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Inuksuk shows the Way

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Guardians of the North

By Barbra Hesson

Canada’s Arctic has three territories:  the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and on April 1, 1999, the Canadian territory of Nunavut was created. It is the largest territory and has one-fifth of the land in Canada. Nunavut is made up of a mainland and many islands in the Arctic Ocean.   The symbol on the Nunavut flag is the Inuksuk (EE-NOOK-SOOK.)

An Inuksuk is a stone pile arranged in the likeness of a person.  It was first built by the Canadian people of the North called the Inuit.  The Inuit have lived in the areas now called Canada, Alaska, and Greenland for thousands of years.

The word Inuksuk means ‘in the image of man.’  It is an extension of the work Inuk which means ‘a human being.’

Legend has it that they were first built by a young Inuit girl to show her father the way home during a snow storm.

The meaning of each rock formation is different.  In the Artic where there are no trees and few land marks they were used as signs, pointing to a good hunting or fishing spot or used to mark where food was stored.  Some were built to help travelers find a safe trail or identify a family home.

Over time the Inuksuk has become a sign of hope and friendship. In appreciation of Canada’s aboriginal heritage the Inuksuk has become the official symbol for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games to be held in Vancouver, British Columbia.  It has been named ILANAAQ, which is the Inuit word for ‘friend.’

The Inuksuk has become a popular image and can be seen along many highways in Canada.

You can build your own Inuksuk wherever you go.  You can leave it on a beach or near a pathway to show that you have enjoyed your stay and welcome others to come.  Or you can build one at home and put it in your garden or on your desk.

How to build your own Inuksuk:

An Inuksuk can be built any size you wish, using as many or as little pieces, and from any kind of stone.  Look for rocks with flat bottoms and tops as they are the best for stacking.  Experiment by piling your stones into different arrangements.

Step 1.  Start with a base to build your Inuksuk; a larger stone with a level surface.

Step 2. On top of this place two leg stones that are the same in height and flat on the top and bottom.

Step 3.  Place one or more stones across the legs to create the body.

Step  4.  Next a long flat stone twice the width of the body creates the arms.  Or you may use two smaller stones which hang over the edge.

Step 5.   Place a heavier piece on top of the arms.  This adds weight and becomes the shoulders.

Step 6.  Look for a round stone for the head.  It is best if it has a slightly flat bottom.

Inuksuit (plural of Inuksuk) were made to fit perfectly and stand tall over many years.  However if you wish to keep yours sturdy you may use white glue that is suitable for crafts with wood, paper, fabric or ceramics.  You may need a helping hand with this, and remember to let it dry for 24 hours before you move it.

My Puppy’s Journey

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Published: Highlights for Kids

My Puppy’s Journey

My neighbor called me just hours after the puppies were born.
When I first saw them, I was shocked. All the pups looked nearly the same, like a row of guinea pigs in a pet shop.

Right away I spotted the puppy I wanted. She had a stubby nose,
and her eyelids seemed to be glued shut. Her floppy ears
were pressed against her head. Her little legs dangled out
in every direction. She didn’t have much fur yet.
She was beautiful!

I visited her every chance I had. I was amazed at how much she and
her brothers and sisters had to struggle just to stay alive.


For the first three weeks, the pups depended totally on their
mother. They couldn’t even go to the bathroom. The
mother would gently lick their bellies so that the puppies
could relax and relieve themselves. For their meals, they
would suck milk from their mother.

The thing they needed most was warmth, so they nestled close
to their mother’s body.

The breeder kept track of the puppies’ temperatures. Sometimes
she used a heat lamp or heating pad to give them extra warmth.

When my puppy was almost two weeks old, she opened her eyes to
see her new world. A few days later, she was able to control
her own body heat. The muscles in her legs grew stronger.
So did the muscles in her mouth. As I watched my puppy lapping
milk from a bowl, I longed for the day when I could take
her home.

I longed for the day I could take my puppy home.

My puppy was starting to explore everything around her. When she was excited, she would let out a little yip. I spent
hours watching her chase her own tail and shadow.

At
one month old, my puppy loved to play with her brothers
and sisters. The breeder said that the pups were learning
how to get along in life. Sometimes they would play too
roughly. Their mother would growl and pull them away, but
she never hurt them.

When the puppies’ teeth came in, their mother would throw
up soft food for them to eat. I thought this was disgusting,
but my neighbor said it is a natural part of animal survival.
The breeder also gave mushy dog food to the pups. This got
them used to food that wasn’t from their mother. They
were being weaned from their mother’s milk.

After five weeks, my puppy’s fur had grown in. I was thrilled
to see how she would perk up her ears and wag her tail when
I talked to her. She had just one more step to finish before
I could take her home. She had to learn how to behave around
people.

It was the breeder’s job to get the pups used to people. One at a time, the breeder would bring out the pups to play with her family, who were firm but kind. This taught the pups that humans, like the pups’ mother, are caring and are also in charge.

Finally, after eight long weeks, I was able to take my puppy home. I had watched her grow from a weak and helpless puppy into
an independent little dog. Now she needed me to teach her right from wrong, to love her, and to protect her. I was glad I had decided to bring her into my life. She would truly be my best friend.

Journey’s End

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Journey’s End

By Barbra Hesson

Although this story was not published I wanted to include it after my first  article, “A Puppy’s Journey,” which is about my dog, and the miracle of life.

The subject of an animal dying is a touchy one for children, but it is a part of the journey of life we all take together.

Her official Australian Shepherd, Canadian Kennel Club name was “ChinookRidge Myla Minute.” I can still remember the day we brought her home. Her pug nose sniffed every corner and from day one this tiny puppy tried to herd our family around like we were her sheep.

At six months old she broke her leg when she stepped in a gopher hole. She dragged around a pink cast without missing a beat.

In the summer she would chase the bees that buzzed by her face and past our swatting hands, and bite at the water that escaped from the sprinkler heads.

Her appetite was constant and even the tiniest crumb never made it past her lapping tongue. Though we only gave her dog food, she never stopped her quest for the stuff she saw humans gnawing. One time she jumped on the counter and ate a whole uncooked pizza, and though we knew better, we left two perfectly grilled hamburgers with all the fixings unattended and they were gone in seconds. The weirdest thing she ate was a whole bar of ”soap on a rope.” She did leave the rope.

In the wintertime she jumped through the snow like a jackrabbit, diving head first trying to catch whatever she heard scampering underneath. To my surprise one day she emerged with something black and furry. When I screamed she dropped it and it scurried away.

At Christmas she spread cheer throughout the house carrying discarded wrapping and hiding it in spots for us to find later. Her first taste of paper came when I gave her an envelope to carry from the mailbox. After that she was hooked. With her nose to the ground she would push magazines and flyers around until she could pick them up in her mouth and then she would trot around the house as if to say, “look what I got and you can’t get it.” Her favorite toy became an empty toilet paper roll.

Myla was a true friend in every way. She trusted, and loved no matter how many times she was scolded. She lay at our feet in the evening and sprang up to greet us in the morning.

She never slowed down until she got sick. She was about 84 in dog years when she died. It was hard to see her go, and I told my kids it was okay to cry and miss her. I certainly did.

She had taken us all on a wonderful journey.