Well I have successfully returned home to Nova Scotia. There are certainly mixed feelings about being home.
This will be my last post to this blog and I am not going to sum up my experience in the North because there is just too much to say, so feel free to visit previous posts. Though I will say that I had an absolutely fabulous experience that has given me so much to think about. None of this would have been possible without the support and dedication of our sponsors and Nick Newberry. Thank you!
After being home for a few days I have faced some ups and downs at certain moments. Like when in an enclosed car full of people laughing while speeding down the highway or in a room full of people talking and asking questions. I felt very trapped and overwhelmed. In the North things happened at a much slower pace and my head was always exposed to the sky. When I have these moments I feel very sad and and almost like I don’t belong because I do not feel like I normally would. There is also no sense of urgency or schedule up North. Just this past weekend there were events to attend and times to be there. It all felt so rushed.
It has been nice to just relax and do things at my own pace for the last month.
Another noticeable difference has been the smell. Everything smells so….dirty. Whereas the smell of air in the North was so….clear. It is hard to describe that difference. Before I left I hardly noticed the smell of cow manure or silage but during my first afternoon back on a farm these smells were almost overpowering.
I am very happy to be back with my family and friends, but I am content to just sit in silence with them.
Thank you for following me along this journey.
I’m not sure if my face is wind burnt or sun burnt after today’s adventure.
Today I had the opportunity to go out on the land by snow machine to retrieve a wildlife camera and make an attempt at rabbit hunting. It was a gorgeous sunny day when we took to the snow around noon.
As we traveled along I was in awe at the beauty of the snow covered tundra. And once again I had that realization of just how huge things are in the North. Large rocks that I could see in the distance took an hour to get to. You can see forever in almost any given direction. Along the way Mike pointed out inuksuks to me. After a while I was beginning to recognize them on my own. However, it then got to the point where I was looking at any two rocks remotely close to each other and thinking ‘Oh look! Another one!’
Jack and Jill. Believed to be some of the oldest inuksuks around.
Once we arrived at the camera it was disappointing to discover that very few pictures were taken by the motion sensor over the past few weeks. Then Mike surprised me with lunch by having hot chicken fingers cooked in a small pot strapped to the engine. They had been cooking during our travel (I know Dad will be jealous when he reads this).
Once retrieving the camera and having some delicious lunch Mike let me shoot his gun. It was pretty awesome!
We then made our way to some prime rabbit hunting locations….where we found zero rabbits. But it was an experience none the less. We also stopped to enjoy the view in a few places and take pictures.
The Endless Scenery
As we headed back home the weather changed from lovely sunshine to thick clouds and wind. There was definitely weather moving in. It was amazing to see the difference in visibility after that change. It was then impossible to see any sort of contour lines in the snow. Everything was just like staring at a blank piece of white paper. It made it a little tricking getting home, mostly because we had to go sooo slow due to poor visibility. I still can’t believe how white and blank everything was, and it wasn’t even snowing!
We did in fact make it back to town; before the winds really picked up. He had told me that there are people in Pang who have lived here for four years and not been out to see the land. I was shocked! I wish every human being had the opportunity to see what I saw today. It is absolutely humbling.
Thank you Mike for the amazing experience today!
As you may have guessed by the title, there is in fact a yellow house in Pang.
The Yellow House
There is rumour that this house is where one of the members from the Group of Seven used to live. So I did a little digging.
By simply typing “yellow house in pang” into Google I was able to come up with some information pretty easily. In 1926 Maurice Haycock traveled to Pangnirtung to map the Cumberland Sound area and lived in the yellow house. Haycock was a Canadian Arctic Artist, though not a member of the Group of Seven. BUT!!! He was friends with A.Y. Jackson, who was! The two spent some time traveling the North and painting. It is suspected that Jackson did spend some time at the yellow house in Pang. And so, the house still remains.
I should mention that the house used to be white….and in a different part of town. The people of Pang thought they would try to preserve the building by moving it and painting it yellow.
More information can be found at http://mhaycock.com/index.html and check out the link that says ‘yellow house’.
Well my original Easter plans of visiting the St. Luke’s Anglican Church here in Pang were crushed by the thrill of visiting the Arctic Circle!
Mode of Transportation
The Arctic Circle passes through Auyuittuq National Park, just a short distance from Pang (relatively speaking of course). Myself and Angie rode by kamatiq behind a snowmobile for about 2 hours before reaching the marker. Once we arrived we obviously took pictures, and then took a little tour around Crater Lake.
The ice on Crater Lake was like nothing I had ever seen before. Take a look for yourself! It is so blue/green and clear. And close to 12 feet thick!!! Which just blows my mind. The surface was also the most slippery ice I have ever been on. I could slide so far in just one push. Needless to say we had a blast.
The ice of Crater Lake
Our guide pointed out the glacier that feeds into Crater Lake and explained how it has changed in the past 20 years due to warming temperatures. He says he takes a picture of it every year so that he can compare them.
Look up. Look wayyyy up…yup that’s a glacier.
While at Crater lake we stopped for lunch. I had a trusty peanut butter sandwich. Angie also played us a tune on her tin whistle. Once we decided we were cold enough (and yes it was cold, freezing even) we hiked back to where we left our mode of transportation and made our way home. The ride home was slightly less chilling with the wind at our back (the Pangnirtung fiord is a bit of a wind tunnel). On our way back we had the sun in our faces and it was lovely.
I am absolutely exhausted from today’s adventure. The cold and excitement of the Arctic Circle certainly takes a lot out of a person. I still can’t believe I was actually there!
As Mike and Lynne (as well as many others from Pang) head South for the Easter/Spring break, I will be spending my last days in Pang with Qimmiq, their dog.
Qimmiq keeping a watchful eye on the taunting raven.
Over the next six days I hope to get in as much northern living experience as possible. Ice fishing, a trip to the Arctic Circle marker and a visit to the Pangnirtung museum are just a few things on my “to do” list before heading home to Nova Scotia next week.
Such a happy and sad day all in one. Today was the last day of my teaching practicum. Which means the end of my time at Attagoyuk school.
My Grade 8’s
In the morning the grade 8’s and I successfully learned how to find the missing angle of a triangle. And just like when I was teaching down south, I got that satisfying feeling of accomplishment when I can see the students making connections and understanding. That is the feeling that comes along every so often that reminds me of how much I love doing what I do and why I chose this profession.
In the afternoon Marjorie and I treated the students to a movie, free time and snacks as it was my last day with them and their last day before the Easter/Spring break. It was great to just hang out and relax with the kids. At one point a student wandered off with my camera and got some lovely pictures of the students just being themselves, and those are probably some of my most favorite pictures of the whole trip thus far.
Part way through the afternoon the principal and vice principal came to the class to thank me for coming to Pang and spending time with the students. It just seemed backwards to me. They are the ones to be thanked; for giving me this amazing opportunity to meet and work with such a unique group of students.
The class also signed a card for me; which they all requested that I read out loud when I opened it. When the principal presented me with a beautiful book of images from Pang the kids all gathered around to look at it with me and pointed out details as we flipped from page to page. This was certainly my ‘favorite moment’ of practicum in the North.
In the foyer of Attagoyuk.
As we were cleaning up and getting ready to leave for the day a few students lingered to say goodbye and ask the question that I was hoping they wouldn’t ask. “Are you coming back?” Knowing that these kids face so much loss and people are always leaving their lives made me just want to give a definitive answer of yes. But I know there are a lot of things to consider before making that decision. So, doing my best not to crush the smile on their face I replied with “I would like to, so we will see.”
I am about to reveal something that I know I will be made fun of by my family and close friends because it is not in my usual nature to do. But I think it is worth including. As I struggled to write that last paragraph there were tears leaking from my eyes. It is amazing how strong of a connection was made with the students of Attagoyuk in such a short amount of time. To be truthful, I didn’t even realize it was happening until my time with them was up.
This experience of teaching in the North has provided a strong case of pros for when I go to make my pro/con list in deciding upon where to take my future teaching career.
Qujannamiik to all the staff and students!