Thursday, July 29, 2010


I've been having a pretty busy summer and haven't been following much in the way of news as much as I usually would. News about the recent discovery of the HMS Investigator has caught my attention, history buff and northern enthusiast that I am. There's more happening in our Arctic than most people would realize from reading the mainstream media. It's refreshing to see a story that isn't about social or government issues or Parliamentary rows over arctic sovereignty issues.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


This is actually a post I had been playing around with in my head for some time now but never seemed to find the time to put down on paper, or the screen as it were. Having followed the Nunavut blogging scene from its infancy 5 years ago up to now, I've seen a lot of changes as people have come and gone or even moved to different communities within the territory. Perhaps the most entertaining blog I've followed was Jen of Nunavut. If you're not familiar with it, I highly recommend stopping by for the photography and wit. Jen has since moved on to Ontario but still writes warmly about Nunavut on her new blog. Anyhow, I was reminded about getting on about doing this post after seeing the first two photos of this post here as well as reading up on Jaime's blog as she prepares for her move south. And, since I'm doing up more links than a German sausage I highly recommend this very thorough and well-written post if you're curious about making the move up to Nunavut.

Thinking back now to July 21, 2003, when I first moved to Nunavut I find it funny that at the time I spent a great deal of time pondering all the changes and adjustments I would have to make. (I had made my career to this point in several small northern communities across Canada, but Nunavut was something else entirely.) What I never really thought about was all the changes and adjustments I would have to make once I left Nunavut. Perhaps this is understandable after all since when I landed in Iqaluit on that fateful July day I had no idea I would spend the next 6 years of my life on Baffin Island. At the time, I was thinking within the confines of a 2-year time frame.

Perhaps changes are pretty obvious of course like climate and lack of 24-daylight (and darkness) so I don't need to elaborate. Other things might come across as a bit strange and may only be fully understood by someone who has spent a portion of their life north of that magical line known as the Arctic Circle. So here, in no particular order are some of the things I've had to adjust to over the past year.

1)Anonymity - Sometimes I like this and sometimes I don't. I don't really pay much attention to this anymore but initially I found it a bit strange that I could spend the better part of a day downtown or in some of the other civic places where people tend to gather and (aside from my family) not recognize or be acknowledged by a single person.

2)Cell phones - Yes, I'll admit straight off that I can be a bit of a Luddite. Cell phones confused the hell out of me at first. I only got one because my fiancee and I had a heck of a time getting our land line set up when we moved to northern Alberta and needed a phone of some sort to help us out in the interim. I suppose I can be forgiven a little since while I lived in Nunavut, there was no cell phone service available outside of the capital of Iqaluit. AND I know for a fact that I annoyed the heck out of my fiancee with all my cell phone questions and the pushing of wrong buttons. But I started sending my own text messages a couple weeks ago and for those who know my level of technology skills, that's real progress.

3)Access to goods and services - Fort McMurray isn't Edmonton when it comes to selection and shopping options but it is a significant change from living in places with only two stores. I now live within walking distance of 2 major grocery stores, 3 gas stations, 3 liquor stores, 4 schools and an insane number of dentist offices. As a result of all this, I've had to re-learn how to bargain shop....and this leads nicely into the next item....

4)Re-learning about money - Okay maybe not totally re-learning but as I mentioned earlier I became accustomed to dealing with 2 stores, though occasionally I did order online. Having accepted high prices as normal everyday thing, I had to be careful moving to a community of 80,000. Prices here are a tad high by Alberta standards but from my perspective there were many times I thought I was getting a great deal when I really wasn't. Thankfully I have my wonderful fiancee to help me out with this.

5)Busy busy - This place is on the go 24/7. You know you've been ruralized when you secretly congratulate yourself on successfully crossing 6 lanes of Fort McMurray traffic without getting squashed one of those big Diversified buses that are seemingly everywhere transporting people to and from all the big oil sands projects. Speaking of buses....

6) Negotiating bus routes - Lisa does the driving and I last dealt with city buses while attending university. Windsor, Ontario is good in that much of downtown and commercial areas are laid out in a grid system. Here, its a bit more confusing with a lot of twisty roads and routes that wrap around each other, like an unruly ball of yarn. A couple of times I've misread route maps but I've managed to catch my mistakes before winding up too far from my intended destination.

7) You lived where?! - Isn't so much of an adjustment as an observation. I always get a kick out of people when I try to describe to them where I used to live. At times, this has led to a bit of "He-man" complex on my part. We hit a patch of -40C weather last December and I'm sure I smile smugly at a few people who commented about how cold the weather felt to them. "Oh, -40 is nothing. Trust me. This one time in Nunavut....."