Monthly Archives: April 2014

Springtime in Gillam

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The sky is literally (yes, Phil Cook, literally) on fire with the most beautiful of sunrises as I pass Ashern on the last southbound Greyhound I will take for a long time. It was a complete but emotional goodbye yesterday afternoon. How often, at the end of a practicum block, do you get to visit your students working at the Co-op, and then see their younger siblings biking in puddles outside your apartment shouting ‘tansi!’, or have pyjama-clad brunch with all your favourite teachers?

Time, therefore, to catch up on some blogging, while these memories are still as fresh as the heaps of snow that seems to have disappeared some time during the night. Geez, tropical Winnipeg!

Gillam Round Two began with an epically northern evening. I was faintly aware of something called the Hudson Bay Quest, in which mushers from all around the world race across 300km of open tundra between Churchill and Gillam. I was eating butter chicken at Gillam D’Lite, the best (read: only) restaurant in town, when we received a text offering us a ride to the edge of Stephen’s Lake to see the first mushers riding. So my CT and I jumped into the eccentric science teacher’s truck and joined the small crowd of spectators around a raging campfire on the frozen beach. Among said crowd were students, parents, and a few dreadlocked Minnesotan punks who had come out to cheer their dad across the finish line.

After a few minutes of mingling and shivering, a shout pierced the darkness: “Here comes number one!”

Sure enough, a tiny LED light was visible on the other side of the lake. We watched in anticipation. We kept watching. Then we realized that that light was still a full mile away, pulled by some very tired dogs. So we saved our voices for about twenty more minutes, then cheered for the musher and his nine-dog crew as he slid up the shore. We admired his icicled beard, and the voracity with which the dogs devoured their reward of fresh caribou.

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This process was repeated three more times, along with some tearful embraces by the wives of the men that are crazy enough to do this sort of thing. Eventually we started to run out of forklift palettes to throw on the fire, and decided it was time to call it a night. As my good buddy and roommate Reid would say, “That’s so northern!”

The remainder of Gillam Round Two was less bloggable, but possibly even more memorable thanks to the wonderful people that make this town…

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A very multicultural Easter dinner with our apartment gang, which variously resembled the cast of Friends, Will & Grace, or Seinfeld (along with regular arguments about who was the Kramer)

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Staff versus student basketball game. I can now cross “give a 15-year-old girl a black eye” off my bucket list. Though we both agree that SHE ran into MY elbow.

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The first day of spring is a perfect excuse to wear shorts, even in -22°C.

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A couple of the fantastic middle years students (photo used with permission!) that showed up for our Pysanka workshop. We had a great time hanging out all evening and making some beautiful (if unusual) Ukrainian Easter eggs.

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My EA friend, Wendell, and his buddy Stephen generously invited me along for an afternoon of goose hunting. It turned out to be an afternoon of storytelling and shooting rounds into snowbanks for fun, but an excellent time nonetheless.

I understand that a town as tiny as Gillam is very much characterized by the individuals who live there, so I count myself very fortunate to have been there when I was, since I cannot imagine a better bunch of people to spend time with!

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ᓈᑫ ᑲᐚᐸᒥᑎᐣ!

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