It's a whirlwind up here. And that's just describing the weather!
My time in Tuk is down to it's last week. Friday was high school grad, Monday was kindergarten grad.
Sunday I had the opportunity to go to a whale harvest! A 15+ foot Beluga whale had been caught in the harbour and was being harvested! I'd been following the hunt on instagram and was very excited to get to see the results!
I do have to admit that when Jana texted to ask if I was "Going to see Moby?" My first thought was Moby the music guy, while clearly visualizing Pitbull as I came very close to responding, "Mr. Worldwide!?"
It took me too long to realize she was referencing Moby Dick...
If you are a super vegan or opposed to seeing a beluga whale being traditionally harvested by Indigenous people who use it for food, feel free to skip this post. There will be a lot of raw meat, but no animal faces if that helps?
Also I finally completed my Inuvialuit food checklist and had some Pipsi/Dryfish. I also had some raw whitefish eggs.
In the school hoodie is Annie who just retired from the school after a long career. I am so grateful to have been able to cross paths with her. All the cutting of the whale is done with the traditional ulu knife. I was surprised by how dark the meat is, it's almost black. So rich in iron!
Once it's sliced it's hung up on driftwood in the smokehouse to dry out like jerky.
Fresh and raw big chunks of Maktak and an ulu used for cutting.
There was a LOT of meat! Also a fin.
I spent some time with the adults before seeing one of my students who's mom was helping with the harvest. We played tag and went out into the harbour up to our knees and skipped stones. And then he said, "All the other teachers are gone. " I said, "ah, I should probably go then." He looked up at me and said, "Or you could stay and watch me skip stones?" Which I did for a while because that kid is AMAZING at skipping stones. Like 8 - 10 skips!
This is what I am going to miss the most about Tuk. It is such a friendly and welcoming local community. I wish only the best for the people and hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk in the years to come!
I told my kindergarteners at grad that I would try to make it back in 12 years for their high school grad and I really hope I do. I want to see the growth and change in those kids and this community. I am so grateful for this adventure and ready to see what's next!!!
When people come to Tuk in the summer, there is a photo they all take: the quintessential, dipping your toe in the Arctic Ocean picture. Except they're usually still wearing winter clothes.
Not me, I'm the big tough Viking. (Though Icelanders thought I was crazy and under dressed when I was there...) I've done -50, I've been in blizzards and Tornados, I can do anything.
But! It was worth it. Because I went down to the Arctic Ocean in my swimsuit (my one piece though, I'm not that dumb) and I got great pictures (Thank You Jana) and now I can say I did it! In 3 weeks I'll be at the much hotter Atlantic Ocean in Portugal. So I just need to hit the Pacific so I can do all the Oceans that touch Canada for 150. From Sea to Sea to Sea.
Here's my "Dipping my Toe" picture. Pingos in the background.
Here's a silly little mermaid sitting on a rock with my toes on a piece of ice.
Feet totally in the Ocean, hanging out by chunks of ice. Looking vaguely the same colour as the chunks of ice... (this ghost needs a tan!)
Getting my Ariel on.
I love this picture. It's so pretty the sun on the ice.
Fun bird fact. If you're in Tuk, and you see little birds that look like little ducks swimming in the lake with red throats? They're called Phalaropes, locally "Doolicks" (Not the right spelling obvs, but that's how the kids say it). I did a big lesson on birds and ducks. We talked about how the boys are always more colourful than the girls. We went out and watched the birds and ducks and narrated their adventures. Then I googled what these birds were! Turns out Phalaropes are one of the only birds where the GIRL is the colourful one! So it turned into a better lesson about always learning more and not always being correct. The kids are adorable to watch as they practice their duck and goose calls and watch the birds like a movie. It's breeding season so there are LOTS of birds and nests up here.
I'd definitely recommend Tuk to Birdwatchers.