Our last week spent in Pond Inlet was a perfect ending to our experience. It was filled with celebrations of student success, cultural healing gatherings, and tearful goodbyes.
The last week of school was time for students to clean up their desks, reflect on their year of learning, and have some final class parties. We took this time to hang out with the students, watch movies with them in class, and join in on parties and cupcake eating. We were able to get some awesome feedback from both teachers and students about our lessons and what they want to learn about in the future.
On Wednesday we were able to join in at the Pond Inlet day Care where we taught children ages 1-6 “The Macarena” to stay active, and we all coloured in healthy foods and drew our favourite meals on paper plates. Most of the paper plates turned into hats or shields rather than examples of a healthy meal, but we think imagination is important in healthy living as well!
Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon we were honoured to be guests at the Nasivvik high school graduation and the awards ceremony. The graduation was a beautiful and emotional celebration filled with proud teachers, cultural performances, and heart warming speeches from the eleven graduates. It was fantastic to hear that many of the students graduating wish to pursue further education at Arctic College, NS, and other amazing schools and around Canada. The awards ceremony on Thursday afternoon was also a fabulous experience and we were able to see the students of grade 7,8 and 9 who had become our friends be congratulated for their hard work. As they approached the stage to receive their academic and athletic awards, they appeared both honoured and shy and we couldn’t have been more proud of each and every one of them for working so hard. Nasivvik high school also decided to call us up on stage and give us awards for being at their school ( we got some sweet mugs!) which left us feeling honoured and shy on stage as well.
The honoured yet shy look at the awards ceremony
On Thursday night we had an opportunity to join in an event at the community hall in town which was being held to allow for people who had been relocated by the government in the 1950’s to reconnect with family members who had been separated as well as to share stories and heal. The night ended with some fun games and dancing! After that we joined our friend Alex at her house and learned how to make an Inuit craft for braiding hair!
Inuit Elders shaking hands at the relocation gathering
Our hair craft
Our final day was filled with goodbyes to students, teachers, community members, and new found friends. The last night in Pond might have been the most beautiful, with the snow covered mountains engulfing the horizon, the sun just barely behind them turning the sky a bluish-pink, the snow melting into small creeks that filled the town with a peaceful sound of running water, and the sight of kids running around the town into the late hours of the night laughing and telling stories.
Our experience has taught us so much about teaching, ourselves and our country. We have so many people we would like to thank for this once in a lifetime opportunity.
Firstly, we would like to thank all of the people at QHO who made our journey possible, Lizz, Maggie and Fab to name a few. We would also like to thank everyone who supported and sponsored our project and gave us the funding to be able to go to this remote location. Next we would like to thank the staff of Nasivvik high school who gave us so much support while we were there. We want to thank all of the community members including our wonderful hosts Juana and Pat Feuntas, and Alex who taught us so much about the community of Pond Inlet and helped us in lessons. Lastly, we would like to thank the students of Nasivvik who taught us something new every day and who let us into their lives with open arms.
We leave Pond with many new skills, from seal hunting, snowmobile driving, to Inuit craft making. We will never forget the people we met in Pond Inlet and the lessons we learned there, and we will always remember the beautiful mountains and genuine kindness that amazed us each and everyday.