Wednesday, January 17, 2007


After the last post, a number of people have asked me to say a few more words about Sophie. Sophie herself read my blog from beginning to end a few days ago and asked me to read it too. Upon doing so, I realise that it must seem a little weird that I'm having a child with someone about whom I have written only a few sentences. My blog reads something like this, "I met a cool woman from Montreal... ... Things are progressing quickly in our relationship... ... I'm going to be a dad!" You people must think I'm nuts. Here is my first attempt to properly introduce Sophie.

Sophie is thirty. She was born in Montreal and spent her childhood living on the plateau. She is five-foot-eight and three-quarters inches tall, and has long, thick, beautiful red hair. Like me, she is a teacher at Arsaniq school in Kangirsujuaq, QC.

We have a lot in common. We both love hiking. Since we met, we have hiked the mountains surrounding the village numerous times, and will undoubtedly continue to do so until Sophie is ready to burst. We also enjoy many of the same outdoor acitivities, such as walking the dog and cross-country skiing.

Sophie and I share the same dreams. We both love to travel. Our common penchant to move around was doubtless a huge factor in our individual decisions to come to Wakeham Bay. Ultimately, we both like to use teaching as a vehicle for travel, and will continue to do so in the years to come. She has been to many places, some of them for extended periods of time. Her diverse linguistic abilities give insight into her travelling history. She speaks English, French, Spanish, and Italian fluently, and also speaks some German and bits of other languages. When she was in her teens, she spent a year in Sicily, and in her twenties, she spent several months working in Germany and Bolivia, teaching in Japan, and has passed a great deal of time in Mexico, Peru, Thailand and Paraguay.

So, we both like to travel, but what made me want to have a baby with this woman? When we met in August, I felt immediately comfortable in Sophie's presence. From the first time we had supper together, I felt a strong attraction to Sophie. Over the next few weeks, we had many long conversations about travel, teaching, teaching Inuit kids, cultural imperialism, books, movies, Montreal, mountains, and many other things. Before long, I realised that the connection we had was truly something special.

One thing that I have mentioned about Sophie is that she helped me with my classroom. She made me see that my kids were not unmanageable, but rather that they just needed a great deal of structure, and that I had all of the tools I needed to give it to them. She also pointed out to me, and graciously continues to remind me, that we are insignificant little creatures that are not responsible for changing world events, nor are we responsible for "saving" these kids by giving them an education. Her ability to help me cope with and discard much of the stress of my job has transformed me. I used to think I thrived on stress. To me it was like water; my fuel. Now I see that I lived in spite of the stress, and ultimately I feel better and am more productive sincce I've learned to let things go.

I remember travelling in Colombia in 1999/2000 when I met a British couple named Wayne and Marie-Rose. They had a young son, Jerome, who must have been two years old. It seemed like the coolest way to travel. This family had done a lot together, and Wayne and Marie-Rose had given to Jerome what seemed to me to be an opportunity that few others are lucky enough to enjoy. Jerome was very adept at picking up Spanish, he was asking his parents to "damelo" (give me that) when he wanted one of his toys. His parents were confused at first and then awestruck. They beamed with pride. I've carried this memory ever since, and can hardly wait to share similar experiences with our kid(s).

After telling my family and friends about Sophie's pregnancy, I have realised just how much my life has changed over the past few months. It seems fast and it seems crazy. Nonetheless, it feels comfortable and it feels wonderful.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Happy New Year!

It's been a long time since I've blogged, and a great deal has happened since then. In the school, my class has calmed down considerably since the Christmas break. Outside the school, my Christmas holidays were a blur. All in all life has been very good to me. By the end of the post, I think you'll understand why.

I hope that you all have gathered from my earlier posts that teaching up here is not exactly the easiest gig. Before Christmas, our school was in shambles, where students did what they wanted without consequence. Things, at least in my class, seem to have changed since the break. On Monday morning, I had a student steal a DVD from my desk and then lie to me about it. Another student shot elastic bands at my face, and then lied to the Centre Director about it. By 10:00 a.m., day one, two of my eleven students had been suspended for disrespecting me. At our orientation in August, all of the pedagogical counsellors, without exception, told us that things would be considerably better after the Christmas break. Just when I thought that my class was going to prove them wrong (as they seem to be the exception to almost every rule), things improved. Since Monday, things have gone extremely well in my class.

My holidays were a blur. I flew down to Montreal on the 20th, to Edmonton on the 21st, drove 400km North to High Prairie on the 23rd, 950km South to my sister's house on the 28th, 550km North to Edmonton on the 30th, flew back to Montreal on the 31st, and finally back up here on the 5th of January. However, throughout this mad rush to go everywhere on God's green earth, I managed to get very little accomplished. I spent most of my time sleeping and reading books and magazines on couches, and walking my dog after returning to Montreal. It was only after I returned to Kangirsujuaq that I realised that I had forgotten to buy a new hockey helmet, winter boots, coffee, get my camera fixed, replace my drivers' licence, get a passport, a haircut, and too many other things to mention. Going South at a hectic time like Christmas after seeing the exact same 572 people for months on end can be stressful. There was no need to add to the stress by trying to accomplish stuff during my holidays.

I did manage to accomplish one thing. While up in High Prairie, I made my annual pilgrimage to midnight mass with my mother, father, and twenty or so extended family members. When my dad and I arrived, we sat down in one of the middle pews, and I saw my mother sitting in the front, waiting for the rest of the choir to arrive. I thought, "now is the perfect time, even if they don't like what I tell them, we're in Church, so they'll have to forgive me." I dragged my dad up to the front pew, sat down between my parents and said, "You are going to be grandparents."

I'm going to be a father! Not long after Sophie and I began our relationship, we decided to have a child. As I've said before, things seem to happen very quickly up North. The baby is due on June 21st. I cannot wait for the biggest day of my life since my own birth. It's going to be a trip.