Alianait Festival 2011 – Day Two & Canada Day in Iqaluit

We were back volunteering at Alianait for Canada Day.  Bought some tickets for the Duck Race that’s going to be taking place in support of the firefighters – yes…a duck race!  First prize?  Tickets on First Air from Ottawa to Iqaluit – round trip.  Fingers are crossed for another winning ticket!

We were tired out by the end of the day, so we didn’t get a chance to get out to the concert that night, but we had lots of fun during the Canada Day festivities.  Here’s some pictures from our beautiful day!

Arriving at the festivities...you might not be able to see it, but there's a LOT of people there...

Line up for the fry truck...and we waited the WHOLE time...

Bouncy castles...and lots of people mingling

So many kids...everywhere!

The Alianait Big Top!

Mission: Destroy Canada Day cake. Mission: Accomplished.

Fry truck Canada Day/Alianait weekend prices. They were cheaper last weekend...honest!

Contrast...

Kids painting the murals...

Square dance in the Big Top!

Iqaluit Humane Society AGM Tomorrow

Yes, it’s that time of year again. The IHS is holding an Annual General Meeting on Monday, June 27th 2011 at 7:30pm at the Arctic Nunavut College (main campus).  We’re going to be discussing the future of the shelter, going over the financials as well as reviewing where we currently are as a society. We welcome you to stop by and offer your thoughts, comments and suggestions. Whether you’re a long time supporter or new to the scene your opinions matter!

The shelter is a pure not-for-profit volunteer operation run by a host of amazing individuals and we’re always on the look out for new members. The general public isn’t aware of how difficult it is to manage the day-to-day operations at the shelter with everyone working full-time jobs. We dedicate our free time, lunch breaks and weekends to make sure Iqaluit’s less fortunate and often forgotten residents are taken care of. Four shifts per day, seven days a week  folks. That’s 28 shifts that need to be covered with a minimum of two people. That ends up being the work of 56 people being performed by less than 20 of us. Many times we’ve found ourselves alone on shifts having to manage a shelter full of animals. It’s hard work when the support is at a bare minimum. With the Katimavik volunteers gone for the summer we do not have the luxury of having a day staff available during the week. We’ve teetered on the brink of collapse a few times because there’s only so much a handful of people can do. I’ve personally worked nearly every day for the past couple of months and have covered every shift from as early as 6:30am to 9:30pm. I know others who have done the same and even more without hesitation or regret because we all share a common bond in that we love the little critters there.

People think a shift at the shelter is a walk in the park. It can be if enough people are on at the same time. A typical shift consists of:

  • Walking the dogs
  • Disinfecting & sterilizing cages
  • Cleaning the shelter (doing dishes, sweeping & mopping floors)
  • Doing laundry
  • Feeding giving the animals water
  • Keeping and maintaining daily animal logs

Unfortunately when you’re on your own it can rival any household chore. Disinfecting a single cage takes a minimum of 10 minutes in order to do properly and if you have a full house it’s a slow and tedious process that can take up to 2 hours or more to do. Here’s some food for thought: If we have 10 full cages and 5 people come in at the same time to walk those 5 of the dogs at the same time we can do 50 minutes worth of disinfecting work in just 10 minutes. Imagine the possibilities. Volunteering can be as simple as taking a single friendly pup out for a nice walk on a beautiful summer day. You have no idea how much a modest act such as that can help cut down the time needed for a shift. Simple gestures like that can do more good than you can believe so if you’re interested in helping out please come to the meeting or shoot us an email at volunteers@iqaluithumanesociety.com for more details.

We always have pups and kitties at the shelter looking for new homes so feel free to stop by and test drive your new pet any day or schedule a showing at adoptions@iqaluithumanesociety.com.

You can also follow us on Twitter now @iqhumanesociety! We’re bringing the IHS into the 21st century so come grow with us!

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

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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!

IHS on Facebook

Finally the Iqaluit Humane Society has come back to Facebook!

Show some love for Iqaluit’s 4 year old, completely volunteer, non-profit organization by Liking us on Facebook. The IHS only exists because of the tireless dedication of its staff and the continuous generous support of the community. There is no government funding for this much needed operation so the greatest ways you can help is by spreading the word and/or volunteering.

There’s a popular misconception with the term volunteer. When people hear it they immediately think of cleaning kennels, feeding and walking dogs and general grunt work. While this is true in some instances volunteering is so much more expansive than just that. Volunteering is offering something – anything – to the organization out of the kindness of your heart. It can be as simple as giving a fellow volunteer a lift to the shelter or as personal as sponsoring just one of the many adorable pups currently in-house.

Every volunteer dedicates time according to what they can offer. We all have 9 – 5 jobs just like the rest of you so we know how precious time can be. An hour of time, a care ride, a small donation, an offer of a free service – these are but small acts that can have a monumental effect. Imagine 100 people chipping in an hour’s worth of their time. That’s an incredible amount of time to do so much. For more information send us a message or write on our wall on Facebook.

Animal cruelty is a very real problem up here. People tend to turn a blind eye to the indecencies shown to these loving creatures. Many are shot on sight in order to control the population while others simply die from neglect and abuse. There are no laws protecting them – only the IHS – so please show your support.

“Anything is something”

http://www.facebook.com/iqaluithumanesociety