Thursday Tidbits

Posted on January 9, 2020 under Thursday Tidbits with one comment

Kangiqsujuaq – January 2020 (avatit avatit)


Photographs and memories, Christmas cards you gave to me,
All that I have are these, to remember you.
Photographs and Memories – Jim Croce

Just before Christmas, we had “picture day” at our school. Surely you remember this day when you were in elementary school? There’s a lot of energy in the school getting the class ready to walk down to the room being used by the photographer. A lot of energy. As a teacher, it is one of those days that you simply try and endure. But don’t feel badly for the teacher. What about the poor photographer? Is there a tougher job in the world than doing school photos especially with younger children?

When I was home for Christmas, I went looking through some old photo albums from my last teaching gig, forty years ago. I had a full head of hair back then and I was certainly thinner through the waistline. I still have almost all my school photos thanks to our amazing mother who kept all these things over the decades.

Pictures were also taken in high school and I carried a few of the wallet sized photos of classmates around with me for literally decades. They were all pictures of girls.

Of course, my most famous school related picture is my university grad photo from St.Francis Xavier. I clearly remember the day that I stood in the kitchen of our house on Hillcrest Street with my massive afro. I was trying on the gown that was to be worn for the sitting. My mother was not amused. “For God’s sake, go and get your haircut. You’re a damn fool if you get your picture taken looking like that.” I forged ahead with my afro intact and it has provided so many laughs over the years. Sorry mom!

A few days ago, I handed out the proofs to the students along with the class photo. I had to look twice. I still find it hard to believe that I am a classroom teacher at the age of 68 in Northern Quebec.

On my return trip to Kangiqsujuaq, I was carrying a photograph taken 50 years ago by a retired teacher who lives in Antigonish. The picture was of three young boys at the school where he was principal. The boys were from Kangiqsujuaq. He was curious to know of their whereabouts. I showed the picture to the Inuit staff on Monday. I was thrilled to hear that all three are alive and well and one of them still lives in Kangiqsujuaq. I plan to meet him on the weekend and show him the picture.

Photographs and memories.

When I was home for the holidays, I had the opportunity to chat with lots of friends and family about my first six weeks of teaching after a 40 -year hiatus. For privacy reasons, I obviously can’t say much in this space. I will share two things that happened this week because of their importance.

We had a staff day on Monday to start prepping for the days and weeks ahead. That’s a bit of a fallacy. While having a long- range plan is wise, the reality is that teaching in the north is a very fluid situation and planning a day at a time is a more prudent approach.
Our staff meetings typically begin with a prayer. We gathered in a large circle and held hands while an Inuk woman prayed. She spoke passionately in Inuktitut. I understood not a single word she said but I could feel the energy being passed from hand to hand. I found it quite moving.

You sports lovers are aware of the phrase “The TSN turning point”. In virtually every sporting event, there is a moment when something happens that changes the course of the game. I had my own “TSN turning point” on Tuesday. The first week back at school after the holidays is tough on everyone. Everyone is tired and a bit out of sync. Tuesday was the first day with my new teacher’s aide. She is a young, bright, personable Inuk woman. I can’t give you details but she is going to be my savior!

Have a great weekend.

P.S. Passings. I was saddened to learn of the death of a good friend, Beth Cooper. I met her several years ago when she was living in the same apartment complex as my mom. She was very bright and loved life. She was a sports fanatic and she could tell you what was going on in just about any sport. We were great friends. I also heard about the death of a former staff person at the nursing home where I worked last year. She died far too young of cancer. I didn’t know her but from all accounts she was a tremendous care worker.

Get out there and live life to the fullest while you’re able.






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