Saturday, June 29, 2013

my sister ties the knot

photos from my sister's wedding

rehearsalmy sister gets hitchedrehearsalrehearsalrehearsalrehearsal
my sister ties the knot, a set on Flickr.
Via Flickr:

photos by rob

Friday, June 28, 2013

charity fridays: Alberta edition

For this week's Charity Friday, I'm suggesting we make donations to support those affected by the flooding disasters in Alberta.  I saw some of it while I was in Edmonton earlier this week. It rained ceaselessly all day, flooding some of the streets until the sun finally broke out.

Cambridge Bay bake sale for flood relief

People have been really good and even creative about providing their support. It amazed me to see how people in Cambridge Bay, who often face poverty (not to mention extreme weather), organized a bake sale to raise funds for the Alberta flood victims. If these modest folks can spare a little change, so can we, right? Especially if even very poor Cambodian orphans are donating to the cause. Orphans!

So here are some ways to help:
  Feel free to post other links to other charities that could use some support for the flood victims.

So what has been happening in Cambridge Bay since I've been away and not blogging? We missed out on a lot of things happening in Cambridge Bay:
  • Most notably, kids caused an oil spill in Cambridge Bay. Apparently some children got curious about the tanks that hold used oil, and opened up a valve, apparently causing 15000 litres of oil to spill out into the Arctic Ocean.  Luckily, much of the ocean is still frozen so separating oil from the ocean was not as complicated as it usually is, but clean up is still going on around here. 

  • Somebody spotted a grizzly bear wandering around on the street behind me.  My friends went out on an imaginary bear hunt, but with no luck. I heard someone from town tell a story about how people kept spotting a grizzly bear in town but whenever hunters went to go find it, they could never find it.  Finally, they discovered that the bear had been sleeping under one of the houses.  Excuse me while I go check the space beneath my house... 

  • As a side note, grizzly bears weren't all that common up here on the island for a long time, but lately they've been making the trek all the way up here and hanging out. And breeding with polar bears.  This is a terrifying thought. Two of the scariest bears making scary bear babies....

  • Folks have been complaining about kids swimming in the puddle in front of the elementary school. As I mentioned before, during spring time when all that ice is melting, there are huge puddles that form in the road.  Well, I guess it's all just too tempting for some of the local kids, because they have been putting on their swimming trunks and actually swimming in the puddles.  This is kind of a gross thought, not just because we're talking mud puddles (that are possibly also containing oil spill run off), but also because other kids have been spotted peeing in the same puddle. Oh, kids these days.  Sometimes they are raising hundreds of dollars with their lemonade stand of peace situated across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church; sometimes they're causing oil spills into the ocean.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

back from Ottawa

As you may have noticed, I've taken a short break from blogging while I took a trip "down south" to my old home in Ottawa doing things that I don't normally get to do in Cambridge Bay, including laser tag, bumper cars, going to the driving range, glow-in-the-dark mini golf, catching some live music shows, eating my mom's homemade Korean food and helping my sister get married.

Ottawa has been hot, humid, and rainy. My skin is breaking out, unused to the moisture int he air. My hair gets greasy fast, and worst of all my allergies have flared up to such a state that my eyes are always itchy and my nose is always running. I seem to have developed a severe allergy to trees, which suggests I may have to live in the Arctic forever. Or maybe move to Arizona. At any rate, it was a bit of a relief to return to dry, cold Cambridge Bay, where the ocean is still frozen and the air is a brisk dry minus 3 degrees. And now I've resumed blogging - stay tuned!

Curtis Chaffey from The Split, hosting open mic night at Alice's Village Cafe in Carp

getting poutine at what Rob claims is the best poutine place in Ottawa, the Crispy Fries in the Canadian Tire parking lot on Merivale Road.

Rob plays with our niece Lucy
blurry photo of my brother-in-law Kevin's band HIGHS performing at Raw Sugar Cafe 

preparing for my sister's bachelorette party 

whacking a few balls at the driving range 


Rob's cousin had twin babies! 

glow in the dark mini-golf, which is mostly dark 
Alium restaurant, where we ordered every plate on the menu.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

the new Wild West

It's garage sale season, dictated mostly by the dates when the teachers leave town rather than by weather. In Cambridge Bay, garage sales are literally in the garage, because nothing would last long in 60km/hr winds and freezing rain.
More significantly, when there isn't freezing rain, our little Arctic community has transformed lately from a winter wonderland to a dusty town right out of a Western movie.  I feel like I should be trading in my Canada Goose parka for a pair of cowboy boots.  I'm half-expecting to see tumbleweed roll across the dirt roads. I'm half-expecting to see a gun fight break out between the County Sheriff and an outlaw. Instead of riding horses, though, the locals ride ATVs.  If only Sergio Leone could have made use of this unique setting for one of his movies...

 It's a losing battle against the dust in this town

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

burying the dead in Nunavut

We came across the cemetery on one of our drives. It appeared somewhat unexpectedly, down a long, winding road that leads past a bunch of cabins all the way to Mount Pelly. The graveyard is hidden from the rest of town.

Cambridge Bay is a pleasant small town of friendly people and not necessarily a lot of fast-paced action, but people do die. In fact, Nunavut has the highest violent crime rate per capita of all the provinces, and Cambridge Bay has the second highest rate of all the communities in the territories, so sometimes there are murders. More tragically, like many communities in the north, there are suicides. Just a few weeks ago there were two funerals in one day; one death due to a fire, and another death by suicide. On the same day as the two funerals, another person committed suicide. It's the cold, sad reality of a society that often struggles with poverty, depression, violence, addiction and other forms of oppression.

Interestingly, a lot of the communities in Nunavut are not properly equipped to store bodies temporarily, so many of them must make do with makeshift morgues, sometimes using the community freezer or a big sea can, in order to try to slow down decomposition until the burial.

Even once a solution has been found to temporarily house the deceased, burial itself is not easy, not in a land where the ground is frozen most of the year. It took a while for the city of Iqaluit to find the site for a new cemetery, because some of the areas had rocky soil that would make burial difficult; according to one article, most of the land around Iqaluit is glacial till, "thin soil stuffed with gravel and boulders left by receding glaciers."

So burials are not very deep. They certainly aren't six feet deep. Rocks are placed to cover the plots. And Christian crosses mark the spots, a tradition brought by the missionaries to replace the traditional ways, sometimes on a slanting sideways where the permafrost has shifted the ground underneath.