Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas In The Arctic - 2


The first year I was a teacher, I worked in the small community of Kangirsuk on the west coast of Ungava Bay in northern Québec. There were about 200 Inuit there at the time and a handful of people like me from southern Canada. When Christmas came around we did many of the usual things at school including putting on a little play with the birth of Jesus as the theme. Everything was going along well until we came to the scene when 'Joseph' had to come out of the 'igloo' to welcome the Wise Men. He panicked and wouldn't come out. 'Mary' pleaded with him, the Wise Men each looked in the 'igloo' and begged, but nothing would bring him out. Finally, totally improvising at this point, 'Mary' went in and got the baby 'Jesus' and brought him out for all to see. No way was 'Joseph' coming out however.

The play stumbled from scene to scene from then on, the kids totally making everything up, everything except the ending, which eluded them totally. That finally came about when 'Joseph' finally exited the 'igloo', waved at the audience and walked off the stage. The other actors taking 'Joseph's' lead turned and bowed and left the stage as well. The audience cheered! 'Joseph' made a bee-line for the toilet...

The next evening a community feast and dance was planned in the same room in the school, but the furnace had stopped during the night and the heating pipes had frozen solid. It was decided to hold the dance anyway, in spite of the cold and lack of heat. During the evening, the heat created by the dancers caused the pipes to thaw, the overhead pipes began dripping as the icicles on them melted. The heating system pumps finally began to operate, warming up the school even more. It was the first time I'd ever thought to thaw out a frozen building by holding a dance, but to this day, I think the people of Kangirsuk are the hottest step-dancers on the planet!

Walking in the snow-filled woods the other day brought this story back to me. Today the woods are empty of snow and looking a bit embarrassed. Perhaps they're 'Joseph's' woods! Not a flake of snow in sight and not much in the forecast during the rest of the week either...

2 comments:

Silbs said...

Wonderful tale and, I suspect a wonderful memory for you. Thanks for sharing it.

grazie said...

ditto :)