Monday, May 3, 2010
Inukjuak catch-up, training week ends and the first day of puppets
Welcome back to Inukjuak, everyone! This sign is outside of town on the road to the airport, and I thought it fitting to start off this mega-post with it. I have a lot of photos and a lot of things to say, tell you or tell myself I don't really know.
It is so amazing up here - it is warmer everyday, and although it freezes every night, the snow is disappearing at a crazy rate. It's spring in the North, or getting close to it.
We ended the training week with a big feast on Saturday, where vegetarian me and my fellow artists made CARIBOU STEW and various other things, and ate RAW FROZEN CARIBOU, too. I knew coming up here that this trip would require a different sort of diet than I keep at home, and so far the experience has been truly amazing, and un-pass-up-able. When will I get to eat this kind of food again? I'll tell that story another time, but first I want to tell you about the rest of our week getting to know each other and sharing skills.
Lisa, our fearless leader, really did a great job getting us all riled up about our respective programs, and we played games and did hands-on workshops every day for hours on end. We amassed a pretty hefty list of fun games, and shared puppet-making, shadow puppet, play-making and movement skills with each other and the other facilitators.
In my last post, there was a photo of us working on an art activity - it was an earth blanket, a concrete vision of what makes a good learning environment. This is what it looked like when we were done - pretty awesome, hey? So many colours, textures and viewpoints.
We did a shadowpuppetry workshop, where I got to show some of the great things I've learned from all the amazing shadow and light artists I've gotten to work with. Isa did some cutting on a scenery piece that we made of Inukjuak - maybe I'll get a photo of it to put up on here - it's pretty magical.
The next day Natasha led us through a movement workshop and it was pretty hilariously fun - we did some great non-dance dancing! As you can clearly see, we are boogieing down to our own choreography.
The next day we worked on more puppets, this time sculpting paper with masking tape and covering it with paper-mache. As you can see, we totally rocked it, and our birds are very very great.
Isa's hummingbird kinda takes the cake. He took it home to hang up for his 5 month-old daughter to play with.
So that was the training week pretty much - we gelled as a group and got some pretty great hands-on knowledge. Over the rest of the weekend, we hung out together wandering around Inukjuak until folks left for their various destinations - Lisa back home to Fredericton, Natasha and the girls to Kangirsuk, and today those of us left here in Inukjuak dove headfirst into our own program.
Today was a pretty great day - yesterday I did a ton of setting up, as I mentioned yesterday. Came in this morning to finish up, and we got underway this afternoon, after school. We had 24 KIDS come!!! We had one boy, but he was 13 and the sheer number of girls was too much for him I think. We're going to work on finding some other guys to work with him, and give him some more advanced puppet work to do - maybe he'll be our shadow puppet guy! We'll see.
We played games and spoke all three languages all the way through, as we have kids who either only speak French or Inuttitut. Most of the kids are in Grade 3 and 4, and that suits me fine. We'll figure out ways of involving the younger kids - but since most of the work will happen after school-hours it makes for way to long a day for them. We'll figure it out.
We made really simple masks out of paper plates, to ease us in to creating and masks - tomorrow we'll decorate these and put them on and maybe even break into groups to tell some simple stories with tableaux. We'll see how that goes. Anyway, things went pretty smooth - HOORAY! Having three other folks facilitating with me sure helps - yay team teaching (in three languages no less!)
The photo above is the Inuttitut syllabic alphabet. It was brought to Nunavik by a minister in the 1800's, and is the same symbols used in written Cree. The fact that the community contains three languages is pretty wild, and pretty significant too. There is a real collision of cultures going on, each with it's own priorities, expectations and values, and school is one place where it's really evident. Announcements are made in three languages, and a lot of work is put into finding common ground between all three to make a place for learning and teaching to happen. It is so so so so sooooooooo complicated up here - I am constantly thinking about it, and really am blessed when I realize that my teaching team reinforces this common ground searching. Pam, Isa and Louisa Louie (the older teen assistant) are all Inuit, and that makes a huge difference - I can't imagine trying to do this without them.
So I'm putting a lot of thought and energy into making this accessible to everyone, and am grateful that kids are pretty much kids all over - we all like to create, tell stories and have fun, and that's common ground I can build on.
I'll leave you with some more photos of Inukjuak - stunning, beautiful and wild place!!
This is where the school has me staying - my own two bedroom pad! Half of this house is mine while I'm here, and it's turning out to be a bit of a haven for me.
This is the view of the Bay and the Island, just south of town. All that white is water, and may melt while I'm here. Then Inukjuak becomes a lakeside village.
A shot of downtown Inukjuak.
3 crazy artists - Lisa Ross our fearless mastermind, Natasha Eck Kangirsuk artist extraordinaire, and me.
This is the beautiful waterfall on the opposite side of the airport from town. We walked there with Lisa when she flew back home on Saturday - it's so beautiful I want to go visit it as often as I can - and I can! It's only about a 35 minute walk.
Ok - enough - I've been in the school for almost 12 hours today! It's time to go home and make supper and collapse. Wish me luck for the upcoming days, and I'll post more soon!