Last night I was listening to Christopher in his room getting ready for bed. It occurred to me this kid is never quiet anymore, It doesn't matter what he's saying/singing, English, Inuktituk or anything he wants to make up. He just sings, talks or just makes sounds to hear himself all the time. There is never a quiet moment with this charming lad around. Its amazing, I have used the phrase "likes the sound of their own voice" but he redefines the phrase.
Monday, January 29, 2007
Sunday, January 28, 2007
We're in the middle of the long stretch of winter when days seem longer and people just seem tired of everything. Not too much is happening around town. This weekend there was a hockey tournament in town as Salluit came to town to play us for four straight days. I'm not sure how serious these teams or tournaments are but all the northern communities seem to participate in these types of events as much as they can. I think it allows people to go on a trip as well as help boost town spirit. There are several more coming up, pretty much monthly from here on in.
A couple of weeks ago we had some wolves stalking the town, they got a couple of sled dogs and injured a dozen more but I haven't heard anything of them recently so I presume they have moved on.
We had a couple of blizzards this week however they failed to really develop into more than nuisances. Lots of wind and blowing snow but only a few inches of real snow.
Do you know what the worst part of living in a small community in Quebec so far is? The French people!!! (Just joking), the whole family has been struggling with colds for the last few weeks and as I just found out.... you can't get cold medication off the shelf, unless your store also has a pharmacy. This means products like Contact C, NyQuil, well, pretty much anything other than basic aspirin and Tylenol are not available anywhere in town. We called the health center to see if they had any, they told us to call someone down south and have them mail it up, not exactly helpful when your coughing up a lung and can't sleep. That 2 week trip up with the mail will probably arrive after the need has receded.
I've been struggling with my instock position since Christmas and couldn't figure out what the problem was, until this weekend when I recieved a nice size cargo, for some stupid reason half of my cargo has been sitting in LaGrande for the last three weeks, so when it doesn't show up, I reordered it, and it once again sat in LaGrand. So this weekend I recieved three weeks of freezer and dry products in one nasty shipment. Now, I'm waiting on a month of chip orders and everything will be honky-dory.
Anyways, good night everyone
at 6:57 PM
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Well, Once again things have a way of changing. One of our long term associates at the store is no longer with us. Unfortunately (for me), She was the only other one able to open and close the store, so, as usual (it seems) I'm back to 7 days a week. The temp has finally fallen here, right now its -49. Which according to our dog is cold. She may be a Arctic breed, but she's working on becoming a acrobatic performer. She finds the ground too cold for her feet, so now while out doing her business, she tries to balance herself on as few points of con tat as possible. Rotating frequently also seems to assist in keeping your feet warm. The only other thing she is teaching us is not to travel more than 3 feet from the door to get the job done. No more lingering to get the job done.
This week we also learned something about cold weather and vehicles. I had heard that you never fully turn your steering wheel in the extreme cold. For those of you interested the reason is that power steering fluid turns very viscous in cold weather and apparently 80% of the pressure in the steering line is in the last 5% of your turning radius. When you do blow out this line, you'll shoot steering fluid for miles. Trust us, I can follow our trail around town for miles, looks like we shot the truck and the blood trail is never ending.
The Northern Lights have been particularly brilliant this week. They have been brighter and more dynamic this week than we have ever seen before. The strange thing is I can usually tell if the lights are out before leaving the store at night. You'll hear people come in the store whistling, while these actions may seem unrelated, the legend of the lights is that if you whistle to keep the lights company, they will become more active for you, and it seems to be practiced or believed in this community. I have found myself whistling walking home at night.
Thats it for tonight,
PS. I've now had to enable Comment moderation in order to restrict abuses well as actively tracking addressee's. Comments will still appear after they have been approved. Inappropriate comments will be forwarded to ISP.
at 8:38 PM
Sunday, January 14, 2007
I was just sitting here triing to figure out what to blog about, when reviewing my previous posts I realized we never saw or discussed the games I went to at Christmas.
This event was held on Dec 27th by the Land Holding Corporation. It started around 7:00 with the childrens games and went until 2:00 am (or so I'm told, I took off around midnight). There were many prizes given away including 2 ski-doo's.
The first picture was of a charming little girl named Tuunu, that followed me around all night, plaing peek-a- boo and touch the new white guy, until around 11:30 when her Mom caught her. I'm not sure if her Mom though I was a wierdo for having tickle fights with her, or if she thought the girl was bothering me, but I didn't see her again after that.
The second picture was of a adult game held around 11:00 pm, where all the adults sat in a large (and ever decreasing circle). Several sets of dice worked there way around the circle and a caller announded which number would be eliminated. You roll the number, you leave the circle. It started with about 400 people and lasted about twenty minutes "till there was one".
The third picture is of two little guys who found it to be great fun to pretend they were frogs and hop towards the new Kabloona till he could get close enough to tickle them, then they would run away and do the whole thing again. They quickly lost interest in the whole game though, after about 90 minutes of the hop game they hopped along to someone else.
The fourth picture depicts your average wheel barrow race. All the boys groups engaged in this game. They had to make seemingly endless (8 I think laps of the entire gym), I was exhausted watching all the laps. The games for children all had several events. This was usually the last event.
The fifth picture shows a new game to me. All the children involved would go to the center of the arena and when the caller said a number they would have to form groups of that number then sit down after they were counted. This event involved the most frantic hugging I think I have ever seen. The adults (I think it was the single adults, but can't be sure, my Inuktituk needs work) also played this, but with harder numbers when they went after 17 it really turned silly, the counters couldn't count the groups as they kept moving, people just kept joining and leaving at random. I think eventually the counters just go sick of the whole thing and started telling 'em to sit down just to get on with it.
The sixth picture was anaother boys event, which I know as Russian Bear dancing. It was amazing to see the young people performing so well at this difficult action. which is apparently a difficult action to get a good photo of. Everytime I took a shot, the guy closest to me always fell in the shot, but trust me this was pretty fast and intensive action.
Interestingly, all the boys events seemed to be focused towards speed and strenght with a strong empasis placed on winning, whereas the girls events seemed to focus on endurance and completeing the event rather than winning.
at 8:39 AM
Saturday, January 13, 2007
Its a cold one out there today. This morning it was -42 with windchill, which is the coldest we've seen here. With the added Humidity you get in this location, that makes it cold, as in a bunch of brass monkeys are singing soprano today. The water pipes in the roof of the store have froze so we can't dispense filtered water, which is a problem.
I know in a previous post I said I was a bottled water man from then in, however I'd still find that while in Repulse when making something like Kool-Aid I'd end up using tap water (something about bottled water and kool-aid makes me think of hub-caps on a tractor). Not here. The water in town is taken from one of 2 sources. We have a wonderful water treatment plant (or so I'm told) the only problem with it is... it draws its water from a very shallow source, meaning 8 months of the year it can't draw a thing as the water is frozen solid. So the rest of the year, they just cut a hole in the ice and draw directly from another lake, no filter, no nothing, just right on the truck. While the farm fresh aspect of this may appeal to some, this is the first community I've been to where no one drinks the winter water, no one. except for me. When we first got here I was still in the habit of making kool-aid and juice from the tap, In my mind kool-aid has some sort of purification built right in. Not now. Kool Aid has no built in purification, don't believe the hype. After my first 2 weeks here (being spent predominately in the bathroom), and reading the effects of what is called beaver fever, I would like to report that I have made it 2 weeks without drinking the water from the tap. This doesn't change the brown bath water but its a start (blue bubble bath, helps avoid looking at this).
at 10:41 AM
Friday, January 12, 2007
Important lessons in life can also be the most painful. Christopher learned a important lesson today. It was also a painful one as you can see. There is a reason that the "Eskimo kiss" was created, it was created by some intelligent Inuk who realized the danger of kissing with wet lips in the cold. For Christopher this means kissing our truck at -48 has bad implications. which lead to some questions later in the day of a humorous nature "when is it OK to kiss the truck", "Is it OK to Inuk kiss the truck", "Is it OK to kiss the warm parts of the truck". we don't know why he's obsessed with kissing the truck, but he really likes trucks. Anyways pictured above are the horrible results of kissing the truck in the cold weather. Yes, those are his lips still stuck to the truck. He extricated himself from the truck, thank the lord, as neither myself or his mother would have liked to help him through that ordeal.
PS Happy 50th Anniversary Betty & Art, here's to 50 more.
Sunday, January 07, 2007
I think the biggest change we're experiencing in this leg of our journey is the difference in the culture from Repulse Bay to here. Going from Baker Lake to Repulse Bay was a good intermediate step into the different priorities and focuses of the local population. The step here has been a step back from a intensive Inuit community such as Repulse Bay. In Kangiqsujuaq the people have been exposed to different cultures and have embraced alot more aspects of the southern world.
Its strange for us as we thoroughly enjoyed the community of Repulse, I felt welcomed there almost immediately (Melissa did take a couple of months to warm up to the people however as soon as she started in the store, she understood my affection for the people). Here the people are just as friendly and outgoing, but something is different. The community focus seems to have been diverted from survival to living. While this may seem a change for the better, it also bring with it a much more southern feel, which isn't exactly what we came here for, or what we're used to. We've found here that the talk "around the water cooler", is about TV, movies, etc. In Repulse Bay the conversation started with the weather, progressed to the community then went to who got what out on the land and where they got it. The southern amenities were also discussed but what affected the community was always the first topic. In Repulse, there was always someone out hunting, pretty much 24/7. While we've been here I've never seen someone on a ATV with their rifle, I've only seen one skin hanging (and it looks like its been there a couple of years), I'm not saying it isn't happening, but the focus is definitely elsewhere.
That being said, there are other traditional skills that are alot more prevalent here. The predominate language here is Inuktitut, followed by English followed by French. Many of the children can only speak their native tongue in contrast to Repulse where many of the young spoke English as well as their Inuktitut. In Repulse we found people whose primary language was English whereas here I don't think that number would be nearly as high. There are more pieces of local clothing in use that you would find in Repulse, people seem to make alot more of their outerwear. The carving here is more focused towards southern tastes as the rocks are polished and detailed in ways that we haven't found in other communities, small feature's such as eye's and coloration spots are included in the carving. We haven't experienced that before.
We have never been in a community where the people feel a higher level of personal responsibility to their commitments. Most movies are returned on time, personal accounts are paid, bills are paid with regularity and the community seems not to live from cheque to cheque they way others have. In other communities we would have 2 great sales day after a cheque came out, then a week of silence until another arrived. I realize these are gross generalizations about a large community that have regular exceptions however we are attempting to describe deference's between our experiences.
Oh yes, one silly thing. People here don't go to "the land" they go to "Camp". But as is said "God is in the details".
I've missed many things in this brief discussion of our brief experiences here, but thats what new posts are for.
Well, we've been here for a month now and as of yet haven't discussed the community to any degree, so that is what I'll endeavor to describe today.
First, the community is supposed to contain about 350 souls (more likely nearing 500). Which is about half the size of Repulse Bay which was half again of Baker Lake. The community is located on the northern shores of Quebec, in the region of Nunavik. Geographically, it is about 10 km inland of the Hudson Strait at the head of Wakeham bay where the Payne River joins Wakeham Bay. We are approx 500 km north of the treeline at this point. The Area has been a trading post since 1884 when the Hudson's bay established a trading post and meteorological station. In 1928 the Hudson's bay company created a experimental fox farm in the area to breed cultured foxes for market. In 1963 a Catholic mission was established which is probably the best date for a permanent settlement to be established
The Geography of the area is "mountainous", that being the town is located around 50 feet above sea level, the airport is located at 511 feet and I would guess that the highest of the surrounding mountains is around 1,100 feet. While these heights don't reflect true mountains, the visual appearance of the area is of a village in a high mountain village. The combination of constant rocky outcroppings and rocky hills leads to a stunning visual presentation. The rock in the area is granite, quartz and (for the first time we've seen it "in the wild") soapstone. Our backyard is comprised of tonnes of soapstone, which leads Melissa to believe she's going to try her hand at carving. Once again there isn't any dirt or soil to speak of, just deposits between rocks in which plants bed into.
The geography leads to the idea that the land is nowhere near as accessible as it was to the locals in Repulse or Baker. It has the appearance of a very unforgiving landscape, with steep jagged cliffs and dead end valleys at every turn. Your line of sight is also impeded by the rugged landscape leading to the further idea that travels on the land must be made with great skill or great preparation.
at 7:42 AM
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Its been along time for me to go without a posting but there was a reason... we lost the internet in the entire community on boxing day. since it was a holiday no one bothered repairing it until today. It was not fun, we had to start watching TV again. Its amazing, we've been without phone for a month now (being connected January 10), but what really bothered us was the lack of internet. It was worse than when we first got here because then we could still get online at the store. But this time everyone was out. Losing comunincation at the store was particularly bothersome as it means we had no debit or credit services available, we couldn't recieve or order goods so it has had a big effect on my stock levels and the mess I can start to clean up now. We're starting to get to know the town now with the silly season over and hopefully things will be getting better from here on in.
The town celebrated the holidays without rest for 10 days straight and I got to visit only one event. On the weekend we'll share with you some of our observations on the changes here to other communities we've been in, I'm still mulling the post over in my head as the changes are very noticable and drastic to our past northern experiences.
Its wonderful to be back and we hope everyone had a great holiday. This picture was the scene from our front window at 2:25 AM January 1 2007.
Happy New Year.