Another week, another blog post!
This past week has been the halfway point of our initiative, which is crazy to think about. Crazy that we’ve already been in Pond for three weeks, but also crazy that we’ve only been in Pond for three weeks. We’re still so excited about everything we’ve done, all we’ve taught, everyone we’ve met, and we can’t wait to see what the upcoming weeks will bring.
We started this week at Nasivvik High School with a lesson on alcohol with the grades 7, 8, and 9. We talked a lot about how not all drinks have the same amount of alcohol in them (that’s what the percentages on bottles are for- something called alcohol by volume!), how home brew (alcohol that is made at home) can be dangerous because we can’t know for sure what’s in it, and what alcohol does to our bodies. We also learned when and how to use the recovery position if anyone around us ever needs help, how we can say ‘no’ to a drink if we’re uncomfortable drinking, and what to do to be able to help, and keep ourselves safe around, someone who has maybe had too much to drink. Of course, the ‘Drunk Goggles’ made an appearance, and we played a little pop quiz to decide who got a turn first. All the students loved trying to give whoever was wearing the goggles a high-five (since they almost always misjudged where their hand was).
With the Junior High students this week, we also talked about smoking. A day where we can be active in the classroom is always a good day, and we loved being able to start our lesson with everyone getting their heartbeats racing before we all tried to breathe through a pinched straw. What the pinched straw does is it shows us how difficult it can be to get a full breath if we aren’t breathing as we normally would, and smoking cigarettes regularly, as we learned, play a big part in us not being able to breathe as easily. We talked about what goes in to a cigarette, like all the chemicals and tar, as well as nicotine which is what makes them so addictive, how we can keep those around us safe from second-hand smoke if we are ever smoking, and how we can smoke in a more “eco-friendly” way, meaning making sure that our cigarette butts aren’t left on the ground (did you know it takes twelve years for a cigarette to breakdown- which is almost as long as most of our students have been alive!). We also talked about how we can quit, or how we can try to smoke less if we’re not ready to quit just yet, and we brainstormed lots of ideas on things that we could be spending our money on instead of cigarettes, like a ski-doo or a plane ticket to anywhere in the world.
At the end of the week we were also able to begin talking about mental health and self-care with a few classes. We talked about how we all have mental health, what a mental illness is, how we can speak to a friend or family member that we think may be struggling with big feelings, who we could go to if we ourselves are struggling, and what stigma is. We also talked about what “having a full-plate” means, and understanding that life can be overwhelming at times, but we need to remember to take care of ourselves. Whatever that may look like to us, either going out on the land or playing out with friends, we want to always be able to take time to make us happy, and to be able to recognize when we need it most. With all the classes we are making a full-plate (which the students like to tell us looks like a big blueberry- if anyone knows how to make a circle look more like a plate please let us know) where everyone fills out what stresses them out, as well as one self-care strategy that helps them through it. We are so looking forward to being able to hang it in the back of the classroom, and hope that everyone will be able to read it when they need a little reminder that there are lots of things that can help us feel better!
We were also so grateful to be able to attend Heritage Fair this past Wednesday at Nasivvik! All of the Junior High students worked so hard, and we were so excited to spend the whole day walking around the gym learning more about Nunavut, Inuit culture, and arctic animals, as well as Tim Hortons, Vikings, and Lake Superior. In the afternoon the judges, who were all community members, came to hear everyone’s presentation and ask questions, and we don’t know how they did it but they chose the top three from every grade to win gift certificates to the Co-op in town! We are so proud of what everyone accomplished and were so happy that they were able to share it with the Senior High students, the grades 5 and 6 from Ulaajuk, and the community after school.
Speaking of Ulaajuk, we were of course with the grade 4s on Thursday afternoon again. This week we had a bit more of a serious lesson with the class since we talked about alcohol and how to keep ourselves safe around alcohol. We learnt what alcohol is, why someone might choose to drink, how we should never get in a vehicle with someone who has been drinking, why it is important to think of a friend’s or family member’s house that we could go to if ever need to, and how the RCMP are able to help us if we are ever scared by someone who is drinking. As promised, we went to their gym class with them and were more than happy when they told us that they were playing “quidditch”, since they are filming a Harry Potter movie and need to practice for the final scene when Harry catches the Golden Snitch!
We also met the second grade 6 class at Ulaajuk this week! With them we also talked about alcohol, but rather the effects of alcohol on our bodies, our family and friends, and our community. We were so excited to have so many willing volunteers to practice the recovery position. This class was the first class to ask if we are twins, and they didn’t believe us when we said we weren’t because we “talk the same.”
At Ulaajuk on Friday it was also Cultural Day, which is a day where there a ton of super fun activities set up throughout the school like bannock making, string games, throat singing, baseball in the snow, and sledding. We were able to spend our afternoon helping at the face painting station, where Addie opted to colour and Hailey discovered she can only paint a butterfly and hockey number. Our favourite was one of the students asking to have eyes painted on his eyelids- too bad Hailey couldn’t execute very well. Aside from all the fun, it was also a BIG day for us because it was our first time having bannock. So good, maybe even too good, which Hailey realized on her third piece.
Another exciting thing that happened this past week was a magician visited Nasivvik! We loved watching him make balloon animals disappear and coins fall out of students’ heads, but the most entertaining part was maybe seeing all the students scream and try to get away from a fly that was in the gym. It was also our first time meeting all the babies at the school’s daycare- so cute.
As always, our highlights from Music Club this week were Addie letting everyone try on her glasses, Hailey being “commissioned” to paint enough flowers so that everyone could have one for their lockers, and having our hair braided, French braided, Dutch braided, and re-braided by all the talented, and very strong, girls, who like to remind us that we haven’t brushed our hair.
On Saturday we also made it to the Flea Market at the Community Hall, which had everything for sale like bannock, cupcakes, jello, NHL jerseys, and even caribou stew. We saw so many of the students there, and a lot of them decided to come with us to the grocery store to help us shop. As our Sal Pals said, there ain’t no grocery shop like a squad grocery shop.
To celebrate the long weekend, we also had the most amazing opportunity to go out on the land on Sunday! With a few other teachers all on ski-doo, we travelled with Janice, who is the vice principal at Nasivvik, in her “machine” that is heated on the inside. Although there was a brief hiccup, when the belt broke on the machine, we were fine sitting inside snacking on cookies when everyone else had their hands in the toolbox putting on a new belt (in all honesty- how much help would we have even been?). We were so happy that we were able to make it to the Flow Edge, which is where the ice meets the Arctic Ocean and the Northwest Passage, and we saw the most beautiful icebergs, the biggest cracks in the ice, and the mountains from up close. We enjoyed tea and a selection of raisin bread, banana bread, brownies, and baked bannock, while overlooking the dark ocean. It was one of the most amazing things we’ve ever seen, and places we’ve ever been. And after ten hours on the land, in show and ice, we were thankful beyond words that our neighbours had prepared a hot Sunday dinner for us, where Addie was probably most excited that they had ice cream. Many might say that we didn’t have the “real” experience since we weren’t pulled in a qamutiiq (which is a wooden sled), but we loved having the best seats in the house and didn’t mind the teachers calling us “city girls” whatsoever. Hailey has to admit though, that her Blundstones have maybe met their match.
We also want to share our favourite, and funniest, story with you all real quick. Last week, Addie went to the grocery store on her own to buy bananas (for oatmeal- classic) and a few of the students accused her of stealing them. And now, ever since then, whenever they see Addie they sing “Somebody come get her, she’s stealing the bananas.” If they see her outside the school, in the school, or anywhere in the community, it does not matter- they will sing the song.
Also, if anyone is wondering, yes, we are very upset that the Winnipeg Jets lost their series.
With love from the North,
Hailey C and Addie B