Day Seven: Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Performance at Inuksuk High School IQALUIT
We fly back to Toronto today, but first, we have one last stop. I am scheduled to perform and Satish will present his fabric at Iqaluit’s Inuksuk High School at 11am. It is already 8am. We must check out of the hotel and head up the hill for my sound check, costume change and walk through the show in a space I have not yet seen. Satish has a few personal pieces to tend to and encourages us to go ahead. He knows it takes me an hour and a half just to get into costume.
Our taxi pulls up to a large, electric blue building that looks like a large block of Lego, marked only by a few small, circular windows. The day has already begun for students. The halls are empty as we walk towards the administration offices to check in. I feel a sense of familiarity here. I remember this, the feeling of hormones and agitation in the air, the tension between the students feeling “I really don’t care but I have to be here” and “this is where my best friends hang” – and the teachers doing the best they can in jobs that are not easy.
Sunanda and I are shown into my makeshift dressing room, a small office that appears to be the guidance counselor’s office. The bookshelves are lined with information about birth control methods and tools for teenage pregnancy and parenting techniques. Here Sunanda begins to unpack the costume elements as I join Rishi for sound check.
Rishi is in the auditorium with two drama students. They are doing their best to tweak the sound system so that my music fills the space and feels juicy. I walk over to sing into the mic. There I tweak some knobs and bring to life a mixer covered in dust, with hidden magic elements these students knew nothing about. We are in better technical shape than I had thought. This will go over well. The sound is good.
I head back to the dressing room where Sunanda and I launch into transforming me into the mythic creature Natamba. The drama teacher has told us that her students are really excited about the show, since she told them I am a cross between Lady Gaga and Madonna.
The school bell rings and triggers a Pavlovian response in me. A feeling of excitement and freedom surges through my body. The halls fill with noisy, boisterous, vibrantly alive students who emerge from small rooms. Soon the auditorium is flooded with dynamic bodies full of the very hormones I felt pulsating through the halls when I first walked in. I peek out of my dressing room door and see a room agitated and full of energy. This is fabulous. I am ready.
The lights go out and Rishi walks on. He announces my presence and shares a brief introduction to the meaning of my trip. I walk through the cheer and break into song. The crowd is generous, palpable and vital.
After my four songs, I call over the mic for Satish, who I had not seen since morning. In the dark room, he had been patiently waiting through my performance in the front row of the auditorium. He walks onto the stage and together we unveil his fabric, explaining his mission. The auditorium is silent as the students are glued to his presentation.
Then we open a dialogue and welcome questions. The one I get the most is about the wig and costume. This is never dull, especially now with this spontaneous wig creation on my head made of recycled mayonnaise lids! It’s a great green promo piece, I joke. Satish is asked about the breadth of his travels and where he goes next. The kids are clearly inspired by our presence and shout out “great work!” and “keep going!”. This is why we have come: to touch, to inspire, to heal, and to transform. Another success as we come to the end of our North Pole journey.
As I walk off stage, CBC TV is waiting. A producer had come to televise the show and now wants to ask questions. I love the feeling of being able to reach and touch many people through the media. We live in a blessed age where distance does not matter.
Rishi is busy redirecting various teenagers that surround us. As I leave the CBC interview, students ask for my autograph. The many faces show differing stories but all have the light of hope in their eyes.
I peel myself away from the group and slip back into the dressing room. Our flight leaves in just over an hour. Sunanda helps me get out of costume as quickly as possible and we hastily make our way into a cab.
This time however, we are not all going the same direction. Just as we came separately to Resolute Bay, now we go our separate ways. Satish is on his way to Ottawa while we go home to Toronto. After this adventure of a lifetime and working in such close camaraderie, sharing the common vision to serve our planet, leaving Satish is hard. We make sure he is safely on his flight and then run to ours.
Just as our trip started barely making it to our flight Northbound, we now return home barely making it onto this flight. When we left home, our delay getting to the plane was due to the amount of tasks we had to prepare for a completely unknown experience in a very short time. Perhaps too, it was an expression of some fear of the possibility of death we could meet in the journey. Now, the tight timeline to get to our flight feels like a result of us trying to savour every last morsel of this adventure of a lifetime.
Nunavut, we will greatly miss you. Your story moved us to come to the top of the world. Now, your story is part of our own personal story. Each one of us carries within us new-found love for the Inuit, deeper love for our planet, our Mother Earth and growing gratitude for the power of friendship. Individually we are strong. But together we are One Earth family.