Monday Morning Musings

Posted on December 9, 2019 under Monday Morning Musings with no comments yet

“Country” food


“I can see paradise by the dashboard light.”

Paradise by the Dashboard Light. Meatloaf

I can almost see Christmas in the headlights.

As mentioned before, I don’t sense the usual hype leading up to Christmas. I listen to CBC radio a bit on the weekend but with no other commercial radio stations and with no television, I have escaped the deluge of Christmas ads and Christmas music. The two grocery stores in town don’t play much music of any description. Actually, all of the Christmas music I have experienced so far has been in my classroom with most of it provided by me.

We are busy preparing for the Christmas concert. We have two songs ready to go: Feliz Navidad and John Denver’s “Country Roads”. I happened to play the latter one day and the children latched on to it. They are getting a smattering of Maritime (Atlantic – don’t want my Newfoundland and Labrador readers to feel slighted!)  music of course. I’m teaching them about the capital cities in Canada in geography. I played a video of St. John’s and then taught them “Excursion Around the Bay.” “Oh me, oh my, I heard me old wife cry; oh me, oh my, I think I’m going to die”. They’ve already got the chorus down cold including the fist pump and “hey” at the end of each chorus! I’ve also shown one of the promotional videos for Nova Scotia. I decided to teach them “Farewell to Nova Scotia” instead of “Barrett’s Privateers”!

By the way, I appreciate all of the suggestions that teachers and retired teachers from back home are sending me with regards to curriculum. Thank you.

On my way home to lunch on Thursday, I met this tall woman coming in the other direction. I’m getting used to seeing new faces in Kangiqsujuaq as people “from down south” show up regularly. I overcame my shyness (!) and asked her who she was, where she was from and what brought her to town. “My name is Anna Dunn- Suen, I’m from Spryfield, Nova Scotia and I’m here putting on volleyball clinics for the next week.”

It turns out that Anna is a remarkable young woman. An academic all- Canadian, she played volleyball for the perennial women’s volleyball champions at Dalhousie University in Halifax. She is a professional beach volleyball player, a volleyball coach and a Master’s student at MacMasters. She actually lives and trains in Toronto. She was a member of Canada’s National team and has travelled to many parts of the world. I must admit that the last place on earth that I thought I would meet a professional beach volleyball player was on the frozen tundra of Northern Quebec… and from Spryfield to boot. What a wonderful world we live in.

I invited Anna to the staff Christmas party at the school. You can tell she’s seen some of the world. She fit in very easily with a room full of strangers. We chose to sit with several of my Inuit colleagues and their families. We shared raw, frozen beluga and warm conversation. The potluck table contained all of the usual suspects. I made sweet and sour meatballs and a large pot of mashed potatoes as my contribution.

There was a separate table, if that’s what you want to call it, for “country” food. This is the food that has sustained the Inuit for centuries: beluga, caribou and arctic char. There was also a pot of seal soup on the potluck table. The frozen country food was laid out on a piece of cardboard on the gymnasium floor. The women and children sat and carved off pieces of meat and fish with sharp knives and shared with anyone who wanted some. I tried the beluga and while it didn’t have a lot of flavour, I was told that it is very nutritious and warms the body when consumed during really cold weather.

One of the people at our table was the woman who made my parka. I am her number one fan. It will be a treasured keepsake from my time in the north but most importantly, it keeps me warm on the coldest days.

After supper, we all played some games. It was good to see the staff be able to relax and have some fun.

I am happy to share these experiences with my faithful readers as it might give you to some insights into daily life in the north. If you really want to learn about the history of our indigenous people, might I suggest an excellent book written by a local Inuk woman. “The Right to be Cold” by Sheila Watt- Cloutier is her personal account of growing up in Nunavik, this region of Northern Quebec.

For you “non-Facebook” folks, I put out an appeal last week for children’s glasses. If you have any children’s glasses lying around, would you please drop them off to Jason Burke at Antigonish Optical? Glasses are difficult to come by and very expensive up north. I hope to bring back several pairs when I return in January.

Have a great week. Hope to visit with some of you when I come home for Christmas. My social calendar still has some openings!!!!!

P.S. Thanks to all your shares, I was able to find someone to sublet my apartment in Antigonish. You guys are terrific. Much appreciated.

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Highland Hearing Clinic

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