Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Flood

During my recent Goose Break I had a chance to visit Fredericton and help with a little of the clean-up. First, here is a picture of the house that I used to live in. It is a decent walk from the river so I was no concerned. But I got an e-mail that the power was shut off and Jaz (who still lives their) had to evacuate. She told me that the flooding was not directly from the river, but instead was the result of the drainage system backing-up. This flooding occurred within hours.

Next are just some interesting photos that I've come across.
First are some pics of Officer's Square.

Next, the attempts to evacuate the cattle that were stranded on the small strip of road that remained after the river flooded the fields through the drainage ditches.

Then, last but not least, the on ramp to the bridge that spans from the North to the South side.

The flooding created quite the mess. But the community has come together. The Red Cross was using the university residences to house and feed those evacuated from their homes. The city has a hot-line available to schedule the pickup of damaged materials. And city crews have managed to return public areas to some state of normalcy. It will be interesting to see how things progress from now to the time I get home for the summer in 6 weeks.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Goose Break

Well, I'm home... finally. The epic began two days before goose break began. Their was an avalanche (or mud slide based on who you ask) and so their was no more train. The primary mode of transportation for people and goods was not working and would be down for at least 2 weeks. So the military was said to be prepared to deliver food through plane.

Goose break is a time when teachers, most of whom do not hunt, get a last break before the last 6 weeks of school. Those teachers who had booked train tickets paniced, and scrambled for flights. The Newfies were kind enough to leave a day early and spend the night in Wabush so that teachers could leave Friday.

We arrived Friday, ready for chaos, but the place was dead. I got to the counter and was informed that the flight would be 2 hours late. Then had to split the cost of my flight between my ATM card (max. of 1000$, even though it was supposed to be unlimited) and my Visa (same limit). So suddenly I had the 200$ in my pocket, and two cards that were useless, and now a flight that will be 2 hours late. And I began to think... well if I had 2 hours and 30 minutes to wait in Montreal... and the flight is now going to be 2 hours late... that isn't enough time to get my boarding pass. So I paniced and called air canada. I had to try almost every option in order to speak to a person, and I was informed that I could pre-board and print my pass... well, this is nice to know. So we rushed to a near by home, and printed the pass, went to lunch and got on the plane.

I had a few mini-bottles of wine, and tried to relax. Since there is no security in Schefferville, we had to exit the plane in Quebec city, and go through security, eating more time. We talked about my need to rush to the gate... and realized that we lost another 35 minutes in security. The flight attendant, having overheard us, told me to rush (this is key later). So we land and I rush through the Montreal air port, the gate at the opposite end of the building (of course), I slipped down a flight of stairs to the gasps of the people around me... and got to the gate. The door closed, and plane gone. I found the teachers that I was flying with, and they told me that the flight attendant ,the one that told me to rush, said that if I had of asked she could have asked the plane to wait... yes, another thing that would be nice to have known.

So I rebooked the flight for the morning, and was offered a discounted hotel room by air canada (thank you), for 75$. I board the shuttle, and was rushed through the city to the Holiday Inn. The man at the counter, seeing my exhaustion, instantly sympathized and asked for my credit card. My heart sank, and I asked if I could pay with cash (figuring that I was over my limit), and was told that if I did I would have to pay a damage deposit. Figuring that I had nothing to loose I handed over the card and gave him a gentle warning that it may not work. He came back as I overheard the guy next to my making an appointment for the shuttle in the morning, the clerk had a smile, and told me it worked (thank gebus). I went to my room and tried to call home... my parents phone doesn't take collect calls, I couldn't charge the call to my phone (said I was in a different country???) and finally tried the credit card, which was now done for the day. I pulled out the computer and luckily was able to e-mail my pleas. I managed to get on the plane the next morning without incident, and have been home for just over a day.

It seems like every time I want to leave it becomes a hassle. I have to figure out time travel thing. Hope I manage to get back in one piece. Only 6 weeks left.

Friday, March 28, 2008

March Break: Some Pics

One Wednesday Francois and I went ski-dooing with Seasi and her husband, who happens to be an outfitter (takes people into the bush hunting).

First up... a photo of my glove which has several small holes in it... I accidentally shot it when it was left near our targets.

Next. Francois on his ski-doo. Note the size of the skis. The ski-doo that I borrowed has thin skis and a narrow track which equals very bad. I sink like a rock. And what makes it worse... the machine is liquid cooled... so the extra contraption adds ALOT of weight which is a really bad thing when two tiny guys are trying to lift the bloody thing out of four feet of light snow. The hole you see is only small compared to some others. But at least the scenery is beautiful.

The last set of photos are of the ptarmigans we saw, and the Outfitter hunted down. Seasi was able to pluck the little birds in like a minute sending feathers flying. They only pluck them at first (the outfitter told us) because they usually freeze on the way back, and if you let the animal freeze unplucked then the feathers become very difficult to remove. To see the little guys in the first picture look at the branches in the foreground (you can see the face and see how close you can get). Then Seasi cleaning the bird. The mess left behind. Then a photo of three birds near a tree (one trying to get away).

Thursday, March 20, 2008

March Break: A Time of Firsts

To begin with, Monday, one of Gene’s students had caught several (68) ptarmigan, so he passed a few on to his secondary III teachers. Gene made a stew with the meat, and may I say… it was enjoyable, like a savory turkey. I have yet to see a living ptarmigan (cross between a chicken and a pigeon), but I should see one this week as I’ll be skidooing often.

Next, my mommy will be proud, because last week we (the teachers and several classes) were asked to fold crosses for Palm Sunday. So I sat for over an hour folding and teaching my students to create small crosses out of the aging palm leaves.

Well, we just started our March Break today and already I have had several firsts. It began yesterday as Francois and I (the teachers staying behind) helped a group of teachers to the airport. Several had garbage in their homes that they wanted taken out, so as they plane took off we headed to their homes and on to the dump. I had not yet been to the dump; a football sized parking lot, were all matter of things were discarded and burned (including several caribou carcasses). This gave Francois the great idea of having a barbecue. We got into the truck, heading to the Northern for hamburger ingredients, when he looked at me and said “you don’t know how to drive a standard, do you?” I had never driven a standard, but we switched places and off we went. I have no idea what people complain about, the only real difference would be the fact that there is no stress here… I didn’t see a car between the dump and the Northern. The barbecue was moved outside and may have made some of the most delicious burgers I had.

Today, we met at 9:30 and headed to Rita’s Restaurant for breakfast. The “complete” breakfast has fried eggs, bacon, 3 slices of taste, fried baloney sticks (I had never see before), and “coc-crush” (I think?) I guess it’s a big thing in Quebec (like jam). It is like a salty meat paste. So I tried it… it was eatable, and then passed it on to Francois.

We headed out to skidoo, but opted to return home because visibility was low due to the snow. We settled in and watched some movies and when the weather passed we decided to try some shooting practice with a 33 cal. that belongs to one of the teachers. We grabbed some cans and bottles and headed out to the iron mines. This is another first, for I have never shot a gun (well air rifles, but they don’t count), or seen the mines. There was no kick (from the gun), and my aim was fairly good. But I was surprised to find that the buck shots were not strong enough to break a stoneware plate we brought because it had a chip in it. Then on the way back I hit a patch of sold ice (otherwise known as a bare piece of road) and the skidoo fish tailed. It was exciting… in that scary kind of way. But no worries… I borrowed a helmet from the principal mom.

Next, I did something my mom told me never to do... I, for the first time, cut my own hair. It's idiot proof when you have hair clippers with a guide.

Three more photos. The first was the sign from the recent winter carnival. It became a topic for an English class on grammar (It reads "3rd Kawawa winter carnival").

Next a picture of the sun rising behind my house.

Lastly, this is a photo of one of the dogs that we have been feeding at the school. He is the wildest looking one of the group, almost wolf like... kinda interesting...

Friday, March 7, 2008

3rd Annual Kawawachikamach Winter Carnival

The Carnival opened Wednesday afternoon with a parade.

The cars met at the Manikin (corner store) and paraded the duchesses through the town on the way to the NCC (Naskapi Community Center) where the activities were going to start.

Here are the duchesses with the Chief (in the brown) and Bonhomme (the Quebec winter carnival mascot). The duchesses are in a small competition... they sell tickets and the one that sells the greatest number becomes "queen". She wins cash (over 500$) and big prizes (like a flat screen tv).

The teachers came out in full numbers to show our support for the school duchess Susan (our secretary- in the green).

Here are some of the activities; each had a cash prize: the egg toss, snow shoe race and log sawing (100$ prize). It was -23 that afternoon, so after freezing my toes (because I forgot to wear wool socks) and smelling up my cloths with the tamarac smoke from the fire (about two hours worth) I went inside for some hot chocolate.

Activities go on into next week and include: hockey (last night my kids were up till 1am), a dance and feast, youth and adult poker (the youth win prizes like an ipod touch and flat screen tvs). Then members of the community place bets to guess who is dressed up as Bonhomme. Its a nice break from the monotony of the white winter.

Now some nice photos. Ashley and Dan in the wigwam. The teachers at lunch playing badminton. Some of the pups that we feed from the adult ed. window. And a photo of an adult ed. studnet and her very cute baby (me in the background researching guidance stuff for her).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The End Seems Near…

I love teaching secondary. Ends are on everyone’s mind. The end of school seems nearer with the last term beginning in March. Graduation seems to be nearing with fundraising started and staff and administration scrambling to calculate credits achieved and needed and conferencing with students to give them that final push.

For weeks I have tried to help one of my Sec. V English students apply for CEGEP (college/ pre-university), but thanks to Canada post not recognizing our postal code, and the on-line application not recognizing the school, we had a great deal of frustration. She opted to apply to Dawson College yesterday; sound familiar, and I had to reassure her that lightning rarely strikes twice. Only come to find out that she could apply to her preferred school at the same time.

Today we had a woman visit from the Sept Iles CEGEP. My students didn’t say much, or even feel comfortable enough to nod their heads in response to her open questions, but the moment she left we continued the conversation, using what I know about the students as examples, and think I got some of the gears turning. I’m making an effort to do some guidance counseling, considering that the school can’t find anyone willing to take the job up here, and think that I may have talked one person into applying for a music program.

Our other two unconfirmed graduates have applied to the military. They recently completed the second phase of the entrance requirements. I now want to talk to them about applying to do training through the armed forces, but first I have to do some research on the programs.

The students have really started to open up, and now I get to see some of their personalities. It makes things seem more worth it. Now if I can just continue to motivate them into coming and participating we may have four or more graduate.

P.S. still no reliable internet at home, going to try again this week and if it works I'll post some of my recent photos

Monday, February 4, 2008


Well, it’s that time of year. I'm sick of the cold, the snow, and just the winter season. The floors of the apartment are uncomfortably cool on occasion. The apartment door has a build-up of ice that has crept through the key holes. I hate hitting the wall of cold that separates me from my classroom heater. And mostly it is the white. Snow is everywhere. The benefit of living here is that it looks clean. There is no brown slush. The road (if you could call it a road) is made of ice that by now is certainly a foot thick. I walk outside my door and know that I'm at least 3 feet away from the soil because of the build-up of Styrofoam like snow.

I dream of sun and grass and the fresh smells of the changing season. I won’t get that here. The snow in the mountains will still be there when I leave for the summer. I won’t see grass till mid-May.

I look forward to the summer… I never have liked winter, just call me Sam McGee. I am making the most of the conditions with some talk of starting a teacher running club (inside on treadmills), playing badminton during lunch hours and the potential of attending a ptarmigan hunt.

Fingers still crossed that the global warming thing kicks in…

Friday, February 1, 2008

I little news...

Well, the internet is still not working properly, so this is actually the second time I have had to write this. The weather has been uncooperative- pushing past 40km/h. One of the windows in my living room cracked from the combination of cold on the outside, heat on the inside and the pressure of the wind.

Some good has come from the weather. Yesterday the wind was so strong that there was no visibility in the morning, so teachers did not have to go in until 11:30. Then the students didn’t have to come in at all. Today the weather was still bad, so I got an extra hour of sleep and the students didn’t have to come in until 12. And then they shut the water off in the community, so classes ended at 2:00.

Last week was exam week. I had to give two provincial exams in history and English. I had 2 students write the English exam, and 1 passed. I had 17 write the history exam, and 67% passed. That definitely beats the track record of the last two years. Only 30% passed last year, and on one passed the year before. So as a result I have been getting some positive comments. Now we wait to see how the ministry calculates the grades- I hear that they tend to make grade fit the curve, so some of the students may still fail (fingers crossed that that is not the case), I should know next week.

The new term has me teaching economics. My 3 students are starting a small business of making cupcakes. The profits will go towards graduation.

Monday, January 21, 2008

It's a little cold...

Today I experienced the coldest temperature so far... -50 with the wind chill.
The Sec. 4 and 5 exiting exams started today (hence a large reason why I have been a shut in). Because of the temperature, classes were delayed an hour for all students except those with exams. Today was French (am and pm) so the only class I would have had to have taught would have been Sec. 1 art, but afternoon classes were then canceled because the weather hadn't warmed up. But still the poor Secondary 4 and 5 students had to make their way back here to take their 5-7 minute French oral exam.

What this has actually meant is that I have the time I need to plan a new term of English and Economics (which includes learning economics). Things are going okay. My early worries lied with the fact the we are writing our exams a week behind the ministry. That means I have to mark 10 short answer and an essay for each history student, then record their grades on a scantron sheet with the answers to their multiple choice questions and send them in to be scanned and calculated. The English exams consist of two essays (total 1200 words) and a response, which also have to be marked by the end of the week and results sent in. There are no turn around days... so the new term starts Thursday, so classes and term plans have to me planned and ready to go.

The best news is that the temperatures are to be like this all week. I have to give the English exam tomorrow and history Wednesday (fingers crossed) I may get to finish planning.