Wednesday, April 30, 2014

You Ask, We Answer!

A while back, I asked you to send us your questions and we would answer whatever you came up with. You certainly didn't let us down!

Q: Do you see a lot of polar bears/wildlife?
A: We don't actually see polar bears here because we are in-land (the only community in the territory that is not on a coast) We do have arctic hares and foxes and wolves as our common wildlife. On the rare occasion, caribou will come through town but they tend to stay on the outskirts away from us all.

Outside my office - April2013 - can you see the caribou?
Q: How do I get a job in Nunavut?
A: We get a lot of varying forms of this question - from people who are fresh out of school or people with a lot of experience looking to make a change in their careers. My answer is pretty much the same as though you asked me about find a job in the south - there is work to be had, but you have to look for it. I think some people are under the impression that employers in the north are desperate for employees, but the hiring process is the same - you still need to find the job, apply, go through the steps, etc. Now, some places take a long time from when you apply to when they get around to start calling for interviews (I've heard some places take up to a year to fill a role), so things may move a little slowly. Research what you want to find work in and find their websites and go from there. There are a lot of government jobs posted for the territory, so I would suggest looking at the GN website as a starting point.

Q: What do you do for fun?
A: Baker Lake is a small community, so we spend a lot of time entertaining ourselves with books, tv, movies and so on when we are regulated inside, but we also spend a lot of time with the friends we have made here. It is not uncommon to have spontaneous movie nights, tea dates or casual dinners. We don't have any recreational vehicles ourselves, so we are limited in how far out we can go on the land, but we often go for walks around town and enjoy the fresh air when we are able to.

Q: How do you deal with the crazy cold?
A: Let's be honest - we are not outside living on the land, nor having to walk across town every day. We are very comfortable in our well-heated house, and in our well-heated places of work. We get rides to/from work and anywhere we need to be, plus, if we do need to walk somewhere it is a pretty short distance (usually from our house to the neighbours') On the very rare occasion we have had to walk for far distances, we have a ridiculous (I have a shopping problem) amount of scarves, mitts, hats, earmuffs, sweaters, snow pants, long johns...the list goes on. One of the biggest purchases we made before coming north was our Canada Goose parkas, and we don't regret one penny of it. Once you get over the sticker shock when you buy it, you certainly count your blessings when it is -60 and the wind is +90 km/h.

Q: Is the cost of food really that high?
A: Yes and no. It is high compared to the prices we came from, certainly. However, the cost of some things are fairly reasonable (and in rare cases, cheaper than in the south) because of the Nutrition North program. The cost of processed foods, junk foods and snacks are astronomical. I will never get over the cost of $3/can of pop or $7 for a box of cereal. We get around it by finding online retailers that will ship food, or there are companies that will buy things in the south and ship them to us for a subsidized rate. Or, we suck it up and buy what we can from the store (begrudgingly) and learn to make things ourselves. I have been able to learn a lot of recipes while being here that has allowed us to enjoy many treats that I refuse to pay crazy prices for - and in turn, we are eating less processed foods and are being much healthier over all.

Q: Why do you complain about the cost of food if you made the choice to move to the north and make boatloads of money?
A: I don't think that's a fair statement because our financial situation really has nothing to do with bringing awareness to the issue of unfair pricing of food. There are plenty of studies and reports about how the territory boasts some of the highest rates of food insecurity, poverty and unemployment in the country. Are we complaining? Yes, absolutely. But we are bringing to light the fact that it is highly suspect that the cost should be as vastly different as it is, for the people who can least afford it. We made the choice to come here, that is true. However, there are plenty of people who have no choice but to be here (and don't be one of those people who say, "well then they should all move" because that's a whole other conversation we would need to have) and they are the ones that are being treated the most unfairly by greedy corporations.

Q: Do you see the northern lights all the time?
A: Nope, although we wish we did. The first time I saw them, it looked like streaks of white light in the sky....I was hoping it would be the dancing lights like we see in pictures, but no. We have only had a handful of nights in the nearly 2 years we have been here when we have seen the picturesque lights that are photo-worthy. Other communities have much better views from what we understand. I do know that it is best to catch them late at night when it is very, very cold out.

Q: What has been your favourite experience so far?
A: Hands down, meeting some very amazing people that we hope will be lifelong friends no matter where we all end up. The friends we have made here have made being away from our southern family and friends so much easier. In terms of experiences, I will say that mine so far has been learning how to drive a Ski-Doo and going out on the land on the back of an open sled. It still amazes me that we could be 20 minutes away from town and literally be in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nothing but open sky and no signs of civilization as far as the eye could see. I loved every part of that day and hope to have more to add to my memory bank.

Pardon the messy hair - being pulled on a sled does that!

I had a lot of fun answering your questions! If you have questions you would like answered, please contact us! 


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