Meet You at the Fishing Lake

On Friday it was time to head out of the office Avataaqtu Lake for a day of fishing.  The last time I was at Avataaqtu lake was in 2009! The reason was time for our Department’s Spring Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ) Day.  Here’s more about our time in 2012 and 2013.

It was windy in Pangnirtung but we all met at the beach…and then took off across the fjord and up over the Kulik Trail.  As we got on the way…the wind stopped and it was just clear skies…but still pretty cold! (Around -22C plus a wind chill).

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The coldest part of the day was the time it took to get to the fishing lake…riding in a qamotiq is cold, but if you are dressed and prepared for it…it’s not too bad. Fishing IQ Day 2014-002

A quick stop to move and get blood flowing to all parts of your body along the trail! Fishing IQ Day 2014-003

Finally at the fishing lake… we went to work clearing the snow from the top of the ice… and then the guys started using the auger to drill all the holes.  In some spots even with the extension on the auger the ice was ‘almost’ too thick! (like 5 feet) Fishing IQ Day 2014-004

Everyone quickly took to their holes…there were prizes for the First Fish, the Most Fish, the Biggest Fish and the Smallest Fish caught. I didn’t win any of the prizes…but within probably the first hour I had caught 3 fish (see below)…and had about 3 get away.

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Photo Credit for left photo: Delia Siivola

The rest of the day was just spent jigging away… the bearded lady hat didn’t bring much luck, instead just an old weight from a net…my hook got pretty tangled up in that!  I had to get help from a friend to get it off.  My phobia of fish hooks still is alive… they seriously freak me out still.

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Photo Credit: Delia Siivola

The day was pretty awesome…we had blue skies with the sun shining, then it started to lightly snow at some point…and then back to blue skies! It’s amazing to me how even though it was probably -22C I was comfortable enough to fish just in my hoodie!

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My strategy was to stick to the same hole all day.  Others in the group don’t do this…they move around, and probably caught more fish than I did…but honestly 3 is more than enough for me!  Fishing IQ Day 2014-008

Joavie who was the outfitter that helped transport part of our group to the fishing lake…prepared some char for us to eat! Fresh fish right on the fishing lake is soooooo good!  Fishing IQ Day 2014-009

On our way home there were a couple times that the snowmobile got stuck going up the hill…partly because of the fresh snow on the trail…and the fact it was pulling two qamotiqs!  So we jumped out…. dropped on qamotiq off the train… the snowmobile continued the way up the hill then we used our power to pull/push the other one up the hill.  It was a good workout.
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The scenery along the trail is so stunning…everywhere you look is amazing stellar view. Fishing IQ Day 2014-011

Just at the top of the Kulik Trail we jumped out of the qamotiqs and walked down.
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This part of the trail is pretty freaky…especially this winter because there isn’t much snow on it at all.  It’s a trail that’s literally made on the side of the mountain.  It’s maintained by adding fencing/boards to the side to help stop you from sliding off the mountain.  Anytime going down it’s easier for the snowmobile driver to have their passengers walk…because it’s less weight in the qamotiqs. Fishing IQ Day 2014-014

As you can see…it’s a steep drop down to the river below. Fishing IQ Day 2014-015

Looking up on the left and looking down on the right… Fishing IQ Day 2014-016

Stopping to take a shot of Pangnirtung across the fjord! Fishing IQ Day 2014-017

Almost home… just waiting at the end of the Kulliq Trail for everyone to make it down safely.  Then we had a short ride across the fjord home!

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Photo Credit: Markus Siivola

It was a fantastic day out on the land… During my time fishing Joavie helped with learning some more Inuktitut words and phrases. Days like this is what living up in the Arctic is all about.

#ABrightProject: Task #2

Task #2 for #abrightproject was completed just after I got back to Pang… it was due on Feb 15th…but I didn’t get my letter written before I left for El Salvador…and the week I was back before coming back north was crazy-fast-paced!  So I ended up being a few weeks late (yes, vacation, travelling and maybe some procrastination might have all been factors.)

Moving on… Task#2 focused on self-love… one of the parts of our task was to post 10 selfies on our instagram accounts.  At least one of them had to be without a filter…and you had to tag them and add things about yourself you liked!  Then other people participating in #abrightproject commented and left affirming comments for the people that posted photos.

Selifies are something a lot of people love to hate.  But I really don’t have a problem with taking a photo of myself because I look at it like documenting a moment in time.  If you’ve been a reader at Sarah on the Road  for any amount of time you will realize that ‘selfies’ are something I do quite often.  Why? I find it’s a way to put me IN the picture…often after going somewhere or doing something I find that I didn’t have a photo of ME at that spot… I have heaps of photos of friends, family and other people…but none of me.  Taking a quick selfie is a way to document that moment…even if that means laughing at the photos later!

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The other part of the project was a bit harder…it was the self-reflection part.  The heart of the month’s challenge was to help us take a look at ourselves and what we thought of ourselves.  Looking at our appearance…what do you think of yourself? what is our is that self-talk? What do we feel in our hearts of hearts about ourselves? Wow…those are some loaded questions.  Honestly, this is something I’m working on but sometimes struggle with to this day.  I try to ‘fake-it-til-I-make-it’ and often try to portray myself as a person that doesn’t struggle with how I feel about my appearance.  Sometimes I can do that…and that image of everything is all good is pulled off for the people around me.  But sometimes that portrayal isn’t so strong as I thought it was….and people see through the cracks.  One thing during this task I really tried to stop was the ‘self-hate’…i.e.) that little voice inside of my head that would often shout horrible things about myself. Instead I had that little voice say something good & positive any time it thought something negative.  (It’s a struggle, honestly…but each day if I can consciously stop…then I have faith that soon that negative voice won’t be around…and I will continue to fake-it-til-I-make-it…and it doesn’t seem fake, because I won’t feel that way anymore and it will be truth instead.)

The social part of my task was comment on my Bright Half’s photo…and then send her a letter talking to her about your process and how you feel about yourself.  The more important thing was to affirm her and give her 5 points that were awesome that you learned about her through her self-protraits she posted on instagram!

My letter was waiting for me when I got back from my holidays in February… it was so exciting to get mail that wasn’t bills!

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Those little tags each held an affirming statement my Bright Half saw in me from looking at my selfies…it was an awesome gift, thank you!!!

Task #3 was all about being Grateful…I’ve sent off my parcel, but haven’t received mine yet…it’s on it’s way…but who knows when it will arrive here in Pang!  Once I receive it I’ll do a post explaining more about this task!

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If you wanted to check out my previous tasks with #abrightproject click on the links below:

Lately…

Spring has sprung!  The weather has been gorgeous here in Pang…the sun has been shinning and the temps between -15C  (-20C with windchill).  The days are getting longer too… the sun is rising around 5:45am these days and setting at 7:10pm!

This is a post that has many random thoughts from my head…from this past week. Right now I have another 6 blog posts in draft format in my blog dashboard.  I need to finish them…and hopefully will soon. But for tonight here’s my random thoughts!

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This has been on my mind all week a report was released and shares what all of us living in the north know, but many southerns in Canada don’t. Like: “76 per cent of Inuit preschoolers skip meals, while 60 per cent have gone a day without eating.” and “The report says the average cost of groceries for a family of four in Nunavut is $19,760 per year while almost half of Inuit adults earn less than $20,000 annually.” Here’s a link to another article about the issue.  It’s a complex situation with no real clear-cut answers. All the “southern” food has to be flown in, or brought up in the summer on big barges…that makes the food prices extremely high!  This weekend I bought a bag of 8 oranges for $15.95.  I’m not sure what the answer should be…but something needs to change.

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The other thing that was happening this week in Nunavut was “#sealfies”…now what is a “sealfie” you might ask? Well it all started with Ellen’s selfie from the Oscars that broke twitter, you see Samsung donated $1 for every retweet which was about 3million dollars to charties of Ellen’s choice.  One was a children’s hospital and the other was the American Human Society which has been very vocal about stopping the commercial seal hunt in Canada. (which normally refers to the commercial hunt not the traditional Inuit hunt)  Fellow Nunavut Bloggers over at Finding True North had a fabulous explanation about it on her blog… so go CHECK it OUT!

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“@ellenshow my #sealfie not only a beautiful piece of art, but functional 4 Arctic Life. Eat. Wear, Hunt Seal”

Killaq Enuaraq-Strauss from Iqaluit had this brilliant response to Ellen. 

This week I joined a sewing group.  The Inuktitut Teacher at the high school about 2months ago opened up her classroom for a sewing group on Monday & Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons.  She’s donated her time to help others on projects. This Wednesday I went with my friend…and started cutting the pieces for my seal skin mittens and started sewing.  Then on Saturday afternoon I went back and got more direction about how to do the next step of ‘gathering’ for the sewing.  When I’m done I’ll post more photos and story of the progress…but for now here’s a quick shot of me cutting out the seal skin pieces.

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Photo credit: Cassandra Yantha

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I’ve also been working on my quilt top…finally joined the 4 blocks to make strips. Then today spent the time cutting and sewing together the rest of the ‘sashing’ strips I needed to join the sets of 4 blocks together.  Still have heaps of work to do…but it’s coming closer together to a nice quilting sandwich for lots of hand-quilting to begin.

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…so that’s what’s been happening in the last week in Pangnirtung.

The Floe Edge

First I want to say…I’m finally feeling better, still not 100% but so much better than last week! I got home on Thursday night…it was so good to sleep in my own bed!  Even though I still wasn’t 100% and I was loosing my voice I had made plans with friends to go to Auyuittuq National Park for the day.

On Saturday morning I met with my friends at the Parks office to go over our orientation…and Joavie our outfitter let us know it was extremely windy in the Park…and wouldn’t be a good day to visit.  Remember last year how I went in the spring and it was crazy windy? Auyuttiq National Park..

Well after some discussion our group decided we wouldn’t venture into the Park because of the wind… and the fact we couldn’t head past Overlord to the Arctic Circle marker, or even further to get a glimpse of Thor. What we did was ask Joavie if he could take us in the other direction… out into Cumberland Sound. He agreed so we all went down to his house at 10am and got ready to head out of town! Floe Edge_0001

Joavie is the heart of Alivaktuk Outfitting… Over the past 5 years I’ve gone on many adventures out of town with him.  Today he said we’d head to the floe edge, look for polar bear prints and stop at one of the Turbot Fishing camps…he said no matter what we’d have a story to tell later that day.  Boy was he right!  We had such an awesome adventure…

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Leaving town heading through the ‘pack ice’…this is formed with the tides…it forces ice up when high tides come, and then cracks when the low tides leave.  It’s a pretty cool to see it! Floe Edge_0002

Here’s a quick selfie on the move… with my komotik buddy!  (We spent the day travelling in a komotik (the sled that is pulled by the snowmobile).  There were 2 snowmobiles…and one pulled two komotiks in a train…and then ours just pulled one! But it was perfect for the 6 of us!

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Our first stop on the ice after travelling for a bit was great to get out and stretch…and get our bodies moving after sitting with the cold wind!  It was -19C with a windchill of -26C. Our two outfitters took the time to help warm up my friend’s fingers…it’s amazing how their hands were so stinking warm! My trick is to use a pair of those 1990s ‘magic’ gloves inside my mittens.  My mittens are warm enough..but I find it hard to use the controls of my camera, so often have to take off a mitten.  And at -19C my fingers DO freeze…so I end up wearing the magic gloves and that keeps my hands toasty! Floe Edge_0008

While we were having our break we decided to have a little “jumping” party… sometimes you just have to JUMP! Today’s reason…it was a beautiful spring day with the sun shining…and we were on the Cumberland Sound! Floe Edge_0010Floe Edge_0009

Our next stop was the Floe Edge.  I hadn’t been here…but have wanted to visit for awhile!  Joavie first checked the thickness of the ice to determine it were it was safe to walk.  Floe Edge_0011

This is where the ice in the Cumberland Sound ends…and it’s open water! This is the spot where hunters from town come to get seals…and polar bears come in the spring looking for seal pups (though it is a bit early for that to happen!) Floe Edge_0012

It was so gorgeous…the water was ‘misting’…even with the temperatures we had!  Floe Edge_0013 Floe Edge_0014

Our two outfitters talking about our next plans… we saw a group of people further along the floe edge so we decided to head over there. Floe Edge_0015

We stopped just after three hunters from town had gotten a bearded seal.  They had brought it back to the ice, skinned it and had butchered it and were in the process of preparing the meat to bring back to town.  (They dipped it in the sea water so that the salt helps preserve it…how cool eh?)  It was so incredibly awesome and special to be allowed to be able to just drop by and watch this process.  That seal fed so many people back in town. (I couldn’t believe it’s size…) We all were offered fresh seal…which I had as well as some of my friends.  Here’s my friend, just before eating her piece of seal.  I was happy to get some, because seal helps warm you up… Floe Edge_0016

We hung out here for a bit, had some tea… and enjoyed our seal. The hunters shoot the seal from the floe edge then…go in the small boat and row out to bring it back to the ice. Floe Edge_0017

It was such a peaceful gorgeous day… it went from blue skies to having some light snow…to blue skies again! It’s amazing how fast the weather can change in one day. Floe Edge_0018

As we were hanging out…of course I decided to get some random shots of us just chillin’ at the floe edge. Floe Edge_0019

I brought out my ‘bearded lady’ hat…just to snap a photo, but it wasn’t warm enough to wear the rest of the day! Floe Edge_0020

We left the seal hunters and continued along side the floe edge… looking for Polar Bear Tracks! I didn’t want to see a bear–bears FREAK me out, and honestly…I’d rather just see one in the zoo…than in the wild.  But seeing their prints does let you know that they are around.  Soon enough the skidoos stopped…and there on either side were tracks of not 1 but 2 Polar Bears.  Joavie said they were probably 2-3days old. (Can you see them in the photo below at the left hand side of the photo?) Floe Edge_0021

Yup, definitely bigger than my hand!  Glad this was all I saw of a bear that day. Floe Edge_0022

Our next stop was to head over to one of the Turbot Fishing camps.  At this spot it was awesome to just see a figure in the distance at the floe edge with their snowmobile hunting. Floe Edge_0023

We stopped here for awhile to visit.  It was a good stop as some people were cold and were able to warm up in the cabin.  The small cabin sits on a komotik (and is pulled by a skidoo) but can be heated by coleman stove… there are vents to let out the carbon dioxide and it’s a cozy spot to camp while fishing.

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While we were there Joavie asked about the lines, and they fisherman agreed it was time to pull them up.  It was great to be invited to be a part another awesome experience!  While the men fixed the hauler…I was able to take the snowmobile off for a bit of a drive!  It was pretty awesome, and was happy to have my toes warmed up…who knew that there was heat that blew out on my feet while driving!  I didn’t..it was a happy surprise! Floe Edge_0026

Some of my friends decided to run and jump to keep the blood moving and stay warm! Floe Edge_0028

Soon it was time to bring out the lines, that are baited with squid from Newfoundland.  This was one of the fish that was caught…but no one seemed to know what kind it was!  This wasn’t a great spot, because most of the bait was left on the hooks…with no fish.
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However, about 4 Turbot were caught.
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Plus a few other ‘interesting’ things were caught…this starfish, a sting ray, and some rocks with coral on it.
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I asked the Fisherman if I could have the rock with the coral tree…and he agreed, it’s the coolest thing ever. I managed to get it back to town by holding it the whole way in my hand..and only broke off one small part of it…it still looks way cool!

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Then it was time to head back to town…we stopped just outside of the fiord to move around and warm up…. these breaks help keep us warm, and are awesome for photo ops!!

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Here’s a shot of my friend and I… the one on the left is from the first stop of our day and the one on the right was from the last stop of the day!!

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It’s so gorgeous being outside of town on the land. Days like this totally remind me of why I love living here in Pangnirtung.  It’s having days like today and opportunities to get out of town and that helps me appreciate all the great things about living in the Arctic.  Being able to experience and see a glimpse into the hard work the hunters and fishermen do to bring food to their families…well that was pretty special!  Floe Edge_0034

Part of me is secretly happy that it was too windy in the Park and our plans had to change…because my day out on the Cumberland Sound was AMAZING! As Joavie said… “I have a lot of stories to tell from my day”. I hope you enjoyed some of the photos and stories from my adventure that I shared here today!

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