Sunday, June 15, 2008


I don't know what's the bigger accomplishment, that I've been in Iqaluit for two months or that I'm finally a graduate after two and a half years of school! All kidding aside, Friday the 13th marked the official day of convocation of graduates from the Faculty of Environmental Design (EVDS). Grad school was an amazing journey, full of great people and good memories, and somewhere along the way, I think I also learned a few things. I definitely matured a lot more during grad school than I did in undergrad.

Of course, given my present location, I didn't think it was worth flying back to Calgary for convocation which is a little sad because I didn't go to the convocation for my undergrad degree as well. Maybe I'll Photoshop a robe and hat on myself and give it to my parents. They deserve it.

I'm in good hands at work. I planted the seed of my convocation a couple of weeks ago and was presented with a lovely homemade cake from my boss on the big day! I love the people I work with. The cake was FANTASTIC. Yum! By some strange coincidence, I was wearing my EVDS orange shirt as well, totally unplanned. Check it out below.

On the Iqaluit side of things, work is keeping me extremely busy but I have found the time to check out the various groups and societies in town. Sometimes it seems like I moved up here just so I could join stuff: greenhouse society, fitness society, music society, humane society etc... I would add the martial arts club as well but my wrists were dying after one session so I had to end that. Learning to disarm a foe in five seconds is fun but what good is it if your wrists hurt after? I need them at work dude.

Purple Saxifrage, the official flower of Nunavut, is in bloom and I can't wait too see everything else follow. It should be glorious under the midnight sun.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

You don't make friends with salad...

If years and years of watching The Simpsons has taught me anything, it's that "you don't make friends with salad.." So I was a little surprised to find myself this past Saturday at the Iqaluit Greenhouse Society's planting party! My co-workers and I got a plot and we had a blast preparing it and deciding what to plant. We decided to go with a lot of the basics: spinach, lettuce, carrots, radishes and so on. I am most looking forward to beets and zucchini though...mmmm roasted beets! Kate Nova did a great job of organizing it too, check out her blog!

If you don't make friends with salad, how about showing up with a wolf skull you found on a hike, bet that will score you some friends no?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The First Month

Here we are, it's been a month since I left the bright lights of Calgary and arrived under the ever increasing brightness of the northern sun. I have met a lot of great people and have been fortunate to make two new best friends: meet Mr. Tinfoil and Mr. Windpants.

According to Environment Canada, the sun rose at 3:26 am today. A couple of days ago, I wouldn't have had to check a website to tell you that. I would have woken up startled to a bright room thinking it 10 am, making me late for work, only to discover that it was only 4am. But no more! Thanks to my new friend, my room is free from any outside light and I can once more sleep soundly. As an added bonus, spy satellites have no luck over my house muahaha!

And what about my other new friend? Let's just say that I think that windpants may be the greatest invention in the World. Rain or shine, the wind is your constant companion up here and these pants do a great job of blocking it all out. And being a partial klutz, I no longer worry about spills on my pants, just hose me off!

Whew, this blogging thing is hard!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Nerding Out in the South

I spent the last week in Ottawa, my first visit to the Nation's capital. In continuing with the whole getting spoiled theme, I was sent down to get some training for work. One hears a lot about the itch to go down South when staying up here but I have to admit that after being in Iqaluit for only two weeks, I wasn't as excited as I would have been if I had been up here for a few months. Nevertheless, the opportunity to explore a new city is one I always cherish.

This won't surprise anyone but I of course, being a nerd, checked in to my hotel and was off to the bookstore shortly after, eager to purchase my first load of books. For some reason, I have never been a keen user of public libraries, always preferring to buy my own books. "Read books for free....whaaaa?" And speaking of public libraries, the Iqaluit library is decent enough for its size. You can search their catalog here.

Ottawa itself is a nice city, at least from my limited exposure to the core. It reminds me very much of Calgary, complete with a sort of successful pedestrian mall. Parliament Hill was of course very nice. I checked out the Museum of Civilization which was quite good and the National Gallery which was excellent. Sadly, the exhibition on Inuit art was closed. I was really hoping to see pieces by Paddy Aqiatusuk who is featured in Melanie McGrath's excellent The Long Exile: A true story of deception and survival in the Canadian Arctic, which is one of the books I picked up. Of course I don't know how long this haul of books will last me, at least Chapters offers free shipping for orders over $50, even to Nunavut. And I guess I could take out some books from the public library...

Out of my haul I am most looking forward to:

1. Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell. A semester in Barcelona has certainly left its mark on me and I hope to re-live some part of it through Orwell's experiences in the Spanish Civil War.

2. Billions and Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium by Carl Sagan. Sagan is a hero of mine because of his gift of making science and the cosmos seem so wonderful.

3. Habermas: A Very Short Introduction by James Gordon Finlayson. I'm glad this is a very small book, it's Habermas after all. I used his theories in my thesis work and I have to admit that I could barely understand any of the Habermas that I read. I hope this clears up a lot of questions I had.

I wonder if there's a book club in Iqaluit?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Word Up

I have been slowly working my way through The Structure of Inuktitut, a program designed to teach you the basic grammar of the language. The lessons remind me of my undergrad days where I would spend long nights declining and conjugating my way through Ancient Greek and Latin word lists, fun times!

One of the little tricks that everyone picks up when learning a new language is to use word or image associations to help you remember a particular word. Inuktitut has fewer consonants and vowels than English so a lot of the words start looking the same to me. You have to read very carefully. Fortunately, I came up with my first association to help me out for the word ikajuq which means to help. Now, I have never seen an episode of Pokemon in my life but I couldn't help but think about the character Pikachu. So everytime I see the root ikajuq I think Pikachu! I don't know about you, but doesn't he/she/it seem pretty helpful?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Spoiled Silly

What a first week it has been in Iqaluit! I feel like I have been spoiled silly by everything that has been going on. Everyone has been incredibly kind and generous with their time. My new roommate picked me up from the airport for the 30 second ride home, now that's luxury! Strangers agreed to meet me for coffee several times, happy to sit down and chat with a new face. The Toonik Time Festival gave me a lot of opportunities to see how the locals celebrate the return of Spring. My new co-workers gave me a great introduction to the city and took me to some lovely places to eat. And to top it all off, I asked for some more light at work and was presented with a shiny new reading lamp today! Oh the little things that make us happy!

I have been exploring the city on my own with my camera. Photography is my preferred way of exploring and discovering a new place. It makes me pay attention to shapes, colours, and the little details I would otherwise miss. I think I'll take my time doing this. Iqaluit still feels large to me and figuring it all out too quickly will compress the whole place too fast. I like knowing that there are places left to discover.

I had a great experience on the sea ice this weekend. My co-worker Debbie and I went to see the dog-sled races which were held out on the ice. We bundled up and began the long walk which seemed to take forever in the strong winds. Luckily along the way, someone stopped and offered us a ride on their sled. See what I mean by spoiled silly?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Starting with Goodbye

It may seem like a good idea to start a new blog about my experience in the North with some first impressions of Iqaluit, but I am going to start this blog with a goodbye.

I left Calgary five days ago, my home of sixteen years. Almost everything about my life in Canada is in Calgary: family, friends, favourite places, and memories. Everytime I left Calgary on a trip, I knew I would return home to the same familiar faces. But knowing that I was going to a place too far away to simply return on a regular basis made it a lot harder to say goodbye this time.

Yet I do wonder if anything will really change. My family will always be there for me, no matter where I am. My friends, as busy and as far apart as we may be, will always keep in touch even if we never see each other for months on end, even when in the same city! The truth is that services like email and Facebook will let each of us pursue our own journeys while still being intimately connected with each other.

And that's why this isn't really a goodbye to my life in Calgary but rather an invitation to another window into a life long journey. Remember, if you ever find yourself wondering how I am doing, look up, and smile.