Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Monday morning in Iqaluit and then a flight to the end of the world...

I have wanted to see the mace for Nunavut's legislative building for myself ever since I saw pictures of it. It was created by six different artists from six different communities: Inuk Charlie from Cambridge Bay, Paul Malliki from Repulse Bay, The late Simata Pitsiulak from Kimmirut, Mathew Nunqingaq from Iqaluit, Mariano Aupilardjuk from Rankin Inlet and Joseph Suqslaq from Gjoa Haven.

It was made out of a Narwhal tusk and the animals on the mace represent the connection between land, sea and a food source. The common loons carved from Nanisivik silver form a crown with a cross on top. The cross symbolizes the respect for the British Monarch. The carved people carrying the mace represent a family working together. The elder helps lead the way to the future, which is represented by the child. The man and the woman represent gender equality. The big ball is blue lapis lazuli, from Kimmirut, which one of the only three deposits of lapis lazuli in the world. The gemstones around the crown were hand-cut by the artists. The clear stones are quartz, the purple stone is amethyst, the red is garnet, black quartz, green citrine, blue lapis, white marble. At the tip of the mace is a 2 ¼ carat diamond from the Jericho Diamond deposit in Western Nunavut.  I just had to take my own picture while I was there, but a picture doesn't do it justice... you really need to see it in person! There were a lot of other beautiful pieces of art in the legislative building, including a gorgeous carved caribou antler and a lovely miniature couple wearing traditional clothing.

 After a very cold tour around town I made my way to the airport. I have never been to a busier airport in my life! There were people everywhere... you could hardly hear the announcements, and it seemed as though there was a plane leaving or arriving about every fifteen minutes. Thankfully we had met a nurse from Cape Dorset while we were in Ottawa, and when she showed up I felt a little bit less like I was going to be lost in the shuffle...

As it turns out, if you are not on the plane, they just call your name until you arrive, so I guess I needn't have worried!

Once our plane was finally called for boarding, I headed through the gate, following Karen (the nurse)'s lead. We went out into the cold and onto a little bus that was to take us to the plane. After a bit of a kerfuffle with one of the passengers, who had been given the wrong boarding pass, we drove out to the end of the runway, where a tiny two-prop plane was waiting for us. As we boarded and I saw that there were a total of sixteen seats, I knew we were in for an interesting ride.

Once again, nothing but snow and ice flew by beneath us as we made our way to Cape Dorset. I tried to take pictures, but it just looks like that infamous drawing of a polar bear in a snowstorm, or a white cat on an ice rink... nothing but white.

As we flew further and further away from the reality I know, I began to wonder if I was really ready for this adventure. We began to descend, and beneath us was nothing but ice flows... The ice and the water grew nearer and nearer, with (alarmingly!) no sign of land. Just at the very last minute, when I thought I was going to have to find a life preserver, the island of Cape Dorset rose up out of the sea and we landed.

I made my way to the airport building, and Frances's smiling face was there to greet me. I finally felt like I had arrived.

We got a lift home from the school bus (my own private "limo"!) and as the sun set on Cape Dorset, all I could do was stare at the beauty outside my window.

What an amazing place. And my hosts, David and Frances have made me feel right at home. We had a wonderful supper and I learned a little bit about the community. I met the principal of the high school (and his lovely husky dog), and I hope to arrange a visit there too over the next month.

I have settled in to a great room with a view of "the valley" as they call it and their house is warm and cosy. I am looking forward to meeting my cooperating teacher and all the students tomorrow...


  1. We are so happy to have you with all your enthusiasm! Frances