Thursday Tidbits

Posted on January 14, 2021 under Thursday Tidbits with 2 comments


Eze earrings


After an extended Christmas vacation, we’re back at school. Despite the restrictions and lockdowns in the province of Quebec, our region of Nunavik is the one exception. Nunavik is the part of Quebec’s territory that is located north of the 55th parallel. It covers a territory of approximately 507,000 square kilometers and is inhabited by some 13,000 people called Nunavimmiut, who live in fourteen villages. The very large majority of Nunavimmiut are Inuit. The language of the Inuit is Inuktitut. In Inuktitut, different word endings are used to distinguish between something, two of something and more than two of something. Therefore 1=Inuk; 2= Inuuk; 3+ =Inuit.

Covid cases in the north have been few and far between. It’s hard to put a finger on why this is so but one might surmise that the Inuit have had experience before with other pandemics and take very seriously the threat of the coronavirus. Anyone returning from travel to the south has to quarantine for two weeks. Facilities have been arranged in the community to accommodate those travelers. Teachers returning from Christmas holidays are isolating in their own apartments. As Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

The earrings that you see above were crafted by a very talented Inuk. His name is Eze. He is 31 years old and tells me that he has been carving soapstone and making earrings since he was 14. I am told that he is very good at what he does. The earrings in the picture have an ulu as the base. As I wrote about in a previous piece, an ulu is a knife that is traditionally used by Inuit women for all kinds of things, like skinning and cleaning animals, cutting children’s hair and cutting food. I plan to meet with Eze one of these days to learn more about him and his excellent works of art. P.S. Despite the fact that I have a tattoo (a memento of my Camino walk), I’m not planning on starting to wear earrings any time soon… but one never knows! I have done crazier things and let’s face it, at this point in my life, I’m not overly concerned about what people might think about my fashion choices.

Envy is not a word that I use often. I’m pretty lucky. I am creeping up on 70 with an assortment of aches and pains (which seem to have gone viral lately) but no serious health issues. I am doing work that I find interesting and fulfilling. I have a nice apartment and plenty of food – too much if you look at my waistline these days.

I saw a post on Facebook yesterday that had me drooling. Next week at Pingualuit National Park, there is going to be an igloo building demonstration along with ice fishing and a number of other activities. The park is about 120 kilometers southwest of our village. Apparently one of the elders will be there to lead the demonstration. The park is the site of a meteoritic crater. I am envious. I would love to be there to listen, learn and document this four- day event.

However, not all is lost. A few days ago, I was up at the airport to pick up some cargo for teachers. I ran into a local man that has an Antigonish connection. Fifty or so years ago, he was a student of a retired Antigonish educator who, along with his wife, spent many years in the north. Last year when I arrived in Kangiqsujuaq, I brought him an old black and white picture of he and two fellow students when they were teenagers. We have bumped into each other a few times over the past 15 months. He asked me if I would like to go ice fishing with him. I am eagerly waiting for the phone to ring.

I remember when I first came up here. I asked an experienced teacher from back home for some advice. “Learn more than you teach.”

The learning continues.

Have a great weekend.

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