Dose of Awesome # 277

The community of Kuujjuaq came together yesterday to welcome the competitors in this year’s Ivakkak dogsled race at the finish line. The race began in Quaqtaq, and went through Kangirsuk, Aupaluk, Tasiujaq, before finishing here.

1. Awesome was an early school closure that allowed everybody to head to Stewart Lake to welcome the Ivakkak teams. Team 10 was the first to arrive in Kuujjuaq, but team 7 won the race.

Waiting for the first team to arrive.

Team 10, from Puvirnituq.

2. Awesome was a mid-week afternoon of snowshoeing, thanks to the early school closure. Since I’d gone in early to get some work done in my classroom before school began, I decided to take advantage of some amazing weather and get a few more hours of snowshoeing in. I went for a beautiful 3 hour loop through Nuuvuk Bay and by the marina. What I love about that loop is that every time, it can be so different, as the land is so vast.

Snow drifts and tree shadows inspired me.

3. Awesome was progress made with a challenging student – thanks to an awesome and dedicated team of people and their support. Sometimes things take time, and sometimes lots of it, but this, I hope, goes to show that if you don’t give up, great things can happen.


Dose of Awesome # 273

At the beginning of this weekend, I found myself overwhelmed by a lot of different emotions as I tried to begin processing the loss of another community member and student. This is the sixth suicide since Christmas – the second this week. Though I didn’t know this person personally, I’m faced with this constant worry that grows each time, and my heart hurts for the people of Kuujjuaq who are effected, as well as all the people working so hard to provide any support possible in this seemingly unrelenting time of sadness, confusion, and pain.

But now is an especially important time to focus on the awesome things in life, because, as hard as it may be to see, they still do exist during tough times. One of them might be the only thing getting a person through a day. I know I would have struggled a lot more this weekend if it weren’t for these awesome things:

1. Awesome is a discovering a new outdoor activity. This sunny afternoon, a friend and I went cross country skiing in Nuuvuk Bay. It was my first time. Though I like to think I did quite well for my first time, it did take me awhile to catch on to the technique, and required a lot of concentration. Not only was it a good 2.5 hours of exercise, sunshine and fun, it was a much-needed distraction from all the stresses life has thrown my way as of late.


Older photo, but same place. 

2. Awesome are adventurous meals with friends. Yesterday evening, I went to a 6-course gourmet Scottish dinner party, where I tried both haggis and black pudding for the first time. On the menu were scotch broth to start, cod fish cakes with home made tartar sauce, black pudding with caramelized apples and whisky sauce, haggis with turnips and potatoes, rabbit kidney and steak pie, and raspberry custard and short bread for dessert. I’m still full.

But that wasn’t my only social meal of the weekend. I’d also joined some friends at the restaurant for dinner on Friday evening, and some other friends for brunch this morning. Again, there’s nothing like coming together with friends for some laughs and relaxation over delicious food during a difficult time.

3. Awesome is massage therapy, and starting an amazing Sunday with an hour-long deep tissue massage. If I were rich, I’d start every day like that.

100 Days of Awesome – Day 92

1. Awesome was eating delicious country food (seal, ptarmigan, arctic char and bannock) with friends at the village feast.

2. Awesome was a semi-successful bannock-baking adventure. I wanted to contribute something to the feast, but didn’t have any country food. So I tried my hand at making authentic Inuit bannock.

I mixed up the ingredients and cooked up my first bannock. It looked almost perfect, until I realized I’d forgotten the oil. I mixed up some more and cooked up my second. The problem with that one was that I’d made it too thick, thus burning the outside while trying to cook it on the inside. The third I dropped on the floor. This left me with just enough dough for two more pieces which thankfully turned out decently enough to serve to the community. A bit to my surprise, it got eaten.

3. Awesome was an afternoon watching a dog sled race and picking red berries from the patch of bare land among the snow.

Race 1Tasiujaq from the hill
Race 10
Waiting for the race to begin
Race 12Ivakkak is ready
Race 13The Angnatuks prepare their dogs.
Race 6The Cains and their dogs.

100 Days of Awesome – Day 12

1. Awesome was receiving a hand-written letter in the mail yesterday from my friend Paul.

Paul and I met at a hostel in Halifax in August 2010 (on my way to Perú), and have since committed to keeping snail mail alive with our penpal-ship.

2. Awesome was receiving an email yesterday from the minister of my church.

I’d started attending this church in July 2010 (just 2 weeks prior to my aforementioned travels), and have only been able to visit sporadically since – a few times each summer and a few times each Christmas. Despite my infrequent visits, however, I’m always welcomed with handshakes, hugs, and enthusiastic and intrigued questions about how life is in the North.

3. Awesome was receiving a cheque in the mail that I’ve been waiting for for literally 2 months. Now I just have 3 more to wait for.

Awesome # 253: The Halloween Spirit

The Halloween spirit may be waning in other parts of Canada (people who once greeted a couple hundred trick-or-treaters saw a mere handful last night), but it definitely ran fervent in Tasiujaq. Save for the gluttony that Halloween can easily provoke, the Halloween spirit, just like the Christmas spirit, Canada Day spirit, or the spirit of any other holiday around which there is this much hype, is awesome because it’s fun, and it’s shared – it both entertains, and it brings people together. It’s also highly contagious.

I’d barely stepped foot in my house after school yesterday before trick-or-treaters had arrived. They went door-to-door until 7, which church began.

After church, everybody from the community gathered in the school gym for the ever-so-entertaining costume parade and contest. This is an annual event into which contestants put much effort, devising hilarious costumes that are kept a secret until the contest begins. Nobody knows who anybody is until the winners of the contest are announced (when you live in a village of 250 people, where you know pretty much everybody’s name and face, this makes for a hilariously awkward experience).

Here are some photographs from the evening: