Saturday, April 22, 2006

Qikiq.......what?....Where the heck are you?!

One of the things I've found both a challenge and an annoyance at times is trying to explain exactly where I am to people who are unfamiliar with northern geography (in my experience we're talking most people here).

I recall trying to book a train ticket with VIA Rail back in December where I spent several minutes trying to explain to the phone operator where I lived. Apparently on her computer, the territorial short form for Nunavut - NU - had not been put on it yet (its only been 7 years since Nunavut's creation). At any rate, we settled by using the letters NT, for the Northwest Territories, instead. The conversation went something like this:

VIA Rail -"So where exactly are you again?"
Me - "I'm up on Baffin Nunavut."
VIA Rail - "Baffin Island? Is that a territory?"
Me - "No. It's part of Nunavut."
VIA Rail - "Is that in the Northwest Territories?"
Me - No it's a separate territory now."
VIA Rail - "Really? When did that happen? 'Cause my computer says you're in the NWT. Are you sure?"
Me - "Yes. I'm definitely in Nunavut."
VIA Rail - "Oh. I've never heard of that place."

Now I can understand if this conversation took place in say, downtown Toronto. But VIA Rail is a Crown Corporation here.

When I taught in Qikiqtarjuaq, I received mail with all sorts of variations on the spelling. I joked I should start keeping a "10 Ten List" of the spellings.

Among them - Quikiktarjuak, Qikigtaqjuaq, Qikigtaquaq and my personal favorite....Quikigtarjuarjuag.

Moving to Arctic Bay, I thought my problems with all this were solved. Afterall, this community usually goes by its English name rather than by the Inuktitut Ikpiarjuk (the pocket). Although, this name is still used quite a bit within the territory, which is rather nice to see.

Earlier this week however, I received this gem from my old alma mater - a letter thanking me for a charitable donation. The letter was addressed to Artic Nay, NU.
Now I don't know about you, but I'm hoping my donation gets put towards a good atlas, or failing that, a spell-check program.

Note - Interestingly, while I was performing a spell check for this blog post, the computer informed me that NU doesn't exist either....go figure.


Uvannga said...

Now you know how it feels trying to explain to people where my home land is (Arctic Bay) :)