Monday Morning Musings

Posted on May 17, 2021 under Monday Morning Musings with one comment

This is how my life felt when I arrived in Kangiqsujuaq


“All things must pass,

None of life’s strings can last,

So, I must be on my way,

And face another day.”

All Things Must Pass – George Harrison

Yes indeed. All things must pass.

Circumstances took me to the north and now reality will bring me back home.

It has been quite the ride. I still shake my head often and wonder what in the hell happened in the past couple of years. I promise that this is the very last time I will use the word surreal in a post, but this word best sums up this latest chapter in my life. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would return to the teaching profession, especially in the Arctic, in a fly-in community. But isn’t this the beauty and wonder of life? We’re never sure what’s around the next bend in the road.

My earliest days in the north were very hard but let’s face it, there are millions of people around the world who understand real hardship. The days were dark and bitterly cold. I was like a fish out of water trying to manufacture lesson plans in the absence of a formal curriculum. I inherited a difficult class, a group that continued to push me to my limits on many days but a group that I will love and cherish.

The school year will end in a few days. In some ways, the past week may have provided more real learning opportunities than all the previous months put together. A colleague from head office told me that this was the time to celebrate a year of hard work with my class.

There are two grade 6 classes in the school, one for students learning English as a second language and the other, French. My counterpart, Pierrick and I have worked together throughout the year. The two groups were considered a bubble under Covid protocols. We did a lot of activities as a group. With the year winding down and year end testing and reporting completed, we decided to put the books aside and have some fun, but fun with a purpose. We did a big cleanup of garbage in the school yard. With all the melting lately, the garbage surfaced. We went to the school kitchen and prepared spaghetti sauce and baked some cakes. We went for walks. We watched movies and we played games. My colleague’s boyfriend is the head nurse at the local clinic. He was able to arrange to have male and female nurses come to the school and talk to our students. We had a session on hygiene and another on puberty.

What did our students learn? Yes, they learned about wellness and their bodies but something far more important. They learned about responsibility (the yard cleanup) and teamwork. They learned about effort and reward. They really enjoyed the spaghetti dinner that they had helped to prepare. As is typical, we cooked way too much spaghetti and along with the remaining sauce, we put the leftovers on a table in the staffroom. It didn’t last long!

On a personal note, one special moment from last week stands out. It is no different here than anywhere else. There are students who don’t fit in. They come from difficult domestic situations. While school provides a safe and caring environment, they struggle mightily and often rage against everything and everyone. We were in the kitchen working in small groups. I asked Donna, (not her real name), a student from the other class that I only knew by reputation, if she would like to make a cake with me. With the hood of her hoodie covering most of her face (and wearing sunglasses!), she grudgingly agreed. The transformation was stunning. She was totally in her element as she almost single handedly whipped together the cake. She obviously knew her way around a kitchen. She was comfortable and confident. In the modern vernacular, I was “blown away”. I don’t know what will become of her but for one 30 minute period of time, Donna mattered and felt good about herself. I was thrilled beyond words to be a part of something special.

What’s next? My future is uncertain just like everyone else. Until we get a handle on Covid, it is very hard for any of us to make plans. I’ll come home at the end of May and quarantine for the fourth time (Q4!). I’ll continue to work on my 7th book and hopefully get some fresh Atlantic lobster in my belly. And rest.

In the meantime, I will finish the year and remain focused on the present. Someone sent me this quote a few weeks ago. It resonates with me.

If I think about how long I have left to be here, my heart and soul won’t truly be where I am. I am here until someone tells me I am needed somewhere else.”

Have a great week.


The finished product!

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