“Berry picking is for ladies.” My very macho Inuk student, Josipee, told me that. I had heard the kids talking about flying to another village north of Kuujjuak to pick with their families. I asked if he was going and he put me firmly in my place. He was used to the old burdens of kindly contempt, weary tolerance and amusement that the students must pick up with each new white teacher who comes to Adult Ed. There I was and I had to learn.
I was thrilled when some ladies invited me to pick berries with them. It was Friday night at The Lounge. Once I figured out the meaning of, “Are you loungin’ it?” I was happy to tag along with the principal and a few of my middle-aged students. They were women who hung faint hopes on the “retraining” project of which I was a blind and blundering part. In class they acted as aunties to the fresh kids who had dropped out of school for a couple of years to go hunting or to have a first baby. Word soon got out that you could pull down an [Read More…]