Treena's Travels

This blog was set up to journal my experience of living in Nunavut and keep friends and family up to date on these happenings. It's a wonderful place, this hideaway in the north, and I'm loving my time here. An unforgettable place with unforgettable people. I'm lucky to be here.

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Location: Baker Lake, Nunavut, Canada

Monday, March 26, 2007

Temp: -24
Wind chill: -35
Beautiful day!!

Well, once the winds stopped blowing this afternoon we ended up with a beautiful evening! Nothing really new to report here but here are some pics for your amusement.

One day I went to work after we'd had a three day blizzard and arrived to find that we'd left the window to the classroom open. As a result, the room was freezing, a plant I'd been trying to nurse croaked, and our tap was frozen with the water forming a 2-3 inch icicle coming down from it. And, I didn't have my camera. Fortunately, lightening strikes twice sometimes here in Baker and one day Tania arrived to work to find pipes frozen and the same thing had happened to her taps! Crazy... Here's her picture.

This picture is a rock in a bunch that we came across. They were all coated in about an inch of ice which seems bizarre to me as we haven't had any melting weather yet. Anyway, it's actually quite pretty but the camera doesn't do it justice.

Here are some pics from our walk out onto the lake tonight.

Oliver bulldozes Tania (a good friend would have put down the camera to see if she was ok but, c'mon, a picture is worth a thousand giggles) ;-)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

I was asked what Baker Lake was like by someone out there applying for a position here in town. I'm by no means an authority on Baker Lake but here's what I think/know of it and I hope it helps.

We're very isolated. There is no road out, fly in commute only (which is a drag sometimes when mail or groceries, or worse, people get delayed coming into town).

There are two stores in town: The Northern (which has some clothes, one isle of hardware stuff, and of course food). It also houses the only fast food we have in town; a Pizza Hut/KFC. I can't comment on the food as I've never tried it. It also has a small DVD rental wall which is nice. The other store is the Co-op which is small and houses the post office and the cable tv outlet. We have access to broadband internet here or the satellite variety but that's pretty expensive. The broadband is often slow but better than dial up.

There are, I think, 2 other convenience stores. They are small and, well, just have convenience stuff.

There is one small hockey arena/community hall. This is where the teen dances, meetings, elections, square dances, feasts and games nights are held. There is a small swimming pool in a building which I have never been in. It's only open for June to August or early September though and is mostly swarming with excited kids.

The population is around 1600-1700 people.

There is no hospital with permanent staff but there is a Health Centre with Nurse Practitioners and fly in rotational doctors and eye teams. I think a doc comes in every couple of weeks. The same goes for dentists; we have no permanent dentist but they come up on rotation, once a month or two I think.

Baker Lake is a restricted community, which means alcohol must be ordered with a permit through the RCMP station and approved through a liquor control board.

For weather, we have a loooong winter season and it can be pretty harsh. There are no trees here so no protection from the wind. Last year was milder but this year has been pretty cold. We don't get 24 hrs darkness; on the shortest days the sun rises about 10:15 and sets about 4:30 so we still get a fair amount of light. In the summer though, we do have 24 hrs daylight. It never gets darker than a bright dusk. I'll tell you though, it's amazing when you are able to get out on the land, go ice fishing or just for a ride on the snow machine or ATV. The sun on the snow is breathtaking. And the sunsets and sunrises here are absolutely stunning.

People wise, the people here are very friendly and genuine. You feel welcome right away and it really helps if you work in the school because the kids are so warm and amazing. The community is very proud of it's culture and often hosts feasts and square dances. The art in the community is beautiful and it is common to have artists bring whatever they've made around for sale.

There is a growing 'southern' population in the community which affords a diverse social setting. People are here from all over for all kinds of jobs: RCMP, Power Corp, teachers, nurses, government staff, etc. I know it can be nerve wracking moving to a new town, especially one in the Arctic and so remote but I would recommend for anyone to come here. You have to be able to make do though and be very flexible. Because water is delivered by truck It is common to run out of water up here, especially during blizzards. You really need to be able to roll with the punches.

All in all, Baker is a very unique and wonderful place!

Temp: -20
Windchill: -36

Since my last entry we've built volcanos at school, celebrated St. Patrick's Day at the 12 plex, moved Todd and Jenesta to their new home, I went to the wedding of a couple of teachers from our school, and just generally tried to stay warm.

Cake for the class for St Paddy's day

Volcano fun for the Science Fair

St Paddy's fun

Well, this weekend was a beautiful weekend until later on in the day. The weather had finally broke and the sun was just a shinin'! Absolutely lovely!! But, now we've got a mild blizzard in the works and we've been issued a warning that it will get worse. So, maybe no school tomorrow but we won't know until 7:30 a.m.

As for what else is new here, I got my parka and it's so beautiful!!!

Here's what I look like in it.

Heh heh, kidding. But in reality, here it is (not so far off mind you). :-)

Hey, I match the furniture!

But note to self: next time I have a parka made, ensure exactly what will be visible. I didn't do this and, as a result, I have a fancy rainbow colored liner for all to see. :-) Ahh well, live and learn.

On a more sombre note, last weekend we had a very unfortunate accident in the community involving a teenage boy. As with so many teenagers in every community everywhere, the young boy decided to partake in a bit of partying and got into someone's home brew. The boy wandered off in the middle of the night and was found in a snowbank the next morning, alive, but severely frostbitten on his hands and feet. The last report I heard, it looked like the young man was going to have to have his hands amputated and at least some of his toes. So sad to happen to anyone, let alone a seventeen year old boy with nothing but life ahead of him.

Anyway, things have been status quo up here. Thursday and Friday night we moved Jenesta and Todd into their new house which is really nice. Saturday morning I woke up with a minor cold and off to soccer I went with 60 some kids for three hours. Nice! It was a lot of fun but I've been fighting a bug for a couple weeks now and it finally got to me because I was laid out for the rest of the day. And today was just tidying up around the house and then Oli and I went for a walk out on the lake with Tania and Sable. It was really cool outside because it was warm but with blowing snow. It was really pretty actually. Although, I have to say being out on the lake still makes me nervous. Once in a while you hear loud cracks and it sends shivers up my spine. I HATE that noise! But, it was great to get some fresh air finally and let the dogs have a romp.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Temp: -35

Well, the sun is out today and it looks so beautiful. I find my head a bit cloudy today, what with the time change last night and me not wanting to be awake just yet. But, it's going to be so nice to have the extra hour of sunlight in the evening up here. That means we'll have daylight until about 8 pm. Won't be long now before cardboard goes up on the bedroom window so sleeping is possible.

So this week is behind us and I'm glad. I'm feeling very tired this week. I think it's a combination of fighting a cold/flu and feeling weary from how unsettled the community is over the articles written about it a couple weeks ago. It's exhausting and I really hope this blows over sooner than later.

But, onto something else. Someone sent me this link and it's so beautiful. It's a group of young Deaf Asian children in an amazing and beautiful performance of color and movement. Check it out...

Now, me being such a tree buff I LOVE these pictures that my sister sent me from her trip to Hawaii. You can just smell the salty air and feel the heat. Very cool. I have been watching episodes of Magnum PI more often lately to try and break this cabin fever; man, I am sooo going to Hawaii next year for spring break!

Well this week I was a lucky girl because once planes were finally able to get into Baker, I got mail! I got two wonderful care packages from my Auntie in BC. It had all kinds of goodies: chocolates, coffees, hot chocolate, trail mix, a beautiful scarf, etc. So lucky! Last night we had dinner at Tania and Chad's (congrats on the engagement guys!!) and I took the snacks over there and we devoured them while playing UNO and listening to the guys play music. Nice!

I also got a package from my friend Cherie in Calgary. Cher, you're a saint! Thanks so much for everything!!

And this last picture is just of flowers from my sister's garden last year. So pretty. I heard that it was +5 in Edm yesterday and +15 in Calgary.... You lucky dogs! :-)

Monday, March 05, 2007

Temp: -32
Windchill: -51

We are off school this morning and possibly this afternoon if the wind doesn't die down. The windchill is pretty nasty today but visibility is not too bad because we haven't had fresh snow in a while. A lot of teachers who went out for PD week are stranded in Winnipeg waiting for a flight to come in to Baker as they were cancelled for yesterday, and it's not really looking good for today either. Actually, I just called the airport to check and see if I have any freight there and they are saying the morning flight has been cancelled but no word on the afternoon flight. Apparently most of the communities on our route are having the same weather.

So, not only will we have no mail coming in or going out today, but the phone lines are acting a little weird (as they often do when we have this kind of weather). But thankfully the internet is still up so that's good.

Well, I guess I should go and be all productive-like and do something like tidy up or work on taxes. Now there's a relaxing thought!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Temp: -38
Windchill: -58
Mild Blizzard

Well, this week was PD week and it was nice to have a bit of a break. It ended up I only had to work Tuesday and Wednesday and the rest of the week I had off. That was nice because I was feeling a bit burnt out. The weather during the week couldn't have been nicer either. On Thursday we woke up to -15 and sunshine so Oliver and I went for a walk out towards the airport. It was so peaceful. The hills had dozens of caribou roaming around. What a sight.

Another interesting sight was when I looked out onto the lake and saw this fellow Kite-skiing. It was pretty facinating to watch. What a rush it must have been to be gliding across the lake, powered by the haphazard winds up here.

Last night I had the girls over for dinner and the only requirement was we had to gussie up. I made beer-can chicken and it was sooo tasty. We listened to bad 90's music, played UNO and watched The Departed. It was fun and it felt good to dress up a bit and look more feminine than weather worn! :-)

Something you come to appreciate living up here in the North is that you don't experience door to door solicitors of the spiritual kind. No, they don't come to your door up here, you get those little gems in the mail! I got a good giggle a while back when I received a mysterious looking letter from an unknown address. Now, it was close to Valentines day so thought 'Hey, a secret admirer.. Cool!' Yeah, no. I opened it up to discover an AWAKE magazine along with a letter detailing how my life could be much fuller if.... So, while I appreciate the gesture, if whoever sent this to me is reading this, I'm full up for now. But thanks anyways! :-)

And on a more serious note, there's been an upset in the community this week. One of the 'Southern' teachers wrote several articles about Nunavut/Baker Lake that got published on a website down south and the community is angry about what was written (NU and BL were depicted in an unfavorable light). I won't get into the details but the issue has drawn an uneasy wedge between the local community and the 'southerners'. It's left me feeling cautious and very aware of my skin color, which I've never really experienced before. Something like this happening upsets the delicate balance of trust and loyalty that has been forged but never really solidified because of betrayals in the past. Issues like this take generations to resolve and while time may heal all wounds, it passes awfully slow when you see it happening first hand.