Two Years Down…

Ian and I haven’t blogged on here for almost a full year.  Sorry about that.  I guess life’s been keeping us busy.  We’ll try to update with a year-end summary (though, here are some pics in case we fail at that).

But until that happens, you should all know that two days ago marked an important anniversary for us.  That’s right…on November 22, 2010, we began our new life in Iqaluit and I honestly don’t think that either of us knew what was in store for us, or if we’d make it to see two years here.

I’m proud to say that we have.  We’re going into our third winter, about to celebrate our third Christmas in the arctic.  Despite some bumps along the way, we’ve truly prospered personally up here.  It’s been an amazing journey in an amazing place and I don’t think we’d hesitate to do it again.

We’re also now considered to be some of the old-timers up here these days.  Only in Iqaluit, huh?

Skiers on Frobisher Bay, February 25, 2012

Department of Environment IQ Day – Snowmobiling and Ice Fishing northwest of Iqaluit, April 2012

Kobo Town on stage at Alianait Arts Festival, July 2012

Just a typical Iqaluit going away bonfire, July 2012

Suzanne showing off the immense pieces of ice on the tidal flats of Koojesse Inlet, August 2012

The Prince of Monaco visiting the Iqaluit Community Greenhouse, September 2012

Sunrise in Kimmirut, Nunavut, October 2012

Water and Wind

It’s been an exciting couple of days for Iqaluit.

And by exciting, I mean, no…not really.

First there was the major water main break on Thursday evening near Inuksuk High School.  It caused such a disruption that the city shut down on Friday in an effort to conserve the little water that was left in the reservoirs.  We made national news.  Apparently someone even heard about it in New York City.  Wow!

Water was back to utilidor users by Friday evening, but there’s been a boil advisory since then (which has been lifted as of 1:00 PM EST today).  And those who have their water trucked to their homes are lucky if they still have any – though I’m reading of many people who have run out.  Word was that the water was being tested and the trucks would be out to deliver it to homes that needed it today.

Then…this happened…

Yup…sustained winds of 60 km/hr with gusts up to 80.  The building’s shaking and the ravens are in a tizzy.  On the bright side, at least the temperature’s gone up to -23° C!

So…perhaps it has been an exciting few days in Iqaluit…but nobody said that was a good thing.

Merry Christmas from Iqaluit

Hard to believe this is our second Christmas in Iqaluit.  And while we’re definitely missing all of our friends and family back home in the south, we’re also pretty happy to be here at home.  It’s amazing how quickly one can get used to the quiet and general serenity that seems to settle over this city at certain parts of the year.  Christmas is no exception.  With so many of our friends up here deciding that they’d head out-of-town for the holidays, there’s only a few of us left to hold down the fort.  And that’s fine by us.

We were able to do some last-minute grocery shopping yesterday, and didn’t get trampled in NorthMart.  I have it on good authority that it did get quite a bit busier after we had left, but still – it’s no comparison to trying to even manoeuvre through the city streets in Kitchener-Waterloo anywhere near Christmas Day.  We even went to the post office to check one last time on our mail and drop off a Christmas card to Jordan and the rest of the staff there.

And by the way, we have had Christmas snow since October 1st.  *snicker*

Needless to say, it’s been a relaxing Christmas.  With no one to visit until after Boxing Day, Ian and I have been just taking it easy…phoning relatives (or just about to)…opening some gifts and hanging out with the cats.  Who by the way, have likely eaten an entire bag of Christmas treats already.

We have several engagements to attend to this week…a Norwegian brunch at our friend’s place…a couple of potluck dinners…Christmas games…and then eventually, New Year’s Eve will creep up again.  Haven’t heard anything about fireworks yet, so our plans are still up in the air.

In any case, we hope that all of our friends and family are enjoying as relaxing of a Christmas as you possibly can.  We love you all and miss you dearly.  Hope to talk to you all soon, and then see you sometime in the new year.  Well, perhaps not the new new year…but you know…spring, summer-ish.

Safe travels to you…and Merry Christmas to all…and to all a good night!

Our wee Christmas tree

So what’s there to do up there?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked this question.

My answer for you is this…

Really?  I haven’t had time to blog since JULY and you still think you need to ask me this???

Okay, truly, here’s the goings on of the summer/autumn/early winter for me (yes, it started snowing in September and accumulating in October, so autumn came and went in name only):

  • At the conclusion of Alianait (in early July!), things slowed down a bit.
  • We had Parks Day at Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park – beautiful day and lots of fun!
  • We battled mosquitoes…evil, gigantic, blood-sucking beasts.  In Nunavut, mosquitoes are like succubae, taking not only your blood, but your soul and spirit as well.  So that’s a tad bit dramatic, but I digress…
  • We battled 24 hours of light (22 hours of sun up).  Yeah, you’ve all heard my gripes about that, and I’m ecstatic that we’re heading back into the dark season.  The night time is the right time…the freaks come out at night…and all that.
  • We had SO MUCH lettuce that grew in our greenhouse plot.  I’m sure we could have had fresh salad every day if we wanted too.  Radishes, beans, peas and herbs also grew quite nicely.  I have a bunch of tiny carrots as well that I need to cook up soon.  I LOVE the greenhouse.
  • We saw many of you on our vacation to southern Ontario in August/September.  Miss you all already, but it was great to see you while we could.
  • We volunteered at another Alianait concert in the annual concert series – was great to be back in town and active with the arts community.
  • Mass Registration came and went and saw me and Ian representing the Iqaluit Community Greenhouse Society and Iqaluit Humane Society respectively.  It was a great success for both groups AND for us, as we signed up for more and more activities.
  • After about two weeks back in Iqaluit, I headed back down to Ontario for meetings as the Nunavut rep for the Canadian Council on Geomatics.  Truly excited to be a part of such a nationally represented council.  Made some fantastic contacts and hope to see good things for data acquisition for the territory in the near future.
  • My return to Iqaluit went right into a week of GIS training with a number of other GIS users from across the territory.  There is a surprisingly higher number of us than I thought – and I can only assume that number will grow as technology in the north permits.
  • With training/meetings/annual leave out of the way, it was time to settle into a more relaxed pace.  Ha!

So what are we involved with now, you ask?

Ian’s now an official board member for the Iqaluit Humane Society (which I’m sure he’s mentioned in his discussion of the contest the IHS is involved in – go and vote!).  He’s also going to be starting broomball shortly.

I started volunteering at Atii Fitness Centre last week, and Ian will be starting this weekend.  The centre is completely volunteer run, so all volunteers can use the gym for free as long as they volunteer ten hours a month.  It’s a great deal, and yet another way to meet people up here.  We both also are hoping to sign up for the Archery club in town…that’s right.  Archery.  Both Ian and I with bows and arrows…frightening!

I have also signed up as a volunteer with the Girl Guides of Canada.  Tomorrow night I will be leading my very first Pathfinder meeting.  Yikes!  I’m very nervous, but it’s a small group of girls, and I’ve been assured that they are really wonderful to work with.  Also, the other new Guider will be back in town in November, so I’ve only got a few weeks to be on my own as a leader.  Can’t wait though…should be a great experience!  I remember having lots of fun as a Brownie and Girl Guide.

So I hope that I’ve brought you all up to date with us…let you know that we haven’t fallen off the face of the planet (at least me since Ian’s posted a couple times) and hopefully we’ll be posting more frequently in the near future.  Hopefully.

But don’t hold me to that.  Iqaluit’s a busy place if you want it to be.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way!

What I Miss About the South (& A Few Things I Don’t)

Unless you’ve been under a rock, or maybe just don’t read this blog regularly, you’ll know that Ian and I have won a round trip ticket for two on First Air from Iqaluit to Ottawa.  So we’re coming down for a vacation in August to visit all our friends and family in Ontario.  It’s made me start to think a lot about the things I want to do when I get there.

It’s also made me really start to consider what exactly I’ve missed since we’ve moved up here.  Obviously I miss my family and friends, so none of you are on the list.  😉  But you’re always thought of, so don’t feel left out.  But I thought I’d give it a go, and see how matched up to other bloggers from the North I am in regards to what they miss about where they came from.

What I Miss

1)     Cheap anything – The cost of living in Iqaluit takes some getting used to.  Despite the fact that I already know a couple of small bags of groceries is going to cost me around $50, and I likely need to save half a week’s pay cheque if I need to buy toilet paper and laundry detergent, I will still never get over the fact that I remember how much things used to cost when I lived in the south.

2)     Trees – Another obvious one perhaps?  But, I don’t miss them as much as I thought I would.  Iqaluit has its own brand of beauty, even in the winter when everything is covered in ice and snow.  Still, it will be nice to see a thick stand of trees when we visit Ontario.

3)     Southern Internet – I don’t even have a problem with the speeds…honest!  Yes, it can be annoying to have to wait for uploads and downloads, but what’s more frustrating are the horrible caps in place and the outrageous pricing.  We pay more money a month for 10 GBs of data than I’d like to admit, and there aren’t many options available.

4)     Choice – Don’t get me wrong!  There’s a lot of choice up here, you just need to know where to look.  But it’s limited.  Let’s just say that when we visit Walmart…or Zehrs…or anywhere down south, we’re probably going to have a brain malfunction with all the stuff we have to choose from.  Restaurants too!  I mean, really, all I want more than anything in the world right now is Mr. Sub!

5)     Public Transit – I never thought I’d miss the bus…especially after my experiences in Kitchener.  But I do.  Sometimes it’d be nice to have the option to get across town in bad weather without having to pay $6 per cab ride.  But at least there are cabs.

6)     Recycling – We came to Iqaluit just as the recycling test project was coming to an end, so now we have to either throw all of our recyclable goods out, or stockpile some of them and carry them down with us by plane to dispose of when we get south.

7)     Darkness in the summer – Oh my lord, if I don’t get some normal sleep soon, I’m going to go completely bonkers.

What I Don’t Miss

1)     Traffic – I can’t tell you all how much I hated having to drive the 401 every day.  That highway is a nightmare.  And Kitchener Waterloo traffic at rush hour is no picnic either.  Up here, rush hour is literally about ten minutes, and it’s due to the four-way stop at Four Corners.  I can handle everything about traffic in this city.  Well, maybe not construction delays.  😉  But even they’re not so bad.

2)     Isolation – I’m living in one of the more isolated cities in Canada, but I’ve never felt more connected.  This city is incredible for bringing a person out of their shell.  Between work, volunteering and just getting out there, we’ve made a huge number of friends and acquaintances.  It’s just something that doesn’t happen so naturally down south.  You really need to work at becoming someone’s friend in the south…whereas here, it just happens.  It’s a great feeling running into everyone you know at Ventures or Northmart.

3)     The heat – I HATE southern Ontario heat.  The humidity is probably going to destroy me during our vacation.  Don’t be surprised if you see me sweating into a pile of my own goo over the course of the visit.  I’ve been getting very accustomed to the temperatures up here, and I start getting very warm even around 15 °C.

4)     The pace – Things are very laid back up here.  Life isn’t all about “go go go”.  It’s important to not only stop to smell the roses (or perhaps saxifrage), but to really smell them.  Things get done…usually on what’s known as “northern time”, but they do get done.  There’s a lot of really good productive people up here, but the pace of life is relaxed.  It’s wonderful to live in a place where people don’t expect miracles, but just reasonable responses.

5)     Blackberries.  Yeah, that’s all.

Hope to see you all in August!  🙂

Alianait Festival 2011 – Day Three: Tulugak!

While Alianait was happening, there was also a local baseball tournament happening.  As with the hockey tournament during Toonik Tyme, the Iqaluit Humane Society was also raising funds by volunteering at the baseball tournament.  Ian and I decided to cover one of the shifts, which mean working the canteen.  We got to sell beer, burgers, dogs and fries to the teams playing and the spectators.  We had loads of fun, enjoyed the absolutely beautiful sunny day and collected lots of tips for the pups and kitties at the shelter.  Well, it was fun until the wind died down and the sun got so hot!  See, in the arctic, the sun tends to get hotter than it feels down south, because you’re used to the cooler weather.  Oh, that and the larger hole in the ozone layer likely helps as well.  😉

Once the shift was over, we decided to take in the evening showing of the main performance piece of Alianait, Tulugak.  Created by Sylvia Cloutier, Tulugak was meant to tell Inuit raven stories – and there were many incorporated into the wonderful experience.  As described in the Alianait brochure, the raven is depicted as so many things:  trickster, passionate lover, nuisance, thief, and skilled hunter.  Tulugak showed these many aspects through a collaborative effort of the many performers involved in various aspects of the festivals.  It was a fantastic and funny presentation, and we’re both so glad we went.  We were in awe due to the beautiful songs…and laughed out loud at the humour spread graciously throughout the show.  Here’s some of the pictures that we managed to capture…enjoy!

Mike Philip Fencker Thomsen performing as Tulugak…

Charles Keenan and Beatrice Deer performing…

The members of Artcirq as ravens watching the hatching of a third…

Vivi Sorensen as the white raven…cleaning up the garbage!

Charles Keenan on guitar, with Mathew Nuqingaq and Laakkuluk Williamson drum dancing…Beatrice Deer singing in the background…

Laakkuluk telling the story of how Tulugak came to Baffin Island from Greenland…with Vivi and Mike Philip performing…

Angu Motzfeldt on guitar…such a treat to see him perform in this…

More drum dancing with Mike Philip, Mathew and Laakkuluk…this was so beautiful…

The performers of Tulugak!

Creator of the show, Sylvia Cloutier…

The video below is part of the Tulugak performance…wish it was better sound quality, but alas, my PAS cam isn’t the best.  Cathy and Roger, this one’s for you…Artcirq performers juggling and Mike Philip Fencker Thomsen performing Marley’s ‘Three Little Birds’ in English AND Inuktitut.  Beautiful!

Alianait Festival 2011 – Day Two & Canada Day in Iqaluit

We were back volunteering at Alianait for Canada Day.  Bought some tickets for the Duck Race that’s going to be taking place in support of the firefighters – yes…a duck race!  First prize?  Tickets on First Air from Ottawa to Iqaluit – round trip.  Fingers are crossed for another winning ticket!

We were tired out by the end of the day, so we didn’t get a chance to get out to the concert that night, but we had lots of fun during the Canada Day festivities.  Here’s some pictures from our beautiful day!

Arriving at the festivities...you might not be able to see it, but there's a LOT of people there...

Line up for the fry truck...and we waited the WHOLE time...

Bouncy castles...and lots of people mingling

So many kids...everywhere!

The Alianait Big Top!

Mission: Destroy Canada Day cake. Mission: Accomplished.

Fry truck Canada Day/Alianait weekend prices. They were cheaper last weekend...honest!

Contrast...

Kids painting the murals...

Square dance in the Big Top!