Monday, April 11, 2011

From traditional knowledge to the "big league"

How cool is it to start off your Monday learning how to get lamp oil out of whale blubber? Today in school Hopi explained to the kindergarten class how to make the oil for the Qulliq, which was the lamp used for light, heat and cooking in traditional Inuit snow houses.
I wish I could bottle this woman up and take her back with me. She is one of the most amazing teachers I have ever met. Not only can she hold a class full of kids and teachers in rapt attention, but she knows so much about the traditional way of life as it was here not so very long ago. She used an ulu or woman's knife to scrape the oil from the meat and it looks a little like jelly, but when it burns it hardly smokes at all. I think it so awesome that the kids here are learning about their history in such a tangible way. It is no wonder that they are strong and proud of their heritage.
The rest of the day was what you might call a typical Monday other than the fact that it was bitterly cold out on the playground first thing in the morning... The temperature was only about -16, but once you added in the wind chill factor, it was down around -32. Yikes. I had a great time with my class, though- they were enthusiastic and sometimes overly energetic, but we managed to paint our rainsticks and get some organizing done for the play even though we had a fire drill interrupt us at one point. Believe me, going outside for a fire drill when it feels like -32 is no joke! 
After school I went to the arena to watch a couple of the kids from my class play hockey. They are heading to Iqaluit in a little over a week for a big tournament and they've been practicing really hard. I think they were glad I came out to support the team, and it was nice to see my students in a different venue. They sure take their hockey seriously here- and they're good at it.
I was impressed with their skating and puck handling, but I was most impressed with their team work. I'll be rooting for them in Iqaluit next week- Go team, go!

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