Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sam I am, I am Green Haired

The mornings are driven by pure adrenaline. The sun, as I've said many times, barely comes up anymore. Life is exhausting. My emotional state pulls every last bit of energy out of me. I have to find new ways to keep my mind occupied and my soul energized.

"Emily, what time is it?"

"6:03 am, why?"

"Good, 6:03 am sounds like a good time for a dance party."

Emily is my new Pat. The joy in my morning. She keeps my mind off of the fact that there is no light outside and she appreciates a good dance party. So in true dance party fashion, she turns off my country music, which she so graciously lets me listen to before I truly wake up, and she turns the Ipod to 'Shots.'

If you don't know 'Shots,' you've been missing out. When I lived in Toronto with my best friends, we would blast this song and dance like all the energy in the world was centered in our little yellow kitchen. 'Shots' sends a message that is both immature and offensive, but it revitalises my cold, arctic-morning, sleepy mind.

We have also started a new trend. Not eating Tim Horton's product. We keep carrots, and grapes, and baby cucumbers close to the kitchen and we eat them all day to keep full and to provide energy for the kitchen party that literally lasts all day. Every third song on my Ipod is Taylor Swift, so we slow it down, get serious, and do some work for the duration of the song. Then a - oh my goodness! I love this song! - song comes on and we turn up the volume and we dance like nobodies watching, because we're alone in the World between 4:30 am and 7 am. Its like the cities sleeping, and in reality when your stuck in Frobisher Bay, the rest of Canada feels like its a world away. You feel alone in the wee hours of the morning. Like you could scream bloody murder and no one would hear you.

I saw the Northern Lights the other night, for the first time. I should have been sleeping but our friend Robert messaged to say the lights were shining. In all of my pajama glory, I threw on my boots and coat and ran out into the night. They were dull, shiny, pale green, but beautiful all the same. They really do dance across the sky. Its like they want to sweep you up and sing and dance with you all night.

"Seeing the Northern Lights," is written on my bucket list. I'd like to see a brighter more vivid display but for now, I feel like I accomplished something worldly.

Something that also speaks volumes about being worldly, is being able to say that I've lived in the Arctic long enough for the hard water to turn the blond in my hair completely green.

I hate to whine and don't get me wrong, I absolutely love it here. Forgive me but I have to let this out. I miss hair dressers, I miss nail polish, stilettos and dresses. I miss wine, I miss bars and cities where the local Legion isn't the most pumping hang out.  I miss church, I miss the people who make church fantastic. I miss book stores and all of my books! I miss sleeping alone. I miss beds that two people can actually fit in without touching each other. I miss my cake stand collection, my fondant rollers, my cake pans, my Chef kit. I miss hiking under trees, my cottage, sitting on grass, camp fires and watching my friends laugh, beers in hand. I want to go to the mall, and I am not even a shopping kind of girl, I just want to shop with a friend and be an advisor. I want to hold hands with people I love. That's right, I want to be able to touch you all. Heh.

Tomorrow is my day off, so tonight I am going to bury my face in one of the few books I actually brought with me. When the morning comes (because I will no doubt be up before six am) I am going to make a huge breakfast, banana pancakes perhaps? Then I'm going to get a library card and hit up the post office because its been closed since Christmas eve and I am hoping to find some written love.

Goodnight World.
With love from Iqaluit.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Land of Misfits

The flower bouquets that were brought in to sell as Christmas centerpieces were chucked in the trash today, before they hit the bag Melvin, who works in the deli and shares kitchen space with me, grabbed a couple flowers and brought them back so I could smell them. Some times I miss home so much that I lose track of why I came so far. Then something like smelling a couple dying flowers reminds me that I am here to embrace moments like this. Little pieces of life that bring immense beauty and joy. When you live in a place like Ontario and you have flowers to smell for such a large part of the year, you don't realise what you have until you move somewhere like Iqaluit. The sweet smell on those flowers reminded me of a thousand things at once and literally made my day. Memories of my mothers overflowing gardens, summers at the cottage, spring time hikes. I've always been the type to stop just to smell a flower or listen to birds singing but to be able to do it here is painfully heart warming.

Today the sun came out, which was exactly what I needed. Nadine and I ran outside in our North mart coats just in time to see it going down behind the mountains. I try to sneak out for a couple minutes on days that Mr.Sun actually graces us with his presence, to breath in the light. Its too cold to feel the warmth but if you stand in the glow of the weak light and close your eyes you can almost feel your body soaking it up. Each and every time this opportunity arises I am blown away by the sight. The sky above the mountains looks like its on fire, with golds and pinks. The lights reflect off of what is left of the water near the back of the bay.

Nadine and Emily, I should mention, are my new girls, the answers to my prayers. They came up from Ottawa and are an incredible part of my production team which is now made up of four. Emily, Nadine, myself and Jennifer, who works part time with us a few times a week. We make up a solid team.

Emily and Nadine have been thrown into meeting everyone and joined us for Christmas dinner last night. Dinner was originally to be hosted in our apartment. As the numbers ballooned we decided to set up a long dining table in the hallway. It was a great time. All the ladies seemed to beat the men home, so we opened the apartments on the main floor and danced between apartments, sharing ovens and knives and Christmas spirit. We borrowed collapsible tables from the store, threw them in the back of Ricks truck and set them up all the way down the long, narrow hall way. We had 22 people here for dinner and a few stragglers followed the meal. It was tight and felt like the land of misfits, but it was fantastic and spirited and Christmas shots have never been so much fun.

Christmas morning was interesting. My exhaustion from the previous weeks caught up to me. I slept until 10, opened gifts, ate breakfast and went back to bed for the entire day. Matt played his video games. The sun never really came out for Christmas, but it did snow, light, beautiful, soft flakes all morning.

I got so many gifts from home, pictures and memories wrapped up. I want to thank my family and friends so much for making my first Christmas away from home so warm. I wish I could have been home but sharing the holiday with my Iqaluit family was really wonderful.

With love from Iqaluit

Thursday, December 23, 2010

PenPal Love

I took my first painful fall a couple of days ago. I got all the way home and right outside the door to our building I slipped right down the hill and smacked my head on the ice. The package I had picked up from the post office slid all the way down the road and I just stayed there and listened to it, thinking, 'please stop.' I checked to make sure no one saw the fall, then put my head back down. I felt old. Remember when you were little and you could take the most dramatic falls and bounce right back from them?... This morning I realised how far behind me my childhood is.  I am in pain.
I've been having these thoughts a lot lately. I'll be wrapped up in a dirty joke with the old men I work with or be talking business with management and I stop to wonder when I became an adult. When did I go from being a little girl taking direction from grown ups, to calling the shots and having adult conversations. When did I cross the line between wanting to live with my parents forever and getting on a plane to move 1472 miles away to the arctic. When did 'someday' become the present? When I was little I wanted to grow up and have a house full of babies, I said I would start when I was twenty. I'm almost twenty two now and I still feel like the twelve year old girl who never thought her sixteenth birthday would come. Where did the time go?
Since I want to be in one piece for the years to come, I am going to head over to Arctic Ventures and buy a pair of shoe spikes. The ground is so slick here, like a City wide skating rink. I thought my Baffin boots would cut it but even they don't grip. Most of the people here wear spikes, like removable cleats. It also helps to walk on the dirt trails. They don't use salt here to melt the ice, they simply sprinkle a trail of dirt along the walk way. I like the lack of salt, my boots stay the colour they were made to be. The roads also get "dirted," (rather than salted, heh, that made me laugh) and they become this slick, cappuccino colour. Some mornings they look almost like marble. The people here are used to skidding and sliding around on the roads but as a pedestrian it terrifies me. It seems that the vehicle of choice during arctic winters is a snow mobile, often with a large sled tied to the back. I see them zipping by our living room window and every time it makes me think about how different life is here. Sometimes I get comfortable and forget what the life I came from looked like. Which is one of the many reasons I need to fulfill my goal to successfully keep pen pals. I know the art of love via letter is almost dead but I feel like its a really cool way to build and keep relationships with people I adore. I know most of my love letter recipients wont write back so I simply send up dates. Other than Christmas cards, I wrote my dear friend John Sanfillipo this month and my newly recruited pen pal, Mr. Patrick Clancy, who thus far is the only person who has agreed to the writing part of this kind of exchange.
If you'd like to write me, and you should know that getting mail is often the best part of my day, my address here is, PO BOX 130, Iqaluit, Nunavut, X0A 0H0.
My hope is that no post office trip for the remainder of the winter will result in bad falls, and every trip will result in feeling love in an envelope.

Here's to a fantastic Christmas Eve spent with people we love. Although I will be spending tomorrow evening in an intoxicated blurr with my family away from family, I will be thinking of all of you and missing each and every face in Oakville.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Super Glue

Saturday is finally here. Although it doest mean a weekend for me, it does mean one day off. This morning I woke up at six am. Matthew still snoring away beside me actually has to get up "early" for work and is still sleeping. This is what happens when you wake up everyday to be at work before the rest of the City even enters REM sleep.

I tried to fall back into my dream, I just couldn't do it. I think there is a certain romantic quality to being up so early. A chance to embrace the entire day. Like when Jesse Tuck makes Winnie Foster promise him that she'll get up with the sun everyday while he's gone. Mind you, getting up with the sun in Iqaluit would mean sleeping until ten or ten thirty at this time of year.

The Sun Rising, Wednesday December 15th just after 10 am

 I like the peace that the morning brings, and the peace of mind it brings to know you haven't wasted precious minutes. Ask me how I felt about mornings a couple years ago and the story would be entirely reversed.

I find that being a creature of the night also brings with it some dangers. I am probably the biggest day dreamer that you will ever meet. When I spend half of my day alone, I spend a lot of time in my head. Creating dreams for big things to come, plans for retirement. I also find myself narrating my movements, not like a sports caster but more like a writer. I think in full sentences and re think them as edited versions, the way I would write them on paper. Maybe that's the reason I feel so intelligent in my head but so silly when I speak things that hardly make sense... I never had time to edit those thoughts.

Everyday, at least once a day I remind myself to think of something to blog about. This week has been slightly dull. My biggest blog worthy thought... the importance of super glue in my life.

If you are moving far away from home, take with you some super glue. It has come in more handy than anything I have purchased. Every single one of us receives boxes from home, and every single one of us has pulled something out of the boxes that has arrived in multiple little pieces. Zara's parents sent her little glass tree ornaments, angels who had lost their wings in transport. Ellie's best friend sent her a little ceramic sign that reads 'believe,' or at least it does now that its been super glued back together. My biggest project on the go... a candle holder. I bought it down south for four dollars, it has a partner who is shorter and whose stem actually stayed intact while it travelled from Oakville to Iqaluit. Obviously, I purchased them for a reason. I wanted them to sit side by side as a centerpiece at Christmas dinner. So the stem on this holder broke, but really, it didn't so much break as it did shatter... into tiny little pieces. The holder stands about ten inches high and the stem on it is about as thin as my thinnest stiletto heal. I sat for hours puzzling the shards back together and I thought it would work. Finally I had the pieces in the right places and was left with the two halves. Sadly, even super glue cant solve this. The bottom and the top now sit together on my desk because although I've given up hope, I cannot bring myself to admit it out loud and I certainly don't have the heart to send them to the dump.

In other exciting Christmas news, I received a box recently, from my dad and step-mom Stacey. It was a fantastic, magical little box that had me on the verge of tears. Inside it were cards from family members, my grams, aunts, uncles, cousins and parents. Little individual gifts all packaged together. In each card was a tiny envelope and each envelope had a number on it. Everyone in my family had taken a small tree ornament and put their pictures inside of it for me. I am opening them as a count down to Christmas. Stacey got lots of people that I love involved. I received days one, two, three and four from my aunts, uncles, cousins and dad. Five came in a Christmas card from Andrea and Dale. Six through ten came in Stacey's box and are here waiting to be opened. Eleven and twelve must still be out there somewhere. What a heart warming gift. I will keep you posted on the rest of my countdown. Thank you to my wonderful family.

All my love from snowy, slippery Iqaluit

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Iqaluit's Children

When we were children we learned not to talk to strangers. Now that I am a woman I have discovered that the best way to get the most beauty out of life is to talk to every stranger that I possibly can. I coo at every baby and tell every mother how gorgeous her children are. I smile a grin from ear to ear for every stranger who looks me in the eye. The best part about it is that it feels so good to smile and mean it. I meet people everyday in Iqaluit with incredible stories. I hear about what brought them to Iqaluit, where they came from, and what keeps them here. I hear cultural stories and the stories of the families and children who have lived a lifestyle that is completely different from the way that I grew up.

I was having dinner with some friends the other day, when Cassie from work asked, "How do you describe Iqaluit to your friends and family?"

I laughed because describing Iqaluit to anyone is one of the most difficult things I've ever tried to word. Cassie is a beautifully spoken woman. Who also happens to be another Jamaican blooded girl in the Arctic. Cassie said, "I tell them one thing... Iqaluit is as beautiful as it is horrible."

Those words are perfect.

Which takes me back to embracing the strangers in my life, the people who show me the extents of beauty and horror. If I hadn't been open to meeting strangers and welcoming them into my life, if I hadn't wanted to be part of my community, I would never have met anyone like my eleven year old friend Qalaapik.

Qalaapik is an innocent soul, trapped in a lifestyle that I wouldn't wish upon any child. She is brilliant and talented and so incredibly loving. She has learned from every single mistake that her parents continue to make. She will be a guiding light for her generation, a roll model.

The beautiful part is the soul behind every story. The horrible part is the story.

Last night I had her shower, I made her a meal that covered every food group. I gave her my pajamas to put on and keep warm in and I made her a bed on the couch the way my mom used to do when I was staying home sick. Before I tucked her in to sleep, she hugged me, she held on so tightly and she said to me, "I wish you were my mommy."

I could barely hold back my tears. I bundled her up in blankets and turned the light out. She was happy to have so much room to herself to sleep. She is used to sharing her bed with her younger brother and sister.

I got in bed because I had to be at work for five am this morning. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't sleep. I couldn't stop thinking about how this eleven year old girl spends so much time knowing that she isn't welcome to come home. I couldn't and never will be able to comprehend the way that her parents told her to spend the night with me, without even asking my name. I have never met this child's parents. They don't know if I live in a house or on the street. They don't know my heart or what I could have done to their daughter had I been someone else. These people tear my heart to shreds. I am weeping as I write this.

I got out of bed, I stood in my doorway and I watched her sleep. I felt so much love for her, in that moment I wanted to give her everything I have to offer.

My family down South advises me not to come home with babies I've taken from parents who don't want them. Although I can understand it, it hurts to hear. I would give anything for everyone to experience this. I wish everyone knew how it felt to see these children and know that even the least we could offer them is more than what they have now.

It was so easy for me to take her in and love her for one night. I would do it every night for every child if I could.

I have a wish to share with all of you who are reading this entry. I wish that you would please pray for Iqaluit's children. Pray that even if they are stuck in a home with no love that love will find them when they need it. Pray that God will hold them while they sleep. Pray that somehow life's most important lessons will be taught to them. Pray for them.

I say it all the time. I say that my life is crazy and hectic. The truth is that I welcome it. I welcome all of these incredible, terrible, wonderful experiences that I've been having. I am so humbled by where my life has landed. I have never felt so compassionate and engaged. I have been a very lucky woman. I feel that for the first time, I am really truly experiencing life and I thank God all the time for showing me this place, this experience that honestly is as beautiful as it is horrible.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Chocolate Countdowns

One of my very favorite things about adventure and travel is having opportunities to meet incredible people. I have this overly sentimental side that allows me to become attached to people quickly. It also allows me to love beyond what some would think normal. It helps that I think life is too short not to love to the best of our ability. Last month when I was in Oakville, I was walking out the front door of my dad's house with him. I was telling him how much I loved someone, I cant remember who, just someone I was feeling particularly fond of at the time. My dad looked at me and said, "is there anyone you don't love?"

I stopped in my tracks, and thought really hard about his question. There is no one that I have met in my lifetime that I don't feel some amount of love for. Even the people who have royally screwed me over hold some space in my heart.

Today was a big day for us in Iqaluit. Tim Horton's grand opening took place today. We witnessed a really fantastic ceremony. Every big wig from both Tim's and NWC was present. We spent extra time perfecting donuts for the showcase that was the backdrop for the gathering. Susan Aglukark graced us with her presence and has teamed up with Tim's and NWC to raise awareness for projects geared towards children's benefits. Her band flies in tomorrow for a benefit show tomorrow night.

Tomorrow is also a big night for our immediate Tim's family as two of the five store opening team members are leaving us and heading on to other projects. Moe, Kaila, Amanda, Brad and Pat have been an absolute gift to have around. Brad actually trained me while I was in Oakville and I knew how badly he wanted to come up to Iqaluit for this store opening. I was so excited for him when I walked up stairs to find him in the office. (He holds a special place in my heart because he reminds me exactly of a grown up version of my little cousin Ty. I think about it every time I see him and it brightens my day)

Lucky for this bunch, we had to push back our opening because cream and milk didn't arrive on schedule and these guys got three days off to explore our city. Once the cream came, it was down to work. I've spent almost all of my working time baking with Pat Clancy. Whose mother's name is Nancy Clancy. (I couldn't write this blog without including that fun fact) This guy has literally been my rock while I've re-adjusted to four o'clock am alarms. His ex-girlfriend's excellently diverse Ipod on high volume combined with his often lame, sometimes dirty but mostly hilarious sense of humour has kept me from falling asleep during production. This is an official shout out to my new friend Pat.

Pat and Moe are leaving on Sunday, which made today my last shift with Patrick. Luckily, the stay for the rest of the group has been extended until my two new girls move up here from the South.

Needless to say I am going to miss these guys.

While we're on the topic of missing things, lets talk about the sun and the snow... again. The sun continues to go down earlier and earlier. I get to work when its dark and its dark by the time I leave. I have no windows in my bakery. For the last week I have missed the sun like I've missed my beauty sleep. I am also missing snow. It seems that it will snow for days and when I finally sit down to blog that I think I've seen lasting white stuff, it rains or gets warm enough to melt it. Don't get me wrong, the hills and surrounding area are almost completely blanketed in snow but I cant help longing for surroundings that remotely resemble my life long mental picture of what the arctic should look like.

Even if the outdoors doesnt look like Christmas should just yet, our apartment is starting to fit the part. Matt and I put the tree that we bought at the store up last week and I decorated it yesterday. Presents from home line the bottom of the tree and have created a new kind of cat tree fort for the kitties. Of course, our chocolate advent calendars are stationed on the kitchen table, leaning against the wall, courtesy of momma Grigg. Mine is pink and boasts all of Disney's princesses while Matt's celebrates the NHL.

So here's to Tim's, new loves and chocolate countdowns.

Life is beautiful.

All my love, from Iqaluit.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Donut Delay

Other than the terrible pain that took over my right ear, all I was feeling as my Jazz flight was landing on the tundra was relief. Finally, I had made it home. Home to my quiet life with my laid back friends in calm, easy going Iqaluit. The quiet lasted until the Tim's store opening crew landed and shifted my world into high gear.

The three locations are totally put together and they look beautiful. Yesterday we held an orientation for new team members. I stood in the back with Kaila and Mo from the ops team, baking the first batches of Tim Horton's donuts to ever come out of an oven in Nunavut. It felt monumental. Our soon-to-be store manager, Rick, sent me out to grab the current store manager, Eldon and a camera, so that we could document the moment. I feel blessed to be a part of the insanity.  Overwhelmed is another feeling that has taken hold of me.

When Matt picked me up from the airport he told me that we had moved into the one bedroom apartment that we had wanted to move into. He, along with our fantastic neighbors, moved all of our belongings over while I was away. Our new apartment is really nice. It is directly next door to our last place. The bedroom is small and the living area, dining room and kitchen are open concept but modest, warm and inviting. I bought lots of picture frames when I was South so I now have pictures of our friends and family stationed around the apartment.

On the twenty-fourth, Katie, Stephen and Shemekia moved into our old apartment. They are settling in nicely and we can barely hear the baby crying through the wall. I am going over to spend some time with them and help set up their new Christmas tree tomorrow.

We have the day off tomorrow because we had to push back the date of our soft store opening. We had planned on opening early to smooth out the kinks before the grand opening but our permits didn't come through in time and our cream and milk has yet to be delivered. I'm about to say it again... welcome to the North. 

I saw the final article printed in the Oakville beaver about our store opening. Actually I saw a picture of the article that was posted on my wall by my old friend Dayna. How exciting.

I also received a really cool message on facebook from a pair of fellow GTA-ers, named Alex and Luke. I hadn't heard their story before the message but I wanted to share it here because it is incredible. Alex and Luke are best friends from my home town area who are travelling across all of North American in their VW Rabbit. Their trip is fueled by social media. Their followers on sites like twitter and facebook have been deciding where they would travel to and what they would do while they were there. Nunavut is one of the last places left for the adventurers to visit. Alex read the article about me in the beaver and messaged me to see if we could meet up while they are in Iqaluit. I am so inspired by their journey and am so excited for the chance to meet them. They were supposed to fly in today so hopefully I will see them soon.

A day light update ... almost none. When I left for work this morning at ten to eight, it was still dark, the light was just starting to make its entrance. Around one thirty pm, the sun began to set and by the time I walked home from work just after four, it was as dark as midnight.

The weather brought us a blizzard last week and then warm, rainy days and cold nights. We have had roads like skating rinks. The last few days have been fairly mild. It seems that the arctic is having an identity crisis this fall.

Monday, November 15, 2010


My training at Tim Horton's training centre ended yesterday. I finished it off with a successful re-cert of first aid and CPR. The days flew by and I met some highly entertaining, kind people.

Sometimes I find myself going through really uneasy feelings, I brace myself for it and ride it out. I'm feeling that right now, in the pit of my stomach are butterflies and I cant say for sure why they're hanging out in there.

It may be because I've met so many great people here and leaving means that I will probably lose contact with the majority of them. That has always been something that I wish I could avoid in life.

It could be because I never found enough minutes in the days and didn't get to spend time with a lot of my old Oakvillian friends, which I will regret until the day I get home for vacation.

The flutterbies are probably there in huge part because I'm nervous for the store opening. I'm nervous because quiet little Iqaluit has become some sort of sanctuary for me, where the stresses of Southern life are exterminated and the mentality of 'Welcome to the North' has become just that, welcoming. I'm nervous because of the expectations of Tim Horton's, and the driving forces behind the name. I'm nervous that bringing this power house of a company into my peaceful world with disturb it in anyway.

I could also be feeling this because I'm terribly excited. I am beyond myself to be able to be a part of this project, I've been on this excitement high since the day I found out I was coming to Oakville to train.

The unease of going back to Iqaluit also has something to do with my pull in both directions. I hate the crowds of Toronto... even the crowds of Oakville now. However, the other day we headed downtown with our new district manager to see the Leafs play the Canucks. As we drove past the CN Tower, and into the downtown core, the look on Stephen's face, the excitement behind his and Katie's eyes... it was magic, like a child walking into Disney World for the first time. I was proud to be from the GTA, from a place that has the power to wow guests.

I am also proud to be a Nunavumiut now, I want to show my new home to the world and wish I could share the smell, the sights and the culture. I wish I could share the rush of breathing crisp air into your lungs after stepping out the front door to greet the morning.  I wish I could share the friends that are quickly becoming my family away from family.

When the butterflies subside, when I step off the plane and back onto the tundra, when I make it home without breaking any of my breakables (and all of the perfectly wrapped Christmas gifts from Momma Grigg and my step mom Stacey)... I will write a blog about finding my inner peace again and probably about my preparations for Christmas. I have decided to get into the spirit a little earlier this year so that I don't have a second to miss Christmas in Oakville. I took a productive Walmart shopping trip yesterday, I went with baby Gabriella, which made my heart very happy... and our mommies, which was equally as wonderful.

My theme this year for Christmas is pastry... cupcakes in particular. Sorry Matthew...

In my next blog I may also include the link to the online article they published about me but only if they edit the mistakes they made. I am a tough critic and to be fair, they called my Katie a supervisor instead of a manager, so I had to get them to change it. Hopefully it will be edited before it goes to print.

I cant wait to unpack all of my new Christmas treasures and to be back with my Matt, Jack and Sadie.

All my love, from Oakville.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Being Everywhere at Once

My eyes are beat red and my head keeps slowly falling to one side. I cannot give in to the desire to nap. My days in Oakville are long and exhausting yet I cannot manage to find enough time during these passing days to see and do all that I wish I could.

My work load has been a challenge, getting up at three am, even more so. The crowds are tiring my mind and my nerves. I miss the quiet of Iqaluit terribly. I find the volume of people here and the high stress environment makes me much more anxious than it used to. Being here again makes Iqaluit feel more like home, a safe place to return to.

I miss my new found family there. I am so blessed and lucky to be able to be here and to visit with so many of the people I love but to balance that with work has worn me down and I find myself longing to be back with the tundra.

I have had a wonderful experience here. Firstly, my hotel suite is fantastic and having a big cloud-like bed to spread out in is such a luxury. The people at the Training Centre have been so hospitable and kind. I have met some truly incredible people, including my new partner in crime, Miss Katie Inukshuk.

Katie and I will be running our Tim Horton's together in Iqaluit. On my first day in training she walked into the staff room to introduce herself and I had this urge to hug her. She is fantastic and her sense of humour will keep our working relationship alive with laughter. We've been plotting and planning for success and have so many wonderful ideas to bring back with us. I know without a doubt that we are going to be a killer duo and my excitement about returning and diving into this project is at an all time high.

On a high note, my talent for baking and decorating donuts is progressing... On a low note, and I'm sorry to say, Tim Horton's Iqaluit will not have an Iced Capp machine.

We will also be without a drive through, soup and sandwiches and a few other hot drinks. Serving the basics will surely keep us busy enough to start out.

I had a day off yesterday and used my time to creep Ellen's facebook page, where I found an updated picture of one of our Tim's counters. My heart did a little flutter. I excite easily.

Spending time with my friends here has been hard to do and I haven't spent nearly enough time with my parents and siblings. Ive been cuddling my mom at every chance and had my sister stay with me at the hotel for some sister loving the other night.

My "loving" sister emailed me after I landed here to tell me that she booked an appointment and put a deposit down on the matching tattoos we had been "planning" for years. I never imagined the day would come that we would actually go through with it.

I now have a tattoo down my left thigh that reads, "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, As long as I'm living." Jenna has it written down the side of her ribs. It is the repeated verse from one of our favorite books from childhood. Sort of our reminder of each other when we're so far from one another, a tribute to each other and our family. Our brother Brett plans to follow with the, "As long as I'm living," as a tattoo across his heart.

I still have a week here, I feel so torn between missing my Iqaluit family and and the nerves that are rising inside of me, knowing that I'll once again be flying away from my home town, and everyone here that I adore and miss everyday. I miss Matthew and my cats, my new friends and even work.

Ive gotten every kiss possible out of baby Gabriella and told her I love her a million and one times. I've done some shopping for jeans and other things that lack in selection in the North. I've seen faces that I love and done some serious catching up.

I am almost ready to head back, but will enjoy every last second that I have here. 

I had a chat with a gentleman from the paper the other day, so keep a look out for an article in the Beaver.

All my love... from Oakville this time.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Spilling the Beans

As far as 'eventful' goes in the North, today was a wonderful, eventful day. I woke up to a beautiful sunny day. We don't leave the blinds open when we're at work, so I long for sunny days off so that my withering plants might soak up some rays. Sadie and Jack also love the sunshine that beats in through the windows.

I had a scrambled egg breakfast and took a long hot shower. I have been meaning for a month to get my drivers license switched over from an Ontario license to a Nunavut license. I got dressed and put on some mascara to prep for the possibility of a drivers license mug shot and I left the house to walk aimlessly until I found the right building.

As I got up to the other end of town I saw my friend Kathy walking on the opposite side of the street. Her husband John recently had his licence switched so she joined my mission, thinking that she had some idea of the right direction. Long story short, we found the building, I surrendered my shiny new Ontario licence for a slip of paper that is currently serving as my temporary licence. I laughed because if I were to get pulled over in Ontario anytime soon, they would have to take a second and probably a third look at the slip as half of it is written in Inuktitut symbols.

Kathy and I had a wonderful afternoon. She took me to her new favorite little coffee shop and treated me to tea. We had banana bread that reminded me of my mommy's recipe and chai tea lattes. The sun had already started to go down when I left the house at three pm. By the time Kathy and I were at tea the sun had sunk to just above the mountains and was blindingly bright. Between the dust thrown up by passing vehicles and the sun, it was nearly impossible to see thirty feet in front of us. She shares my desire for snow that stays to hold the sand down.

We came home, popped in for a quick visit with Jen who lives directly above Matt and I and then we parted ways.

I ran over to the Iqaluit visitors center, they were closing at five and I wanted to get home before it got too dark and any colder. I grabbed some free reading materials and headed back to the warmth of our building. Excited to settle down with my Iqaluit pamphlets on hunting, wildlife, adventure tours and local parks.

I walked in the door to find a note on the table that said 'call Eldon.' For those of you who don't know, Eldon is one of our store managers, and one of the kindest men I have met here. Normally a message to call the store manager would have my nerves going crazy but not this time. Ladies and Gentlemen, I have been sitting on a secret that has me impossibly excited.

About a week ago I was called up to Eldon's office for a quick meeting. He told me about the Inuit manager that they hired for the Tim Horton's that they started putting into North mart yesterday. Then he told me he thinks that I am the right person to work along side her to run the Tim Horton's. He asked me if I would fly to Ontario for training. Then he said it would be in Oakville. Excitement times three. I will be working to open the very first Tim Horton's in all of Nunavut, which happens to be the last place in Canada that the Tim's franchise has yet to touch.

I didn't want to say anything, because nothing is set in stone until airline tickets have been booked. I just got off the phone with Eldon and I will be flying out on Sunday. This coming Sunday. Halloween. Which means I will be home to go trick-or-treating with baby Gabriella for her first Halloween. Shes going as a lady bug. I couldn't be happier.

 I start training at Timmie's on Monday morning and at some point during my two weeks will have a date with the Oakville beaver to share my story with my home town.

I am already nervous about leaving my new home. I will miss Iqaluit almost as much as I will miss Matt, Jack and Sadie. Matthew isn't so excited about my leaving. I know he will be okay without me for a couple weeks and he'll be happy to have less dirty dishes around.

I am going to settle in on this chilly night with the readings I picked up from the visitors center.

I'll be seeing the beautiful faces of everyone I love in Oakville on Sunday. Hopefully I get the chance to celebrate a belated birthday with my dear friend Stephanie Maie. Who celebrated her twenty first birthday yesterday. I hope it was fantastic love.

Until then, all my love from Iqaluit.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


When you work constantly the days begin to blur together. I find myself asking what day of the week it is. The hours, however, seem to crawl by most of the time. We have both begun to feel much more comfortable in our positions at work. Becoming an important part of our community is a great feeling. Its also very nice to know your way around your department and get along with your co workers. A couple of days ago, Betty, a very sweet grandmother of seven, joined our bakery team. And then there were three.

The highlight of my day today... two of my three boxes arrived! They were sent on the 13th. It only took one week for them to arrive. Matt's box however, took much longer. From now on I think packages will be sent via UPS. What can brown do for you? Well, they beat out the competitors when it comes to getting boxes to the arctic in good time. Now I'm just waiting for box three of three, the heaviest one. I honestly don't even remember whats in it. I was most eager to get my hands on the Q-tips, my Uggs and the coffee crisp/ after eight/ rolo hot chocolate that we picked up at Costco before we left. I was really excited to see that my parents had snugly packed away forty ounces of Polish Vodka in one of my boxes. It feels a little bit like Christmas! (Which I have started my shopping for but cant tell you what Ive purchased until after the holidays so that I don't give the surprise away to some of my biggest fans - my beautiful family)

I particularly wanted to have my Uggs a couple cold nights ago. I got off work at nine in the evening and had planned on walking home with a couple of girls from work. When they suggested taking a taxi I literally laughed out loud, thinking, 'I don't care how bad the weather is, its a five minute walk to the apartments.' Kayla made me come to the front of the store to attempt to open the front door... It took every ounce of my strength. When I realized that the noises I had been hearing from inside the bakery were being made by the wind outside, I gave in and agreed to the fifty second drive. The wind was blowing at 98 km/hr that night. Being that the buildings here are built on stilts, we could feel everything shaking and swaying. We were literally rocked to sleep that night. It was terrifying and exciting all at once. That was the same night our heat was out. We were huddled around space heaters for the evening. People complain about nights like that but I thoroughly enjoy them. Sometimes they act as the spice of life. And to be honest, when the days are blurring and you cant remember what day of the week it is, its nice to be able to refer to a specific date as, 'the windy day.' Some other memorable dates around here are, 'the day the schools closed because of the dump fire,' 'the day of the fire drill,' 'the day we got the box that held our boots,' 'the day the cable went out,' and most recently, today, 'the day the cable came back on!'

Now that I have both pairs of my boots, my winter ensemble is almost complete. We have two beautiful 'pang' hats that Matt and I will be sharing or fighting over since both of our coats are black and only one of the hats has black in it. I have gloves and a neck warmer. My beautiful new Canada Goose, Arctic Program Coat. Which I paid five hundred and thirty something dollars for. I went for the 'Trillium' and I bought it at our store instead of ordering it in because I figured I would need it sooner than it could be sent. All I really need now is a pair of snow pants, which I will probably buy at a later date. Matt has his boots and hat but is much less prepared for the weather. He told me today that he thinks he might make it through the winter with just a sweatshirt under his spring jacket. I laughed but decided to avoid the argument... he'll have proof enough when winter hits.

Before signing off I just want to say happy birthday to Doris Davidson! Hoping your day was brilliant <3

Happily waiting for snow that stays,
With love from Iqaluit.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Dog Days of Fall

I may have mentioned that high speed Internet here is the speed of dial up back home. Knowing nothing about the science behind the Internet I purchased the cheapest and smallest bundle possible from Qiniq. Luckily when you go over your bundle specified amount of "high speed," you don't have to pay extra to continue using the Internet for the month. You are simply down graded to dial up speed... meaning it took me twenty minutes to load this page to write this blog. Let me apologize now for my brief blogging hiatus. I am sorry, it pains me not to be able to keep you all updated and from here on out I will try to keep my 'facebook-creeping' time to a limit.

I came home from work almost every day this week, over come with exhaustion, only to throw my blogging intentions out the window in exchange for some much anticipated sleep!

I mentioned to my store manager the other day that I was feeling oddly tired all the time. He suggested that it could be because of the lack of trees and plant life here. We don't get as much oxygen as we are used to having in the South, which in turn tuckers us out.

I thought to myself that maybe if I adopted some plants it would keep my mind off of adopting babies and stray puppies and perhaps keep my oxygen levels up. Matthew wasn't happy about spending so much of our food allowance on greenery but he gave in and I know he secretly likes the way the plants look in the apartment. It feels a little more like home now.

I have the weekend off again, which is such a beautiful thing! I had big plans for this weekend. There is another mountain that I'd really like to climb, there is a gift shoppe down the road I wanted to visit and I wanted to go play with the dogs at the OSPCA. However, I am not allowed to go out wandering on my own for awhile because the RCMP came in with a warning that a woman had been raped very recently. They say that this type of crime starts to get worse as the night begins to fall earlier. I was also told that this time last year, women were being raped and a few were murdered. The thing around here is, you seldom hear of the outcomes that these things have. No one really knows who is wandering the streets that shouldn't be, and in a city this size, the thought of it makes you shudder.

On a much brighter note, our friend Kayla took Matt and I on a walking tour of the other end of town on Wednesday. Before then we had never walked back out the way of the airport. She took us to the outskirts to visit the Humane Society/OSPCA. Its not a big one like the ones down south and it didn't have a sign or anything outside. It was a simple little blue building with a door that looked like the front door would look on any other house. They had only a handful of cages and housed only dogs. The dogs, all mutts, were beautiful and we wanted to take them all home. It was especially hard to leave one behind. It was the husky-wolf dog who walked me to work the other week. I guess the city found him wandering the streets. The poor thing cried as we walked away. Matt and I are huge animal lovers and have had to practise saying no. We did however, take two of them out for a walk. Both were crosses of some sort. One looked mostly like a little German Sheppard, she was six months old and her name was Jenna. And another puppy looked like he was half husky, and perhaps half lab. He had an Inuktitut name meaning, 'little brother.' So we took one puppy to remind me of my little sister Jenna and one who reminded me of my little brother Brett. Walking dogs right now is not the cleanliest of activities. The last time it snowed, I blogged about it and since then the snow has melted away and it has been raining on and off. The sand sidewalks are mud and coming home from a walk feels like coming home from a day at the beach. I discover the grit of sand in my teeth every time.

We walked the dogs down the road a bit to see a field that Kayla had found where dozens of sled dogs were tied off just behind the air port. The dogs are known to be less than friendly and they get jealous if you show any single one affection. The sight of them was something to see.

The day was a dog day. Earlier that morning Kayla showed up at our apartment with the tiniest little bundle of fur. A six week old puppy who remains nameless for now. His mother is a cross between a German Sheppard, a husky and a lab and his father is believed to be a husky but trust me when I say that there are next to no pure bred dogs in Iqaluit. The puppy looks like a husky and is terribly handsome.

We spent the rest of the day together and he left after peeing on our carpet three times and pooping once.

I am happy to say that twenty minutes before I sat down in my blogging station it did start to snow again. Big white, fluffy flakes. Sadie is loving sitting in the windows and watching the snow fall.

I'm sure the white wont last though, not until it gets a little colder. The locals say that by October last year they had a full ground of lasting snow, we must have brought Ontario's warmth with us.

Other than warmth, some things I wish I had brought from home...

-Rain boots, every single day I wish I had a pair.
-A rain coat to match
-More movies, we brought 65 and I'm learning that you can never have too many movies... sad to say, but hey, it gets dark early.
-More than one razor because I didn't anticipate that boxes would take more than three weeks to arrive (and some were only sent a few days ago) We have yet to see a single box.
-A Brita filter. We are having ours sent up but for the first couple of weeks I was drinking tap water and it made me sick so I wish I had packed it in a suitcase. The water is very hard. It makes your hair wiry and turns everything it sits on a beautiful shade of turquoise. We are now boiling our water, letting it cool to room temperature and transferring it to a jug in the fridge, which seems to be doing the trick.
-Picture frames. I decided not to bring any because I figured it was too dangerous to risk them all breaking in my suitcases. The picture frames at North mart are ridiculously expensive. The cheapest one is seven dollars and its the kind you get at the dollar store that doesn't have a frame.
-Booze, booze and more booze. I am not a big drinker but I already miss the LCBO. If you smoke, I also suggest bringing a carton or two with you. Cigarettes here are expensive. (Although I suggest even more strongly, quitting!) It seems that every person in Iqaluit smokes, all of our friends here do and they all complain every day about how much their habit costs. That's one thing I will never pick up.
-Smells from home. I had to go out and buy air fresheners that remind me of home. I put apple cinnamon in the living room because it reminds me of moms house at thanksgiving. One thing I didn't bring was any perfume or body spray. I even bought different types of shampoo and conditioner. I don't smell normal and I'm having some sort of mini identity crisis.
-Q-tips... packed in the suitcases! My family gave me so many things that I thought I would need before I left, 2500 Q-tips were among them and I packed them away in boxes to be shipped. Ugh, our poor ears.

Things I wish we did before we left...

-Send our boxes! ! !

Things we are working on doing now...

-Switching over to Nunavut drivers licenses
-Obtaining Nunavut Health Cards
-Enjoying days off when you are locked up in the apartment because your boyfriends at work and you cant roam the streets alone...

I hope your days down South are beautiful and sunny and enjoyable.

All my love from Iqaluit

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Things That Make Me Smile

Yesterday morning I woke up to be at work for eight o'clock. When I stepped out the front door I was greeted by the most gorgeous puppy. He looked like a perfect cross between a wolf and a husky. I work with a man named Mel who has warned me not to get too friendly with the dogs around here. They roam the streets and seem to be almost wild. It took everything in me not to play with the dog. He joined me at the front door and walked me all the way to work, never leaving my side. He wanted to play so badly. He dove into the snow drifts, catching snow in his mouth and throwing it in my direction. The look on his face broke my heart as I walked into work, shutting the door behind me. I haven't seen him since, although I haven't been out of the apartment today. It was my day off so I decided to spend it cleaning. It was snowing when I fell asleep last night and when I woke up this morning but the snow turned very wet at some point in the afternoon which made me feel glad to be in the warmth of the apartment.

The dogs wandering around make me think of my good friend and old house mate, Lauren. Animal lover and advocate extraordinaire. Before I left Ontario I told Lauren all about the adventures I was heading out on and that same night she applied for a job with the company I work for. You can imagine my excitement to hear that she has an interview date later this month!

I was thinking of suggesting to the company that she could move in with us. We are currently living in a two bedroom apartment (we haven't even stepped foot in the second bedroom since the day we got here) and were told when we arrived that they would be moving us if a one bedroom became available. Last night we helped our neighbor Annie move some of her things into a one bedroom "suite." I call it a suite because it is a step up from the one bedroom she was in next door. Her new place has private laundry and is on the top floor of a neighboring building, so she can feel safe sleeping with her windows open for ventilation. I am now thinking that we will be moving into her old place right next door to the one we're in now, which is also an exciting prospect. Its been hard for me not really being able to settle in here, knowing that we could be uprooted at anytime. It would also be nice to only have to move down the hall. We really like the building we're in and are loving the people in the apartments around us.

On Monday we will be having Thanksgiving dinner at Zara's. She lives across the hall from us and has invited a group over for the evening. The turkey is stashed safely away in our freezer. Due to the fact that we are the newbies, we haven't accumulated a lot of extra food and had some extra room in our freezer. I have volunteered to bake a pumpkin pie and an apple pie. I am also making death by chocolate, by popular demand. It will be another first for me, being away from my family for thanksgiving. It is so wonderful to have the people we have met become a part of our lives and because of them we are looking forward to the festivities.

On the theme of excitement, Mel told me the other day that his wife wants me to try on an amauti she has at home so she can figure out sizes! I think that means I've found my seamstress. I am LOVING the art work in Iqaluit. First I bought my polar bear which I paid $120 for which was apparently a great deal. Yesterday Matt bought two "pang" hats for us off of a very sweet and talented woman who comes into NorthMart to visit. They are green, brown, and black. They both have inukshuks around them and one of them says 'Nunavut' across the front. I also put in an order for a couple more... potential Christmas gifts?

As I was told, it is easy to spend money here. Matt has spent a lot on necessary household items and both of us have been saving our dough to buy new Canada Goose Arctic Program parkas which will run us just under $600 each. I'm buying mine tomorrow because Iqaluit is beginning to look like winter wonderland!

So here's to Christmas in October and to two of my favorite people in the world, Andrea Latendresse who is celebrating her birthday today and to one of my best friends, Sara Detlor whose birthday partying we missed out on this week. Happy Birthday ladies! Sending all of my love to you and everyone else back home.

Missing you all, from Iqaluit.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Road to Nowhere

Until today I have been beyond excited by the sight of falling snow. The first day I saw snow, it fell for five minutes, the second day I saw snow, I woke up to a thin layer of it covering the ground. Today was another first. Today I experienced a blizzard in October. Probably sixty mile an hour winds with snow blowing everywhere.

I'm feeling a little bit over worked and tired. It's difficult to see everything you want to when you literally need to spend your days off recuperating from the pain of your legs and feet and mind.

Today the exhaustion sort of hit me at the same time the winds did. Maybe they threw me off a little... or maybe they knocked some sense into me.

For the first time, after sixteen days I am starting to feel a little bit homesick. I felt the sadness today that the darkness brings. I began to miss the yellows, oranges and reds of the fall trees back home... in fact, I began to miss trees in general.

As fantastic as it is to have an entire apartment between the two of us, living in harmony can be difficult. Matt is discovering my prejudice against dirty dishes and I have figured out that he was never taught to change an empty toilet paper roll.

We have made plenty of wonderful new friends but still I find myself longing for a hug from the arms of someone who represents home.

I have however, made a commitment, not only to my employer or to Matthew, but to myself. I am going to stick this out and appreciate it for all the new and exciting opportunities it will continue to offer me.

I find that its not the vitamin D that helps my spirit to combat the darkness but the memories that make me want to embrace this experience for everything that it has to offer.

Memories like those of my grandfather. Before my gramps passed away last year, he suffered from Alzheimer's Disease. I constantly wondered if he had lived the life that he'd hoped he would and if he'd had any regrets along the way. When I remember my grandfather, I remember to make memories for myself that I will someday be able to share with my grandchildren. I remember to try and live every day to the fullest, without compromise.

Some days I forget to think these thoughts first thing and it takes me until later in the day to pick myself up but no matter what, I carry his memory with me always.

Saturday night was our first night out in Iqaluit. We had dinner with Ellen and another coworker named Saky and headed over to a very small bar called the Elks Lodge to join a group from work for a diabetes fundraiser. It was a fantastic night that brought with it a not-so-fantastic morning after.

Jimmy, Matthew & Smiley

Regardless of my state on Sunday morning, I spent the minimum amount of time recovering and hauled Matt out for a "hike." Let me first point out that Matthew is not really the hiking type, nor does he have proper foot wear, as his shoes (and our winter boots) have not yet arrived in the mail. We finished the remainder of the Apex trail and found the old Hudson's Bay buildings!

Incorporated May 2nd 1670

We also found some Inukshuks out on the water.

We thought we would take the road back into town, assuming it would be an easier trip... unfortunately, nothing in Iqaluit is what you would expect, including the almost entirely uphill trek back to our apartment. The majority of the walk was an empty stretch of road that seemed to go on forever in the middle of nowhere. Funny enough, we knew we were almost home when we found the road to nowhere... which literally leads to nowhere but we know as a landmark that is close to home.

So here's to snow storms and for the first time in our lives, actually landing ourselves in the middle of nowhere. More adventures to come!

With love from Iqaluit

Saturday, October 2, 2010

No Mans Land

There is a small mountain, or perhaps it would be better classified as a very large hill, that provides a fantastic veiw from my bedroom and living room windows. Since the very first day we arrived I had been saying, "when I have a day off, I'm climbing that thing." I heard that if you climb over the hill and through the graveyard you'll end up at the Apex trail, or as Ellen calls it, the path to no mans land.

After hearing all the stories we've heard, I should probably take better care not to venture out on my own but Matt and I have yet to have a day off of work together. Because of this I have taken it upon myself to be my own company. I am not in Canada's arctic to stay inside and watch TV. The cable has been out anyway, which helps to keep me motivated to be out exploring.

I got out of bed, had a good breakfast, climbed the very large hill, and descended down the other side. This is where I found the Iqaluit graveyard. The yard is incredibly small in comparison to the ones we see down South. I sat and admired it for some time, wondering how this could be all of Iqaluit's dead. Some people have told me stories of other graveyards but no one seems to know where they are and some have told me stories of elders, placing themselves on ice rafts and floating away when they knew the time was coming... I have yet to decide which are just stories. In the past they placed their deceased in wooden boxes, modest caskets if you will. The boxes would be left above ground because most of the ground cover here is made up of rock and the rest is frozen for a large part of the year. In more recent times they would simply place the bodies on the earth and bury them with rocks. I am told that now, no doubt because of modern machinery, they actually dig graves that are three or four feet deep. They dig them where the earth is soft enough to dig out. The Iqaluit graveyard is located just off of the Koojesse inlet shore line. When the tide is out, the water is probably a couple hundred feet from the yard but when the tide is in it is only about forty feet away. From this angle the water is off to the left.

The land beside the graveyard is fairly barren and as I walked over it I stumbled upon all kinds of bones, large and small. Ive been told they could be anything, arctic fox, seal, dog or cat. The ravens here will actually attempt to swoop down and pick up a small dog or a cat and have been known to kill and eat them. Still, somehow, the locals seem to be proud of them. Raven lunatics.

Just past the graveyard I found the Apex trail that Ellen had told me about, it was cute and had been built up with rocks edging it. The trail led over a newly built bridge and up to a look out point.

Beyond the trail was a softly beaten path. The same path that the locals would take hundreds of years ago and that the military used when they built their air base here. It used to be that the military used Iqaluit (Frobisher Bay back then) and the people lived in Apex, which some refer to as "the old Iqaluit." The economical opportunities brought the locals into Iqaluit and each and everyday they would walk the length of this apex trail.

It is without hesitation that I say, I am my mothers daughter. I inherited her thirst for adventure and the kind of wild spirit that will take you into no mans land alone. I walked and walked enjoying every second of the view and the cold crisp air. It got so quiet and the sun sparkled through the cloud cover just enough to let me catch glimpses of the snow that covered the mountains across the water. I sent up a prayer of thanks for the moments that I had found myself loving.

As much as I loved where I was, I had to turn around, firstly because I had no method of self defense should I have come across something larger or scarier than myself, secondly because in Nunavut there is nothing to hide behind, only short rocks, and thirdly because the ravens started circling my head like I was some sort of easy target for lunch. Mostly, I turned back because of the ravens. These creatures make sounds that send chills down your back and you can hear the wind under their wings from twenty feet away. It doesn't help that before I came up here, my girlfriends and I were reading a series of novels that expanded upon Cherokee legends and beliefs, ravens being one of them. In the novels, the ravens embodied evil and were half man half raven. When I'm alone in no mans land with nothing but giant ravens, I get a little antsy.

Ive been told that if I had walked just a little further, I would have found a grouping of Inukshuks... I cursed the ravens and swore I would go back.

Today is my day off and to my delight I have a full weekend. Saturday and Sunday with a late start on Monday. Tonight Matt and I have tickets for our very first social outing! I cant even explain to you the overwhelming excitement I feel.

This morning Matt ran into the apartment just after leaving for work and told me to look out the window. I opened the curtains to a snow covered ground. October second. If the snow holds off tomorrow then I will make it my mission to find the Inukshuks. Hopefully Matt will join me. It will be our first day off together since we arrived so I hope to make the most of it. Perhaps a breakfast buffet up at the Frobisher Inn (for $40 a head) and then a good hike. 

Cheers to the weekend and to my oldest cousin Paul who is marrying his beautiful fiancee Melissa today. I'm sorry I'm missing it. My heart, love and all my best wishes are there with you.

With love from a snow covered Iqaluit

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Most Beautiful Things

I think that the most beautiful thing in life is the purity and enthusiasm that makes up the hearts of children. The children in Iqaluit take up a huge amount of the population. It seems that every woman in sight has a baby in the hood of her amauti.

Unfortunately the sad truth of the most beautiful things is that they aren't always appreciated for the gifts that they are.

There are social problems here that I could not have fathomed while living in the South. The reality here is that teenagers don't seem to be getting the education that they need about sex and preventing pregnancy. It seems as if the government and the school systems have almost given in to the fact that the kids will do as they please. Instead of teaching methods of safe sex, they post fliers to send the message out that we should "help women and babies by encouraging alcohol free pregnancy." The message is fantastic and needs to be retained but it is devastating that the message wasn't "help women prevent pregnancy."

Pregnancy and bringing another human being into the world is incredible and beautiful and miraculous. Here, the young women are offered the birth control pill free of cost, and as sad as it sounds, many refuse it because they are worried it will make them "fat." Instead of taking the pill or wearing condoms, so many young women use abortion as a form of birth control. So many more women find themselves in a hard spot with a new baby or a baby on the way and walk around town trying to find someone to adopt their child. The women approach other women and literally offer them their babies.

I think that these children having a chance at a better life is fantastic. I also believe that for individuals or couples wanting to adopt that this is an incredible opportunity but it simply breaks my heart to see a woman approach others and offer her child away.

Yesterday at work Matt was standing with two female co-workers when a young woman, who had already had multiple children, approached them with an offer of her soon to be born child. The story tore my heart to shreds. I'm not sure I would be strong enough to say no. Every day I think about the sweet, tiny babies who never got a chance to choose for themselves what kind of life they would be born into.

I have a new friend at work who is five months pregnant with her third baby, a baby girl. I found out today that she has already found a family for her baby and will be giving her away. My heart nearly stopped beating. This girl is a loving, caring mother to her two babies and is the sweetest girl you've ever met. I feel so sad for her. I feel physically sick knowing that this could have been prevented and maybe she wouldn't have to go through the experience of parting with her baby. I know that although she could have taken precautions, this situation isn't entirely her fault.

I am learning to accept the culture here and embrace the different way of life but if I could change anything here, I would teach the women here to love themselves more. I would teach them to take care of themselves so that they would never have to feel the heartache of giving away their newborns. I would flip the education system on its ass and teach every child, boy and girl, to respect each other, themselves and what happens when you aren't careful.

On a more cheerful note I am trying to find a local woman who can make me my own amauti, so that in a couple of years if I move back to Ontario and have babies of my own I can take such a beautiful tradition of Nunavut with me to carry my children in. The amauti in the picture is a very old traditional seal skin version but you can have them made in almost any fabric and pattern. They are also usually made to be more form fitting than the one in the picture. They are incredibly beautiful and a lot of Inuit women have them made in bright colours like red and yellow.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Strip Show

Let me start this post off by telling you that today, while I was on my lunch break, it snowed. Today was the first time in my entire life I have seen real snow in September. I practically jumped out of my seat with excitement. Today was a surprisingly thrilling day. I couldn't sleep last night, I found some ridiculously unwanted burst of energy and wanted to chat Matt's ear off about everything I'd seen thus far. Due to the lack of sleep, it was extra difficult to drag myself out of bed this morning at seven. It didn't help that until this morning, our heat has been off. We turned it off the day we got here because it was a sauna when we walked in... it was also hovering around 10 degrees outside. Today however was cold and windy and classified as one of those days that you would rather spend in bed. I turned the heat on, shivered my way through breakfast and walked to work with my manager and the only other person in my department, Ellen.

Thriller number one was obviously the snow.

Thriller number two - Babies in mukluks and parkas. Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love babies and tiny baby accessories, so if this isn't a thriller for you, too bad, I love it. I need to find someone to hand make me some of these adorable garbs so I can send them home to my honorary niece, Gabriella, who is nine months old now and will be almost two next time I see her during my vacation time. This is probably biased but I'm not kidding when I say that she is the most adorable child I've ever loved and she would kill with cuteness in the traditional outfits the Inuit babies rock. Absolutely stunning.

Thriller number three - Loss prevention in full effect. Its not unusual for people to try and steal anything and everything they can from the store, in fact, its rather common. Today a young man who had apparently been kicked out of the store multiple times decided he would try his luck on a five finger discount. The boys, including Matt, who work on the opposite end of the store from me, caught him on his way out. They dragged him into the customer service office and once the RCMP had been called he pulled a knife out. The threats he made didn't put out the excitement for them. My favorite part was the excitement in Matt's voice as he re-told the story to anyone who asked. Boys...

Thriller number four - Ellen smiled an excited little grin and said, "follow me." She led me to a wall of windows in the "food court" at the store, where a whole gaggle of men were sitting and watching something outside. A fight. One man, a known trouble maker, stole money from another man. The other man obviously wanted his money back. We watched... everyone else amused... me worried. He held the man up against the wall of a house and lectured him, he then started to search the mans pockets. One pocket at a time he retrieved his money but he wasn't satisfied. He took his coat, shook it out and kept yelling. He turned the man around, put him against the wall and patted him down. Then the real kicker.... the snow had just stopped falling and the man who stole the money, in an effort to prove he had nothing more, dropped his pants. At that moment I stopped worrying and started laughing. I wonder if he knew he had an audience?

Well folks... "Welcome to the North."

Other than the trouble makers, I loved today because for the first time I feel comfortable. Ive been feeling out our surroundings, avoiding anyone who I didn't know I could trust. In the last couples days I've started to feel at ease, probably because Ive met enough people to know I've got "people," and probably because we got the deadbolt on our front door fixed. I am less worried now and more comfortable. I am recognizing friendly faces and allowing myself to enjoy where I am and what I'm doing. I am even starting to fear the small-dog-sized Ravens a teeny-tiny bit less... Sort of. And life is beautiful now that Matt's luggage arrived and he has something other than shorts to wear.

Cheers to all the beautiful days to come,
With love from Iqaluit.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Little Yellow Airport

As I hugged my parents and cried like a child, I felt the sadness I was expecting. I knew it would be one of the harder things Ive done in my twenty one years. They watched through the door way as we dropped our belts, glasses and coats into bins, took the cats out of their carriers and walked with them through the metal detectors. We re-dressed, re packed and walked away slowly, waving and blowing as many kisses as I could, we left our lives in Ontario behind. The flight to Ottawa from Toronto was a half hour long. It felt like the plane had only just leveled out when we began descent. We waited only a minute or two to board our connecting flight to Iqaluit. The plane was the same size as the first one, only it was half full. I was surprised to see that so many people were travelling to Iqaluit. The woman sitting in front of us was texting on her cell phone in Inuktitut, I felt my heart flutter, we were getting so close.

This flight was about three hours long. As we took to the air I said a silent good-bye to the trees. Though I thoroughly enjoyed Sex and the City 2, I took time to glimpse out the window, every time holding my breath nervous to see the green thin out. The clouds blanketed the earth so it was a long while before I saw the water. The pool of blue was massive, I guessed that we were somewhere over the Hudson Straight. I watched, and watched, and watched until I started to see rocks in the water, little Islands and my first ever Ice burg. With my face glued up to the window, I cried a few tears, the excitement and freshness of this adventure was turning my stomach round and round. I turned to Matt to say,"Look babe, no trees!" Then the main land came into view and we started to land, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. The land looks like the weathered skin of a dirt covered elephant from the sky. When the plane hit the ground it was pouring rain. The little yellow airport looked exactly as it did in the pictures. The door opened, and we walked out straight into the rain. Everyone ran to shelter, Matt and I walked, taking in the rock and dirt that surrounded us.

We were picked up by our new HR Manager, who waited while we took in the new faces, the art and waited on our luggage. I was extremely excited to get to the new apartment, let the cats free from their tiny carry on pet carriers and take a long nap. It turned out, that's not the way it would happen. We waited for what felt like forever as Matt got his information into the airports computer system in hopes we would have his missing suit case returned to us. We dropped our bags off at the apartment, took a trip to the Northmart for grocery's and got a quick tour by truck.

Our apartment is fantastic. Although we may be booted into something smaller when a couple with children is hired, for now, we have a two bedroom apartment. As the HR Manager said, "it's not the Ritz," however it is comfortable. We have a very large living room, bigger than what either of us had at home, a small kitchen and two small bedrooms. We also have 4 large closets, and a big utility cupboard. Jack stays hidden during the day and comes out to lick our faces at night. Sadie loves it here, we've never seen her so cuddly.

We're almost settled in. The fridge has food in it, the closet has clothes in it and I only have one more suitcase to unpack. Today was my first day off since we got here. We landed on Sunday and started work at eight am on Monday morning. The work days are long, ten hours a day, five days a week. However exhausted the days make us, we aren't overworked. There is a mentality here, life is slow, things don't get done and the one thing you hear over and over again is, "Welcome to the North." This is not a greeting, it's said with some degree of sarcasm and used by everyone as an excuse to do things tomorrow. My mentality today was, 'screw the procrastinators mentality.' My goal was to drop the money necessary to change my cell phone number over to an Iqaluit number, hook up the Internet and hook up the house phone. You would be amazed at how long it takes to accomplish anything. I walked around the city, freezing my butt off, wishing I had worn mittens and sunglasses to block the blowing dirt. I got my number changed and I walked over to the NorthWesTel, the only home phone service provider in the city. It was 2:18pm when I got to the front door, the store hours said 'Monday to Friday 1 pm - 3 pm.' The door was locked... Welcome to the North. Then I went over to Qiniq to hook up the "wireless" that we were told about. Here wireless means at least one wire. Still, Qiniq came highly regarded, probably because they were more likely to be open at 2:18pm on a Wednesday afternoon.

We work with people from all walks of life, a lot from down south. I am still a little uncomfortable with the customers, like a newcomer to a country where no one speaks your language. If its not Inuktitut, its french or "Newfanese." I want to open myself up to the world and share all the love I have to give with every person that I meet. The warnings we've gotten however, keep me nervous and make me want to spend some quality time as an observer instead. Lock your windows, lock your doors, lock up your valuables, don't walk alone at night, look out for thieves, drug dealers and kids. We've heard its the younger generation you cant trust, they'll take whatever they can get. The elders, for the most part, bring a new kind of joy to life. They almost never fail to smile and sometimes they laugh this uncontrollable, comedic, heart felt laugh that we couldn't force if we tried.

I came with very low expectations yet still nothing is what I imagined it to be. The natives put so much value into "their land" yet the first thing we noticed in town was the amount of garbage littering the streets. I also hoped that Iqaluit would have a small town charm, and that everyone would be welcoming and warm but the vibe isn't all that different from home. They say that its a different kind of lifestyle here and that if you hope to change it, you might as well go home. I believe that anywhere and everywhere you go, you should leave your mark and it should ALWAYS be a mark for the better. My expectations are shifting and changing, my goals are growing larger and the list of people I want to speak to is growing. I always have these almost unattainable pipe dreams and currently my dream is to change the world, starting with the garbage floating down 'River Jordan' that runs outside our living room and bedroom windows. Ive been told the garbage will re-appear in the blink of an eye, but hey, a girl can dream.

As a side note, I was told yesterday at work that we should be expecting a good snow storm anytime now and that they are talking about the terrible storms to come this winter. It has been said that they are thinking of evacuating Iqaluit because once the power outages start, the generators wont be able to keep up. What excitement!

Cheers to change and discovery,

With love from Iqaluit

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Getting Ready for Nunavut

Welcome to our blog! I've been meaning to write our first blog post for weeks now but as you can imagine, getting set for the big move has been crazy!

For starters, we currently live in the burbs in Oakville, Ontario and both just recently moved back to this home town of ours after finishing school down town Toronto and in London, Ontario. We were looking for interesting jobs, something to spice up our lives and found an ad in the classifieds of our local paper. To make a long story short we applied for a job, got the job, and are now moving to Iqaluit to work as a bakery supervisor and a general merchandise supervisor at Northmart. As of now we plan to be there for two years and will fill you in if that changes. We have lists and lists of things to do and see and are incredibly excited about them!

Matthew and I have had so many loved ones to say good-bye to and even more shopping and researching to do. To be honest, neither of us have even started packing yet. I do however have a designated "packing area" that my wonderful mom set up for me in her dining room. The dining room table is pushed up against the wall with all of my toiletries, non perishable foods, and way too many accessories on top of it. All of my clothes have been neatly folded and are sitting on the dining room chairs waiting patiently to be sorted and packed away.

Getting ready for this trip started out as a huge excitement as I searched any information I could find on Iqaluit, Nunavut. Stores, pass times, people, blogs! It was an Internet scavenger hunt. Blogs have been my saving grace. Especially a blog belonging to Jaime, shout outs, because everything of value that I know about travelling to Nunavut has come straight from her blog at http://newnavut.blogspot.com/. She lived in Nunavut for four years and recently moved back to the South. My greatest hope is that Matthew and I will be able to follow in her foot-steps and keep the details from the North coming for anyone else who wishes to transplant to Iqaluit.

The other night we had a bon voyage dinner with my dad's side of the family. They were wonderful to us! We got all sorts of much needed accessories... tampons, q-tipps, dryer sheets, brita filters, stamps, burned dvds, and a small stash of chocolate to name a few, along with so so much love! Tonight we had our final family dinner with Matt's family... which also served as my last farewell to East Side Mario's Cheese Capaletti. During dinner Aunt Janet gave us battery powered heated socks! Which I'm guessing will come in incredibly handy. Family is by far the hardest thing for us to leave behind.

My mind is so all over the place! We've been editing, crossing off and re-writing packing lists for months. I think my list is finally down to a few essentials that Walmart has inconveniently been out of stock of, and a few things that I plan to order off the net when we arrive at our new apartment in Iqaluit. Of course all this running around and stress has pushed Matt (who has been playing 'Melissa's personal driver') to near snappage.

The worst part of checking off things on the packing lists has been hunting down cat carriers to take on the plane! Who would have thought? We hit up the two biggest pet stores in Oakville and Mississauga, Rens Pet Depot and Petsmart and neither had a cat carrier that fit Air Canada's specifications. (10.5 inches high and soft sided - and the hard sided carriers have to be an inch and a half  shorter than that!)  We spent an hour on hold waiting for an Air Canada representative, hoping that she would tell us they would be lenient by an inch but alas, no such luck. She read us the sheet of details that we had already read over a hundred times off of their website. Eventually we found one! for $45.99 at Ryan's Global Pet foods. They even had someone bring over a second carrier from their other location and we got to pick it up the same day. For the trouble we've gone through I pray all will go well with my babies Jack and Sadie on the flight. After reading Jaimes blog, I knew I couldn't go through the nervousness of having my cats in cargo, so I am hoping with every ounce of my being that they are quiet and well behaved while stowed under our seats.

We are taking the cats as our carry ons and taking two suit cases each. Matt is a huge hockey fan so will be having his equipment shipped up to us and I am an avid baker and cake decorator so will probably ship some essentials to myself, along with all the fantastic things I picked up on my Costco shopping spree the other day.

Our flight leaves on the 19th, so wish me luck as I attempt to cross off the last items on my check lists and to-do lists and pack pack pack.

With love from... Oakville, for now.