Notes from the North
RESOLUTE BAY, CANADA
Entry two: 14 August
After an early rise and a long wait in a hanger in Trenton, ON, the first flight of the day lifted off bound for Iqaluit.
Here, names matter.
The Inuktitut name Iqaluit translates to “place of many fish.” This is the capital of Canada’s newest territory, Nunavut, which means “Our Land” in English— and with Inuit making up 80 percent of the population, it is. (Interestingly Nunavik, that northern third of Quebec that is populated even more dominantly by Inuit peoples (roughly 90 per cent), translates as “place to live” in Inuktitut.) Though Iqaluit was already known by the Inuit for its fishy qualities, in 1942 it was named Frobisher Bay by Anglo Canadians. It was only in 1987 that the name changed back; one step in a very long road to reconciliation.
The history is kind of depressing. The town itself, however, is not…
…or, at least, it wasn’t from the plane. The vibrant and colourful buildings and remarkable landscape were warmly inviting, even if the 24-degree temperature drop was not. After landing, I walked twenty or so feet to another plane, bound for Resolute. All in, I spent maybe an hour in Iqaluit – an hour in which nothing of note happened, with the exception of some lost luggage.
I could write a great deal about the difficulties involved with travel in the North. The anecdotes that I read to prepare myself for the long waits in airports and the time stuck in camp are enough to give one a strong sense of being at the mercy of mother nature. But my arrival into Resolute went smoothly: the skies were blue and the clear view was spectacular. Below the plane was what looked more like blue soup than ocean, and when we descended for the landing you could see the slushy water separated by clear warm currents and flecked with towering icebergs. We stepped onto the tarmac into a bright sun, warm on our faces. It was 10 degrees Celsius.
Then, after a long day’s travel, I just wanted to sleep. But the sun wouldn’t go down.
Introduction, 12 August
When I was younger I got the opportunity to spend a summer in Whitehorse, YK. I worked as a sort of gym teacher/camp counsellor at a cadet camp about 20 km outside of town. My days consisted of hanging about and playing sports with kids from across the country, including a large number of Junior Rangers, 12-18-year-old kids from Northern communities who emulated the well-respected Canadian Rangers as we lower 48ers emulated the more militant and visible Canadian Forces. In the evening I would head into the city and enjoy a freedom that was, to my 17-year-old self, unprecedented.
Perhaps it was experiencing the midnight sun, or maybe the refreshing culture shock I received while making friends from communities so different from my own, but I felt like I had only glimpsed at what the North had to offer. Ever since, the degrees above 60 have lingered in the back of my mind as an unexplored adventure.
Recently, I got my chance to head North yet again. This time, I am not in Whitehorse, located along the relatively populated 61 degrees North, but Resolute Bay—at a barren 75.
Preparing for this trip was an adventure in itself, but I expect a month in the North will be an experience more interesting than justifying expensive kit purchases. From playing cards while waiting for flights to traversing the vast distances of tundra, I hope to share the best moments of being North here on TOL.
|This story will grow as the days and weeks pass in Resolute. Look for new entries at the top each time.|
|Bradley Prouse (@prouseb) lives and works in Ottawa. He has a lot of free time on his hands. Also on his hands: various pie fillings, ink blotches, and two menacing tattoos that spell the words “love” and “hate” when he clenches his fists.|