As this blog is written we are sitting in our living room with feet up and a warm drink in hand, completely exhausted from an incredible 5 and half hour hike through the tundra with two of Ikusik’s teachers. The view, the land, the birds, the calmness and the difficult climb left us amazed. Though it may take time to realize it, the North is truly an incredible untouched gem.
In the last couple of days, we have been going non-stop as per usual! Teaching sexual health at Ikusik has been as much fun for us as it is for the students – they are very curious as we can see from their silence and devoted attention. We have learned to explain pregnancy and menstruation like pros! Some students even asked us how twins were made – that was something we had never thought to explain and we were very glad they asked. Teaching physical activity at Pigiurvik, the elementary school, was great too. We were very fortunate to be able to use the gym for the whole day and have kids come to us. Thankfully, the gym teacher was tri-lingual (French, English and Inuktitut) and helped us translate throughout the entire day. The children were full of energy; therefore, it was hard to get them to sit down and listen to us talk for a short 10 minutes. They enjoyed playing “Kathryn Says” or “Melanie Says”, doing relay races and playing huckle buckle. We ended the day at Pigiurvik by showing the movie Ratatouille in the school gymnasium. It was a challenge scrambling to get the movie working and even more of a challenge trying to get the kids to sit quietly and watch. At first, we tried to make everyone sit quietly but eventually we realized that they did not understand a word that was coming out of our mouths (the kids don’t learn English or French until Grade 3). We ended up with kids running everywhere and climbing on walls, and some (including boys!) playing in our hair making strange hairdos. All in all, a great success for a last minute event!
Another event we had this week was our Girl’s Night! This night, attended by approximately 25 Ikusik girls, included bracelet making with the talented Miss Kathryn Chadwick, and baking and henna tattoos with the versatile Miss Melanie Meehan. Eventually the girls got their hands on the henna tube, and the artwork expanded from hearts, flowers and peace signs to a whole range of interesting designs that all vaguely resembled giant blobs. This was a great opportunity to get to know some of the girls, as they are usually extremely shy around the boys. Everything went smoothly until the end when we had to start cleaning up. It took us 30 minutes to get the girls to leave, with protests of “I want to finish my bracelet” or “I forgot my hat inside” (she was hiding her hat)! The girls were mostly in grades 5 to 8, as the older girls usually work after school, so we hope to have an older girl’s night soon as well.
That same night, we were very lucky to be special guests at the elder’s community health committee meeting. After the introduction prayer, we quickly realized that we were not simply sitting in on the meeting, but they had organized this meeting for us! We had a chance to talk about QHO, our projects in the community, and our goals for the future. But most importantly, this was a chance to get to know the committee members and ask them about their ideas and opinions surrounding health issues in Salluit. We even talked about opening up the community health worker position once again, as this would be a great resource for the community, and someone for the future Peer Educators to work with to ensure sustainable projects are implemented. The meeting was an incredible opportunity, and we hope that it will lead to greater communication between the elders and QHO Peer Ed’s in the coming years. By the end of the meeting one of the elders had decided we both had to return to Salluit next year to “find ourselves an Inuk man to marry and become the new community health workers!”
Saturday was our second attempt at setting a QHO/ nutrition information table – this time it was at the Co-op grocery store. It turned out to be a great success, as we got to meet many different community members and see many of the children we teach at school. We talked about our teaching project, handed out food guides, and attempted to explain what food labels and diabetes were! All in all, everyone was very kind, welcoming and most of all curious about what we were doing standing at the Co-op on a Saturday afternoon (while many families were out fishing for the long weekend) with our signs and smiles. That night we had another delicious potluck at Barb’s with some of the Ikusik teachers – so much delicious food and so hard to resist!
Tomorrow we start planning our Mental Health Week lessons on self-esteem, bullying, conflict resolution and anger and grief management. These are certainly not light topics, so we are glad to have gotten to know the kids in the past few weeks before touching on these difficult issues.