Thursday Tidbits

Posted on November 7, 2019 under Thursday Tidbits with no comments yet

Magnificent Kangiqsujuaq at sunrise


“Is it safe for me to go out walking early in the morning?”

Most of you know that I’m an avid walker so it should come as no surprise that this is one of first questions I posed to my new best friend from Kangiqsujuaq, ADF.

“If you stay within the boundaries of the town, you’ll be fine,” was her reply. For a newcomer to the north, this is kind of what I expected her to say. “However, should you decide to wander beyond the town, make sure you carry a knife.” This comment immediately got my attention.

I have to admit that the last two weeks have been a gigantic blur. Early in the fall, I was trying to map out my plan for the winter months. Staying at the apartment binge watching “Suits” and perfecting the art of cream pie making weren’t going to cut it. I narrowed down my options to teaching in the north or volunteering in Tanzania. It would be hard to fathom two options more diametrically opposed.

A few weeks ago, the north came calling and I answered. In a whirlwind of activity, I was offered a teaching position in the Nunavik region of Northern Quebec. I completed mounds of paperwork, packed my personal belongings, and hopped on a plane (s) – the entire trip required five different flights.

On the flight from Montreal to Kuujjuaq, I sat with a film maker. She was traveling to Northern communities to screen her new movie, “Restless River” based on the Gabrielle Roy novel, “Wind Flower”. Although she is from “down South”, she spent the better part of four years in Nunavik researching and filming the movie. Of course, I asked her for advice, something I have been doing routinely lately. Her answer was pretty simple. ”Enjoy the experience.”

I changed planes in Kuujjuaq and ended up in the very front row (no, it wasn’t business class but I lucked out on the Halifax to Montreal leg by occupying a seat in business class). My seat mate, ADF, looked at me and asked,”Are you the new teacher in Kangiqsujuaq?” I guess bad news travels fast! She kept me spellbound for the next three hours as she has been teaching in the school where I was heading. A challenging pregnancy is forcing her to move closer to home in the south.

Not only did she provide me with tons of useful information about the school but she also told me quite a bit about herself. When she’s not up north, she lives “off grid” in southern Quebec. She is extremely talented with her hands. She is a carpenter but can turn her hand to just about anything including skinning a polar bear! Yup. Not all that long ago, she learned the fine art of removing the hide from a polar bear. The beautiful parka she was wearing, she made with her own hands.

It was dark as we approached my new home community. We couldn’t see Wakem Bay below but ADF and the flight attendant were having a spirited conversation about the beluga whale hunt going on in the waters below. Apparently the belugas come into the bay twice a year and local hunters hunt them for food. Apparently the meat is very tasty. It is chilled and eaten raw. I suspect that I will be partaking of this delicacy very soon.

We were met at the airport by two staff members of the school. I was immediately taken to the local Coop so that I could get a few things to keep me alive in order to show up for school today. I got a quick tour of the school and was taken to my apartment. It is probably three times the size of my apartment at home. It was designed for a family and has four bedrooms on two levels, a sunken living room and a very spacious open concept kitchen, dining and living area. The staff person who got us at the airport also gathered up a few supplies, including some of her homemade soup and spaghetti sauce. I feel at home already.

So why do I need to carry a knife on the outskirts of town you ask? Polar bears.

My education is just beginning!

Have a great week.

P.S. A shout out today to my daughter, Betsy who will be blowing out candles after work!


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Highland Hearing Clinic

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