Don’t let the sun go down on me

No actually. The sun can really go the hell away right now for all I care.

A while back I promised to do a follow-up to my Twilight post. I wanted to take yet another set of time-lapse photos on the Summer solstice (June 21st) but unfortunately I was done in by Iqaluit treachery and it rained for several days. Don’t get me wrong. I relished in the fact that it was cloudy and rained for about 4 days. Whenever there are thick heavy clouds it blocks out the sun and midnight almost gets sorta dark.

Anyway. I won’t bore you to tears with more details with words. I’ll just let the pictures do the talking. Enjoy!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

… just so you know, by 4am it looks like pre-8pm once again. Thankfully though the longest day of the year was spent under cloud cover so it’s all downhill from here. I will twiddle my fingers menacingly as I await my beloved darkness to engulf the wonderful city of Iqaluit.

Twilight

I know we promised more updates and random observations but once again I’ve neglected this blog in favor of spewing my thought vomit all over my other blog. I can’t just post anything over here. It’s a hump I can’t seem to get across. It was easy to babble on when we first arrived because there were so many new experiences and sights. That’s not to say it’s become uninteresting now. Far from. We’ve just become so immersed in the town that we’re not only far busier than we’ve ever been but are starting to take for granted some of the things we see and hear because they seem “common” now. I keep forgetting that this blog is primarily geared towards those who haven’t been up here, plan on coming up here or just want to know what it’s like up here.

I had a busy week at the shelter last week. The Katimavik volunteers were off and the regular IHS membership had to fill the gaps. I can’t stress how much disarray ensues whenever they’re not around. Those who don’t know about what the Katimavik program is all about I invite you to read up about them. They are an amazing group of young people (gah… did I just refer to them as young people like old people do…) who are the life blood of this community’s volunteer efforts. They do tons of backbreaking work for virtually every event and not-for-profit organization in the city and to be quite honest I don’t know how things would get done without them. With that said with them off and our illustrious leader Janine out of town on business, those that remained had to pick up the slack.

We live literally a construction yard’s walk away from the shelter so armed with a key to get in now I covered a week and a half’s worth of shifts over there. There are 4 primary shifts – 8am, 12pm, 5:30pm and 9:30pm – and I managed to try my hand at each one, sometimes multiple times in one day. Let’s just say that by the tail end of my tour of duty I learned about as much as I could about the whole operational procedure and was dead exhausted. The shelter has some really great people who volunteer so you’re almost guaranteed to meet people you’re bound to get along with. I mean how bad can people who love doggies and volunteer their free time to tend to them be, right?

I was starting to lose track of days after a while. When you work till 10:30pm one night and go in again at 7am the next day and it looks exactly the same outside, it starts to play tricks on your mind. I absolutely love it up here but the one obstacle I seem to be having the most difficult time overcoming is the whole Endless Day thing. I had reservations about it prior to coming up but it’s nearly impossible to account for how it will affect you mentally unless you experience it first hand. It’s not even that bad right now and I’m feeling like a space case. The month of June marks Hell Month for me because we’ll be marching our way towards the longest day in the history of mankind (or something like that).

It’s hard to explain the dementia that results from the sun being the annoying houseguest that won’t go away. I can sleep just fine with it being light outside. That’s not a problem whatsoever. It’s when I’m awake that the psychosis sets in. It’s incredibly hard (for me at least) to ween myself off the southern Ontario “it’s supposed to get dark at night” mindset and as a result my body just keeps forcing me to stay up throughout the night sometimes. I think I chose to overwork myself at the shelter in the hope of tiring myself out so I can get on some kind of a regular sleeping schedule, but it only served to dislodge my pattern further. I can’t say this is an issue I can’t overcome and it certainly isn’t something that’ll make me regret coming here. This place is far too intriguing to have something as miniscule as insanity thwart me.

However I wanted those who really can’t visualize the whole concept to see what we see. I took some time-lapsed pictures of the night (ha ha) sky over an 8 hour period last night. The only setting I had on the camera was Auto ISO. The shots are taken from our balcony with the first one at 8pm and the last being 3am.  I’ll do this once again on June 22nd – 23rd and we can compare the changes.

N-joy

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Toonik Tyme Wrap-up – The “Better Late Than Never” Edition

After a week and a half of being fairly sick, and then being forced to recover from the results of a disappointing election, I am finally back to sum up – as promised – our first experience with Toonik Tyme.  I have also been significantly shamed into getting my fingers back on the keyboard, so thanks for that Ian.  😉  If you read this blog just for the pictures, then you’re in luck.  Ian has advised me that we uploaded about 90 new shots from the festival in Iqaluit that heralds the coming of spring.

Stage at the Opening Ceremonies

The festival was heralded in through the use of the opening ceremonies.  Many of the larger events were being held at the Curling Rink, and this was no exception.  From what Ian and I could see, there was a great turnout.  Plenty of people were volunteering to help out with upcoming events and all volunteers got this lime green t-shirt.  Can’t miss a person in this thing!  We had planned on helping out at a few events, and so grabbed our shirts that night so we’d be ready.

The opening ceremonies began with the lighting of the traditional qulliq by a local elder.  She told us a lovely anecdote about how stinky seal oil can be when it’s old – apparently it was old that night, because she wasn’t impressed by the smell at all.  We finally got to experience Inuit throat singing!  It’s traditionally performed by Inuit girls or women, almost as a game.  The two women face each other and sing back and forth, attempting to make the other laugh.  I’m glad we got to see it, as it’s something to experience for yourself for sure.  We have a couple of videos of some of the singers.  I’ll try to get some of them uploaded at some point.  But let’s just say that the internet up here leaves something to be desired when it comes to uploading videos.

There were a number of throat singing acts, including a woman from Nunavut who partnered up with a woman from Finland (if I recall correctly) for a mix of Inuit throat singing with Joik – a traditional singing style of the Sámi people.  The Sámi are the arctic indigenous people of northern Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia.  We were also treated to local singer Aaju Peter, as well as some exchange students in Iqaluit. Unfortunately my memory is hazy on names and places, and we must have thrown out the schedule for the night.  Boo!

Throat singers

Folk singing with Aaju Peter

Friday night was Northern Bands night at the Cadet Hall.  There is some amazing talent in this little city of ours.  We were very happy to be introduced to Josh Qaumariaq, Michael Doyle, Jordan Grenke, and so many other talented musicians.  I wish I could remember them all, but they were all amazing.  It makes me want to get into playing music again!
 

Josh Qaumariaq & his band - this guy's voice...INCREDIBLE blues singer!

Mike Doyle & friends...a VERY talented bunch!

Saturday was by far our busiest day.  We were in line for the craft show at 9 AM for its 10 AM start on the very good advice of a friend.  The show was full of all kinds of vendors.  Food, clothing, traditional art and carvings, fur, coffee…something for everyone!  I easily got waylaid by the first table we passed – it was filled with cheese!  There were so many tables there that we barely got to see everything.  The crowd quickly made its way into the Curling Rink and people were everywhere.  We picked up a few gifts for people and some more goodies for ourselves and were off.

Missy and Sileema manning the St. Jude’s booth – raising money to finish rebuilding the church…

Following the craft show, we headed back out for some of the outdoor events.  We didn’t get to see everything that was going on that day.  There were so many events…snowmobile races, igloo building, ice carving, barbecues, dogsled races.  So much to do, and not enough time to do it all!

Ian and the large arctic char that now resides in our freezer

Carving ice sculptures in the cold

Ian...seconds after biting into a frozen burger

After a quick nap, Ian and I headed back to the Curling Rink for the annual “big band” night. Every year, a band from down south is flown in to perform. The White Stripes have been here. Last year it was The Trews. This year, a band out of Hamilton, Ontario graced us with their presence…The Reason. We volunteered at the event. Ian got to handle security, and I manned the door, taking tickets. It was a great night, and we ended up being able to watch the band once all of the volunteer duties were complete. And of course, in my usual groupie ways, I snuck in a picture of myself with the singer, Adam. All in all, we had a great night! Live music is so much fun!

Ian with the boys in security

The Reason rocking Iqaluit

Suzanne playing groupie with Adam White of The Reason

After a very late night cleaning up from the show, we were back at it again in the morning. This time, we were helping to sell tickets at the Toonik Tyme Hockey Tournament. The proceeds were going to the Iqaluit Humane Society, and we ended up raising $2000 for our efforts. The hockey tournament featured teams from across Nunavut and Nunavik. We were there on the championship day, during the semi-final games. It was very busy, and we met a tonne of people, including some really helpful kids. So cute!

Two of our little helpers at the hockey tournament

Sunday was unfortunately the end of our Toonik Tyme adventures. We wanted to get back out for the closing ceremonies, but both of us ended up feeling pretty sick that night. It’s too bad, as I heard it was quite good, with more performers similar to the opening night.

So there you have it. Finally. We’re looking forward to Toonik Tyme next year. In fact, I’ve already started making inquiries about being a part of the board. It’s great to be a part of things in this city, and when it comes down to it, the best way to do that is to volunteer. Happy spring everyone!

Spring = Toonik Tyme!

Source: Toonik Tyme Society

It’s springtime in Iqaluit! You might not know it with how cold the wind chill has been for the past week, but the biggest sign of its arrival is the annual week-long spring festival known as Toonik Tyme. The festival has been happening in Iqaluit since 1965. It is meant to welcome to coming of longer days and to usher out the bitter cold winter. Perhaps it will herald a return to a more regular blogging schedule for me us as well.

Today is the first official day of the Toonik Tyme, marked by the opening ceremonies being held at the curling rink tonight. The next seven days will be full of traditional and not-so traditional activities, including igloo building, and tea and bannock making contests, snowmobile races, dogsled races, craft shows, a country foods fair, hockey and basketball tournaments, and concerts. There will be so many things to do and see, especially for noobs like Ian and I.

We’ll also find out who the Honorary Toonik is this year.  Every year, an individual is selected to preside over the event.  Past Tooniks have included former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, Prince Charles, and various Greenlandic officials.  More recently however, local individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the community have received the honour.

We’re hoping to get out to a lot of events, and will be volunteering at one or two as well. Hope to have lots of pictures for you all to see in the coming days!

An Open Letter to the Sun – (Arctic Spring Edition)

Dear Almighty Fireball in the Sky.

I bet you like that kind of introduction don’t you? It wouldn’t surprise me in the least. Your ego won’t allow for anything less regal. So here we are once again. Spring is here and you are once again enforcing your will upon the world and damaging my calm.

We get it.

You’re the source of life on this planet and our reason for being, blah blah blah. How much longer do we have to pander to you? You’ve been worshipped throughout the ages by adoring fans. Entire religions (and some cults) have been formed in praise of you. Entire civilizations have dedicated their way of life to your benevolence. Big whoop. Are you upset that you don’t garner as much attention anymore? Is this your reason for intruding upon my fragile state of mind.

Let’s be real here. We never got along in the first place. I’ve done my best to avoid you like the the drunk girl at a party. I’ve even resorted to cavorting with your goofy little brother with the bad acne, Moon, in an attempt to distance myself from you. He’s not the most engaging fella to associate with but at least he isn’t intrusive. Sure sometimes he shines his flashlight through my window on occasion but it isn’t nearly as blinding as your holier-than-thou sunlight. What part of I don’t like you do you not get? You cause me more misery than you do joy. Sure you’ll probably rattle off a laundry list of things you do for me behind the scenes but I don’t care. That’s your job. Don’t start just doing extra things without asking me first.

I understand there are people who have been waiting for you for a while now. They want to get their tans and frolic around in short shorts and go to beaches and what not. Hello. I come equipped with my own built-in tan. I don’t need to cook myself till I’m golden brown. I have that fresh out of the oven look year round, bro.  I could care less about wearing less clothes – and I’m quite certain there are many people who will agree that me with less clothes is NOT a good thing as well. I’m not a fan of open water either so you can keep the beaches as well.

You think that you’re too cool for school, but I have a newsflash for you Walter Cronkite… you aren’t.

My wife tells me that you’re stalking us for nearly 12 hours out of the day now. Really? Really? Has your ego really gotten that tremendous that you have to bug me for that long? Rumour has it that you’ve actually got the audacity to even try to exceed that. Do you really think I’m going to tolerate that? You sap the very life force out of me with your sun shiny dribble. I came to the arctic to escape your ever watchful gaze. So what that I’m seriously geographically challenged and didn’t realize it meant you and I would have our final showdown up here. I’m ready for you.

You will not break me and I’ll never yield to you.

So gather your silly little sun-loving minions and let them sing your praises and bask under what they believe is awesomeness. I’ll continue to plot in the darkness against you. Dark will always win out over light because light is dumb. Your hubris will be your undoing. Remember, a book once said “in the beginning there was darkness”…

That title will be regained some day.

Sincerely,

Ian