting experience.
One of the things that impressed me about Kimmirut, aside from the fact that they wanted to hire me so obviously have excellent taste in teachers (kidding!) is that the principal reserved a spot for me at the daycare so that I was certain to have childcare when I got there. I thought that was an 'above and beyond' moment and I really appreciated it. It also reminded me that in small places like that, people are nice to each other without any ulterior motives. I missed that, living here in the Lower Mainland of BC, where people would probably walk over you if they saw you dying in the street.
So I am Kimmirut-bound in August! I will finally be a resident of the north again and will, at long last, get to see Nunavut. Before that, of course, I will be having my summer-long camping trip. I was planning on going across all of Canada to Newfoundland but now I will probably only make it as far as Manitoba. My sister has moved up the date to her wedding because my father is so desperately ill and she wants him to be able to attend. At this point, it is doubtful that he will be able to live through the summer and has decided to discontinue chemotherapy treatment because that is making him feel so awful all the time.
I will be blogging about our trip and look forward to the adventures ahead!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Disappointment and hope

Well I got the all important call/email that let me know my resume is competitive.  Whew!  It was from a school in Arctic Bay and the principal has an impressive resume of his own, including a teaching award for science teaching (intimidating!).  I was being interviewed for a science/math position. I was really excited about the idea of going to such a great place.

The interview went REALLY well. It was over an hour long and they asked extra questions after they were done the 13 they had planned, which I was being graded on.  However, at the end I mentioned that I was a single parent and then everything fell apart because THEY DON'T HAVE DAYCARE THERE.  Honestly, it was a problem I hadn't even considered.  I knew there might not be room in a daycare but never thought there might not actually be one.  So the interview ended with them being disappointed and me being disappointed and I'm sad that I wont be able to work with such an amazing, successful person.

That being said, I got another email today from Pangnirtung and they want an interview as well.  I feel a little better about being able to pass an interview now but still worry about the daycare issue in Nunavut.  Hopefully it's not all communities.  I did check out whether or not there was a daycare there and it seems like there is so that's hopeful.  As long as the daycare has room, I should be OK.

So I'm packing to go on my Crazy Cross-Canada Camping Trip, selling my stuff, and hoping SO MUCH that the right call, the right interview, will come before the end of the year. I would hate to have to give my month's notice in the middle of the summer to my principal now. She is so amazing and I respect her and don't wish to make her job more difficult.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Plans and hopes

I have been meaning to write in this blog since December!

Well I suppose a lot has changed since December.  I lost a boyfriend and gained a few friends. I was informed of an obstacle to going overseas that I had not anticipated regarding my son.  It's an obstacle that will take time and money to overcome. I have a few more months of experience in teaching at the aboriginal school I have been teaching at since August.  I have taught things I knew nothing about at the end of the year and have IMMENSELY enjoyed learning the new things. I have learned to be a runner and ran the Vancouver Sun Run and more recently, the Run for Water (10k)

A lot of things have stayed the same too.  My father is still very ill and is now progressively been getting worse.  I still hate rain and the place I grew up, regardless of all the things I have done to overcome this dislike.  I still have wanderlust and am constantly looking OUT instead of enjoying what is here and now. 

Some decisions I have made since December: 1) Life is too short to stay in one spot for another year. So I may not be able to go overseas next year but I certainly do not have to stay here.  I have been applying at jobs in the Arctic part of Canada as well as several jobs in the far eastern parts, Labrador. 2) I have stayed here far too long. It is disturbing that I feel like continuing on the highway OUT of BC everyday I have to drive in to work. So I have decided to do something about that this summer.  3) Stuff weighs you down so I need to get rid of most of my stuff.

My children and I are going on a two month camping trip come July.  We are starting out in BC and meandering our way around Canada, wherever we feel like going, whenever we feel like going there.  My daughter is coming out from Ontario and driving with us. We have tents. Will travel. Can't wait.

I am selling most of our stuff and have already given notice at my apartment.  I will have boxes in storage of things like photo albums and books I cannot part with but everything else is going to be gone. We will be sans 'stuff' soon. It's terrifying.

I am hoping SO MUCH to be able to go elsewhere next September.  Hopefully I hear from a school board in the north soon or it may be too late.  The thought of staying here another year is suffocating.  I love my job here but the rain and other things about British Columbia has become toxic for me. I need to leave.

I will try very hard to keep this blog up more often. I would like to write about my cross country trip and have a few other things to say about teaching in an aboriginal school in BC.  Attendance issues and technology debates are coming up!