Teacher in Whale Cove, Nunavut

Thursday, 25 September 2014


I have been very lucky to have my family come visit me in Whale Cove. My mom and dad came up for labour day weekend, it was there first time seeing the community not covered in snow and ice. I was able to take them out on the land and they got to see all the beautiful colours and wildlife the Nuna has to offer in the Autumn. My parents were lucky enough to see some Sandhill Cranes, Arctic Swans, an Arctic Fox and the whale hunt! Something else exciting but dangerous happened that weekend. A Polar Bear had been hanging around the community the previous week and on the Sunday of the long weekend it strolled right through town. The bear came pretty close to two young girls standing on the porch of the Co-op, the bear kept sniffing at the steps; however, it was luckily chased away. The bear then walked right by our house. We were non the wiser and Qimmik and Niya did not start barking until people started flooding past our place to chase the bear out of town.

My sister visited Whale Cove this past weekend for the first time. I was so happy she arrived without any delay. The morning she was scheduled to come in the fog was so thick that I could not see 500 feet in front of the house. Luckily it cleared in time for her plane to land. The weather is so unpredictable in Nunavut, more often than not planes are delayed or cancelled. People say if you hope to much for a plane to come in, it won't come in so it's best not to think about it. So I tried not to stress to much about it and she arrived right on schedule! It's always nice showing visitors around Whale Cove. My sister was wonderstruck with how welcoming everyone was in the community. I took Devon out on the land Saturday, it wasn't the nicest day out but we spotted some Arctic Swans with their ugly ducklings, one very curious Arctic Fox and an Arctic Hare.


I am so grateful to have had my family come to experience Whale Cove. Flights in the North are extremely expensive and dare I say over priced. A 15 minute flight from Rankin Inlet to Whale Cove can sometimes cost up to $400 one way. Therefore, one can imagine how much it must cost to take a family to Winnipeg and back from Whale Cove. I can go to Cuba and stay at a 5 star all inclusive resort for the amount it would cost me to fly one way to Toronto.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

I'm Back!

I have been back in Whale Cove for a little over a month now and can now say that I am settled back in. I apologize for neglecting my blog since returning. When I arrived back the school was short 4 staff members due to a shortage of houses in the community. So the beginning of the school year was a stressful time! The staff worked together and all the kids were able to start school on the original start date, but we were all exhausted at the end of week one.

Housing is well known issue in the north. The smaller communities suffer the most because they are low on the priority list. The school had 4 new hires this year. Three were put into the hotel after week one and were then moved into a three bedroom house. Our fourth hire is currently living in a 3 bedroom house with 14 people and is eagerly waiting for a new unit to open up.

Two of our graduates applied and were accepted to Arctic College this fall; however, they were unable to attend due to a shortage of houses in Iqaluit and Rankin. Our students are pushed to pursue post secondary education only to be let down and forced to look for work in their small community where work is hard to come by.

Unfortunately these stories about the lack of housing in northern communities are not rare.

Sik sik 

On a lighter note – Whale Cove is gorgeous in the fall. I have been able to get out on the land quite a bit and I recently have seen my first few caribou! Beautiful creatures; although, not the smartest. I was able to get pretty close to the tuk tu (caribou in Inuktitut)  to snap a picture and they didn’t seem the care.

Friday, 30 May 2014


Spring came early in Whale Cove this year! It has been beautiful here for the past couple of weeks. Temperatures hovering around 6-10 degrees Celsius. Everyone has acquired a mad sun glass tan. It is very easy to tan here!

It has been another busy month here. Alex and I took 18 students to Nunavut's capital for an under 13 soccer tournament. We were in Iqaluit for about a week for only a 2 and half day tournament. We were there for so long because of flight schedules. We stayed in a hotel 4 or 5 kids to a room, the hotel gave us a discount thankfully. I asked the lady at the desk how much it would be to stay regularly and she said $250.00 a night PER PERSON!

The kids had a blast in Iqaluit and were pretty successful at the tournament. The boys placed third and the girls placed second. They were pretty pleased with themselves

When we returned to Whale Cove, the snow had almost disappeared. Spring came fast and fierce and the dogs loved it. I think Qimmik had seasonal depression because he is so much happier now that it's warm out and the sun is shining.

Graduation happened Tuesday night in Whale Cove. We had 7 graduates for the 2014 school year. It was a pretty emotional ceremony. Some of the students that graduated were my first students here in Whale Cove, I will miss seeing them in the hallways!

Alex and I make the first lag of our trip home today. Wish us luck with our flights!

Thursday, 1 May 2014

The past month..

I can't believe it has been over a month since I last posted. Time flies!

We had our last blizzard of the season at the beginning of the March. Alex left for Rankin on the Wednesday for a conference and was suppose to return on the Friday but was weathered out until Monday. The blizzard started Thursday night and ended Sunday so I had a long weekend and it was a pretty quiet one. I couldn't go out because the weather was crazy, thank God I had the dogs for company!

The weather is beautiful now, Whale Cove is so fun in the spring. It stays light out until about 9:30, everyone is out and about. A lot of people have their hondas out and are going out on the land on the weekends. As you can tell from the picture above it took us a while to dig out our honda and were still waiting for some of the ice and snow under the machine to thaw. We hope to have it running this weekend!

Last week Andrew (one of the high school teachers) and I took 15 students down to Bracebridge, ON for the second part of the exchange trip. The kids had a blast! They went to a pancake breakfast at a good ol' Ontario sugar bush, camped and had a campfire at an outdoor centre and went tree top trekking, visited the CN tower, saw the new aquarium and were able to go shopping at the Eaton's Centre. The kids stayed with with their exchange partner and all the students became really close. It was such a great experience for the kids. The Whale Cove students and the Bracebridge students created presentations about northern culture and presented them to different classes in different schools around the Bracebridge area. One of the questions they got from one of the kindergarten students was "How do you guys breathe up there if there's no trees?"

The school is now getting ready to end the school year. One last land trip, report cards and graduation. Looks like I am going to be busy right till the end!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Excitement in Whale Cove

It has been a very eventful couple of weeks in Whale Cove. Alex and I went to Rankin the last weekend of February for the Avataq tournament (mens hockey tournament). This tournament brings in hockey teams from communities all over the Kivalliq region. Nunavut is hockey crazy, lots of fans came from Whale Cove to cheer on the team. Whale Cove was beat out in the first round of play offs but they played 4 games and it was great to watch and have some time away!

The exchange trip students from Bracebridge arrived the following Wednesday. The exchange students were able watch and practice seal skin preparation, listen to stories about living on the land from elders, watch and take part in building a traditional igloo and they got to go out on the land by snow machine and qamutik. The day that we chose to go out on the land was a pretty cold day (-46 with the wind chill which feels alot colder out on the land). I bundled up with multiple layers and I was stillll pretty cold. The cold and isolation out on the land really makes you appreciate how the inuit were able to survive on the land. A lot of people travel by snow machine in -50, -55 to get to different communities or to go hunting. The weather can change very quickly here from clear skies to blowing snow to 0 visibility blizzards. - this is why passed down survival skills are so important to the inuit because in weather that can freeze your skin within seconds there are no second chances.

Breakfast TV and Sports Net arrived in Whale Cove last Wednesday. We were hosting a farewell feast for the exchange students so BT and SN got a very warm welcome as well. Breakfast TV and Sports Net were in Whale Cove filming and interviewing the hockey team that will be travelling to Geraldton, Ontario and Toronto. Very exciting stuff for the kids!
Inuit games at the farewell feast. This one is called head pull.

Alex trying his luck at head pull.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

#northernlight project

Check out more about me and my northern experiences with the #northernlight project.

"The #northernlight project brings together pairs of northern and southern Canadians for a unique look at the similarities and contrasts of life in both regions."


Northern Convoy

This week is professional development week for teachers in the Kivalliq region. Most teachers are attending a conference in Rankin Inlet. Because we didn't want to leave the dogs behind, Alex and I chose to stay in Whale Cove and work on own individual PD. It has been a gorgeous week so far, the sun has been shining and the temperatures have been hovering around -35.

On Monday night 100 or so Rangers came in to Whale Cove on snowmobiles, it was like a snowmobile convoy, pretty cool to see. The Canadian Rangers are the militaries eyes and ears in the north according to the armed forces. One of the Rangers poked his head into my office to chat. Alex and I asked him where they came from and why they were here. The Ranger told us that they were doing some training on how to survive in the north and the cold conditions. He told us that they were even learning something as simple as how to manage a gas can in the cold because the cold can make the can very brittle and hard to work with. The Ranger ensured us that we will be seeing more of a military presence in the north as the years go on because Arctic Sovereignty is becoming more and more of a pressing issue for Canada. This we found quite interesting. He pointed out that this northern land wouldn't be part of Canada if the Inuit weren't living here.

 The Ranger then asked Alex and I how we liked it in the north, how we handle the cold, how we deal with the isolation. He then praised us for our hard work up in the north. I get this a lot - "you are doing such a good thing by being up there" - I know these people are just meaning to compliment me - but on what? Would these people say this to me if I was teaching down South? It is as if they think that I am saving the north by teaching the "poor inuit". Almost as if they think that the inuit could not do this without the white mans help. Some people say I read to much into things like this, but maybe we need to...