…we celebrated Jen’s birthday on our First Night when we camped all together at Wolf Creek… then we celebrated again when we were in Alaska!
Moving to the North has been one of the more exciting choices I have ever made. Over the last six years I have had the opportunity to learn and experience new cultures, work with some of the most unique students I have ever encountered and enjoy life. My time in the north has definitely made me stronger, more resilient and able to handle what ever is thrown at me (most of the time).
Sadly, this chapter of my life is coming to and end soon. I will be taking a hiatus from the North and will be returning to my hometown of Fredericton to take a support staff position with my alma mater, The University of New Brunswick, where I will be the Media Lab supervisor….and finish off some graduate work at the same time.
Although it is quite bittersweet to be leaving the Yukon and Canada’s North, sometimes the planets align for strange reasons. I hope that one day I will be able to return to the Yukon…but only time will tell.
For now, I will enjoy life to the fullest and soak in as much of the Yukon as I can during the next week while travelling with this crazy group of northerners before I start my trek back to the East coast to begin writing the new chapter of my story.
At the end of my last post about my story, I ended off talking about returning to Pangnirtung. Before I head to the Yukon, I wanted to share a few photos from my current stomping ground so you can understand a bit more where I’m coming from!
Here’s the old Hudson’s Bay Company- Old Blubber Station… Pang has a history going back with the Scottish and American Whalers and in front of these cabins are still big drums that were used to boil down the blubber!
Here’s a view of part of Pang… there is more on the left that part is known as ‘downtown’ as it’s where the Co-op and Northern stores are located! I love watching the Arctic Cotton blowing in the wind in August… the tundra in the swampy areas is full of it.
Watching the northern lights in the fall and winter is one of my favourite things to do. I’ve started to get a bit better with every photo I have taken of the lights. This one I took on my walk home from a friend that was hosting Thanksgiving dinner. I was so thankful I got to see this awesome sight!
Just chill’n on the road in my Kamiks (Sealskin boots) and my homemade parka. This was taken around 2pm in November…the light was slowly disappearing into the 24 hour dark cycle!
Even though I might winge and complain… hiking is kind of fun! Last year I finished knitting this afghan and then climbed Mt. Duval for this photo. Having this photo made the miserable climb worth it… I’m really thankful for my friend Sandy that encouraged me to keep climbing. Every year I say I’m never going to climb it again… but I end up on the top!
I have 5 more sleeps until I leave Pang and head south. (I have 10days in Ontario before I jump on my plane and head to the YUKON!) I’m so excited…it’s going to be so much fun and an epic road trip filled with even more amazing memories!
After many years of floating around in academic heaven (a.k.a. wasn’t ready for the real world), it finally came to the point where I had to graduate .. there was very little way to extend my tenure at my university, unless I wanted to start an engineering or nursing degree. Eight years living care free in academia land should be enough right? When I finally went in and sat down with my three (yes three) academic advisors, two of them cheered, the other stated that I would never get a teaching job with what I specialized in. Me being me, I dug my heels in, and politely told my advisor that I would prove him wrong, that one did not need to specialize in English or social studies to get a teaching position in Canada. In the summer of 2007 (June to be exact) I accepted a teaching position in the fourth furthest northern community in Canada.
Many thoughts were going through my head at this point – “yippie! I have a position” to “OMG what did I just get myself into” and “well, at least I’m still in Canada”. The rest of that summer was spent packing up my belongings to be shipped all the way up to Arctic Bay, Nunavut and spending many hours scouring the web for any additional details of where I was heading. Fortunately, there was another teacher there who blogged about his experiences in Arctic Bay, which eventually connected me to other community members who held blogs. Prior to getting on the first set of flights, I started my own blog, Tales from the Arctic, to chronicle my adventure in Nunavut. Soon there after I started reading other Northern blogs and eventually got hooked up with Kara, Jen and Tina .. and after I left Nunavut, Sarah.
Our blogs linked us together as a small northern family. These gals were there at all hours (as none of us seemed to sleep for a while) to offer encouraging words when I thought I would just throw the towel in and run back south, to share something absolutely stupid they found online, to be a sounding board when I needed to vent (and it seemed we did a lot of venting at times) and to remind me that the world keeps turning even when we are smacked in the face with a seal flipper.
Eventually it came time for me to decide whether I wanted to stay in Nunavut on an extended contract or move on. Having had no trees for two years, or easy and reliable access to fresh fruit I made the tough decision to head kinda southward to the Yukon. Yet again, the blog chronicled my move cross country. Kara was great as she would update me with info about my community and even drove all the way into town to pick me up from Whitehorse after our orientation session (I followed her and the family back as I had just bought a truck). Thanks to the way things move in the North, none of my belongings were in the Yukon yet so I wound up crashing at Kara’s house for almost week while I waited (rather impatiently) for my belongings to arrive in Ross River as school was starting soon.
Four years later, I’m still here in Ross River enjoying the freedom that northern living gives.
In June of 2008, I lived in Toronto and was finishing the last semester of my Masters degree. My friend Emily accepted a teaching position in the fall and was getting ready to head up north to Qikiqtarjuaq (also known as Qik). I listened to her plans, watched her go crazy packing and organizing everything she would need for the coming year. The year before she taught in Sierra Leone, Africa and I had wanted to go visit her there, but didn’t make it because of the cost and lack of time. I promised I would come visit her in Nunavut. She laughed telling me not to be silly, as it’s really expensive. As a poor Masters student, without a job, I think it was the one time in my life I regretted not having a Bachelor’s in Education. (Because it is easier to travel, work abroad and in remote places with a teacher’s degree.)
I started on my job search. Thinking back it seemed like I sent out hundreds of resumes that fall. Emily sent me a link to a one year contract job in Pangnirtung. I sent an email with my resume, had an interview and 3 months later was on my way up to live in Pang in March of 2009! So even without a BEd I was going to have my Nunavut adventure.
When I came north I was blogging for awhile under the name “Newbie in the North”. I didn’t do anything to make it private but its main point was to share stories and photos with my family and friends. Once I was living in Nunavut, I stumbled across a few of the northern blogs. I started reading and commenting on a few Nunavut blogs and eventually I was connected into the Nunavut Bloggers. I still remember the surprise when my blog ended up on Townie Bastard’s blog roll!
Out of the all the Raven’s, I’m not sure whose blog I started reading first. I did read and comment on Jen, Kara, Kennie and Morena’s blogs. In the fall of 2009, my job had me travelling. I ended up meeting a few bloggers from Nunavut: Clare in Arctic Bay, Townie Bastard in Ottawa and Morena in Cape Dorset.
My ten-month contract was over in a blink of an eye and my experiences in Nunavut changed me for the better. I was able to have a traveling adventure, but also work a job that I cared a lot about. I made friends, learned new ways of living and fell in love with the stunning beauty of landscapes in Nunavut.
On New Year’s Eve 2010, I found myself heading on a plane to Winnipeg, Manitoba for a new job, in a new city and a new province. I went to bed that night in a hotel in Winnipeg thinking my Nunavut Adventure was over. Little did I know I had a few more chapters to add to that story!