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Inuit History 101 – As I Understand It

Peter Ningeosiak, 73, and eleven of his family members reside in his small, three-bedroom house in Cape Dorset, Nunavut on November 10, 2010.

 

I’ve had the bounty of house-sitting in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut for 10 weeks and during that time I’ve been exposed to a lot of information about the community, which left me with a lot of questions.  Recently I read a study called The Little Voices of Nunavut:  A Study of Women’s Homelessness  North of 60.    The main researcher was Judi Bopp, a Bahá’í.

This study painted a picture for me that put everything into context, and to help me process what I’ve learned, I wrote this piece.  It’s just what I’m thinking today, perhaps overly simplistic or making too many generalizations and if so, I hope that my readers will set me straight by adding their thoughts.

If this had been my life, my parents would have been born in an igloo, living the life of their ancestors since the dawn of time, following the herd and hunting caribou, muskox, walrus and seal in order to survive.  It was a harsh, unforgiving life but it was their life and all they knew of the world.  One year, as often happens in nature, the hunting was scarce.  The children were sick, and they were all facing certain starvation.

Along comes a white man with a translator, crawls into your igloo and offers you a job working in his mine.  He promises your family can come with you and he’ll make sure you have a house and food and maybe even medical care.  It seems to be an answer to your prayers, so you agree.

It’s a win-win for you and for the mining company, who don’t have to pay huge airfare costs to bring in a workforce from the south.  They can house you more cheaply because, after all, you’re not used to much.  You work hard, the bosses and co-workers treat you well, your wife and children are fed and healthy.  Everybody is happy.

One day your boss invites you for a drink after work.  It doesn’t take much and you’re feeling fine.  Everybody is happy, until you go home.  You’re late, your wife is worried, she doesn’t like the changes she sees in you because you’ve been drinking, you rape your daughter, she tries to intervene and ends up with a black eye.  She starts nagging you to come home after work, avoid alcohol and remember who you are.  You’re an Inuit, a man, someone who respects and looks after his family.  But the lure of the co-workers is great, the alcohol lets you forget your nagging wife at home.  And so the cycle starts.

Your wife becomes afraid of you, takes the children and goes, where exactly?  If she’s lucky, maybe some of your husband’s siblings are also in town, working for the mine and she goes there.  But their housing is barely big enough for their family and you aren’t exactly welcome.  And if there’s drinking there too, and your children are still in danger.

We all know the story.

What’s different here is the mine closed.  Some of the men went to work in other mines; others stayed here.  The population grew but the housing didn’t.

This is a polar desert – try to imagine living in the middle of the Sahara Desert with snow.  There is no wood to build houses; there are no roads or railways to bring in building materials; there are no jobs so over half the population is living on welfare.  The cost of living is very, very, very high, since everything has to be shipped in (for 2 weeks a year when the Hudson’s Bay is free of ice) or flown in.  Either option is prohibitively expensive. The government builds houses for the lawyers and teachers and medical personnel who come here for a couple of years and then leave, but there’s little if any money to build houses for your people.

So let’s go back to the time of the mine closing in the 1960’s.  Some do-gooders come in to the community, see the poverty and homelessness, and decide the best solution is to take the children from the community and put them in residential schools where they will be taught to forget their language and culture and get an education and hopefully stay in the south and “make something of themselves.”  We know what happened in the residential schools – horrific sexual and physical abuse, the after-effects have had terrible consequences on the lives of those affected and their children and grandchildren.

 

So let’s say that was your experience.  Your parents, uncomprehending of why the children had been stolen from the community, turn to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain.  They’re living on welfare and the cost of living is high and there isn’t enough money so maybe they’ve turned to crime in order to survive.  Maybe they’ve even been caught and sent to jail.  Now they have an addiction problem and a criminal record.

 

Mr. Nangmalik was abused as a child in a residential school and has had a long history of drug and alcohol abuse, crime, and jail time. He is trying to turn his life around he said, during an interview inside this cabin outside of Repulse Bay on November 14, 2010.

 

You come back home for the summers and try to tell your families what you’ve been going through in residential schools, but nothing in their genetic memory has prepared them for such atrocity and besides that, they’ve got problems of their own.  They can’t help you and you go back to school.

Let’s say you’re one of the lucky ones to get a good education and you decide to come back and help your people.  You get a high paid government job, you’re provided with a nice place to live, you feel you’re making a difference.  You marry, start a family.  Life is good.  Everyone’s happy.

 

 

Perhaps your husband is from here, unemployed, supported by you, upset that he can’t contribute to the family, bored during the day, so he starts drinking and the cycle begins.  You’re being beaten, your children are being molested, you take them out of the house to safety.  To where, exactly?

If you’re lucky you might have relatives in town, but you’re not exactly welcome because their homes are already overcrowded, so you can only spend a night or two there, then home again, then somewhere else.  You never know what you’re going to have to face when you get home.  You don’t know how to keep your children safe.  You have no skills to deal with this and no resources to help.  And you have deep, deep scars from your life in the residential schools.  You develop all sorts of mental health issues which make it hard to concentrate at work.  The powerlessness of your present life brings back all the powerlessness you felt as a child and you are paralyzed.

You start missing work because you’ve been beaten so badly you can’t leave the house, or your situation has got you down you have nothing left to give a job.  No job, no house.  You have 7 days to leave.  And go where, exactly?  And the cycle begins.

And it doesn’t matter that you’ve got a good education and a great resume.  You now have mental health issues; and you are homeless, living a transient lifestyle, moving from house to house.  There’s no privacy for you and your children.  Fights break out, people take sides, there’s drinking everywhere and no safe place for you and your children.  There’s not enough food.  The children can’t concentrate on homework, they’re ashamed before their peers so they stop going to school, till 87% of the population has not completed grade 8 and many are functionally illiterate.

 

 

You can’t feed your children, so you either trade sex for food and shelter; or you turn to crime yourself so you can feed your family. Now you’ve got a mental health issue, an addictions problem, a criminal record and some do-gooder from the south decides  you aren’t a fit parent, so they put your children in foster care, where they are abused and grow up doubly scarred and the cycle continues.

Because the children have been taken away your drinking increases.  Now you’ve got a reputation as a no-good-dirty-good-for-nothing-Inuit, and no one will rent you a place and you’ve burned out your welcome with family and friends and you go where exactly?

Or let’s look at another scenario.  You’ve got a good education and a good job and so does your husband.  But even though this is 2013, his name is on the lease and you have no legal rights to the house.  It’s a good house and you start a family.  Life is good and you are happy.  There’s often a knock at the door at night, and you never know who might need a place to crash, but they come in anyway.  Perhaps it starts some friction between you and your husband, and even if there is no alcohol, the tension caused by overcrowding is great.  All of a sudden you have no privacy in your own home and all your income is going to feed other people.  It’s OK though.  It’s your life and you can handle it, until all of a sudden your husband dies and you have 7 days to leave, and go where exactly?  And all the people living with you will go where exactly?  Now you’re homeless and caught in the cycle mentioned above.

Now it’s 2013 and there are up to 20 people living in a house 1000 square feet.

 

 

And there’s a steady parade of studies and high paid government workers coming to town with high ideals.  They can fix this.  They bring in programs and skills development.  They open a trade school with apprenticeships in a wide variety of trades.  And you go to the program and you’re given a place to live and life is good and you have hope, until the semester ends and you have to leave and go where exactly?

And if the government has flown you here from another community and promised you training and maybe even guaranteed you a job when you graduate, you’re doing everything in your power to take advantage of this situation, until the semester ends, and there’s no money to go home and the only people you know are the students and staff at the school and you have 7 days to leave and go where exactly?

And the cycle continues.

We know this story.  We hear echos of it in aboriginal communities all across Canada.  There’s a homeless problem all across Canada.

The difference here is that there are no houses and no way to build them unless you bring everything in by plane at a cost people on welfare simply can’t afford.  Even if you’re working and have good money and can afford to build a house you won’t also be able to pay for water, heat and hydro, which because of the climate and the distance, have to be hugely subsidized.  And even if you are working, and educated, every single person living here is at risk of losing their housing and go where exactly?

What will it take to fix this problem, you ask?

Houses!

Everyone needs a place to call home!

 

 

If you’re housing is secure, your children will be a lot more secure and more of them will complete school and go on to higher education and get jobs and start their families and move into their own homes and provide a stable base for their family.

That’s where it has to start.

This is what we in the south take for granted.

But of course, it’s not as simple as that.

Once people are housed, and before they will be successful with job training, they need help with:

  • Addictions
  • Mental health issues
  • Daily living skills training (including cooking, banking and budgeting and use of credit)
  • Parenting training
  • And probably a lot more I haven’t thought of

This small cabin, on a point of land outside of the hamlet Repulse Bay, was home to Kallu “Leo” Nangmalik, 50. He had been on a waiting list for a home for over two years, and lived here without electricity or running water. A gas stove and lantern are his only source of heat. Mr. Nangmalik recently took his own life. He was 50.

 

 

How do my parents, born in an igloo, teach me how to function in a world with showers, where food is cooked, where people use money?  If I don’t learn these things at home, who will teach me?  And who will teach them?

How do I, who went to residential schools and didn’t grow up in a family, know how to be in a family?  How will I know how to deal with marital issues or how to parent when I haven’t watched my parents parent me?  When my only role models are an entire community of people like me and don’t have the skills either?

How do my children, who were taken from me and put into foster care ever learn how to parent when their parents and grand-parents didn’t learn because they lived in igloos or residential schools, so they don’t know and don’t have the skills to teach me, and I’ve moved around to so many foster homes there’s been no stability or time to learn there either?  How do I have a stable family life?  How can I be a good parent?

This is not an easy problem to fix, but fix it we must.  We have an obligation as Canadians, to not let this continue for another generation.

I’m a real believer in grass roots community solutions, but in this polar desert, with temperatures going down to minus 60, there are no resources.

The average age in Nunavut is 19, with 87% of the population with a grade 8 education or less and over half are on welfare and many more don’t even qualify because they don’t have a fixed address.

They don’t have resources.

Everything that comes here has to be subsidized.

This problem is too big for man to solve.  It needs our most fervent prayers for God to find a solution, quickly, please!

This community is in crisis in so many ways.  It’s no wonder it has the highest rate of suicide than anywhere else in North America.

 

It starts with houses.  People need houses.

 

 

The pictures in this article come from an article that appeared in the Globe and Mail called Portraits of Nunavut in Pictures, by Peter Power, Wednesday, Apr. 06 2011.  At the top of the article it says:

Editor’s note: Shortly after this piece was published, The Globe and Mail learned that Leo Nangmalik, slides 38-40, had tragically taken his own life. He was 50

 

 

 

Bahá’í Quotes on the Importance of Teaching the Inuit (Eskimo)

If it is possible, send ye teachers to other portions of Canada; likewise, dispatch ye teachers to Greenland and the home of the Eskimos.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 95-96)


God willing, the call of the Kingdom may reach the ears of the Eskimos, the inhabitants of the Islands of Franklin in the north of Canada, as well as Greenland.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 27-28)


Should the fire of the love of God be kindled in Greenland, all the ice of that country will be melted, and its cold weather become temperate — that is, if the hearts be touched with the heat of the love of God, that territory will become a divine rose garden and a heavenly paradise, and the souls, even as fruitful trees, will acquire the utmost freshness and beauty.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 27-28)


Effort, the utmost effort, is required. Should you display an effort, so that the fragrances of God may be diffused among the Eskimos, its effect will be very great and far-reaching.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 27-28)


The continent and the islands of Eskimos are also parts of this earth. They must similarly receive a portion of the bestowals of the Most Great Guidance.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 27-28)


If it is possible,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has also written, “send ye teachers to other portions of Canada; likewise, dispatch ye teachers to Greenland and the home of the Eskimos.” “God willing,” He further has written in those same Tablets, “the call of the Kingdom may reach the ears of the Eskimos…. Should you display an effort, so that the fragrances of God may be diffused among the Eskimos, its effect will be very great and far-reaching.  (Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 55)


The maintenance and consolidation of the first historic spiritual assembly in Anchorage, the northernmost administrative center of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh in the world; the multiplication of Bahá’í centers in that territory; the propagation of the teachings among the Eskimos, emphasized by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s pen in those same Tablets; the translation and publication of selected passages from Bahá’í literature in their native language; the extension of the limits of the Faith beyond Fairbanks and nearer to the Arctic Circle — these constitute the urgent tasks facing the prosecutors of the present Plan in the years immediately ahead.  (Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, p. 9)


The greatest care should be exercised to attract the attention, and win the support of other minorities in that land, such as the Indians, the Eskimos, the Dukhobors and the Negroes, thereby reinforcing the representative character of a rapidly developing community.  (Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, p. 11)


Nor can we fail to notice the special endeavors that have been exerted by individuals as well as Assemblies for the purpose of establishing contact with minority groups and races in various parts of the world, such as the Jews and Negroes in the United States of America, the Eskimos in Alaska . . . (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 379-380)


He feels that this is a very important opportunity which you have now obtained of teaching the Faith to the Eskimo people,  and he hopes your efforts will be crowned with success.  He would not advise you to teach them Esperanto, as we have no way of knowing whether it will ultimately be chosen as the auxiliary language of the world. He thinks the most direct and quickest way of communicating with them in a common tongue should be chosen; in other words either you should learn their language or they yours, whichever will yield the quickest results.  As they are a relatively uncivilized people, unused to the modern cosmopolitan forms of life, and consequently not au courant with the thoughts which to us have become mere commonplace, he would advise you to approach them through love, friendliness, and association, until you are in a position to enter into their confidence, and gradually teach them, in a simple way, the great truths of our Faith. To confirm them in the Faith should be your main objective, always bearing in mind that faith and belief are different from learning and a full grasp of the implications of such a vast Cause as ours.  You may be sure his loving prayers will be offered for the success of your historic mission, and he will be interested to hear how you are progressing.

[PS in the Guardian’s handwriting]:  Assuring you of my abiding gratitude and appreciation for the magnificent services you are rendering, and for the laudable spirit you are demonstrating in your historic activities and achievements in these days of stress and peril, and assuring you also of my special and constant prayers for the success of every effort you exert, and every step you take in the path of service,  (Shoghi Effendi, to Janet Whitenack (Stout) who had secured a school teaching position in the village of Tuluksak on the Kuskokwim River, High Endeavours –  Messages to Alaska, p. 6)


Abdul-Bahá was most anxious that the Eskimo people should be taught the Message of this New Day, and it is a source of happiness to all Bahá’ís that you, a member of that race, have arisen to spread these teachings.  God has surely guided your steps and blessed your search for divine Truth.  (Shoghi Effendi, to Melba Call (King), who was the first Eskimo to become a Bahá’í. While she was born and raised in Alaska, she was residing in New Mexico when she heard of the Faith and became a Bahá’í,  High Endeavours –  Messages to Alaska, p. 7)


He feels that the most important thing at the present time is, of course, the establishment of the first Bahá’í Spiritual Assembly of Alaska.  He hopes that, after the assembly is well established and has a sufficient number to maintain its status, you will again be able to do pioneer teaching work among the Eskimos.  Your talk on the Faith in the church of Tuluksak may, indeed, have reached some of them, and left a seed of Truth in their minds.  (Shoghi Effendi, High Endeavours –  Messages to Alaska, p. 8)


It was very kind of you to think of sending gifts to the Guardian made by Eskimos, and he will value them as tokens of your love and the handiwork of a people whom he is most anxious should receive the Divine Message.  He hopes that your Assembly will endeavour to reach the Eskimos with the Message; he fully realizes how difficult a task this is, but it is also one of great importance. If but one of these souls should become truly enkindled, he or she could then teach others in their own language and a manner suited to their minds.  (Shoghi Effendi, High Endeavours –  Messages to Alaska, p. 13)


Nor must the vital obligation of converting as speedily as possible, both the Eskimos and the American Indians, who, as time passes, must assume a notable share in the diffusion of the Faith and the establishment of its rising Order in these regions, be, under any circumstances neglected . . . (Shoghi Effendi, High Endeavours –  Messages to Alaska, p. 37)


He was also delighted to hear Mr. Oliver is anxious to translate some of the Writings into Eskimo; please assure him this would be rendering both the Eskimos and the Cause a great service. If anything is printed in that language the Guardian would like to receive copies for the libraries here.  He hopes through the “Arctic Trails Shopping Service” you will be able to demonstrate the fairness, uprightness, and nobility of the adherents of the Bahá’í Faith to the people it deals with, as this will more than anything else attract their attention to the Faith.  (Shoghi Effendi, High Endeavours –  Messages to Alaska, p. 47)


The Guardian is extremely anxious that the Eskimos be brought into the Faith. He values very highly indeed the very wonderful services rendered by Mrs. Wells. He feels that she has sacrificed very deeply in order to carry the light of guidance to the seeking peoples of the world, particularly in Alaska, and now with the Eskimos. You may be sure the Guardian will pray for her spiritual success and her spiritual happiness.  (Shoghi Effendi, High Endeavours –  Messages to Alaska, p. 51)


He very deeply appreciates the contribution which you have made in behalf of the Eskimos of Alaska. Receipt therefor is enclosed herewith. It is fitting that the Eskimos of Alaska be associated with the work of the Shrine of the Báb, and your having made this gift in their behalf is very appropriate, especially as you are endeavoring to work with the Eskimos in that country.  (Shoghi Effendi, High Endeavours –  Messages to Alaska, p. 53)


He urges you to concentrate on attracting the natives as much as possible, by that he means the Eskimos. These people have a right to hear of the glorious message of Bahá’u’lláh, and he hopes you will be instrumental in attracting many of them to the Faith.  (Shoghi Effendi, High Endeavours –  Messages to Alaska, p. 57)


The Guardian has communicated with the National Spiritual Assembly with regard to the efforts being made by yourself and Mrs. Wells as well as others in connection with the introduction of the Faith amongst the Eskimos, asking them to render every possible assistance to this most important work. It is impossible to let you know how important the Guardian feels the introduction of the Faith amongst the Eskimos is at this particular time.  (Shoghi Effendi, High Endeavours –  Messages to Alaska, p. 51)


The initial steps should be relentlessly followed by additional measures designed to . . .  incorporate a steadily growing element, representative of both the Indian and Eskimo races, into the life of the community.  Obstacles, however formidable, will have to be determinedly surmounted. Any reverses that sooner or later may be suffered should be met with stoic fortitude, and speedily offset by victories in other fields. The glorious vision now unveiled to your eyes must never be dimmed. The illuminating promises enshrined in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Tablets should not be forgotten for a moment.  (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to Canada, p. 11)


The initiation of a systematic and sustained campaign beyond the frontiers of that Dominion, and in obedience to the Mandate of the Author of the Divine Plan, to which it stands inescapably pledged, and aiming at the introduction of the Faith in Greenland and the conversion of the Eskimos still remains to be undertaken . . . As the operation of the Plan gathers momentum the members of this community must evince a still greater measure of solidarity, rise to higher levels of heroism, demonstrate a greater capacity for collective achievement, and attract still more abundant blessings on the varied enterprises on which they have embarked.  (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to Canada, p. 14)


Though the process of the multiplication of Bahá’í centres, over the length and breadth of so vast a territory, has been, steadily and speedily, gathering momentum, the number of groups that have achieved Assembly status is still relatively insignificant, while the pioneer activity designed to awaken and stimulate the interest of the Eskimos in the Faith and enlist their support may hardly be said to have been vigorously and adequately launched. The call to which this newly-fledged community has been summoned is admittedly urgent and challenging. The character of the tasks alloted to it is, in many respects, unique. The resources at its disposal for the discharge of its peculiar responsibilities are no doubt as yet inadequate. The obstacles that stand in its way and obstruct its path seem almost insurmountable. Its membership, when viewed in relation to the range over which it operates, is no doubt wholly inadequate yet the spirit which has consistently animated the members of the entire community, and the energy and determination which have distinguished their elected representatives in the discharge of their sacred duties, are such as to fortify the hopes which I, as well as their fellow-workers in both hemispheres, have cherished in our hearts, since the inauguration of their first collective enterprise in a land so rich in promise, so vast in its potentialities, and so honoured by the visit of the Centre of the Covenant Himself as well as by the glowing references made to it by Him in His immortal Tablets.  (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to Canada, p. 17)


The obstacles confronting it whether in Greenland, or among the Indians and the Eskimos of the extreme North, are truly formidable. Yet the potency infused into this community, through the Revelation of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Divine Plan, and the spiritual capacity engendered in its earliest members through His visit to their native land — distinctions which it fully shares with its sister community in the Great Republic of the West — empower it to discharge — if it but rise to the occasion — all the responsibilities it has undertaken and consummate the task to which it stands pledged.  (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to Canada, p. 25)


The work started among the Eskimos and Indians should be maintained at its present level, and should not be permitted to decline.  (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to Canada, p. 26)


The Guardian was most happy to hear of the excellent work some of the Bahá’ís are doing with the Eskimos and the Indians, and considers their spirit most exemplary. They are rendering a far greater service than they, themselves, are aware of, the fruits of which will be seen, not only in Canada, but because of their repercussions, in other countries where primitive populations must be taught.  (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to Canada, p. 28)


The personality of the Bahá’í who accepts this invitation should be carefully considered, because to be a guest of people in a different climate and environment, of a different nationality and speaking a different language, so far away, might be a little trying, and of course the impression that this Bahá’í creates will be of infinite importance to the Faith in its future development in Greenland. Whether … makes the sacrifice and goes, or some other individual is chosen, he urges your Assembly to above all consider this matter tactfully and from the human standpoint, rather than the religious one, if one can put it that way.  (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to Canada, p. 28)


Of equal importance is the strenuous yet highly meritorious obligation to add, steadily and rapidly, to the number of the American Indian and Eskimo adherents of the Faith, and to ensure their active participation in both the teaching and administrative spheres of Bahá’í activity — a task so clearly emphasized by the Pen of the Centre of the Covenant, and in the consummation of which the Canadian Bahá’í Community is destined to play so conspicuous a part.  (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to Canada, p. 61)


The long overdue conversion of the American Indians, the Eskimos and French Canadians, as well as the representatives of other minorities permanently residing within the borders of that vast Dominion, must receive, in the months immediately ahead, such an impetus as to astonish and stimulate the members of all Bahá’í communities throughout the length and breadth of the Western Hemisphere.   (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to Canada, p. 69)


Under whatever conditions, the dearly loved, the divinely sustained, the onward marching legions of the army of Bahá’u’lláh may be laboring, in whatever theatre they may operate, in whatever climes they may struggle, whether in the cold and inhospitable territories beyond the Arctic Circle, or . . .  in the lonely, far-away, backward and sparsely populated islands . . . amidst the diversified tribes of . . .  the Eskimos and the Lapps of the Arctic regions  . . . to them all, as well as to those who, as the fortunes of this fate-laden Crusade prosper, will be called upon to unfurl the standard of an all-conquering Faith . . .  I direct my impassioned appeal to obey, as befits His warriors, the summons of the Lord of Hosts, and prepare for that Day of Days when His victorious battalions will, to the accompaniment of hozannas from the invisible angels in the Abha Kingdom, celebrate the hour of final victory.   (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Baha’i World – 1950-1957, p. 36-38)


Let anyone who feels the urge among the participators in this crusade, which embraces all the races, all the republics, classes and denominations of the entire Western Hemisphere, arise, and, circumstances permitting, direct in particular the attention, and win eventually the unqualified adherence, of the Negro, the Indian, the Eskimo, and Jewish races to his Faith. No more laudable and meritorious service can be rendered the Cause of God, at the present hour, than a successful effort to enhance the diversity of the members of the American Bahá’í community by swelling the ranks of the Faith through the enrollment of the members of these races.  (Shoghi Effendi, NSA USA – Developing Distinctive Baha’i Communities)


We are heartened at the prospect that from indigenous peoples of this vast oceanic area, the Ainu, the Japanese, the Chinese, the Koreans, the Okinawans, the Micronesians, the American Indians, the Eskimos, and the Aleuts vast numbers will soon enter the Faith.  (Universal House of Justice, Japan Will Turn Ablaze, p. 112)


The representative character of the Bahá’í community should therefore be reinforced through the attraction, conversion and support of an ever-growing number of new believers from the diverse elements constituting the population of that vast mainland and particularly from among Indians and Eskimos about whose future the Master wrote in such glowing terms. In the glorious freedom which enables you to proclaim, to teach and confirm, to educate and deepen yourselves and others in the verities of the Faith, you have precious opportunities of service denied to many of your fellow believers elsewhere. If your blessed communities are to lead the world spiritually, as the Master envisaged, then the Faith must strike deeper roots in your hearts, the spirit of its teachings must be exemplified in ever greater measure in your lives, and God’s Holy Cause must be taught and proclaimed with ever greater intensity. In His immortal Tablets addressed to the Bahá’ís of North America ‘Abdu’l-Bahá assures each one of you that “whosoever arises in this day to diffuse the divine fragrances, the cohorts of the Kingdom of God shall confirm him  (The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 560)


Your view that Baha’is “should be able to honestly appreciate and respect the historical function of polygamy within aboriginal societies, such as Inuit society, without assuming a superior moral attitude” is commendable.  Of course, when a member of such a society becomes a Baha’i, he is then bound by the Baha’i law in this regard.  The Baha’I Faith accepts as valid marriages those polygamous unions that a man has entered into before becoming a Baha’i, whether these unions were solemnized under civil or religious law or by tribal custom.  To require such a man to give up one of his wives would destroy a family unity which has already been established, and that would be against the spirit of the Faith.  However, once he has become a Baha’i, such a man becomes subject to Baha’i law and cannot enter into any more marriages.  Even should one of his wives die or be divorced he cannot replace her unless the time comes when he is entirely without a wife; only then would he be free to marry again.  (Universal House of Justice to an individual, 6 April 1994)


Heroes and martyrs, individuals drawn from every stratum of society, old people and young children, representatives of not only the Asiatic and European civilizations, but Africans, American Indians, Pacific Islanders and Eskimos, have swelled the ranks of pioneers, each in his own way and in his own part of the world, contributing to this glorious testimonial of belief in the Manifestation of God in this day.  (Custodians, Ministry of the Custodians, p. 238)


On one occasion a pilgrim from Canada had informed the Guardian that in teaching the Faith to the Eskimo people it was very difficult for them to understand the meaning in such similes as the nightingale and the rose because these things were entirely unknown to them. The reaction of Shoghi Effendi to this was typical. When he said good-bye to this friend he gave her a small vial of the Persian attar of rose, the quintessence of what a rose is, and told her to anoint the Eskimos with it, saying that perhaps in this way they would get an inkling of what Bahá’u’lláh meant when He wrote of the rose.  (Ruhiyyih Khanum, The Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, p. 58)


Constantly remembering ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s words in the Tablets of the Divine Plan to “give great importance to teaching the Indians, i.e., the aborigines of America” Shoghi Effendi pursued this objective until the last months of his life, when he wrote, in July 1957, to the Canadian National Assembly, that the “long overdue conversion” of the American Indians, the Eskimos and other minorities, should receive such an impetus “as to astonish and stimulate the members of all Bahá’í communities throughout the length and breadth of the Western Hemisphere.  (Ruhiyyih Khanum, The Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, p. 188)

 

Reflecting on Inuit Values

I found this in the Nunavut News North, Monday Dec 3, 2012, p.12 as an “Opinion Piece” in a column called “In My View”, written by Harry Maksagak of Cambridge Bay.

As I read it, I couldn’t help but think about how much the Inuit have to teach the Bahá’ís; and the world.

Bahá’ís all over the world are trying to implement Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings and sometimes it’s hard to know how to translate them into action.  The Inuit know how and could teach all of us!


The Government of Nunavut is trying to keep the Inuit values in the forefront of its operations.  These values go back to the historical beginnings and reflect how we should be today.

They are simple but straightforward:

Concepts of serving:  this is central to the Inuit style of leadership as is the measure of maturity and wisdom of an Inuk.  The key here is the understanding that each person has a contribution to make and is a valued contributor to his/her community.

Consensus decision-making:  this concept relies on strong communication skills and a strong belief in shared goals; being able to think and act collaboratively, to assist with the development of shared understandings.

Skills and knowledge acquisition:  capacity building is important to the success of Inuit in a harsh environment.  Demonstrating empowerment leads to a successful and productive life.

Working together for a common cause:  I like to look at this as Inuit having full autonomy both in municipal and territorial governments.  Too often we get southerners moving up North because a friend or relative sends word that it is a piece of cake to get into municipal and territorial politics, or into employment because the community members can’t handle it, well you know what I meant.

Respecting others, relationships and caring for people:  This concept shows how we put ourselves aside and be concerned with others or just letting people know that we care and are willing to help as much as we can.

These are just a few thoughts I thought I’d leave you with as we approach the Christmas season and for us to practice our humanity.

Flights and First Impressions

Thunder Bay:

I had to pick up my luggage in Thunder Bay because the layover for my connecting flight was more than four hours.

I was picked up by a Bahá’í who was told of my layover less than 24 hours before the flight.  She took me to a meeting of the Local Spiritual Assembly, where I was able to give a deepening and provide a program for the Holy Day (Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá).  She dropped me back at the airport at 2:00 am, not knowing the airport was closed.  We managed to attract the attention of a security guard who let me in anyway, since I had to check in at 4;30 am.  I was so wired from the Holy Day (or was it all the Persian tea?!) that I could only sleep in 15 minute bursts and was wide awake in between.

I’d paid for excess baggage in Toronto, but when they weighted the luggage in Thunder Bay, I was also grossly overweight.  I’d put aside $500 for overweight charges and my bargain with God was that if it was less, the balance would go to the Deputization Fund.  I guess the Fund needed the money more than Air Canada, because the agent waved me through saying he couldn’t deal with the excess paperwork at 4:30 am!

Winnipeg: 

I lived in Winnipeg from grade 1 to grade 10 and have many negative associations with it.  Flying into the airport, I had a lot of flashbacks which were unexpected and unpleasant and I was able to dispel them fairly easily.  I haven’t been back to Winnipeg since we left in 1975.  My brother still lives there and another brother lives a few hours east, and I have been estranged from them for over 25 years.  When I knew I was flying through Winnipeg, I contacted them to see if they would like to get together, but they both declined.  I was in the airport for 4 hours waiting for my connecting flight and thought it would be Divine comedy if I was to meet my brother there in passing, but it didn’t happen!

Rankin Inlet:

The flight to Rankin Inlet was on a 731 with First Air Airlines, at 10:30 am, out of Winnipeg.  We had a LOT more leg and elbow room, wider seats, free pillows, blankets and newspapers. The captain introduced himself and told us what to expect on the flight and the weather conditions in Rankin.  In contrast, the other flight, which left Toronto at dinner time, I was shoulder to shoulder with the passenger beside me; there was one bathroom for the whole plane; and dinner was a cup of coffee (or pay for a sandwich).  The captain didn’t talk to us at all.

When we reached cruising altitude, we were given a hot cloth to wash our faces and hands, then offered 3 choices for breakfast:  quiche and sausages; fruit cup with yogurt; or cereal.  I took the quiche, which was too hot to eat and the most delicious I’ve tasted in a long time.  It was served with roasted veggies worthy of a 5-Star restaurant! They included red peppers, squash, zucchini, onions and potatoes.  For dessert there was a slice of date loaf and mixed fruit (grapes and 3 kinds of melon). As we begin our descent, we’re offered dinner mints. I’d say First Air is First Class, all the way!

Thirty minutes from Rankin.  We’re cruising at 3000 feet and all I can see is cloudless blue sky above and frozen tundra and sea ice below.  The ice in Hudson’s Bay appears to be several feet thick in some places and very thin in others.  There are cracks in the ice where open water shows through.  Maybe the cracks and open water are because the Bay rises and falls with the tide?

I’m looking for polar bears but maybe this is the wrong time of year to see them!  The Captain tells us the temperature in Rankin is minus 34 degrees Celsius.

As we descend, the song running through my head is something that was played at the Holy Day last night.  It is an excerpt from a letter which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wrote to His followers in America:

 

 

Somehow it reminded me of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s greatest wish:

O that I could travel, even though on foot and in the utmost poverty, to these regions, and, raising the call of “Ya Baha’u’l-Abha” in cities, villages, mountains, deserts and oceans, promote the divine teachings! This, alas, I cannot do. How intensely I deplore it! Please God, ye may achieve it.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 40)

In the same Tablets, he talked about the importance of teaching the “Eskimo” (now called Inuit):

God willing, the call of the Kingdom may reach the ears of the Eskimos, the inhabitants of the Islands of Franklin in the north of Canada, as well as Greenland. Should the fire of the love of God be kindled in Greenland, all the ice of that country will be melted, and its cold weather become temperate — that is, if the hearts be touched with the heat of the love of God, that territory will become a divine rose garden and a heavenly paradise, and the souls, even as fruitful trees, will acquire the utmost freshness and beauty. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 27)

Effort, the utmost effort, is required. Should you display an effort, so that the fragrances of God may be diffused among the Eskimos, its effect will be very great and far-reaching.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 27)

These are my marching orders and I’m happy that the thoughts on my mind are my reason for being here!  Please God, may I achieve it!

We’re now about 5 minutes away and I can see for miles but all I can see is bleak, stark land and sea.  No sign of civilization anywhere.  Maybe if we were landing in the dark I’d see the lights of the hamlet.

I’m glad the day is clear and sunny so I can get a birds-eye view of the tundra.  I wonder how people found other communities without any landmarks or GPS in this polar desert, in the days when they travelled by dogsled.

Cold, harsh and unforgiving are the adjectives that come to mind.

We’re now on our final approach.  The plane is making a sharp turn to the left.  We’re getting awfully close to the Hudson’s Bay, and still no sign of the town!

It’s only once we land can I see houses and outbuildings.

Stay tuned for the next installment:  Arrival!

Day by Day in Rankin Inlet

 

 

Day 68:

Minus 35, feels like minus 51

Today is my last day and I’m spending it mostly waiting!  Most of my loose ends are tied up and I’m eager to finish this chapter and get on with the next one.  Unless something unusual happens before I leave, this will be my last posting.

Yakov sent the following pictures, which seem to be a fitting conclusion to my trip!


 

Tonight I am grateful:

  • For an amazing adventure
  • For everyone who shared it with me through calls, comments and practical support
  • For whatever comes next

 


Day 67: 

Minus 35 with ice crystals; feels like minus 53

Blizzard Warning:  Blizzard ending this morning. Blizzard conditions should gradually ease over the Kivalliq region including Rankin Inlet this morning, although poor visibility in blowing snow will occur at times throughout the day. Bitterly cold wind chill values around minus 55 can be expected this morning in much of the area.

It’s possible Alan and the kids could get home, even if the flight is delayed a couple of hours . . .

Yes, they arrived safely and the house was soon filled with youth – a dozen of them, mostly participants in the junior youth program, eager to hear all about the adventures.  Slides and movies were shown.  It was all very exciting, and livening to have so many people in the house again.

Tonight I am grateful:

  • They got home safely
  • I was able to take part in their unit convention (over the phone)
  • I was able to see the slides and hear the stories of their adventures
  • One more day and I’m on my way!

Day 66:

Minus 35, feels like minus 52

Blizzard Warning:  Blizzard conditions developing this afternoon. A major storm over the Labrador Sea combined with a strong Arctic ridge of high pressure over the Northwest Territories will produce strong northwest winds gusting to 70 km/h later this afternoon and tonight over much of the Kivalliq. Visibilities will gradually worsen this afternoon in blowing snow as winds increase. Winds will fluctuate in speed throughout this event, with brief improvement in visibility possible at times, but in general blizzard conditions will prevail until late Sunday. Wind chills will hover around the minus 50 to minus 55 mark throughout the blizzard.

Looks like Alan and his family might not get home tomorrow!

I spent today doing laundry, cleaning, packing, putting the house back the way it was when I arrived; and baking cookies.

Jerry Ell dropped by with a smaller ulu so I now have two!

Grace Main came for a visit and I wished we’d met earlier!  She’s a fantastic addition to Rankin Inlet and I leave knowing that between she and Alan, it’s in good hands!

My website isn’t accessible so I’ll have to upload this in the morning.

Tonight I am grateful:

  • To have a more practical-sized ulu
  • To have met Grace and found a friend!
  • 3 more sleeps!
  • For my last night in Alan’s bed
  • To be warm again
  • It didn’t take as long to clean and put back the house as I thought it would

 


Day 65: 

Minus 36; feels like minus 54

Wind Chill Warning:  Extreme wind chills of minus 55 or colder.  The combination of bitterly cold air near minus 35 and wind speeds of 30 to 40 km/h will produce wind chills of minus 55 or colder at Rankin Inlet today and tonight. At these extreme wind chill values frostbite on exposed skin may occur in less than 2 minutes. Winds will continue to increase Saturday and blizzard conditions should develop Saturday afternoon.

Blizzard Warning:  Blizzard conditions developing overnight tonight and Saturday. A major storm over the Labrador Sea is currently giving blizzard conditions over Southeastern Baffin Island. Northwest winds will strengthen over most of the Kivalliq region tonight through Saturday with visibilities decreasing as the winds increase. Blizzard conditions will develop this evening in Rankin Inlet. Winds will be somewhat marginal throughout this event, with brief improvement in visibility possible at times though in general blizzard conditions will prevail at least into Sunday. Wind chills will hover around the minus 55 mark throughout the blizzard. At these extreme wind chill values frostbite on exposed skin may occur in less than 2 minutes.

The furnace went out in the night and it’s down to 10 degrees inside the house. I can’t get hold of either of the people Alan said to contact for house maintenance issues. Please pray for heat!

The furnace guys have come and gone. Turns out I’ve run out of fuel! I had to take a taxi and go in person to the fuel depot and pre-authorize $1000 on my credit card so they will deliver more! Then I call the furnace guys who will come back and reset the furnace and hot water tank. I’m praying it all happens today!

The furnace guys called back to say if the fuel guys don’t get here soon, the pipes will burst and I’ll have a bigger problem on my hands! I’ve got the water running to keep it moving. Hope it’s enough till the fuel guys get here!

I had fuel delivery and the furnace turned back on by 3:00 pm and I am grateful!  The house was already starting to feel warmer half-an-hour later!

Crisis averted! I’ve got fuel and heat and hot water again! And it doesn’t appear as though the pipes froze or the toilet or hot water tank cracked. And I am grateful!

Grace Main didn’t come for dinner after all.  I had to delay her arrival because of a coaching client; and she doesn’t have a phone to phone a taxi so I’m going to see her tomorrow instead.  Sadly the coaching client was a “no show” so she could have come anyway!

For the first time since I’ve been here, there are plows removing snow from the parking lot (possibly since 2 exits are full of ice where 2 of my neighbors have had water main leaks!)  I wonder where they’re going to put all this ice?  It’s getting closer and closer to our door!

 

I’m on the count-down now – 4 more nights and I’m on my way home!  But the real hero of this story is my host, who’s been here 30 years and endured all of what I experienced, and a LOT more!

This is absolutely the last piece of art I’m going to buy.  Promise!

My host’s Inuit name means walrus . . . so how could I resist?

 

 

Tonight I am grateful:

  • A neighbour told me who to call to look at the furnace and they came right away
  • It was only a lack of fuel (solvable) and not a furnace that needed replacement (probably not available!)
  • I have a good credit rating and a credit card to put the fuel on
  • Heating pad and extra blankets to keep me warm
  • Jerry Ell came through with the walrus, as promised

 


Day 64: 

Minus 34 with ice crystals; feels like minus 55

Wind Chill warning:  Extreme wind chills of minus 55 or colder.  An Arctic ridge is pushing bitterly cold air near minus 35 into the Kivalliq region. These temperatures combined with wind speeds of 30 to 40 km/h will produce wind chills of minus 55 or colder tonight at Rankin Inlet and Chesterfield Inlet. Wind chill values near minus 55 will continue through Friday. Blowing snow is currently giving near zero visibilities at Rankin Inlet but is expected to improve this evening. At these extreme wind chill values frostbite on exposed skin may occur in less than 2 minutes.

I wish I could take home so many of the pieces I see at the Matchbox Gallery!  This one is to remind me of who I want to be – open-hearted, loving and welcoming! 

It was a typically busy Thursday with 2 devotional gatherings and 2 study circles.

I’m feeling a bit emotional at the idea of saying good-bye to this adventure; and eagerly looking forward to Tuesday when I’ll be “on the road again”, home-ward bound!  I’ve done what I came here to do and I am leaving with no regrets, and I am grateful!

Tonight I’m grateful:

  • That I was able to afford a genuine Rankin Inlet ceramic sculpture
  • I had a chance to talk to Sue at the Matchbox Gallery about their needs for a house-sitter
  • I’ve decided it’s not for me!
  • I’m leaving with no regrets
  • Tomorrow I’ll get a chance to meet Grace Main

 


Day 63: 

Minus 31; feels like minus 54 – one degree colder and there would be an “extreme cold alert”

And a couple of hours later, here it is!

Wind Chill Warning:  Extreme wind chills of -55 or colder today and tonight. Bitterly cold Arctic air pushing into the Kivalliq today combined with wind speeds of 30 to 40 km/h will produce wind chills of -55 or colder today and tonight in the Kivalliq. At these extreme wind chill values frostbite on exposed skin may occur in less than 2 minutes.

An account of the first Inuk who saw a white man, (a whaler in the 1860’s): “He came home and said, “Today I saw something with long legs and long arms I never saw before.”  He didn’t know what it was.  It was the first white man.  After this Inuit people wanted to know whether the white men were dangerous.  Were they scary or not?” (When the Whalers were Up North, p. 24) They must have concluded we weren’t and the rest is history.

By all accounts, the first interactions between whites and Inuit seem to have been peaceful and mutually supportive instead of bloody and war-like as they were with the Indians. I wonder what caused the difference?

I had a call from Sue at the Matchbox Gallery, saying she had a bunch of Bahá’í books she’d like to get rid of and did I want them.  I accepted on behalf of Alan.

A few minutes later I get another call, this time from her husband Jim, asking me to come back and housesit for them from April to September.  I’d have to open the Gallery every day from 1-4 in exchange for a certain percentage commission on sales!  YIKES!  I didn’t think I was finished with this place!  Maybe God doesn’t either!

I told him I had 3 main concerns:

  • My cats (he said I could bring them)
  • I’d need my travel costs covered (maybe)
  • Housing would only let me be away for up to 3 months (OK – June, July and August then) . . .

I tried to suggest other friends who would do it (he needs to know the people and feel a connection to them), which when you think about the millions of dollars of artwork he’s trusting to someone, makes sense to me!

YIKES!  I promised to pray about it and let him know either way; but didn’t commit to when.  I think I have to be home awhile before I’d be ready to make a decision like that!

But it was nice to be asked; and I’m grateful that he saw something in me that would cause him to have that kind of faith in me.

I started packing all the things I’m not likely to need in the next few days.  Going home is feeling more real and I am grateful!

Tonight I’m grateful:

  • Someone sees something in my character that would cause them to trust me with their business while they’re away
  • There’s an option to come back if I want to take it
  • The packing has begun
  • I’ll only have 2 suitcases coming home
  • A week from this moment I’ll be home and cuddling with my cats, in a pre-warmed bed, in a warm apartment, surrounded by all my comforts

Day 62: 

Minus 24 with light snow; feels like minus 34

Annie tells me she’s seeing bees in Nunavut for the first time ever!

I got a lot of fresh air and exercise today!  Since it was the last day of the milder weather, I went to the post office and picked up some pizza fixings for the “Welcome home” dinner for Alan and the kids.  Annie is making pizza from scratch, the kids favourite dish.  Unfortunately the yeast didn’t make it into the backpack so I had to go back a second time.  After grabbing a bite to eat, I set out a third time for Sexual Assault services to donate my book.  I arrived at Victim Services, explained what I wanted to do, and the worker nabbed it for herself and indicated she might want my services after she’d read it.  I tactfully suggested that once she finished reading it, she could pass it along to sexual assault services in the office down the hall.  Whether or not she does it, she looked so happy to get it that it was obviously the right person on the right day!  Thank you God!  She knew Alan – two of her children still refer to him as their “all time favourite teacher”, years after they graduated!

I went back to the Matchbox Gallery.  Jim (the owner) was there and recognized me right away.  He thanked me profusely for the letter to the editor and said that it made him a bit sad too; and he was trying very hard not to be bitter.  Guess my recommendation that his artists be recognized by Tourism Nunavut touched a nerve!   He said he’d be surprised if the newspaper prints it because it reads too much like an infomercial!

I bought a carving done entirely out of caribou antler by an artist named Leo Napayok, who has long been established as one of the most talented carvers ever to come out of the region, and I can see why!  Click here to watch him at work and to hear him talk about his work.

 

It’s a bit hard to see the detail here but it’s all one piece.  On the far left you have an igloo with a large front entrance (and if you look inside you can see snow!); followed by a man lying on a komatik (a kind of toboggan); pulled by 2 Husky dogs (one looks like Badger) chasing a polar bear, who is chasing a seal who is about to dive off the edge and into the Hudson’s Bay)

It’s all a bit symbolic of my trip:

  • the igloo represents “there but for the grace of God, I could have been born in one”; as those born here in 1957 would still have been living in snow houses
  • the komatik represents the one that met me at the airport, with Alan’s son Qilak riding in the back
  • the huskies represent Badger of course
  • the polar bear represents the one I thought I saw, which reminded me that I have the  ability to find sustenance in barren landscapes; strength in the face of adversity and enjoyment of solitude
  • the seal represents Annie’s owl, which is made of sealskin
  • the bend represents the ups and downs of the adventure; and my willingness to dive off the edge of my comfort zone and into the unknown

Tonight was the second devotional gathering for the Inuit and again, I was the only one present, so I’ll take that as a sign that people aren’t interested!

Tonight I am grateful:

  • To be taking home some unique pieces of art that is all paid for!
  • For all the fresh air and exercise
  • That I finally found the right person to give my book to
  • That Badger’s wound is healing nicely
  • I heard from my son who seems to be enjoying his new apprenticeship

 


 

Day 61:  

Minus 23, feels like minus 31 – warmest day in a long time!

Annie came for tea and I was able to give her a piece of information she was looking for and that felt good.  Together we’re planning a “welcome home” dinner for Alan and the kids, who arrive back on Sunday.  We’re going to walk out to the airport together to meet them.  When she was leaving she said she was headed over to the Friendship Centre.  I’d been looking for it since I got here, as a place to donate my book Violence and Abuse:  Reasons and Remedies,  so I asked if I could walk with her.  Turns out it’s only a block away!  J  I’ll take the book over tomorrow, God willing!  So that felt good too!

It felt so good to be out walking in the fresh air again, and with the warmer weather, I didn’t have to cover my face, so my glasses didn’t fog over and I was grateful!  I’ve been meaning to get back to the Matchbox Gallery to spend more time looking at the ceramic work I loved so much on my last visit so that’s just where I went.  I arrived just in time to help them by taking a picture of the owners with their artists, who were all there at the same time, so that was a real treat too!  As on my previous visit, my heart was filled up with the beauty of the art and I fell in love with a miniature sculpture I’m thinking of buying.

I said something heartfelt to one of the owners who said she wished she had that in writing, so I asked who to write it to, and she suggested a letter to the editor.  I came home and it wrote itself:

Letter to the Editor, Kivalliq News

Arts, crafts and sciences uplift the world of being, and are conducive to its exaltation.  (Bahá’u’lláh)

They say you can’t be a prophet in your own town and my hunch is, that the same thing could truly be said of artists and craftsmen too.  Since Rankin Inlet is truly blessed to have world-class artists and craftsmen in our midst, I want to put the spotlight on them, and thank them publically for bringing their unique version of beauty to the world.

Entering the Matchbox Gallery always feels like coming home.  There’s a peaceful welcome vibrating from the walls even before your eyes feast on the exquisitely, breathtakingly beautiful works of art, worthy of national recognition.

It’s obvious that Jim and Sue Shirley nurture their artists with love because love shows in every museum quality piece.  You could stare at each piece for days and still see something new or hear yet another story whispered down through the centuries.

I have to ask:  how is it possible that any of these pieces aren’t included in all Nunavut government promotional materials?  Why isn’t there even a section on ceramic art on the “arts, crafts and clothing” page of the Nunavut Tourism website?  These incredibly talented artists in our midst deserve a lot more recognition for their unique crafts!

I’d like to publically say thank you to each one of you, for bringing such joy to my heart!

cc Nunavut Tourism  and Matchbox Gallery

Since the paper comes out on Wednesdays I won’t see it in print and have my 15 minutes of fame, because I’ll be on my way home, but hopefully they’ll leave the Bahá’í quote in!  I’ve sent it to the Gallery with permission to use it as a testimonial if they ever need one!  And that feels good!

Buoyed up on my success, I was about to put on my clothes and venture out to the Used Clothing store, when I remembered that today is Monday and the last time I tried to go and found it closed was also a Monday so maybe I’ll try again tomorrow night.  After that it’s going down to minus 50 again.  I’ll have to take my glasses off to walk to the airport with Annie on Sunday.

Tonight I’m grateful for:

  • opportunities to be of service
  • friendship with Annie
  • finding the right place to donate my book
  • my ulu maker confirmed he’ll have my walrus carving done by the weekend
  • I’m going home a week tomorrow!
  • I’ll be able to vote in the Unit Convention

 


Day 60: 

Minus 34, feels like minus 49

I love the entrepreneurial spirit of the people here.  For example, on Rankin Inlet’s Sale and Swap Site I saw:

For sell lemon meringue pies at Dorothy’s u can call

Cinnamon coffee cakes for sale @ 20.00.D. Each fresh out of the oven 🙂

Susanne has some of her moms famous palaugaaq (Bannock) that were sent in today from Coral. $20.00/Bannock.

 Now don’t those all sound good?!  You’d have to be monitoring the site every hour to get goodies like these!  With no bakery in town, they’re snapped up fast!

My cold is on the mend and I’ve got more energy today.  I don’t know where the time went.  Prayers, calls, work, emails and now it’s bedtime again.  Hope to sleep well tonight.

Tonight I am grateful:

  • I’m feeling better and I’ve got more energy
  • I may have found the root of the panic attacks and took steps to ensure they don’t happen again
  • I ate well
  • I had a call from the woman who’d brought over Badger’s hay and food the other night, to check in on me.  We had a lengthy conversation about her experiences.
  • I weigh less than when I arrived
  • I can put 3 suitcases together and their combined weight is only 20 lbs.  This means I won’t be overweight going home, just charged for excess baggage (Air Canada only lets you take 1 checked bag and 1 carry on, and I’ll have 2 checked and 1 carry on).  Packing should be a lot easier going home!

 


Day 59: 

Minus 34 and sunny with cloudy periods, feels like minus 42

On the Rankin Inlet Sale and Swap

For sale Rca 13″ t.v asking for $50.00 can call 645-3185 or text 867-222-8332

Comment:   sure hope you are recuperating well Violet.
Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness. —- Baha’i Faith

The wonderful thing about that is that someone else in Rankin Inlet is teaching the Baha’i Faith, when as far as I knew, Alan and I are the only Baha’is here!

Someone reminded me that the World Health Organization has recognized the onion for its ability to help relieve symptoms of the flu such as coughs, congestion, respiratory infections and bronchitis. I went online and discovered that if you place sliced onions beside the bed at night, and on the soles of your feet, covered with a sock all night, it would help break up or clear mucous and other substances that block the immune system from doing its work.  Willing to try anything, I gave it a try.  I’m not completely recovered, but I had enough energy to do some housework; and enough appetite for a bowl of soup AND a slice of toast and peanut better, and I am grateful!

Although it’s uncomfortable and I hate being sick!  I see it as another way God is showing me it’s OK to just be here, without having to go out into the community and actively meet people or teach.  He sent me extreme wind chills; blizzards and now a cold.  So I can smile and say “Thanks God!”  And I am grateful!

Mitra Doherty put me in touch with a company that makes military grade anti-fog wipes  which they claimed would work in this climate.  They sent me a free sample to try.  I applied them to my glasses four days in a row, in temperatures ranging from minus 44 to minus 49 (practically balmy!), but unfortunately they too were absolutely useless!  My glasses were totally fogged over within less than 2 minutes (the time it took to feed Badger and clean up the yard waste).  So if the military can’t provide a product for extreme temperatures, it’s no wonder none of the other things I tried worked either!

I’m beginning to think Badger doesn’t like sleeping on hay!

 

 

But she sure does love her new food!

 

Tonight I am grateful for:

  • Enough energy to do some housework, assignments, emails and some research – in stages!
  • Enough of a voice to be able to say prayers with Bev
  • Enough of an appetite to have 3 small meals
  • The pineapple juice which is a balm to my sore throat
  • 11 more sleeps till I see my cats again!

 


Day 58:  

Minus 32 with ice crystals; feels like minus 49

Day 3 of my cold – still battling chills and fever; no energy, throat feels like it’s on fire; hurts to swallow or speak.  Had to cancel my coaching client; and again Bev said prayers while I listened.

The blizzard blew all the straw out of Badger’s dog house and I was running out of her food.  I didn’t know how I was going to get more, so that was my prayer request.

Less than an hour later I had a call from Alan’s computer tech calling to see if I needed anything, so I decided to be honest.  I was barely able to make myself understood, but even though she doesn’t have a car, they were over here with straw and food (saying Alan could pay for it when he got home); and juice and ibuprofen (a gift for me)!  They even put the straw in her house for me.  Thank you God for answered prayers!

Tonight I am grateful that:

  • People are checking on me exactly when I need it
  • I didn’t have to pay for the straw or food
  • She sent over half a bale of straw so if it blows away again I have more
  • She sent over a full bag of food so I will have enough for my stay
  • The pineapple juice feels really good on my throat
  • I was finally able to eat some soup
  • I was able to get 2 assignments done – in stages!

 

 


Day 57: 

Minus 30 with ice crystals; feels like minus 49

Blizzard tapering off today or tonight. Blizzard conditions should end in Rankin Inlet around noon.

A friend put me in touch with a company that provides anti-fog products for the military.  They assured me that their product would work in temperatures of minus 50-60 and to prove it, they sent me some free samples to test for them.  Needless to say, my glasses were fogged over in less than 2 minutes!

I went out into the blizzard to feed Badger and take care of her wound and pick up the yard waste.  By the time I’d finished that, my glasses were fogged over and all I could see was white on white.  I couldn’t find Badger’s bowl anywhere!  I sent a most fervent prayer asking God to find it for me and all I could see was a contrasting colour down the parking lane and near the street!  Fortunately it was it, and as I bent over to pick it up, my hat was blown off my head and I had to go chasing after it too.

I’m still not feeling well.  My throat hurts and I have laryngitis.  I’ve been battling chills and fever all day, and spent most of it on the couch.  When I get up my nose runs like a tap.

Bev called for prayers and I just listened.  I cancelled the other devotional gathering and 2 study circles.

Today I am grateful for:

  • I had enough energy to take care of Badger
  • I slept well day and night
  • I found Badger’s bowl
  • I found my hat

 


Day 56: 

Minus 28 with ice crystals; feels like minus 45

Blizzard today, ending tonight or Thursday. A strengthening pressure gradient has brought blizzard conditions to much of the Kivalliq region overnight and this morning. Northwest winds gusting in the 60 to 80 km/h range will result in near-zero visibility in blowing snow, with wind chill values generally in the minus 45 to minus 50 range. The blizzard should end during the day Thursday.

The blizzard has blown most of Badger’s straw all around the parking lot, and she’s once again lying mainly on the ice.  I can’t see out of the living room window because the wind has blown the snow against it and it’s stuck like glue.  I’ve got chills and a fever and am on the couch, barking like a seal.  I’ll have to wait out the blizzard for another couple of days, and regain my strength before I can see about getting more straw.  Good thing she’s used to it!

I’m not a TV watcher and haven’t turned it on since I got here but I succumbed this afternoon, and was thrilled to find 2 back-to-back episodes of M*A*S*H!  When my son was little we had the whole series on video and that was all the TV he got as I tried to inoculate him against war.

I love seeing the power of prayers being answered!  A few days ago I discovered by accident that our Bahá’í electoral unit boundaries had changed and our (largely inactive) Local Spiritual Assembly had been chosen to convene the Unit Convention, where Bahá’ís come together to elect a delegate to vote for the National Spiritual Assembly.  It’s a BIG responsibility and if we didn’t do it, we’d be letting Bahá’ís down in about 18 communities!  Our secretary was in Florida and all the information was in her mail box back home.  The convention will be held in less than 2 weeks and how on earth can we pull it together?  Fortunately we were able to contact her, she immediately sprang into action and the event will go ahead!  Thank you God!

Tonight I’m grateful for

  • Helping us organize the Unit Convention
  • M*A*S*H
  • Essential oils to help combat this bug
  • Enough energy to get myself something to eat and get this done
  • Enough energy to go back out in the blizzard to feed Badger
  • Restful sleep today

 


Day 55:  

Minus 32, feels like minus 44 

Blizzard Warning:  Blizzard developing overnight and Wednesday morning. A disturbance dropping southward from the Foxe basin will bring blizzard conditions to much of the Kivalliq region over the next 24 hours. Northwest winds gusting in the 60-80 km/h range will result in near-zero visibility in blowing snow, with wind chill values generally in the minus 45 to minus 50 range. The blizzard should end some time during the day Thursday. 

My friend Yakov sent me some statistics confirming that the Filipinos represent the largest visible minority, and that there are 25 in Rankin Inlet.  Why the Canadian government doesn’t consider whites a “visible minority” here is puzzling because those stats weren’t available!  

I actually met a Filipino today – she and her husband manage the Sugar Rush Café, where I went to sample the arctic char (a local delicacy); they’ve been here for 7 months; she’s pregnant and wants to go back to Toronto because she misses the shopping malls!  I asked why others came and she said it was to make money – there’s nothing here to spend it on, so her compatriots come for a couple of years, save their money and then go somewhere warmer and more populated.  

I talked to one of her employees, a man who was born in Hong Kong, trained in the medical field and is waiting for his credentials to be recognized.  In the meantime, he has some friends here who encouraged him to come so he moved his wife and two children here, not knowing there was no rental housing!  So his family is now living with his friend’s family and they are overcrowded and he is caught in part of the “homeless” cycle. 

The arctic char was in a chowder which was quite delicious but certainly not indigenous!  The Inuit ate everything raw – there isn’t anything to burn on a polar desert above the treeline.  

In recognizing my powerlessness over the homeless situation, and knowing it needs Divine Intervention, I contacted all the pioneers I know in Nunavut and Labrador, offering to host a weekly devotional gathering over the phone specific for the Inuit people.  The first one was tonight, but nobody showed up.  

Yakov also found a very famous Inuit prayer for times of adversity which shows their willingness to maintain themselves through adversity and to remain strong, yet gentle for always tomorrow will dawn.  

An Inuit Prayer to use in Times of Adversity:  

I think over again my small adventures.
My fears,
Those small ones that seemed so big,
For all the vital things
I had to get and reach.
And yet there is only one great thing,
The only thing,
To live to see the great day that dawns
And the light that fills the world.

Tonight I am grateful for: 

  • Going out today, since I may be inside for the next 2 days for the blizzard
  • Chance to try arctic char
  • Having my questions answered about the Filipinos in Rankin Inlet
  • Interactions with friends on Facebook 

Day 54:  

Minus 34, feels like minus 49 

Badger really likes her new food!  I pour boiling water over it so it makes a gravy and serve it to her warm.  That gives her more water than she gets by eating snow!  Usually when I go out, she’s keen to get and give some TLC but last night and this morning, she was much more interested in the food!  When I was able to see the sore on her back, I realized I’d put the Penaten Cream all over her fur but no where near where it needed to go!  Today I was able to put some polysporin on the wound and hope it heals quickly and more importantly, that the fur grows back quickly so it isn’t too cold.  She’s made a nest in the straw.  What a difference 24 hours makes! 

There are two “fast food” franchises in town, both inside the department store with a handful of café tables in front making it a “food court”.  Pizza Hut, where a personal pan pizza will cost $9.99 and a Medium pizza will cost $25.99. 

 

And KFC, which doesn’t sell buckets of chicken or cole slaw, or even the usual KFC snack packs.  Instead you can get Popcorn Chicken for $9.99 or with fries $11.99; or a Classic Combo for $7.49.

 

 

I haven’t indulged in either. 

I had a company so sure of their anti-fog cloth that they sent me some free samples to test out for them. I picked them up today and I’m looking forward to trying one of them out tomorrow. 

All in all it was a pretty quiet day – I had a visit from Annie; prayers on the phone with my daily prayer buddy, corrected a few assignments and started to watch a movie I’d brought with me.  Unfortunately there was too much gratuitous and explicit sex which hurt my heart, so I spent the rest of the evening researching the Writings for someone in need. 

Tonight I am grateful that: 

  • I found some packing material to ship the owls people have bought
  • Annie put the boxes together for me
  • There’s a solution to Badger’s wound
  • Badger’s getting more water
  • I got some free anti-fog samples to try
  • People contact me with concerns and I can find answers for them in the Writings 

 


Day 53:  

Minus 37 with a few clouds; feels like minus 52 

What kinds of birds do you see, you ask?  The Christmas bird count in Rankin Inlet found 176 ravens (up from 84 last year); and one hoary redpoll (unusual for this time of year).  I often see several ravens outside my living room window, sometimes they’re in the garbage bin, but more often they’re hanging out on the roofs of the other condos.

There are several Inuit legends about ravens, who have a God-like role in creating the world, and creating the first woman 

Yesterday I mentioned that there were posters around town to encourage people to stop smoking, but today I learned that they are part of a bid to make Nunavut “tobacco free”.   The campaign’s slogan is “Tobacco Has No Place Here”.  There are several community events planned in Rankin Inlet for “National Non-Smoking Week in Nunavut”, January 20 – 26.  Flyers were in the papers, and the goal is to have 5000 people take a single step towards becoming smoke free between Jan 20 – Mar 1.  

Alan has several bookcases full of books and so far I’ve been enjoying his Bahá’í books but today I started looking at his books about life in the north.  There are a lot I’d like to read.  Clearly I’ll have to stay longer! 

Among them I found a book by Robert Munch called “A Promise is a Promise” which was a favourite of my son’s when he was little.  As I reread it I discovered it was an Inuit legend inspired by the author’s visit to Rankin Inlet!

Today in the newspaper I read:  Nunavut hunters pull helicopter pilot from icy water: Helicopter sent to rescue stranded hunters went through ice: 

Two Arviat seal hunters were returned home safe and in good health after a harrowing experience on the sea ice.  Joe Karetak and his son, Joe Jr., failed to return from their hunting trip on Tuesday, Jan. 8. The pair were spotted on a small ice floe, and a privately owned Bell Jet Ranger helicopter was contracted from Gillam, Man., to pick them up on Jan. 9.  Then, in a strange twist of fate, the helicopter pilot needed to be rescued by the Karetaks when the sea ice couldn’t support the chopper’s weight, and it went through the ice after landing.  It tipped over and the pilot ended up in the water, but the Karetak’s were able to reach him with their harpoon and pull him onto firmer ice.  They stripped his clothes off and put him inside their sleeping bags to get warm.  When personnel on a Hercules aircraft observing the situation saw what happened, two search and rescue technicians parachuted down to the ice floe and cared for the group until another helicopter could arrive to transport them to safety.

Just another day in Nunavut! 

Badger has developed a “hot spot” – an open wound with no fur, about the size of a golf ball on her back.  I’ve put a notice on the Rankin Inlet facebook page hoping someone with knowledge of local conditions can tell me what to do.  I’ve also contacted an animal behaviourist who is following this blog and has rescued northern dogs.  I hope someone can help.  She’s otherwise in good spirits but I feel so powerless to help and I worry that it will be worse because of the extreme cold.  I’d like to be able to notify her owner but Outlook Express isn’t responding! 

It’s another test in powerlessness and I hate that Badger is caught in the crossfire!  Please God let me resolve this test so she doesn’t have to suffer! 

Later 

After calling on over 400 names of God, I heard back from someone on the Rankin Inlet Facebook page with a referral to a woman who raises sled dogs.  I called her and she was both knowledgeable and helpful.  She told me it was likely caused by Badger’s fur freezing to the ice and then being pulled out when she moved.  She prescribed Polysporin and offered to give me some straw for her doghouse if I could come and get it.  Thank God for the extra hour of daylight!  I tightened my goggles and set out, arriving successfully before they froze over, which was a good thing since I’d never been there before and needed to see where I was going!  She also gave me some high quality food and advice for what else to feed Badger to boost her immune system so her wound can heal.  All very helpful and I am grateful! 

I must be keeping my “company of chosen angels” very busy, though, because on the way back, it got dark and my goggles totally froze over.  As you know, I don’t see in the dark, so I went past the skidoo short-cut, and had to retrace my steps.  I took off the goggles and glasses and then had to inch my way home, putting one foot in front of the other to test the ground and make sure I was on the track.  Where the trail meets the road, there’s a steep decline off the snow bank, and I slid down onto the road.  Fortunately there were no cars coming! 

I came in to warm up and look for Polysporin.  I couldn’t find any but I did find some Penaten Cream, so I called to make sure that was OK till I got to the store in the morning and she said it was.  My goggles were still coated in ice so I went out into minus 51 degree cold, with my bare hands full of Penaten Cream.  Badger was happy to see me and I’m sure she knew I was trying to help.  She was eager to see what was in my hand and of course, it was hard to get at her sore spot.  She was jumping up, wanting to lick my hands and I wanted to get at her back.  My glasses were totally fogged over so I couldn’t see and I rubbed the cream into her fur, not knowing if I’d got the right spot or not. 

My next job was to break up the ice “bowl” in the bottom of her doghouse and flatten the floor so I could spread the straw.  I couldn’t see what I was doing and I had to feel my way, one shovel full at a time.  I’m having a full blown panic attack by this time, so I come back into the house to try and thaw out my glasses.  The goggles are still iced over so I ran them under the tap to thaw them out.  Big mistake!  Now the sponge around the goggles are all wet and sure to freeze immediately.  I don’t dare put them on again!  My glasses are fogging over faster than I can keep them clear, so I go back out into the dark with the bag full of straw and empty it into Badger’s house, kneeling on the snow and shaking the bag till it’s empty.  I’ve no idea if the ground is level under the straw or if I’ve made matters worse, but please God, let it be better for her. 

I’m sure I’ll laugh at this someday but for now, the panic is still high and all I want to do is cry. 

I am reminded of the Serenity Prayer: 

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Instead of wallowing in panic and grief, I was able to focus on assisting someone wanting to know more about the Bahá’í Faith’s position on domestic violence; correct some assignments and say prayers with someone over the phone.  I also decided to start a weekly devotional gathering over the phone for anyone who wants to pray for the Inuit people; signed up for a conference call account and sent invitations out. 

Tonight I’m grateful: 

  • For longer days
  • I was guided to someone who knew what to do about Badger’s wound
  • For her kindness and generosity and practical donations of straw and food
  • For getting home safely even though I couldn’t see
  • Badger will have a straw bed to lie in tonight
  • I had lots of other things to focus my attention on
  • I was able to talk to Alan in person to let him know what was going on with Badger
  • I’m going ahead with a weekly devotional gathering to pray for the Inuit people in Nunavut and Labrador

 


 

Day 52:  

Minus 35 with ice crystals; feels like minus 52 

Wind Chill Warning:  Extreme wind chills tonight and Sunday morning. A cold airmass and moderate northwest winds will combine to produce extreme wind chills of minus 55 to minus 57 in Rankin Inlet tonight and Sunday morning. Wind chills should moderate Sunday afternoon. At these extreme wind chill values frostbite on exposed skin may occur in less than 2 minutes. 

It was after 4:00 am before I got to sleep last night so I slept in late again.  When I got up I was desperate to get out after being cooped up for 8 days inside, so without having anything to eat or checking the forecast, I headed out, with a quick prayer for God to protect me from my impulsiveness!  Of course, my glasses froze (goes without saying anymore!); so I pushed them and the goggles away from my eyes so I could see somewhat, but even without knowing the temperatures, I was acutely aware that frostbite was probable before I could get to the stores.  Now I know what’s meant by “bone-chilling” cold!  I was afraid for my unprotected eyeballs as well as my skin!  I put my mitts up to my face, hoping to shield the unprotected areas but I’m not sure how successful I was, because the skin around my eyes feels rougher than usual and I’m afraid to look! 

My goal was to go to the Coop store to pick up a copy of the Inuit Art magazine, which I had read about a couple of weeks ago, and was supposed to have been shipped to all the Coop stores in Nunavut, but of course, they didn’t know what I was talking about!  I walked over to the post office, still expecting a delivery of some digestive enzymes since before Christmas, and of course, it was closed.  Apparently it’s closed at 5:30 and on Saturday and Sunday, even though everyone has to go there to get their mail, and even though they can close and lock the counter area so people can get to their post office boxes. 

On the way home I decided to look for the entry to the second hand clothing store, so I could find out the hours it’s open.  Annie had told me the entrance was off the side street, which would have put it on the other side of the building from where I was looking last week.  I found a door at the back which might be it, because it had a sign which said:  “Smell smoke, no service”!

 

 

There’s a big anti-smoking campaign in this community – it strikes me as odd that they want to ban smoking and lift the ban on alcohol!            

Before Alan left he said how much he would like some plants and was hoping I might find someone who had some cuttings to share. A few weeks ago I bought an avocado and a pineapple, hoping to root them for him, but today it’s obvious that the pineapple has rotted and the avocado is looking pretty dried out on top so I’m not holding much hope for it either.  The Amaryllis is still holding its own and I’m hopeful . . . !  

‎1/2 cup Greek-style yogurt; 1/4 cup Hellmans Mayo; 4 cloves of garlic minced and 1 bag of Miss Vicki’s Original Chips. Mmmmm!

Annie is concerned about who her 13 year old daughter will date, since they’re related to almost everyone in town!  She told me there were a lot of Filipinos in town and maybe her daughter would go out with one of them!  It got me wondering about how on earth they came and what kept them here!  Yakov sent me some stats from the last census suggesting there are 80 scattered throughout Nunavut, which strikes me as a lot and as far as I can tell, they mostly come in as nannies and many go on to become trained as “health care workers”.  Further research led me to learn that Tagalog (the language spoken in the Philippines) was the 3rd most common language spoken here in 2011.  

Research on the Filipinos brought me to the Nunavut Tourism website, where it said:  “Nunavut — like nowhere else on Earth!”  Isn’t that the truth?!  A friend of mine had trouble remembering where I had gone till someone said they wanted “none of it”!  But I have to say I like it here and as much as I’m eager to get home, I hope I have a chance to come back!    

Tonight I am grateful: 

  • I had a hot bath before bed last night, and was warm enough not to need my PJ bottoms or socks in bed
  • I was able to get out today
  • The sun was shining
  • I enjoyed a ham and green pepper sandwich and my Miss Vicki chips
  • I was able to research quotes and provide lengthy responses for 2 people looking for answers in the Bahá’í Writings
  • It’s another late night – bed around 3:30 and who cares?!
  • All my technological problems took a vacation today 

 


Day 51: 

Minus 32, feels like minus 47 

Blizzard Warning:  Blizzard ending this morning. Blizzard redeveloping tonight. The combination of an Arctic ridge of high pressure over the Northwest Territories and a low pressure system over Northern Quebec are producing northwest winds of 40 km/h over the Kivalliq. Blizzard conditions at Rankin Inlet will ease this morning as winds subside a bit. While visibilities will rise above the blizzard criterion of 400 metres this morning, some blowing snow will continue though the day. The winds are expected to increase again later today. Blizzard is likely to develop in Rankin Inlet this afternoon or this evening and weaken Saturday morning. 

The forecast said the blizzard was ending this morning and starting up again this afternoon, so since I hadn’t been out in over a week and was starting to feel housebound, I decided to take a chance and go out between blizzards!  I’d forgotten my scarf and by the time I’d finished tending to Badger, my neck was cold and my glasses and goggles frozen over.  I was determined to go, so went inside to thaw out the glasses and get my scarf.  The wind had blown snow against and under the door so the door wouldn’t close properly.  Knowing I had only a couple of minutes of clear vision, I left the door and set out for town.  I was less than a block away when everything froze, the wind was whipping through my clothes and my goggles, threatening to knock me over.  Blind and defeated, I returned home.  

Last summer the Bahá’í Publishing Trust said they were ready to print a second edition of my book and that I could make any changes I wanted.  I had a long list of changes, which I made and sent back.  Today I learned they’d never received them!  Fortunately I was able to access them and send them back, and God willing, we’ll see a second edition soon.  

Annie came by in the blizzard to deliver another owl that someone had ordered.  She told me more sad tales of life here: 

  • Welfare only pays $319 a month in a town where the cost of living is very high
  • An apartment, if you can get it, costs over $700 with a subsidy
  • Kids who get pregnant are not allowed to finish school or return to school after the baby is born
  • 12 year olds are being hired at the stores because the store can’t find adults who will stay

I love looking at ads on the Rankin Inlet’s “Sale and Swap” Facebook page.  Tonight I’m enjoying the way different people describe where they live, so people can go to buy whatever is for sale: 

  • i’m @ area 5 mazdaks.
  • blue gn housing just down from tommy
  • We live in area six red two story house corner
  • if interested or come on over
  • can come and see it.
  • At my mother’s
  • come by housing house 202.
  •  just come see it at area 6 593B

That explains why I don’t know where I live!  

Tonight I am grateful for: 

  • Finding out the publisher hadn’t received my changes for the second edition
  • The Bahá’í distribution service for ordering more copies of my book and finding out for me that the publisher was still waiting on my changes
  • Another visit from Annie and an opportunity to learn more about her culture
  • A call from a friend who shared Feast with me and then read me a bedtime story
  • My “prayer requests” are now visible again on my iPad Mini
  • Lots of work that engages my interest and makes the days go by fast

 


 Day 50:  

Minus 30, feels like minus 49 

Blizzard Warning:  This is a warning that blizzard conditions are imminent or occurring in these regions. An Arctic ridge of high pressure over the Northwest Territories and a low pressure system over Northern Quebec are producing northwest winds of 40 to 50 km/h with stronger gusts over portions of the Kivalliq. As of 9 AM blizzard conditions were widespread over Southern Kivalliq with near zero visibilities being reported at Rankin Inlet. In addition winds are producing wind chills of minus 45 to minus 50. Visibilities will begin a very gradual improving trend at all localities tonight, rising above the blizzard criterion of 400 metres. Blowing snow will persist on Friday, with visibilities gradually improving to around 1 or 2 kilometres. This gradual improving trend will continue Friday night. 

It’s definitely a blizzard out there – all I see out the window is white on white.  How windy is it in a blizzard, you ask?  Windy enough for the plastic bag I took out for the yard waste to blow out of my hands (and no, this time I didn’t chase after it!); windy enough to blow Badger’s food away making it difficult for her to get since her chain is all bunched up in the cold; and windy enough to blow the hat right off my head! 

Today marks the 7th day I’ve been in the house with only my twice daily treks outdoors to check on Badger.  I wonder if I’ll get out tomorrow? 

Both the lawyer and the “new” Bahá’í were supposed to arrive yesterday.  I haven’t heard from either of them since offering to have them over.  I wonder if I will?! 

I think I’m finally getting the hang of this place!  No internet + billing date = call the internet provider to reset the modem.  Eureka! 

Thursdays are always busy with devotional gatherings and study circles and today was no exception.  I also spent it working on a “Frequently Asked Questions about Recovery from Violence and Abuse” for a new coaching client.  I love pulling the Writings together for people. 

It’s 11:00 pm, I’m exhausted, which is as it should be!  Looks like I’m finally getting my days and nights back in order!  Life is good and I am grateful! 

Tonight I am grateful for: 

  • Heat in the bathroom
  • Lots of people are praying for the Inuit
  • I was able to catch my hat when it blew off my head in the blizzard
  • I went to bed earlier last night and got up at a good time today, and am tired at a normal time tonight – maybe my days and nights are returning to normal!
  • I bought lots of milk when the store had it so I still have enough, even though I haven’t been out for a week
  • Tomorrow the temperatures are warming up to minus 50 so maybe I’ll be able to go out!  I never thought I’d use “warming up” and “minus 50 in the same sentence – funny how your perceptions change!
  • Being able to look at my situation and laugh 

 


Day 49:  

Minus 39, sunny, feels like minus 58 

Severe Winter Weather Alert:  The potential for severe winter weather exists over these regions.  At Rankin Inlet temperatures of minus 40 or colder with northwest winds of 30 km/h are resulting in extreme wind chills near -60 this morning.  Cold and gusty northwest winds will persist through the weekend maintaining cold wind chills.  Blowing snow will give poor visibilities to Rankin Inlet, possibly deteriorating into a blizzard tonight or Thursday. At these extreme wind chill values frostbite on exposed skin will occur in less than 2 minutes. 

Later in the day: 

Blizzard Warning:  Blizzard spreading to Rankin Inlet early Thursday. The combination of an Arctic ridge of high pressure over the Northwest Territories, and a low pressure system over Northern Quebec will continue to give a bitterly cold northwest wind over the Kivalliq. These cold winds will continue to give blizzard conditions at Rankin Inlet overnight and Thursday morning. Blizzard conditions will ease early Friday as the winds diminish somewhat. Cold and gusty northwest winds will persist through the weekend maintaining cold wind chills and some reduced visibilities in blowing snow. As well, extreme wind chills of -55 or colder at Rankin Inlet will ease somewhat tonight as temperatures slightly moderate. At these extreme wind chill values frostbite on exposed skin will occur in less than 2 minutes. 

All three schools were closed all day due to extreme wind-chill, and someone wrote to tell me that Rankin Inlet was one of the 3 coldest places in Canada today! 

For the 5th night in a row, I didn’t go to bed till after 3 am.  Last night was no exception, but I couldn’t sleep and gave up, and by 4:45 I was making popcorn, and not sleepy enough to go to bed till 6:30 am!  This is definitely not typical of me and I wonder what could be causing it!  And does it really matter, when every day is the same? 

Every night when I go out to feed Badger, I look for the northern lights, even though I know this isn’t typically the right time of year for them.  Today I got some good news!  According to NASA  “a huge sun eruption on Sunday unleashed a wave of solar plasma aimed at Earth that may amplify the planet’s northern lights at the Earth’s poles with displays later this week”.  I’ll keep you posted! 

In case you’ve never seen them, here’s what they look like:

 

 

Someone suggested there might be a message in the owl that Annie gave me so I looked up the totem and found that owls show us that if we have too many projects or too much of anything, it limits and restricts our ability to move freely through the different areas of our lives, and helps us to clear out that which is no longer needed or wanted.  

Owl reminds us that we are most likely to lose our way when we become enmeshed in the “shoulds” in life, most of which come not from our inner selves but from the opinions and beliefs of those around us. We find ourselves spiraling downwards into the darkness because we have become so busy thinking we must pursue this or hunt that, most of which provides very little, if any, real nourishment. 

Owl can take us beyond our negative thoughts and fears, for Owl sees far into the future and knows that even after the darkest night there is a new dawn that is approaching. 

Sounds about right!  I definitely have too many “shoulds” I’ve had to let go of here, and put on my list for when I get back home, which I’ll have to reassess.  Thanks Annie!  Thanks God! 

The good thing about being in that panicked state a couple of days ago, where all I could say is “I just want to go home” is that it showed me what’s important and what I need (Muskoka, my cats)! Now the most loving thing I can do is pay attention and keep remembering! 

My friend Yakov sent me an article about a homeless rights activist named Mitch Snyder, who he knew personally.  He told me that Mitch was one of the most influential, controversial and, perhaps, important homeless advocates in American history.  He worked tirelessly for 17 years in the 1970’s and 1980’s.  Despite all the gains he was able to make, the effort required took its toll and he found the work trying: physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and he took his life in 1990.  Now, 20 years after his death Mitch Snyder is still remembered for his ongoing legacy of humanizing the homeless people.  Click here to read his story.  I think what this suggests, is that this problem is too big for man to solve! We need Divine Intervention for this one. 

With tears rolling down my face, I add my prayers to the progress of his soul, and remember this line from Bahá’u’lláh’s Fire Tablet:  “Thou wert created to bear and endure, O Patience of the worlds”.   Please keep the Inuit in your prayers. 

Someone asked why the Inuit don’t make their own clothes anymore, since they were so practical for this climate.  The bottom line is that most of them don’t have the means to hunt anymore.   The herds are a long way from town and to get there they’d need a dog-sled team or a skidoo.  Both cost a lot of money to maintain, so there aren’t many dogsleds left and mostly they’re kept for the tourists.  Those who can afford the skidoos, can’t afford the gas or hunting equipment.  The sealskin used to make Annie’s owl was caught by who-knows-who, then sent to Winnipeg for processing, and Annie’s Mother had to buy it from Winnipeg and have it shipped here.  As is true in our culture too, it’s too expensive to make clothes anymore! That ordinary sealskin jacket I showed  yesterday is for sale at $1000 on the Rankin Inlet Sale and Swap. Who can afford to buy it, especially the Inuit people themselves?! 

A few days ago, someone posted a picture of a handmade pair of mitts on the “Rankin Inlet Sale and Swap” Facebook page, which were lower in price than any I’ve seen before and looked exactly like what I’m looking for.  I immediately sent a message to the seller saying I was interested, but when I didn’t hear back, I assumed she’d sold them to someone else.   Tonight she called to say they were available but because of the many days of bad weather I hadn’t been to the bank, so I asked if she would take a cheque and bring them over.  So far this hasn’t been a problem with others who are selling things, but she told me that she was a 16 year old girl, without a driver’s licence, new in town, and didn’t know where “The Courtyard” was.  I didn’t know how to tell her!  I said I was near the high school, but that didn’t help.  She asked if I was near “Inns North” and I said I was.  She said she’d find a ride and be right over.  I finally got a message on Facebook two and a half hours later.   She’d been riding around in the blizzard, in the cold, dark night looking for me and finally gave up!  Why don’t people use addresses in this town?! 

Tonight I am grateful for: 

  • Good lighting in my living space
  • I’ll be in bed by 2:00 tonight
  • I’ve accepted my limitations and don’t go out in extreme weather
  • A heating pad and hot water bottle to pre-warm the bed and PJ’s
  • I might have some new mitts if I can connect with the person that made them
  • No shortage of work to keep me occupied when I can’t go out
  • 10 GB more bandwidth today
  • My internet and Outlook worked all day

Just as I wrote this last thing I was grateful for, and went to upload today’s posting, the internet went down and stayed down while I did the dishes and fed Badger!  If I’m going to be in bed by 2:00, I’ll have to leave it and upload it in the morning.

 


 

Day 48:

I’m starting today’s posting with a summary of what I am learning about this community.  I’ve posted it on my blog but I wanted you to read it here, so put into context some of the things I’ve been trying to say all along.  I hope the pictures, as well as the story, says it for me.

Inuit History 101 – As I Understand It 

 

Peter Ningeosiak, 73, and eleven of his family members reside in his small, three-bedroom house in Cape Dorset, Nunavut on November 10, 2010.

 

I’ve had the bounty of house-sitting in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut for 10 weeks and during that time I’ve been exposed to a lot of information about the community, which left me with a lot of questions.  Recently I read a study called The Little Voices of Nunavut:  A Study of Women’s Homelessness  North of 60.    The main researcher was Judi Bopp, a Bahá’í.  

This study painted a picture for me that put everything into context, and to help me process what I’ve learned, I wrote this piece.  It’s just what I’m thinking today, perhaps overly simplistic or making too many generalizations and if so, I hope that my readers will set me straight by adding their thoughts. 

If this had been my life, my parents would have been born in an igloo, living the life of their ancestors since the dawn of time, following the herd and hunting caribou, muskox, walrus and seal in order to survive.  It was a harsh, unforgiving life but it was their life and all they knew of the world.  One year, as often happens in nature, the hunting was scarce.  The children were sick, and they were all facing certain starvation. 

Along comes a white man with a translator, crawls into your igloo and offers you a job working in his mine.  He promises your family can come with you and he’ll make sure you have a house and food and maybe even medical care.  It seems to be an answer to your prayers, so you agree. 

It’s a win-win for you and for the mining company, who don’t have to pay huge airfare costs to bring in a workforce from the south.  They can house you more cheaply because, after all, you’re not used to much.  You work hard, the bosses and co-workers treat you well, your wife and children are fed and healthy.  Everybody is happy. 

One day your boss invites you for a drink after work.  It doesn’t take much and you’re feeling fine.  Everybody is happy, until you go home.  You’re late, your wife is worried, she doesn’t like the changes she sees in you because you’ve been drinking, you rape your daughter, she tries to intervene and ends up with a black eye.  She starts nagging you to come home after work, avoid alcohol and remember who you are.  You’re an Inuit, a man, someone who respects and looks after his family.  But the lure of the co-workers is great, the alcohol lets you forget your nagging wife at home.  And so the cycle starts. 

Your wife becomes afraid of you, takes the children and goes, where exactly?  If she’s lucky, maybe some of your husband’s siblings are also in town, working for the mine and she goes there.  But their housing is barely big enough for their family and you aren’t exactly welcome.  And if there’s drinking there too, and your children are still in danger. 

We all know the story. 

What’s different here is the mine closed.  Some of the men went to work in other mines; others stayed here.  The population grew but the housing didn’t. 

This is a polar desert – try to imagine living in the middle of the Sahara Desert with snow.  There is no wood to build houses; there are no roads or railways to bring in building materials; there are no jobs so over half the population is living on welfare.  The cost of living is very, very, very high, since everything has to be shipped in (for 2 weeks a year when the Hudson’s Bay is free of ice) or flown in.  Either option is prohibitively expensive. The government builds houses for the lawyers and teachers and medical personnel who come here for a couple of years and then leave, but there’s little if any money to build houses for your people. 

So let’s go back to the time of the mine closing in the 1960’s.  Some do-gooders come in to the community, see the poverty and homelessness, and decide the best solution is to take the children from the community and put them in residential schools where they will be taught to forget their language and culture and get an education and hopefully stay in the south and “make something of themselves.”  We know what happened in the residential schools – horrific sexual and physical abuse, the after-effects have had terrible consequences on the lives of those affected and their children and grandchildren. 

 

So let’s say that was your experience.  Your parents, uncomprehending of why the children had been stolen from the community, turn to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain.  They’re living on welfare and the cost of living is high and there isn’t enough money so maybe they’ve turned to crime in order to survive.  Maybe they’ve even been caught and sent to jail.  Now they have an addiction problem and a criminal record.

 

Mr. Nangmalik was abused as a child in a residential school and has had a long history of drug and alcohol abuse, crime, and jail time. He is trying to turn his life around he said, during an interview inside this cabin outside of Repulse Bay on November 14, 2010.

 

You come back home for the summers and try to tell your families what you’ve been going through in residential schools, but nothing in their genetic memory has prepared them for such atrocity and besides that, they’ve got problems of their own.  They can’t help you and you go back to school.

Let’s say you’re one of the lucky ones to get a good education and you decide to come back and help your people.  You get a high paid government job, you’re provided with a nice place to live, you feel you’re making a difference.  You marry, start a family.  Life is good.  Everyone’s happy. 

 

 

Perhaps your husband is from here, unemployed, supported by you, upset that he can’t contribute to the family, bored during the day, so he starts drinking and the cycle begins.  You’re being beaten, your children are being molested, you take them out of the house to safety.  To where, exactly? 

If you’re lucky you might have relatives in town, but you’re not exactly welcome because their homes are already overcrowded, so you can only spend a night or two there, then home again, then somewhere else.  You never know what you’re going to have to face when you get home.  You don’t know how to keep your children safe.  You have no skills to deal with this and no resources to help.  And you have deep, deep scars from your life in the residential schools.  You develop all sorts of mental health issues which make it hard to concentrate at work.  The powerlessness of your present life brings back all the powerlessness you felt as a child and you are paralyzed. 

You start missing work because you’ve been beaten so badly you can’t leave the house, or your situation has got you down you have nothing left to give a job.  No job, no house.  You have 7 days to leave.  And go where, exactly?  And the cycle begins. 

And it doesn’t matter that you’ve got a good education and a great resume.  You now have mental health issues; and you are homeless, living a transient lifestyle, moving from house to house.  There’s no privacy for you and your children.  Fights break out, people take sides, there’s drinking everywhere and no safe place for you and your children.  There’s not enough food.  The children can’t concentrate on homework, they’re ashamed before their peers so they stop going to school, till 87% of the population has not completed grade 8 and many are functionally illiterate. 

 

 

You can’t feed your children, so you either trade sex for food and shelter; or you turn to crime yourself so you can feed your family. Now you’ve got a mental health issue, an addictions problem, a criminal record and some do-gooder from the south decides  you aren’t a fit parent, so they put your children in foster care, where they are abused and grow up doubly scarred and the cycle continues. 

Because the children have been taken away your drinking increases.  Now you’ve got a reputation as a no-good-dirty-good-for-nothing-Inuit, and no one will rent you a place and you’ve burned out your welcome with family and friends and you go where exactly? 

Or let’s look at another scenario.  You’ve got a good education and a good job and so does your husband.  But even though this is 2013, his name is on the lease and you have no legal rights to the house.  It’s a good house and you start a family.  Life is good and you are happy.  There’s often a knock at the door at night, and you never know who might need a place to crash, but they come in anyway.  Perhaps it starts some friction between you and your husband, and even if there is no alcohol, the tension caused by overcrowding is great.  All of a sudden you have no privacy in your own home and all your income is going to feed other people.  It’s OK though.  It’s your life and you can handle it, until all of a sudden your husband dies and you have 7 days to leave, and go where exactly?  And all the people living with you will go where exactly?  Now you’re homeless and caught in the cycle mentioned above. 

Now it’s 2013 and there are up to 20 people living in a house 1000 square feet. 

 

 

 

And there’s a steady parade of studies and high paid government workers coming to town with high ideals.  They can fix this.  They bring in programs and skills development.  They open a trade school with apprenticeships in a wide variety of trades.  And you go to the program and you’re given a place to live and life is good and you have hope, until the semester ends and you have to leave and go where exactly? 

And if the government has flown you here from another community and promised you training and maybe even guaranteed you a job when you graduate, you’re doing everything in your power to take advantage of this situation, until the semester ends, and there’s no money to go home and the only people you know are the students and staff at the school and you have 7 days to leave and go where exactly? 

And the cycle continues. 

We know this story.  We hear echos of it in aboriginal communities all across Canada.  There’s a homeless problem all across Canada. 

The difference here is that there are no houses and no way to build them unless you bring everything in by plane at a cost people on welfare simply can’t afford.  Even if you’re working and have good money and can afford to build a house you won’t also be able to pay for water, heat and hydro, which because of the climate and the distance, have to be hugely subsidized.  And even if you are working, and educated, every single person living here is at risk of losing their housing and go where exactly? 

What will it take to fix this problem, you ask? 

Houses! 

Everyone needs a place to call home! 

 

 

If you’re housing is secure, your children will be a lot more secure and more of them will complete school and go on to higher education and get jobs and start their families and move into their own homes and provide a stable base for their family. 

That’s where it has to start. 

This is what we in the south take for granted. 

But of course, it’s not as simple as that. 

Once people are housed, and before they will be successful with job training, they need help with: 

  • Addictions
  • Mental health issues
  • Daily living skills training (including cooking, banking and budgeting and use of credit)
  • Parenting training
  • And probably a lot more I haven’t thought of

 

This small cabin, on a point of land outside of the hamlet Repulse Bay, was home to Kallu “Leo” Nangmalik, 50. He had been on a waiting list for a home for over two years, and lived here without electricity or running water. A gas stove and lantern are his only source of heat. Mr. Nangmalik recently took his own life. He was 50.

 

How do my parents, born in an igloo, teach me how to function in a world with showers, where food is cooked, where people use money?  If I don’t learn these things at home, who will teach me?  And who will teach them? 

How do I, who went to residential schools and didn’t grow up in a family, know how to be in a family?  How will I know how to deal with marital issues or how to parent when I haven’t watched my parents parent me?  When my only role models are an entire community of people like me and don’t have the skills either? 

How do my children, who were taken from me and put into foster care ever learn how to parent when their parents and grand-parents didn’t learn because they lived in igloos or residential schools, so they don’t know and don’t have the skills to teach me, and I’ve moved around to so many foster homes there’s been no stability or time to learn there either?  How do I have a stable family life?  How can I be a good parent? 

This is not an easy problem to fix, but fix it we must.  We have an obligation as Canadians, to not let this continue for another generation. 

I’m a real believer in grass roots community solutions, but in this polar desert, with temperatures going down to minus 60, there are no resources. 

The average age in Nunavut is 19, with 87% of the population with a grade 8 education or less and over half are on welfare and many more don’t even qualify because they don’t have a fixed address. 

They don’t have resources. 

Everything that comes here has to be subsidized. 

This problem is too big for man to solve.  It needs our most fervent prayers for God to find a solution, quickly, please! 

This community is in crisis in so many ways.  It’s no wonder it has the highest rate of suicide than anywhere else in North America.

 

 

 

 

It starts with houses.  People need houses.

 

 

The pictures in this article come from an article that appeared in the Globe and Mail called Portraits of Nunavut in Pictures, by Peter Power, Wednesday, Apr. 06 2011.  At the top of the article it says: 

Editor’s note: Shortly after this piece was published, The Globe and Mail learned that Leo Nangmalik, slides 38-40, had tragically taken his own life. He was 50

These men who are killing themselves are my age.  It’s hard not to personalize it!

 


Day 48:   

Minus 42 with ice crystals; feels like minus 63 

Wind Chill Warning:  Extreme wind chills near -60 tonight and Wednesday. The wind will continue strengthening throughout the night, bringing blizzard conditions with near zero visibility in blowing snow tonight. Blizzard conditions should end Friday. At these extreme wind chill values frostbite on exposed skin will occur in less than 2 minutes.

Between extreme wind chills near minus 60 and the blizzard conditions with near zero visibility not ending till Friday, it’s unlikely that I will get out in the next few days.  I haven’t been out in 4-5 days and at first it was kind of funny, but truthfully, I’m getting a little stir-crazy!  Outlook Express hasn’t been responding frequently for the past few days and at 5:20 tonight, I still haven’t been able to get my email.  Sometimes Word isn’t responding either, so it’s been a challenging day with technology again. 

Tomorrow I get another 10 GB of bandwidth so I used up my bandwidth from last night downloading a month’s worth of Windows Updates.  I’m glad I got through the whole month without going back to dial-up! 

At 3:00, just after writing a blog posting “Inuit History as I Understand It”, which you read above, and going into a downward spiral of powerlessness, hopelessness and confusion, the power went out for just long enough for me to add panic to the list!  Where would I go?  What would I do?  Fortunately it came back again within less than 5 minutes and I didn’t have to find out!  And I am grateful! 

Most people don’t wear animal skin clothes anymore – occasionally I see someone in a seal skin jacket but not often. Some people are being taught to make seal skin mitts and traditional boots, but again I don’t see them worn often. 

Here are a couple of items I saw on Rankin Inlet’s “Shop and Swap” page on Facebook.  I’d have bought the wind pants if they were a little bigger!  They were a size 10 but with all this sitting around I think I’ve gained weight since I’ve been here!

 

Sealskin Windpants

 

 

Sealskin Coat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annie was dressed in a down vest and ordinary jacket with fur hood. The clothes in the store are, surprisingly, about the quality you’d find at Giant Tiger. So imagine a parka you’d buy at Giant Tiger . . . with a vest underneath, in minus 58! I’m probably dressed better for the weather than she is. 

Tonight I am grateful for: 

  • Phone calls from people who have lived in the north and understand the situation here
  • Two friends ordering owls so I could support Annie’s mother, whose name is Mary-Ann Taparti
  • I didn’t have to go get the owls.  Instead, Annie walked across town, in a blizzard, with temperatures of minus 58 with the wind chill, to deliver them after I offered to come over in a cab, because as she said: “I’m used to this weather”!
  • Being able to find (heartbreaking) pictures for “Inuit 101 as I understand it”
  • getting through the whole month without going back to dial-up!
  • The power didn’t say out for long
  • I’ve had invitations to come visit people in New Zealand and Malaysia all in the same day! 

 


Day 47:  

Minus 39, sunny with cloudy periods, feels like minus 58

Question:  O God, where do you want me to go today?

Answer:  Brisk northerly winds combined with bitterly cold temperatures will produce wind chill values in the -56 to -62 range over much of the region today and Tuesday. In addition visibility will be reduced at times in blowing snow. At these extreme wind chill values frostbite on exposed skin will occur in less than 2 minutes.

Reply:  OK, I’ll stay home again.  Got it!  Thanks!

When the temperature gets down to minus 40 it doesn’t matter if it’s Celsius or Fahrenheit; it’s all the same.  But I have to say that minus 62 sounds even worse in Fahrenheit: it’s minus 80!  How does one relate to either figure?!?

I saw someone come to visit Louisa next door, being pushed here over the snow and ice in a wheelchair.  Because the wheelchair couldn’t get up over the stairs to the stoop, or the stairs to the main floor, it stayed outside in the parking lot all day.  Annie told me that the person had fallen while walking outside, no one had noticed till morning, and although it was a miracle she was alive at all, she had lost all her toes to frostbite and couldn’t walk.

At 5:30, Annie called to tell me the used clothing store was open and I wondered, “is it a sign I should find my courage and go?”  So I looked at the temperature and it said that with the wind chill it was minus 59, so I decided it wasn’t!

I heard someone pounding at the door for awhile (why are there no doorbells here?) and thought it was someone making noise next door.  After all, who would be calling on me?  When I finally went down to investigate, it was a high-paid consultant from Winnipeg, conducting a survey on household spending for Statistics Canada.  He wanted me to tell him how much I spent on food, clothing, shelter, transportation, health care, household appliances and equipment, home renovations and trips and to find out to what extent I’m using cell phones and the internet.  He also wanted me to track my household expenditures for a two week period in an “easy to fill out diary”

Normally I’m someone who fills out surveys since my life does not fit the norm in many ways and I want the voice of those who make different choices to be heard.  But this time I wondered:

  • How will people’s responses to this survey possibly be heard among all the others across Canada?
  • Why didn’t they hire local people to do the survey instead of paying for someone to come from Winnipeg?
  • Why can’t they ask this information on the census?
  • How many houses could they have built instead?

Some days it’s hard to live in the “decline of the old world order”!  Truthfully, it breaks my heart all over again!

Annie told me she was born in a tent outside of town in 1957.  Her dad (who had been living on the land in an igloo) had taken a job at the newly opened mine in Rankin Inlet and there was no housing then either.

Someone posted this on Facebook:

Teachers must continually travel to all parts of the continent, nay, rather, to all parts of the world, but they must travel like Abdu’l-Baha, who journeyed throughout the cities of America. He was sanctified and free from every attachment and in the utmost severance. Just as His Holiness Christ says, “Shake off the very dust from your feet.”   (‘Abdu’l-Baha’, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 53)

It got me thinking:  in order to dust my feet when coming here, I had to shake off every attachment to all the ways I usually do things and detach into the flow that is Rankin Inlet; and when I go home, I’ll have to dust off the pain and hopelessness I feel because of the housing crisis here, so I can fit back into my world at home.   But I wonder – how will I fit back into my world at home?

God has been very merciful to me here, sending me blizzards and extreme wind chills which force me to stay indoors, letting me know that what I’m doing is enough;  but my intuition seems to be saying this place will be my life, and with every fibre of my being, I just want to go home to Muskoka and my cats, to the first place I’ve ever felt at home; to the first place I’ve lived for more than 5 years, ever, in my whole life; to the first time and the first place I’ve ever wanted to set down roots, to the place that makes my heart sing.  I want to keep trusting that He won’t ask anything of me that I can’t handle but my fear is that He’s about to ask something really big of me that I don’t want to do and don’t feel capable of doing.  I just want to go home when the 10 weeks is over!  I’m confused by all of it, and I just want to go home!

Tonight I am grateful for:

  • A helpfully supportive phone call from my friend Yakov
  • Continuous outpouring of encouraging, supportive comments to my postings on Facebook
  • Enough to eat
  • I’m a lot warmer now than when I first got here
  • Lots of things to occupy my time and attention
  • Days that are quickly going by

 


Day 46: 

Minus 31 with ice crystals; feels like minus 42

For the past 4 nights, I’ve gone to bed after 3:00 am!  Last night it was after 4:00! And tonight it’s going to be after 3:00 again.  I’m reminded that when I arrived, the lack of sun made me sleepy really early.  Now as the days get longer and my time here grows shorter, I seem to have my days and nights mixed up!  Again it’s God’s way of saying “it’s OK to stay home and work on your projects!”  First he sent a blizzard so I couldn’t go out; then a wind chill warning; and now I get up so late it’s time for prayers and then too dark to go out!  Thanks God!  I get it!

As I mentioned last week, the Used Clothing store is only open from 5:00 – 7:30 (or something like that), which, when you think of it, sure makes it hard for poor people, the ones who need it, when the only time it is open is at dinner hour, when the kids are home from school!

Anyway, my last attempt to get there was unsuccessful since it was closed, so the other day I decided I’d go have a look at the hours so the next time I found my courage, I could be sure it was open.  For reasons I don’t understand, it’s not obvious where the front door is, and there is no path shovelled to it.  As usual, my glasses were fogging up.  I thought I remembered where the door was, but because I couldn’t see, and everything was white on white, I kept tripping over the snow banks.  When I got to the door I thought was the entryway, where I had previously found the hours, someone had painted a sign on the door that said “John lives here”!  YIKES!

I saw another door further along the building but couldn’t find a path to it, and definitely had to scramble over the snow bank to get to it, but it too looked like a private dwelling.  I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone!  I quickly retraced my steps, stumbling over the snow banks and finally took my glasses off and walked home “blind”.  I can’t begin to tell you how vulnerable this makes me feel!  So I daren’t go back to the store, till I can find out where the door is; and I can’t find the door when my glasses are fogged over.  Good thing it was just an outing and part of the adventure, and I don’t really need anything!

Walking home blind, though, not able to see where the snowmobile path on the cut through was, gave new meaning to the prayer for protection, which states, in part, “enable me to return home in safety”  (The Bab, Baha’i Prayers, p. 116)

I’ve been on a roll with the internet, ever since I got the bandwidth and the router problems sorted out but for the past couple of days Outlook Express is not responding consistently.  Always something!

I had a visit with Alan’s ex-wife today, who confirmed that 20 people living in a 1000 square foot home is not uncommon in this community!

With all due respect to everyone who responded with excellent ideas, until the housing situation is resolved, anything else (including spiritual principles) are just bandaids. Try to imagine 20 people in your house which is only 1000 square feet.  There aren’t enough beds so everyone sleeps in shifts – children are crying; adults are drinking, violence breaks out, there’s nowhere to go to take your children to safety . . . Yes the core activities will help. Of course they will! But then the people go home where there are 20 people in your house and children are crying and  . . .

Here are some of the voices of the women in the study I read yesterday on homelessness:

  • There are a lot of men that rape babies to grannies.  That’s one of the worst things in this town is rape.  The men think we are only here for them.
  • You go with this man even though you don’t want to.  You don’t love him, you don’t like him, but he has a bed to sleep on.  You have no choice but to follow him because you need a place to sleep.  It makes you sick inside, makes you lose your mind.
  • There is a high level of violence in the Inuit culture.  If we don’t come from a healthy environment and we meet someone who initially shows us a little kindness, we will run to them.  Things get progressively worse from there.  It’s a generational thing.  We need an immediate solution.
  • If a woman has just gotten herself out of an abusive relationship, she will usually turn to alcohol and drugs, which can get her into deeper issues, such as involuntary crimes (in order to feed her children) and losing her kids to Social Services.
  • There is no feeling worse than to be homeless, to be unloved and to think that nobody in the community wants you, won’t give you a unit or a house or a place to stay, or just a decent living condition.  It’s really hard.  It’s really depressing. You find a lot of depression in these small communities and suicide, suicide is very high.
  • Students get housing right way, people coming in, Government employees coming in.  And they keep those houses open, even if they don’t have staff to put in them.  It’s always the people that are from here that are homeless
  • For me, the hardest part was losing my kids.  I didn’t have a home, so they were taken from me.  The family services down south—that’s what we don’t have up here.  Because you are homeless you can’t have your kid. It should not be like that.  Society should be saying, “Let’s give her a small place of her own with her kid, let them bond together!  They can get through this trying hard time as long as they are together.”  But no, they are saying, “No, she can’t do it.  Hey kids!  Your mother can’t do this. You have to come with us.”  It shouldn’t be like that.
  • My son worries about things a child should never have to worry about. “Where we gonna sleep tonight, mom?”
  • I know women and children who have had to sleep in dumpsters, curling up next to garbage to acquire heat from its decomposition.
  • I approached social services for help and they said I had to give up my kids. When I went to them for help, that was their idea of help, to take my kids.  I might be homeless but we are still a family.  It was very hard to get help, of any kind.
  • I thought about hiring someone to beat me up, so then I can stay at (women’s shelter).  I know it sounds crazy but that’s what desperation does to your mind when you have no place to go.
  • You know that women’s shelter?  It’s good but you can only stay there one night then you have to go back.  It eats you up inside knowing how it affects your children.  All of this healing stuff I have going on, I feel like I’m the youth here because my children have to lift me up.
  • We are in crisis.  We are in an emergency situation now.  Where there’s homeless people, people are committing suicides, getting health problems, lots of overcrowding, lots of sickness!  There are a lot of health problems associated with our conditions.  Not just physical stuff but mental health as well.  With the depression and suicide rates.

All of this is an answer to my prayer, about how to understand the reality of the coaching client that I am working with, but aside from that, I ask myself “Why God, did you bring me up here to learn this, when I am so powerless to fix it?  What do you want me to do with this information?  What do you want me to do?”

I’m going home in a couple of weeks; I’m someone whose own powerlessness gets triggered in the face of so much pain and then I become ineffective.

Greater minds than mine have looked at this problem; got overwhelmed and went back home.  And I’m going to be yet another one of them . . . this problem is beyond man’s ability to fix, only God can fix it and I don’t know how but I do trust He will.  Please friends, pray fervently for decent  and plentiful housing for the Inuit of Nunavut!

While I was praying fervently for this situation, my prayer beads broke . . . fortunately I was able to gather them all up and put them into a ziplock bag.  I hope the bead store in Bracebridge is still in business when I get home, so they can be fixed!  They’re made of olive wood from the olive trees in Israel and I got them when I was on pilgrimage, so as you can imagine, they have great sentimental value!

Alan’s ex-wife Annie calls me every few days to see how I’m doing but we’ve never met.  This morning she called and asked her usual question and I said my usual “everything’s fine” and then I decided to be honest and I told her I’d just read this disturbing study that talked about the homeless situation in Nunavut and asked if it was still true in this community.  She said it was and I told her how much this hurt my heart.  Truly, I was feeling a lot of distress!  She asked:  “Do you want an owl?”

It was such an odd question and I was in such a vulnerable position, still not knowing if I’d done the right thing to say no a couple of nights ago to the woman who called out of the blue and wanted to sell me an ulu at 11:00 pm; and wondering what role, if any, I could play in trying to alleviate the suffering caused by the homeless situation, so without thinking, I said yes, so she told me what it cost and said she’d be right over!

 

It was made entirely of sealskin by her 81 year old mother.
I like it! It makes me laugh!

 

Tonight I am grateful:

 

  • To finally meet Annie and to learn more about her culture
  • That Annie tried to cheer me up by walking all the way across town to give me an owl
  • That she sold it to me for $5 less than the asking price because that’s all the cash I had
  • That I didn’t stay frozen in a state of helplessness after reading the study on homelessness
  • I was able to find all my prayer beads when they broke
  • That a non-Bahá’í was quick to offer to fix my prayer beads
  • That I’m getting extra assignment this month
  • That my step-sister, who I only met once, 30 years ago, has agreed to meet me in Winnipeg on the way home, to share stories about my Dad

 

 

 


 

Day 45:

Minus 37, partly cloudy, feels like minus 37

I didn’t hear anything back from either of the 2 people I contacted about the sewing class, so I guess that’s a “NO” – I’m really trying to “go with the flow” and not be disappointed in all the things I’ve left undone – a new behaviour for sure!

This afternoon as I sat down to prayers, I noticed that the room looked darker than usual, which was odd, since all the lights were on.  It took awhile to realize that it was because it was still daylight outside (albeit dusk)!  Today is the first time I’ve noticed the longer days, and I am grateful!

Ear infections and tooth decay are two other key problems affecting Inuit children’s health.  Inuit dental caries rates are extremely high, even among children as young as two, and they result from such factors as poor oral hygiene, inappropriate infant feeding habits and a lack of access to professional care. Even though tooth decay among Inuit children is not a life-threatening condition in and of itself, it is expensive to treat, and may affect children’s ability to eat and speak.

Within a few months of signing the NLCA, the Federal Government announced that new construction and acquisition of social housing was to be phased out and responsibly assigned to the provincial and territorial governments.  No special provisions were made for the North or for the Inuit of Nunavut.  Given the historical dependence on public housing, this decision had obvious and profound implications for Inuit.  Public housing programs ceased in Nunavut, even while onreserve housing programs for other Aboriginal Canadians were maintained…  Since 1993, over $3.8 billion has been invested in housing for First Nations, while Inuit—clearly recognized as Aboriginal people—were specifically excluded.

I’d been wondering why the suicide rate in Nunavut was higher than anywhere else in North America, and without knowing she was doing it, a reader of this blog pointed me in a direction which led me to a study whose lead researcher was a Bahá’í, called The Little Voices of Nunavut: A Study of Women’s Homelessness North of 60. 

The main researcher was Judi Bopp, a Bahá’í.

The study clearly and heartbreakingly paints a picture which demonstrates the number one concern of everyone is homelessness!  It’s been a problem since the Inuit moved off the land 50 years ago (in my lifetime) and it’s reached a crisis point now.

The absence of trees means there is no accessible lumber for housing construction, requiring all materials to be shipped or flown in at escalating costs.

More than half the residents receive income supports and live in overcrowded conditions, where 32% have five or more people living in a single room.  Multiple families live together and sleep in shifts within homes that average less than 1000 square feet.   Perhaps as a result, the birth rate is 25% or higher compared 10.5 – 11.2% for the rest of Canada, which means that 35% of the total population is children under the age of 14.

One of the effects of Inadequate, unsuitable, overcrowded housing is family violence; a crime rate over 6 times higher than the rest of Canada; and sexual assaults 25 times greater than the national average.

Homeless women are often forced to engage in sexual relationships in exchange for access to basic needs such as food or accommodation. Being without adequate shelter will cause people to make decisions they would not have made if they had the basic means of living.

Children suffer through constant stress, experience break up of families, and suffer academically. Children living in overcrowded conditions have an inability to concentrate in the classroom, no sense of security, poor nutrition, confused behavior based on the absence of routine, and constant worry about where they will be sleeping that night or how many people will share their room.

More and more kids are being taken away from their families by well-meaning social agencies and put into foster homes and group homes because of homelessness, which causes depression.  Many of the women who had previously used alcohol and/or other drugs “socially”, started to use heavily to “numb the pain” caused by losing their children.  The increased drug and alcohol use leads to more family violence and more crime.

A lack of basic amenities, such as food and adequate shelter, deprives women of the ability to develop self-esteem and capacity, jeopardizes their health and safety, and robs them of any hope of becoming stable members of the workforce.  It is virtually impossible to function productively when basic needs are not being met, when they have no place to rest or complete other simple daily tasks we often take for granted.

You can provide skills training and healing circles, but if women are not able to meet their basic needs they cannot engage fully in any other activity—even if they are there in body—because in their minds they are worrying about where they are going to sleep tonight, how they are going to buy the next pack of diapers or get milk for their children.

No wonder everyone feels so hopeless!

I’m here alone, in a 3 bedroom condo owned by my host, while my Inuit brothers and sisters are living in overcrowded housing, with no hope of finding places of their own.  The more I read, the more I understand why the suicide rate is so high.

I find myself asking:  what role, if any, can I play?

Tonight I am grateful for:

  • more hours of daylight
  • Badger’s chain is unbunched in the warmer temperatures, through no efforts on my behalf
  • Being white and privileged and living in the south
  • housing to live in that is safe, clean, well maintained and subsidized

Day 44: 

Minus 38; partly cloudy, feels like minus 50

Surprisingly, there’s incredible variety of fresh produce here, but it’s hard to keep it fresh long enough for people to buy it – a lot of it goes to waste.

 

The good thing about minus 50 is you know there won’t be any snow to shovel!

On the other hand, Badger’s chain is now bunched up again, and she can only travel about 5 feet away from her doghouse, even after I did my best to unbunch it.  I didn’t notice it at first, and put down her food in the usual spot and then realized she couldn’t reach it, so I had to scoop it all up with my hands, and move it closer  and she was grateful!

Many of you have asked about bootleggers.  I found this in the Nunavut News/North, Monday Jan 7, 2013:

RCMP also announced over the holidays it had acted with communities in intercepting alcohol destined for hamlets around Nunavut that prohibit alcohol.  In all, RCMP V Division seized forty-one 60-oz bottles, eight 40-oz bottles, three 26-oz bottles and twelve 12-oz bottles under the Nunavut Liquor Act.

Muskox Hunt Cancelled:  This year’s commercial muskox hunt near Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, has been cancelled.  Hunters from the community normally harvest about 200 muskoxen over a two week period each year. But this year, the animals are too far from the community for hunters to get them. It’s very noticeable that there’s no animals, even by airplane when you’re flying,” board member Bill Lyall said.  He said the animals are moving north of the community, and east of Cambridge Bay “you might not see a muskox for a whole day,” he said, adding that in past years the animals used to be spotted only 15 or 20 minutes from town.  “Nobody really knows if the numbers are down, but they are moving away from the area,” he said.  Previous estimates of the muskox population near Cambridge Bay range up to about 30,000 animals.

I started working with a coaching client tonight who is Inuit and has been sexually abused and as she was telling her story, I wondered:  what do you do when you live in a small, remote, northern community, and your abuser is here, and you have to see him every day, knowing what he did to you, afraid he would do it again?  How would you get confidential help?  How could you even heal under those circumstances?  I moved half a country away to get away from my abuser, but that was the norm in my culture . . . Unfortunately, she told me, this is all too common a problem here.  Please keep them all in your prayers!

One of my readers wrote to tell us that the dozen killer whales trapped under sea ice with only a single breathing hole have reached safety in Hudson Bay.  Fortunately the winds shifted overnight, pushing floating ice away from the coast and opening the water.  The whales had been jockeying for space to breathe through a gap in the ice.  They they could still be in danger, though because they still have to travel more than 100 km (62 miles) to reach the open waters of the northern Atlantic Ocean. The whales should not even be in the area in January.

Interested in Inuit Art?  Download the Inuit Art Magazine here

Every week the paper prints an obscure photograph and invites readers to guess what it is, to win a prize.  Last week I correctly guessed that the picture was a figure skate.  This week I was pleased to see my guess was right, and shocked to see that no one got it right!  So this week I sent in my ballot, guessing the picture is a hot air balloon.  I hope I win!  And I’m curious to see what the prize is!

Did you ever wonder how small northern communities get their Christmas shopping done without the whole hamlet knowing?  The Co-op store opened its doors exclusively Dec. 18 to men, Dec. 19 to adults, Dec. 20 to women and Dec. 21 to children in order to alleviate family and friends peeping gifts.  The annual system of gift-getting is helped by the Co-op that won’t allow men in on women’s night, for example, or adults over 14 on kids night, while offering 10 percent off on sales. (Nunavut News/North, Monday Jan 7, 2013, p. 15)

The price of children’s toys is expensive, though.

Barbie Dolls range in price from $27.99 to $44.99

 

Toy Story Figurines cost $64.99

 

At 11:00 pm the phone rang – someone for Alan (I thought) but when I said he wasn’t there, she proceeded to tell me she had an ulu for sale.  When it became obvious I wasn’t interested, she told me she needed the money “to buy milk and Pampers for her grandchildren” and she’d sell it to me real cheap.  I’d been warned that people might try this when they were desperate for Bingo money, and asked not to buy, so I repeated I wasn’t interested.  I hung up, feeling awful!  I wished I’d offered her my milk at least . .

Tonight I am grateful:

  • to be in the dying throes of attachment to “shoulds”, since life in the flow is a lot easier and much more enjoyable!
  • that I had a call from a friend at home, telling me they were following this blog!  Thanks Alison!
  • For many others who are joining me on this adventure and writing notes of encouragement
  • that things went well with a new coaching client
  • for continuing to learn new things about this community I can share with others
  • It’s 1:30 am but I’m all caught up on my emails!

Day 43: 

Minus 41 with a few clouds; feels like minus 41

The other day I thought I saw a polar bear – it was something else, of course, but I thought I’d look to see what message polar bear might have for me, and it was all about powerlessness!

It also confirms that I have the:

  • ability to find sustenance in barren landscapes
  • strength in the face of adversity
  • enjoyment of solitude

That sounds about right!

Another reason I like living here:  for 2 weeks I’ve been looking for the local newspapers but all they had were ones I’d already read.  Today there were new one!  I got to the cashier, and she said I could have them for free because they were outdated.  They’d come in outdated and she didn’t think it was right to charge me for outdated news, even though the current editions still hadn’t arrived!  That’s integrity!

Many of you have asked about the effect of the alcohol ban in Rankin Inlet on people’s drinking habits. The following except is from an article in today’s paper.

Having a liquor ban in place during the holidays and crediting it for why people behave themselves, is a mugs game. The problem with the approach, is, of course, some people don’t always behave themselves, liquor ban or no liquor ban. In Rankin Inlet, the RCMP admitted the annual ban on obtaining a permit to order booze – from December 21 to January 3 – had no effect in slowing down calls to the police.  The number and types of calls the police received during the holiday season didn’t change at all. The police in most jurisdictions, when they’re in the mood to be forthcoming with the facts, will tell you they pretty much deal with the same 5% of the community during the holidays as they do any other time of year. Some folks just don’t get it and they never will.

There is but one group of people in the community who benefit from any type of liquor ban and you can find them under the B for bootleggers.

Some studies suggest liquor bans can actually set the table for binge drinking. As the police will attest, people will, in fact, place large liquor orders close to the ban deadline. Many do it with the intention of having enough to make just a little merry throughout the holiday season. The booze is no different than anything else. When there is an excessive amount of something, people will use more of it. Bring the price of bootleg liquor into the picture, people act more radically. They mix their drinks stronger, if at all, and drink faster because at that cost, they want their money’s worth. Unfortunately, with hard liquor, that’s almost always a volatile cocktail that ends with somebody getting hurt and or getting to wear shiny new pair of bracelets for little while during the holidays. When you look at it from those two perspectives, holiday booze bans don’t seem quite so compelling.

It’s been a busy day with 2 study circles and 2 devotional gatherings; assignments from students and coaching clients, so not much new to report.   It’s been a long day – I’m posting at 2:30 am!  Time to go to bed!

Tonight I’m grateful for:

  • Yummy dried tomatoes sent by a friend
  • Steady stream of work
  • Free newspapers
  • A new coaching client and a new referral
  • My bank balance and my budgeting program balance!

 


Day 42:

Minus 42, a few clouds, feels like minus 58

Wind Chill Warning again today:  The combination of temperatures near minus 40 and brisk northwest winds result in extreme wind chill values between minus 55 and minus 58 today. These extreme wind chills will persist in Rankin and Chesterfield Inlet today and will end tonight. At these extreme wind chill values frostbite on exposed skin may occur in less than 2 minutes.

What does that mean in real terms?

Notice on Rankin Inlet’s Facebook page:  Due to the extreme temperatures this morning our school bus would not start. The mechanics are working on it. We will provide an update later this morning.

Pod of killer whales trapped in Hudson Bay:  A community in Quebec’s Far North wants Ottawa to quickly deploy an icebreaker to free about a dozen killer whales cornered under a vast stretch of sea ice.  Locals in Inukjuak are reporting that the mammals are gathering around one hole in the ice in a desperate bid to get oxygen.  Mayor Peter Inukpuk is urging the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to send an icebreaker as soon as possible to make additional holes in the ice to save the animals.  Inukpuk says a hunter from his village first spotted the trapped whales on Tuesday at the hole about 30 kilometres from town. He says the opening in the Hudson Bay ice appears to be shrinking as it freezes over in the frigid temperatures.  One woman who visited the hole says the round gap in the ice was probably less than 10 metres in diameter and that the sometimes-frantic orcas were thrusting themselves skyward for air.  According to the CBC, experts from DFO should arrive in Inukjuak on Thursday.

God has a sense of humour!  I woke up this morning, grateful for the wind chill warning so I could stay in all day and work on my series on fear, which I’ve been trying to get done for the past 2 years!  Instead I found myself getting ready to transcribe notes from a training course I did 2 years ago (which prompted the material on fear).  I discovered that Dragon, the voice recognition software I’m using, had not transferred over from my laptop and it took hours to set it up and “train” it to recognize all the challenging Bahá’í vocabulary!  When I finally got it ready and started dictating, I discovered myself transcribing material on self-hatred.  When it came to this example “I don’t have to fabricate a personality to make sure other people like me” it suddenly stuck me that this is the cause of my defensiveness around not going out into the community more.  I’m trying to be someone I think other people want me to be, instead of being “good enough” just as I am!  Thank you God!  I get it!  🙂

Tonight I’m grateful:

  • That I’m safe and warm inside
  • That I got Dragon set up and working better than on my desktop!
  • That I got the message I was supposed to hear today
  • Tomorrow will be 10 degrees warmer so maybe I can go out
  • For being able to transcribe 17 pages of notes on self-hatred and see where I need some work!

 


Day 41: 

Minus 33 with variable cloudiness; feels like minus 44 with the wind chill

Wind Chill Alert:  Extreme wind chill near minus 58 are expected later today and Wednesday. The combination of brisk northwest winds and temperatures falling towards minus 40 Celsius this afternoon will produce extreme wind chill values between minus 55 to minus 58. At these extreme wind chill values frostbite on exposed skin may occur in less than 2 minutes. Temperatures will moderate Wednesday night.

It’s hard not to feel guilty for not doing direct teaching, especially since I’m here as a travel teacher.  I’m much better at consolidation, and God is giving me lots of ways to accept that’s it’s OK to keep doing what I’m doing.  For example, yesterday’s goal was to go to the café and have lunch (be where people are); and to go to the Art Gallery.  There’s only 4 hours a day of daylight and I don’t see in the dark, so what happened is I didn’t sleep well the night before, and when I finally did get to sleep, I slept till nearly 1:00!  By the time I got showered and dressed, it was time to do prayers with someone over the phone and I lost my chance.

Today my goal was to go to Victim Services and Kivilliq Counselling, to donate a copy of my book “Violence and Abuse:  Reasons and Remedies”, but since I walk everywhere I probably shouldn’t go out for the next couple of days. Man plans and God laughs!  It looks like I’ve been given the “green light” to stay in and write for the next couple of days!

If I lived here full time, I might take cabs more often, but living in 2 places means I can’t afford it.

Poor people’s food isn’t very affordable! The sign says “Kraft Dinner, assorted varieties, $3.35!” I remember when this was 35 cents!

 

Being poor, “food insecurity” means one thing, but here, even if you’re rich, “food insecurity” means you never know when the stores will carry the necessities of life.

 

Yay! The grocery store has food!Sign on Rankin Inlet’s Facebook page reads: “Kissarvik Co-op has received Produce, Dairy, Deli and Frozen Food. We will be fully stocked this morning. Come on over and get your fresh produce!”

Good to know!

A terrifying thought! This place is starting to grow on me! 🙂

I’m totally fascinated by the Inuit way of life.  I can’t get my head around the fact that people in my generation were still being born in igloos – they’ve literally gone from “stone age” to “digital age” in my lifetime, with residential schools in the middle – that’s a LOT of changes in a very short time!  I’d love to sit at the feet of the elders and have them tell me their stories. On top of all that, I like the people and there’s something really endearing about a place where, despite all the hardships, people care about each other and work to support each other. Sort of like Facebook, but colder!

Great News!  The Bahá’í Distribution Service will be sending 100 copies of my book Violence and Abuse:  Reasons and Remedies to the 100 largest Spiritual Assemblies in Canada!  A dream come true!  Thank you God!

Researched, completed and uploaded a 7 page blog posting called “Fighting with God”  https://susangammage.com/fighting-with-god-a-bahai-perspective

As I check the forecast before going out to check on Badger, Rankin Inlet has reached a new low – minus 60 with the wind chill!

Tonight I am grateful for:

  • Finally being able to connect with the Bahá’í Distribution manager who will look into paying me for my books on consignment
  • Bahá’í Distribution are ordering 100 copies of my book and sending them to the 100 largest Local Spiritual Assemblies in Canada
  • A reason to stay indoors for the next couple of days
  • Old friends tracking me down and staying in touch
  • Another blog posting completed

 


Day 40:  

Minus 34 and partly cloudy; feels like minus 34

Another restless night.  I woke up frequently with my body in spasms every time I drifted off to sleep.  I haven’t had this happen for a number of years – it usually was an indication of deep distress, which is puzzling since I’m feeling better and had such a good day.  I took an ibuprofen and was finally able to sleep around 4:30 and slept right through till nearly 1:00!  I’d planned to go to the restaurant, art gallery and victim services but by the time I shower and get ready, there won’t be enough time before Bev calls for prayers and then it will be too dark to go.  Man plans and God laughs!  It’s OK, because I still have lots of work to do and I like it when I’m on a roll.  Yesterday  I finally felt like the “writer’s retreat” purpose of my visit was finally starting, even though I didn’t do any work on my own projects.  It gave me hope for better days ahead though, and I am grateful!

Saw this ad on the Rankin Inlet Facebook page:

Makkuktut Sangiktilirput Youth Program is currently seeking 6 youth (Ages 15-24) who are interested in learning how to make Tuktuqutiks (an ankle boot with double sole) and Pualuks (sealskin mitts)…All Material will be Provided. Program would likely start January 14th 2013 from 9am – 5pm  I am also looking for 2 instructors…if you know anyone that would be a good candidate please call me at the friendship centre 🙂 Qujanamii (means thank you)

 I sent a message to see if I could join if I paid for my own materials?  It would be a wonderful way to learn more about the culture that way.  Hope they say yes!

I love to read postings on the Rankin Inlet’s Facebook page.  It really gives a glimpse into the culture of the community.  From postings like these I see a people who care for each other and for animals; are willing to share their talents and are grateful for what they have!

Here are some recent postings to give you an idea:

I think it would be very beneficial for the Hamlet to offer a course in “Photography”. We have great photographers in the community and maybe one of them can offer a few evening courses or even a weekend course. I think if such a course was offered, there would probably be many of us that would take it. Anyone with me on this?

* * *

 Found a puppy under our truck this morning at area 6.  If this puppy is your puppy please leave a message or call

 * * *

 Just arrived at Kissarvik Co-op. Laptops from Acer and Gateway!

* * *

 Does anyone know Arnie’s phone number. I need our driveway cleared. If you happen to know his number or come across him, please pass on this message.

* * *

 Thanks to the Search and Rescue in Rankin and Whale Cove, my husband is now home.

* * *

 I hate to complain but can someone please come and plow by the new jail and apartment complex. Vehicles are stuck. It hasn’t been plowed for days and if the ambulance ever needs in, they will never get it. Its a matter of safety. Thank you

* * *

Who do we call to enter the talent show this saturday?

* * *

One of the racers from Saturday’s race in her beautiful, warm outfit; I don’t know her name – please share this with her if you do!

 

 

  * * *

 Kissarvik Co-op has received Produce, Dairy, Deli and Frozen Food. We will be fully stocked this morning. Come on over and get your fresh produce!

* * *

 Who would you recommend for a good haircut.??

* * *

 Looking for an elderly man that was in @ Umingmak between 2:00 & 2:30 on Saturday who bought a can of Black Leak Seal…. We owe you a credit back on your order. If anyone knows who he is, please inbox me or send me back into the store with his debit card.

 * * *

 Hard working young man looking for a good job. Has lots of experience with machinery, has a DZ license , good references. CRC. Can start immediately.:0) thank you

* * *

 I would like to extend a BIG thank you to the By Law officers who stopped today to help pull my vehicle out of the snow in front of SAS school where it was left unplowed. Qujannamiik.

* * *

 Thanks for accepting me

* * *

 What would you like to see on sale at the Co-op tomorrow? I will finalize the flyer before 9:00am on Dec 24. Maybe I could include your suggestion in the specials! Please comment.

* * *

 Is there a cake decorating contest this year?

* * *

 Does anyone know why the Post office has been closed from 12:30 – 3:30 pm EVERYDAY for the last 6 – 8 weeks? Maybe it hasnt been that long, but I know its been a lonnnnnnnnnng time! Are all post offices doing this?

* * *

 Thank you David Clark for organizing the Team Tootoo Hockey Camp…its so good to see so many children and youth learning new skills and most of all learning to play as a team and the benefits of sport they will use for the rest of their lives. Job well done! Thank you to all those involved and helping out!

* * *

I just wanted to thank the Hamlet and its crew for maintaining the roads. Nice wide roads now. Thank you to Hamlet Crew!!!

* * *

Felt it should be said, our local restaurants have some of the nicest working servers around. It was nice to be at the Siniktarviik last night and be served by a server with a smile, customer friendly and great service. I’d like to thank Veronica for her fantastic service last night, thanks!

* * *

Does anyone know whats going on with the library? I thought its open in the evenings too, I have a schedule but it’s always closed, been telling my daughter I’ll take her there but it’s always closed.

* * *

Selling TWO whole caribou, freshly caught just today, call 2271 If interested

* * *

I’m looking for a reliable babysitter. Would babysit 5/3/2 year olds in the mornings. 3 and 2 year olds in the afternoons. $70/day. Please inbox me.

* * *

i really want to thank John and Ruth, For the puppy we didnt meet her yet but we want to thank you for letting my kids have another dog and we are going to name her Unayuq, We use to call our dog unayuq, So we are calling her Unayuq still. Just remind us when she is on the plane, So We all go pick her up at the airport Can’t wait to see her!!!!

* * *

I’m still writing names down for anyone that would want to trade places with me, I live in a 2 bedroom detached house and I want to trade with someone who has an upstairs or just a bigger place then the one I am in already!

* * *

Fresh home made pepperoni pizza’s for sale. They will be ready in 1 hour, $30 a pan. Come to Louisa’s apartment in area 6.

* * *

The used clothing store is a block and a half from where I live, but only open from 5:30 – 7:00 pm, so tonight I found the courage to venture out again after dark.  The first block I was fascinated with the colourful haloes around all the lights – a sight I haven’t seen since putting anti-reflective coating on my glasses.  I hope I haven’t ruined it with all the things I’ve used to stop the glasses from fogging up.  Since I don’t see at night, I took the long way round to avoid the treacherous snowmobile shortcut which doubled it to a 3 block trip each way.  By the time I got to the main street, the traffic lights in my eyes totally obliterated my vision and I had to wait to get it back each time, before proceeding.  Needless to say, the store was closed so I couldn’t warm up my glasses before returning home and as usual, I was totally fogged over before stumbling the last few steps to the front door!

My host called from Australia to see how I was making out.  It’s minus 43 here with the wind chill and he and the kids are having a hard time adjusting to temperatures of plus 43!  Guess we’re both longing for a happy medium!

Inuit culture and the modern world are both very important in today’s life, but the kids often get caught between the traditional and modern worlds.  In some cases, parents are afraid to discipline their kids because of their own experiences when they were in residential schools.

Kivalliq Counselling helps people deal with physical and sexual abuse, anger management, marriage problems, anxiety and depression, PTSD, abandonment, grief and loss etc.  The biggest problems they deal with include drug and alcohol abuse among the youth, the affects of residential schools among the elders and parenting skills among the middle generation, which includes children having children at a very young age.  One of the programs they’re most proud of is the Men Rising Up group in Coral Harbour which “stands on the Word of God and that’s why the program is so successful”.   Sadly it will have to close its doors when Health Canada funding ends on March 31, 2013.  I’d planned to donate my book “Violence and Abuse: Reasons and Remedies” to their library and now I’m praying about what to do instead.

I just had an email from Cogeco, my internet service provider at home.  Effective Feb 1 (just in time for my return), they are upgrading my High Speed service at no extra cost to me.  My data usage limit will be increased to 60 GB a month and I will be able to download videos and MP3s 20% faster with enough bandwidth for 60 standard movies, or 24 HD movies plus more than 12,000 songs per month.  Be still my beating heart!

Articles of Interest:

The Kivalliq Outreach Program is designed to support people in building healthy relationships. It helps people understand how historical events in their lives may have influenced their lifestyle choices, and helps them develop the skills for effective, non-coercive communication.

Kivalliq Community Dialogues:  Issues and Ideas for Change:  

Eleventh Hour Reprieve

 Tonight I am grateful for:

  • Consistent internet
  • Increased bandwidth when I get home at no extra charge (10X what I have now!)
  • Courage to go out to the used clothing store at night
  • A brief chat with my son about his new apprenticeship
  • My ipad mini – I LOVE the program with the integrated “to do” list with the calendar, and being able to add “to do” lists for dates in the future!
  • A life in the flow

Day 39: 

Minus 34 and clear (Yay!  The sun is back!); feels like minus 44

It’s Sunday so everything’s closed, and since I like a destination for my walks, I used it as an excuse to stay home and work.  I am in the middle of several projects, going back and forth between them, on a roll.  This is the kind of day that makes me say:  “I love my life and I am grateful”!

I’ll be home a month today and I’m looking forward to it!  My prayer today is that I do everything I’m meant to do in the next month, so I won’t have any regrets when I go home.

Today I’m grateful for:

  • Being able to close the porch door, twice!
  • Making myself a good dinner
  • Spending the day researching the Writings to help 2 coaching clients
  • 5 assignments from my students!
  • New quotes to upload to Bahá’íquotes.com
  • Enjoying my life again

 


Day 38:  

Minus 34 and sunny; feels like minus 50

I’m feeling a LOT better today – it’s amazing how much my spirits have lifted having consistent internet!  I spent most of the day uploading pictures into this blog posting – scroll down and take a look!

Sadly I wonder if in the process, I’ve used up all my bandwidth because it feels like I’m back to dial up – everything takes so long to upload!  For example, uploading a picture took up to 1:43 seconds!

I wish I could have uploaded a lot more!  Pictures say a lot more than my words can convey!

I’m sorry the pictures aren’t properly centred!  Of course I try to line them up that way and I’m always surprised when the computer doesn’t put them where I tell it to!  I’ll go back and fix that another day – for now I’m trying to get the pictures uploaded first, and put my need for perfectionism second!

Another thing that improved my mood was an email from one of the people who stepped in to look after my cats after the pet sitter got sick, which said, in part:

Please. Don’t worry. It’s our pleasure to help u out. No need to feel bad. Gives us all an opportunity to help others which is always a blessing. This u know. So don’t rob us. K. We love u and want u to enjoy this experience for us all. I think it helps us all feel very good about ourselves. See Thx for the blessings here at home. Keep going sweety. We can all do this and will come out better for it. XOXO.

And I was able to complete and upload a Holy Day Program for the Martyrdom of the Bab onto my website.  Researching the Bahá’í Writings always makes me happy!

A blizzard has developed at Rankin Inlet. The near-zero visibilities in blowing snow will last until later today, when winds are expected to abate and visibilities improve. In addition to near-zero visibilities, wind chills in the minus 50 to minus 55 range can be expected. At these wind chill values frostbite on exposed skin may occur in less than 5 minutes.

I only went out to shovel snow, feed Badger and clean up the yard – was out for less than 5 minutes and my glasses were so fogged over I tripped over the snowbank trying to get back indoors!

Glasses completed fogged up in less than 5 minutes!

 

Thawing out the glasses!

There are signs on “healthy” food choices all over the store, showing the price without the government subsidy – in this case, for milk. But as you can see, there is no milk to be had! Nor was there from Dec 27 – Jan 4! I asked the store manager when the milk delivery day was, and like everyone here, he just shrugged his shoulders and said he didn’t know!

 

No milk. Again!

 

In case you can’t read the sign it says that 2 litres of 2% milk would cost $10.20 without the subsidy; and $5.19 with! Thank you taxpayers of Canada!

I’ve been enjoying a case of mandarin oranges I bought on sale after Christmas for $3.99 – the oranges in the case were all still good, seedless and full of flavour!  And I am grateful!

After Christmas Specials

I do most of my reading as I drift off to sleep and I’ve had to stop reading Mulla Husayn.  It’s been interesting so far and I’ve had the opportunity to share a couple of parts with others, but we’re about to get into the sections where so many of the early believers were tortured and martyred in unimaginably cruel ways, and I can’t have those violent, horrific images in my head as I drift off to sleep!  So I’m going to read “Hour of the Dawn:  The Life of the Bab” instead.  (The Báb was a Messenger of God Whose mission prepared humanity for the coming of Bahá’u’lláh)  The story of His martyrdom is one I’m familiar with, and although tragic, was also very inspiring.  You can read about it here.

Things I’m grateful for:

  • I’m feeling a LOT better
  • Consistent internet access
  • Reassurance from the pet sitters
  • Clementines (brought with me) and mandarin oranges
  • Maple syrup (brought with me)
  • I was able to upload a lot of pictures into this narrative
  • I was able to complete another blog posting
  • Work is all caught up

 


 

Day 37: 

Minus 33 with ice crystals; feels like minus 53

With the internet not working again, I didn’t know it was still minus 50 so when I decided to take the modem back to the internet provider and see if she could give me another one, so I went out with only the balaclava and my glasses were fogged over before I got out of the parking lot.

I came home, thawed them out, rubbed on the china pencil for good measure, donned the ski goggles and then went out to clean the yard.  The heavy bag with the wide opening which I’d been using for yard waste had blown away in the night and I couldn’t find it anywhere.  I tried to use a grocery bag instead, but I couldn’t get it to stop flapping in the wind long enough to pour in the shovel full of waste.  Needless to say, it blew away and I chased it all over the parking lot, up snow banks and down, before giving up in defeat!

I went to the internet service provider who (of course) didn’t have any modems to trade – “they might come in today; or next week, or who knows?”  She wanted to keep the modem for a couple of hours and check it for me and I had a meltdown because I’d have to leave it till tomorrow because I can’t see in the dark.  She suggested I take it home, plug it directly into the computer, bypassing the router.

It turns out that some of my internet challenges were caused by the wireless router! I now have the modem connected directly to the computer and have had consistent (but slooooowwwww) internet access for several hours, and I am grateful!

Sadly, my Outlook is now “not responding” . . .

Not wanting to always be dwelling on the difficulties, tonight I am grateful for:

  • Figuring out the cause of the internet slowdowns
  • Phone calls from friends to cheer me up
  • Regular opportunities to pray with people
  • Being warm outside even on the coldest days
  • Getting caught up on work and other emails
  • Being able to laugh at some of the challenges
  • There was milk at the store!
  • Being able to post some pictures on Facebook and hope to add some here tomorrow

 


 

Day 36:  

I went to bed praying fervently for friends dealing with difficult issues, and had a restless night. At 4 am I still couldn’t sleep so came upstairs to see if I had internet access and I did!  Enough to update “day by day” before it went down again, less than 10 minutes later!  I was awake again at 6 am – my hot water bottle had sprung a leak and I was soaking wet and cold!  Still no internet access.

For the past several days I haven’t had internet access for more than 5 minutes at a time; sometimes a lot less; and only a total of less than an hour for the whole day.  When I see that I have it, I rush to load a webpage and do what I have to do, only to have it go down again before I can a job done.

This means whatever I just did, didn’t save or upload and I’ll have to do it again the next time the internet comes on!

Or perhaps the page will load and I’ll try to upload something, only to have it go down again before I can publish it, which means having to redo work several times before it actually gets done.  Eventually it always gets done but not without considerable effort and considerable frustration on my part.  I have no choice but to let go of my need to do things perfectly and to develop patience and I’m trying to be grateful!

For reasons unknown, I now have heat in the bathroom, and I am grateful!

Thursdays are always busy with study circles and devotional gatherings and today was no exception.

I was also working on an article on Mulla Husayn (the very first “Bahá’í”), to use with a Holy Day program for the Declaration of the Báb

Things I’m grateful for:

  • The phone!  I can still call out and receive calls and stay connected that way
  • Heat in the bathroom
  • A small porch and short walkway to shovel
  • Being able to continue with my study circles and devotional gatherings over the phone
  • The ease with which I can do things at “home”
  • I’m now over half way through my visit and I’m sure the last half will go by quickly

Day 35:  Jan-2  Today is the half-way point of my trip! 

Minus 37 with a few clouds; feels like minus 52

How do you dress for minus 52, you ask?  4 layers top and bottom; two layers of gloves/mitts; a balaclava, ski goggles and hat.  I was toasty warm for a 45 minute walk.  I wanted to test out the balaclava/ski goggle combination and I was able to see out a part of the glasses for 15 minutes.  Fortunately I was only steps away from the building supply store before going totally “blind”, and I was able to take the glasses/goggles off and find the rest of the way because I knew what the opening looked like.  I was so pleased, that I decided to walk to the store to get some milk (still not there), another 15 minute segment; and again, I was able to see mostly for the first 12 minutes, and by then I was on familiar ground.  Coming home was a different story – I was “blind” within 10 minutes and had to feel my way along the snowmobile trail with my feet until I was back in the parking lot of the condo.  But all in all, I was pleased with the results – I guess it’s normal to expect fogging at minus 50 and below!

I wanted to get pictures into my “day by day” postings but didn’t have internet access for most of the day.  Again!  This meant I couldn’t find out how to use imovie to put together my video slides or upload some of them to the blog and to Facebook either.  It also meant I couldn’t get on Facebook or contact my friends to feel less isolated.

The lack of internet access is really starting to get me down!  I’ve only had a few minutes at a time for many days in a row.  I wonder if it’s because the kids are home for the holidays and competing for the bandwidth or if there’s some other reason?  In any case, it’s interfering with my job and draining me of my ambition to write.

For a perfectionist and control freak like myself to come face to face with so many ways I am powerless is very humbling, and no doubt part of the reason I’m here.

Tonight’s test:  Because I put weather-stripping around the door to the porch, where I keep my frozen food, it is hard to get the door shut.  I have to slam against it with my shoulder and my full weight, while calling on God’s assistance to be able to put the latch on the door.  Usually it’s a combination that works well, but today I didn’t have enough energy to get it done, even with God’s help; and I had to go to bed with a chair against the door so it didn’t blow open in the night and blast cold, minus 45 degree air into the house and down the stairs where I am sleeping!

I felt sorry for myself most of the day yesterday, and even though I knew Badger didn’t need any food, I went outside before bed to talk to her, knowing she’d give me a full body hug, and grateful to feel God’s love expressed through her as the last thought I had before going off to sleep!  Thank you God for Badger!

I got my ulu!  And I am grateful!  I found an ad on the “Rankin Inlet Sale and Swap” website for an “ulu with hardened steel and caribou antler handle and base”.

 

 

He dropped it off less than an hour after I called to say I was interested and it’s beautiful!  He’s obviously an artist and a craftsperson, and knows what he’s doing.  I asked if he made walrus sculptures and he agreed to make one for me!

I spent the afternoon saying prayers with someone and the evening watching a movie I’d brought with me (The Proposal with Sandra Bullock); and talking with a friend on the phone.

I’m grateful:

  • I’m feeling more positive today!
  • I found an ulu
  • The ulu was delivered to me when promised, and I didn’t have to go find it!
  • The ulu maker will make me a walrus carving
  • I had internet long enough to download my emails this morning
  • I finished reading From a Gnat into an Eagle, the biography of Nat Rutstein, a famous Bahá’í
  • For Alan’s extensive Bahá’í library
  • Someone wrote a biography about Mulla Hussayn, the very first to recognize God’s Messenger for today – I’m starting it next
  • I was able to go for a long walk in such cold weather and be able to see for large parts of the way
  • I was able to watch a DVD I’d brought with me


 

Day 34:  Happy New Year! 

Minus 28 with light snow; feels like minus 39

Sorry to say, I’ve had a really down day today, feeling sorry for myself and mired in shame for leaving my cats behind for other people to look after while I took off for an adventure.  I’ve heard some things about the state of the apartment that make me realize my pet sitter has not been well for some time, and has not been able to look after their needs adequately.  Fortunately 2 other neighbors have agreed to step in and look after them till I get home, and for that I’m profoundly grateful.  At the same time, 5 more weeks is a lot to ask of anyone, and I’m also feeling powerless and ashamed, and very far from home.

I’m trying to focus on the things I’m grateful for:

  • Loving, selfless, sacrificial neighbors
  • Chocolate
  • Heating pad
  • Facebook friends
  • Friends who call and email and send presents so I feel connected
  • Badger’s chain is better today
  • It’s going to get warmer next week
  • Tomorrow marks half way for my stay and the last half will go quickly
  • I got my rent paid before the internet went down again
  • My ipad mini
  • Tomorrow’s another day and hopefully I’ll feel better after a good night’s sleep

 


 

 

Day 33:  New Year’s Eve

Minus 29 and partly cloudy; feels like minus 40

Annual Sealift:

Sealift is a vital link for all Nunavut communities and their residents to obtain their annual re-supply of goods and materials needed throughout the year. Things that are shipped include construction materials, vehicles, heavy equipment, house wares and non-perishable items.

Typically, sealift takes place between late June and late October each year.  Delivery schedules are published and are often met in spite of sometimes extreme weather conditions at sea as understandably due to inclement sailing weather, sea and ice conditions encountered while enroute schedule variations can occur.

There’s a lot to consider before deciding to order via sealift.  You can’t just order the goods and expect them to appear in your community. You have to be involved at many levels and take responsibility for their safe delivery to the ship and to your home.

Before you place the order and arrange for packaging you must book space on the sailing that you want to use to your community. You need to make sure there is adequate space. If space is confirmed, they will give you a booking number that you will need to give to the supplier and (if different from the supplier) the packaging company as well.  This number and the consignee, and final destination must be painted onto your shipment so that it is loaded in the correct place and is entered in the ship’s manifest.

Two companies have contracts with the Government of Nunavut to provide yearly sea lifts into Rankin Inlet:  Northern Transportation Company which provides services from Churchill, Manitoba; and Nunavut Sealink & Supply which provides services from Montreal.  This is good because if there isn’t room on one ship for your cargo, you might be able to get it on the other, without having to wait another year!

If you are buying stock items from a southern supplier, you need to start making inquiries and receiving estimates no later than the end of January for the coming re-supply season.  If you are buying goods that need to be specially ordered or the shipment needs assembly from a number of different suppliers, then you should start no later than the end of November of the previous year.

You must respect the dates given by the shipping companies for delivery of cargo to them. As all goods are loaded into ships according to the community and when that community’s goods will be unloaded, late deliveries cause considerable problems and may not be acceptable. Goods could be refused.

Things that need to be considered for getting an estimate for shipping cargo via sealift:

  • Weight including the crate it will be packaged in (in kilograms)
  • Volume of the crate it will be packaged in (in cubic meters)
  • Price of packaging
  • Price of getting the goods from the supplier to the ship
  • Fuel adjustment factor
  • Insurance costs
  • Delivery costs in the community

You must ensure that you can afford to pay for the goods, their packaging and their shipment as all need to be prepaid.   As expensive as all of this seems, it is still the most economical way to transport bulk goods to the arctic.

Special Note:  Using a Freight Container (“Seacan”)

Using a freight container can reduce costs, but until handling facilities are available in each community, you need to be able to fill it to make it worthwhile. One way of doing this is to join with another person or possibly with some other families to put together enough goods to make it worthwhile.

Each company providing re-supply service prices their containers differently. There will be a price for transporting the container, but there may also be prices for using the container, and returning it. The companies will also make a charge if you do not return the container with the ship or barge that brought it. Keeping the container until the next season could cost you as much as $1,000, and the cost of using the container and then returning it could, with one company, be almost as much again.

A solution would be to purchase your own second hand container, particularly if you plan to store goods in it for some time, and the storage space would be useful in the future. Used containers vary in cost, but are generally about $2,500 delivered to Montreal. If you do buy one, make sure it is 20’ long and has fork lift pockets for safe handling from ship to shore. You should purchase from a reputable supplier that guarantees that the container is water tight and has working door locks and seals.

Although using a container may sound expensive, you do not have to spend money on extra packaging. For example, if you were shipping 20 cubic metres of goods, packaging alone would cost about $2,500, to which you would have to add as much again in freight costs.

Badger’s chain all bunched up

She has faith I’m going to fix it for her!

When I went out to feed Badger before going to bed (minus 40 with the wind chill), her chain was all frozen together and bunched up in clumps and she could only “travel” half as far as normal.  I’ve never seen anything like it before!

I untangled it in one spot and it tangled up again in another.  I left her with a slightly longer chain than when I started, and I could tell she appreciated my attempts to free her.  Unfortunately my face was starting to freeze and I couldn’t really see what I was doing in the dark so I’ll have to wait till morning when I can see better.   I felt bad I couldn’t do more for her, but hopefully she’ll spend the night in her house and won’t want to be wandering further away.

This is what it looked like AFTER I untangled every link one by one!

She does not look happy!  🙁

There aren’t any roads in or out of the community, so if you want to buy a car, you’d buy it in Thompson Manitoba and wait till it could be brought in by sea lift in the summer.  It costs around $3000 to ship it.  If you’re in a hurry and want it right away, you can have it sent by air cargo, for about $10,000.  Some communities only receive one guaranteed shipment per year by the GN contracted carrier.

I spoke to the Northern Store manager who explained the plebiscite to me, and the state of alcohol in this community.  First of all – if I wanted to buy a case of beer, I would have to apply for and pay for a liquor licence here in town, which might cost around $14.  Then I would place the order, probably from the liquor store in Churchill Manitoba.  I would have to pay for the beer to go to the airport from the liquor store via taxi, then pay the cost of shipping it air cargo to Rankin.  A case of beer could therefore cost me about $73.  In theory, I could have it here the next day which is faster than the store can get milk!  If I was going out of the community and wanted to buy alcohol at a liquor store and bring it back in my luggage, I would still need to buy a permit for it, or it could be confiscated at the airport.   I’m glad I don’t drink!

Organizations such as the legion currently have to apply and pay for a liquor licence to sell beer for each event they have.  With the plebiscite, they will only have to apply and pay for a special events licence once a year.  This would mean that you could only get a beer at an event; you still couldn’t go for a beer anywhere in town with your buddies after work.

Just has an email from a Baha’i who has accepted a job at the elementary school here in Rankin. She’ll be moving here mid-January!

How are the locals celebrating New Year’s Eve you ask?  The consensus seems to be spending it with family; or going to a dinner and dance at the hotel.  Me?  It’s always been a non-event for me, and I am grateful!  Be safe everyone, wherever you are and whatever you do!

It’s 11:20 pm on New Year’s eve and there are a lot of emergency sirens going.  I’m reminded of the sirens I heard on Christmas Day night and wonder if there’s an emergency or if it’s a town event.  I’m praying anyway, just in case!

I researched, wrote and uploaded a blog posting looking at Healthy and Unhealthy Guilt and Shame, which ends with a couple of stories that move me to tears!  Have a look and let me know what you think!

Tonight I’m grateful for:

  • I was able to get to the stores and back with only a minor fogging of my glasses!
  • Although most of the milk aisle was still empty, there was a 1% Lactose Free milk and I didn’t even notice the difference!
  • Taking a lot more pictures and video of the stores
  • Being able to put all my pictures and videos into iMovie (now I just have to figure out what to do next!)
  • Learning more about the community
  • Another blog posting done easily and effortlessly
  • Another Bahá’í moving to Rankin Inlet
  • Chocolate!

Day 32: 

Minus 32 with a few clouds and ice crystals; feels like minus 46

Last night before going out to feed Badger, I cut a couple of slits in my face mask, enlarging the mouth holes, hoping that would make a difference – but when I tried it on, in the house, my glasses fogged up within seconds!  I tried plugging my nose near the top and sure enough, my glasses cleared!  I went in search of a clothespin, wondering if I put it over my nose, on top of the facemask, would that solve the problem?  I didn’t find one but I did find an ordinary balaclava.  I put it on and breathed heavily and the glasses stayed clear!  A lot of my cheek and nose were still exposed (which would open me up to frostbite at these cold temperatures), so I put on my ski mask and it covered everything.  Breathing heavily, my glasses stayed clear!  I was eager to try it out this morning, but it’s Sunday and the stores are all closed!  All dressed up and nowhere to go!

I heard from a pioneer in a nearby community – he had a problem with one of his teeth and because there was no dentist; nor was he able to fly out to see one, he ended up pulling the tooth by himself, with a pair of pliers and prayed that God would recognize his sacrifice in the path of service.  My experiences pale by comparison but this is the reality for these stalwart souls who continue to serve here, year after year!

I sure miss trees of any kind above the tree line, where everything is white on white!  Maybe that’s why the buildings are all different colours!  🙂

Someone asked me why, if the street names are all anglicised, am I having difficulty finding my way around the community? It’s because names such as these don’t stay in my head very well:  Iqalugaarjuup, Sanatuliqsarvik, Siniktarvik, Kataujaq, Ayaruaq; Uqaqti, Aivilik.

Reflecting on previous pioneer experiences and what makes this one so difficult, I realize it’s because with the others, there was the presence of other pioneers and Bahá’ís close by to ease my way, whereas this one I’m totally on my own.  I’m grateful to have had both experiences!

Beautiful sunset out my kitchen window . . . at 2:30 pm!

I’m fighting the urge to make myself some double fudge chocolate cookies, knowing if I do, I’ll just eat them all!

What religion do the Inuit people believe in?  The Inuit People formerly believed in Animalism, which means that they believed all living and non-living things had a spirit. That included people, animals, inanimate objects, and forces of nature. When a spirit died, it continued living in a different world- the spirit world. The only people who had enough power to control the spirits were the powerful religious leaders called the Shamans or ‘Angakoks’. Shamans used charms and dances as a means to communicate with the spirit world. Shamans also wore carved masks-mostly representing animals- while performing their rituals. It was believed that masks had powers that enabled them to communicate with the spirits. To appease the spirits the Shamans would make recommendations. They would suggest offering gifts to the spirits, moving away, and sometimes would fine the person for breaking the rules and angering the spirits.  However the majority of current Inuits are Christians.

I spent time organizing my pictures into a PowerPoint presentation and then realized that I could make a movie using imovie on my ipad.  I downloaded it just before going to bed and will look forward to playing with it in the days to come.

List of things I’m grateful for today:

  • I’m grateful I saw the sun today.
  • I’m grateful I had internet connection for much of today
  • I’m grateful Angela and Bonney are stepping in and looking after my pets since Dorothy can’t do it any longer.
  • I’m grateful Angela changed the water and cleaned out my aquariums (above and beyond the call of duty!)
  • I’m grateful I have people to say prayers with every day.
  • I’m grateful to be able to share this adventure with others via facebook and the blog; and receive support and encouragement.
  • I’m grateful for all the internet access I do have

Day 31: 

Minus 30 with a few clouds; feels like minus 40

The internet was working when I got up this morning so I tried to catch up on my work while I had it, afraid to go get a coffee or have breakfast in case it went down again.  I’ll never take internet access for granted again!

Yay! I have internet access!

I tried to take a picture of the “no internet access” symbol on my computer; and every time I got the camera poised; it came back on again for a few seconds before it went out.  I’d get the camera poised to take the icon again and it would come on again!  This went on for several hours before I gave up!  Welcome to my world!  🙂

Of course, giving up is the best time to get what you’re looking for, and as you can see, I was finally successful!

Success! (at catching the icon)
Failure! (at getting anything done)

On a roll with work, and wanting to hold on to hope as long as I could, it was hard to go outside today.  If I didn’t have to go out to feed Badger I might have used the wind chill of minus 40 as an excuse to stay home.  But once committed, I applied a second coating of the China pencil to my glasses and determined to go somewhere, anywhere.  I wanted to go back to the Matchbox Gallery and check out the lumber supply store (unfamiliar routes); and I needed milk (familiar route).   Where should I go?  While I was feeding Badger and cleaning up the yard, that was my prayer.  Alas, by the time I was finished the glasses were fogging but I was committed to going somewhere. After stumbling my way through the uneven, unpaved parking lot to the street, I realized I couldn’t do it.  Defeated, I returned home.

The sad part in all of it is that despite the cold temperatures, I have all the right clothes and the health and motivation to go for a good long walk and stay warm.  I wish there was a way I could see!

Today was a day of researching lots of things on lots of topics.  I started looking for anything on the internet which talked about Inuit Bahá’ís and found:

  • Bill Ekomiak, an Inuit (Eskimo) elder and a Baha’i from Canada. He is also an accomplished entertainer, stone carver, storyteller and fiddler.  Over a growing concern about the worsening state of the world he decided to go on a speaking tour to talk to people (68 mins)

Finished and Uploaded Bahá’í Quotes on Teaching the Inuit 

Researched quotes on the role of husbands and wives in the Bahá’í Faith and “glasses fogging over in the Arctic” and after eliminating everything I’ve already tried, the consensus seems to be contact lenses or laser surgery!  I wore contact lenses for 40 years but had to give them up when I was in Labrador – combination of dry climate and dry eyes with menopause.  The only other solution seems to be laser surgery, which I don’t qualify for, because of my extreme myopia!

There are a few more things I could try before giving up:

  • Lock de-icer
  • Shaving cream
  • Enlarge the breathing holes on my mask
  • Fresh cut potato
  • Snorkel!  This makes me smile, but it might just work, because it would vent all the hot air away from my face and the glasses!

Change in Liquor Law  (Kivalliq News, Wednesday Dec 19, 2012, p. 6)  The community of Rankin Inlet voted in favour of a change to liquor regulations governing the sale of beer in the hamlet this past week.  The plebiscite was held during the municipal election in Rankin.  A petition carrying more than 20 signatures initiated the plebiscite, which asked voters if they were in favour of removing the legal restrictions on the sale of beer in Rankin.  The Yes side carried the day when 359 people of the 545 who cast a ballot voted in favour (66%).  A total of 184 (33%) voted No to the question.  The Yes vote means organizations such as the Royal Canadian Legion will be able to sell beer to patrons at their events as per the terms of their club licences.

Note to self for next time I come:  if I had hair covering my ears and neck, I wouldn’t need to cover my head inside the house!

I’m pretty sure I saw an arctic fox go past my window today.  If so, the message to me is to “go with the flow of life, changing ourselves to suit our ever-evolving environments”.  That sounds about right!

Dorothy called earlier today to tell me there’d been a lot of fish deaths in my aquarium.  She admitted to not feeling well herself and I ended the call worried about my cats.  I emailed Angela and Bonney (a couple of friends in the building) to see if they would help Dorothy look after them and they called together this afternoon to say they would.  They had me laughing and their call really cheered me up.

When it looked like the Smart Cover for my ipad mini was lost in transit, Apple sent me a second one, which they told me I could keep when the original one showed up.  When I was checking out the “Rankin Inlet Sale and Swap” yesterday, someone was looking for a Smart Cover!  What are the chances?  She paid me more than the going rate and I am grateful!

I’m someone who’s always needed to be in control and here I have no control over my ability to see in the cold outdoors; to feel warm indoors; to have reliable internet access to do my job; or to have easy access to the basics of everyday life. It’s definitely teaching me detachment, patience, radiant acquiescence and reliance on God, and I am grateful!

Yes, I’m definitely looking forward to coming home.  I’m glad I’m here and I’m enjoying every minute of the experience, challenges and all, but I’ll be glad to get home too!


Day 30: 

Minus 23, partly cloudy with ice pellets; feels like minus 31

With the colder weather today, I needed to wear the face mask again, which seems to guarantee my glasses will freeze, and sure enough, even with Judy’s anti-fog mitt liberally spread over them, I was fogged over in less than 30 seconds.  My choices seem to be frostbite or vision!  With my glasses I am blind; without my glasses, all I can see are shapes and colors.  I can see the oncoming cars and snowmobiles as shapes, but can’t tell how far away they are or how fast they are travelling.  To see detail of any kind (street signs, faces), I have to be less than a foot away.  I picked up the China pencil Marlene sent today – it’s my last hope!

I got home from my errands about 15 minutes before saying prayers with Bev, and my prayer request was for peacefulness.  Even though I could do what I had to do without my glasses; it totally freaked me out to be fogged up again, walking there and back without them on.  It put me into a state of panic that I didn’t even recognize till I started to talk to her.

Directions on the red China marker (my last hope for clear glasses):  Press tip repeatedly to start ink flow.  Allow to dry for 24 hours after application then bake in oven for 40 minutes at 325!  LOL!

I finally got to Ivalu, the Inuit arts and crafts store.  I was looking for some slippers, a walrus carving and an ulu.  My host’s Inuit name means walrus so I thought if I got a small walrus carving, it would be a good souvenir of my time here.  Alas, they didn’t have anything like that, although you often see walrus in pictures of this area.  Matchbox Gallery didn’t have any either.

I’ve fallen in love with the ulu – which is a semicircular knife, which has all sorts of practical uses in the kitchen.  Again I’ve been looking all over town for them and several Inuit people have suggested Ivalu.  They did have one, but it was $100 and I worried it was more a “souvenir” than the real thing.  Someone suggested a “swap and sale” page on Facebook, so I put out a request there and we’ll see what comes of it.  Someone wanted a smart cover for an ipad mini (Apple shipped two to me and said I could keep the extra one), so I offered to trade it for an ulu, but was told that all of hers had sentimental value!

Aside from prayers and consultations with others over the phone, I spent the bulk of the day researching Bahá’í quotes on the Inuit; and working on my series on fear.

 


Day 29:  

Minus 22 with a few clouds; feels like minus 34

Rules posted prominently inside the arena door:

 

 Put your garbage in the trash can.

Do not spit anywhere.

No running or horseplay.

No hanging around in the bathrooms.

Zero tolerance for vandalism. Anyone caught will be fined $500.

Only players, coaches and parents allowed in the dressing rooms.

No minor hockey players are allowed on the ice without a coach.

All kids under 12 must leave the building at 10:00 pm unless with a parent.

No smoking within 5 metres of the building.

No chewing snuff in the complex.

No offensive language.

If you break any of these rules you will be asked to leave immediately.

If you don’t leave when asked, a bylaw officer will escort you out.

Success!

After asking 3 people, climbing over snowbanks and wading through a lot of new-fallen snow, I finally found Ivalu (the Inuit arts and crafts store)!

Disappointment!

Unfortunately they were closed for lunch!  No worries, I thought.  I’ll walk over to the Northern Store and pick up my cayenne tablets from the pharmacy; and get some milk.  Alas, the pharmacy was closed.  Again.  As it has been every time I’ve been there (except the day I ordered the cayenne).

Pharmacy closed. Again!

And of course, they were out of milk!  I did ask about the hours for the pharmacy – they’re closed from 12-1.  Guess I’ve always come at lunch times, trying to get to the post office before it closes for a very long lunch from 12:30 – 3:30!  It was too cold to hang out outside; and too hot to hang out inside.  My glasses were fogged over despite the anti-fog glove AND the jacket with the glorious hood.  I was getting a blister on my heel, so I just went home.

The good thing about my glasses fogging over is that after a week where I could see where I was going, I have a better sense of direction and wasn’t afraid of getting lost; and with more snow having fallen, the snow banks at the edge of the road are more defined, so I wasn’t quite as panicked as I was before when I couldn’t see.  And I am grateful!

Badger (the dog) has the sweetest personality! Lately when I go out to feed her, she stands on her hind legs and gives me a full body hug!  Life doesn’t get better than that!

I spent the rest of the day writing a 5 page talk about Bruce Matthews, who was a “Knight of Bahá’u’lláh” for Labrador.  I met him once and felt a special affiliation to him in the days when I too was a pioneer in Labrador.  In our Ruhi Book 8 study circle, we all have to pick someone who attained this station and give a presentation, and I wanted to get it done early so I’d be ready.

I also completed a 7 page blog posting looking at the relationship between Doubt and Fear, and was able to upload it before I went to bed, and I am grateful.

Still no internet access so I’ll have to post this in the morning.  Hope you all had a great Christmas!

🙁

 


 

Day 28:  Boxing Day

Minus 12 and light snow; feels like minus 22

Still no internet access when I got up, nor does it look like there was all night, since I’m not able to access my email either online or through Outlook.

I’d assumed everything would be closed for Boxing Day and was surprised when the garbage truck arrived.  The garbage is stored in open bins across the parking lot, and since it’s been snowing for many days in a row, the garbage workers had to pick through the snow to collect the bags, many which are opened by the ravens.  When I took the garbage out the other day, I was surprised by a little dog jumping out.  It must have been scavenging for food too.  Being a garbage collector in Rankin Inlet is not a job I’d want!

This is what the garbage bin looked like a couple of hours after the garbage men collected the garbage.  I bet there’s still a lot of garbage below the snow!

I was suffering from cabin fever this afternoon, and since there was still no internet, I decided to go for a walk and try to find Ivalu, the Inuit Arts and Crafts store.  At the last minute it occurred to me that today might be the warmest day I have for taking pictures and videos of the area, so even though I really don’t know how to use that feature of the ipad mini, I decided now was as good a time as any to learn.  I put on an old coat I found in the laundry room – torn down one side; and the zipper broken at the neck, but it had the glorious fur-lined hood and even better, front pockets just the right size to tuck in the ipad mini!

As I left the complex, 3 youth stopped and asked me where I was from.  I decided “Toronto” was the best answer and we had a short conversation about the CN Tower and did it really have a glass floor.  Satisfied with my answer, they walked on.

There were a lot of people out walking in my neighbourhood, and I asked several people where Ivalu was when it became obvious it wasn’t where Google Maps said it would be either.  As with everyone I asked, their answers were vague:  “up that street, then that way then that way.”  If they were right, it put me back in the same neighbourhood as the Northern Store, where everyone suggests it is.  I walked up and down all the streets looking for it, and of course, I didn’t find it anywhere!

I passed another couple, all of us clutching our hoods to our faces, and they said “Cold out today, isn’t it?” (on the warmest day since I’ve been here!)  Makes me wonder if they go out on colder days!  🙂

I was on a roll taking pictures and enjoying the walk, so went up to the hospital before turning back; then walked along the other side of the lake, still looking for Ivalu.  Instead I found a General Store and TruValu Hardwear, which was open and busy!  Long lineups at the counter with people buying mostly snack food.  I walked up and down the Christmas-ravaged aisles and was still impressed by the quality and quantity of goods.  It seemed to me that they had a better variety of things than the department store!

I ventured further up that road and saw a lot of cars parked in front of the arena, so asked what was going on.  It was a “Minute to Win It” competition.  Not being a TV watcher I wasn’t familiar with this game, but someone assured me it was very popular and I was welcome to come in.  I did for a few minutes, and watched 3 people in what looked like a “chug-a-lug”.  The arena was full of people sitting along the side walls watching, and the concession stand was doing a brisk business selling pizza and pop.  The sun was going down fast and I didn’t want to be stuck on the other side of town after dark, so I didn’t stay longer.  I could see that if I lived here, it would be a fun way to spend an afternoon on Boxing Day, but I was happy exploring the other side of the lake.

Three quarters of the way around the lake I realized that I was near the airport!  I could see the runway and the wind sock, and while I was taking a video, a plane conveniently took off to prove it!

The runway is just past the cement truck

I walked past the Building Supply store,  which I’d been told was “out by the airport”, about 7 kilometres away . . . it’s probably only a 15 minute walk from home!  I’m looking forward to checking it out next week.

All in all, I was out for a couple of hours.  I don’t know if it was the anti-fog mitt; the warm weather or the fur-lined hood, but my glasses stayed fog-free and I was grateful!

Sadly when I got home, I couldn’t find any of the video footage on the ipad – just a few pictures; which, when I finally had internet connection and tried uploading them to Facebook, the internet went down again and I lost all the captions I’d put under each one!

“Unable to post comment. Try Again”

Spent the evening watching part 1 of “The Promise of All Ages”; the story of the life of Bahá’u’lláh.

I’ve been reading Ali’s Dream,  by John Hatcher, which is also the story of the life of Bahá’u’lláh, but more detailed, so the two together gave me a lot more information about the Founder of the Bahá’í Faith.

There’s a lot of organized events in the community over the holidays:


 

Day 27:  Christmas Day

Minus 12 with light snow; feels like minus 22

When I was researching Rankin Inlet, the mean average temperature in December was minus 60 with the wind chill – except for a few days at minus 55 after my arrival, it’s been pretty warm, all things considered; though temperatures are all going downhill after today; dipping into the minus 30-minus 40’s.  That means I’ll be back to wearing a face mask and can try out Judy’s anti-fog mitt on my glasses; and if that doesn’t work, Marlene is sending a China pencil which my optician swears by.  I love living with hope!

Just a few seconds of internet access today, so I’m taking it as a sign to work on my new book on anxiety and fear.  I posted one article to my blog:  Fight, Flight or Freeze   and organized nearly 70 pages of quotes into some semblance of order.

Every time I go downtown, I look for the Inuit Arts and Crafts store.  Everyone I ask gives me vague directions on how to get there, so I now know where it isn’t!  By accident I saw reference to it, so now I know how it’s spelled and Google Earth showed me where it is on the map, so after the holidays I’ll try to find it again.  While looking for it, I came across a website that sells beautiful handcrafted Inuit dolls. 

What did I have for Christmas, you ask?  Marlene sent me a present to open; my son and another couple of friends called.  The avocado I’d bought to sprout for my host had reached the height of perfection, so in honor of the day, I made guacamole and enjoyed the festive red and green coloured yumminess.  Dinner was a turkey casserole I’d made with leftovers from Thanksgiving and brought with me.  And I was grateful for all of it!

For the past few nights, there have been fireworks displays put on by the town and by individuals that I could hear and see from my apartment, but tonight, as I wait for my turkey dinner to finish cooking, I keep hearing emergency vehicle sirens, going on for a long time, and out my kitchen window I can see a steady stream of vehicles a couple of blocks away, all with their emergency flashers on.  I’m sending prayers to whoever might need them and to all the emergency workers too.

I went out to feed Badger tonight and there was a lot more snow to shovel.  Sadly, it doesn’t look like the antifog glove works . . . My glasses fogged over again pretty quickly.  🙁

Still no internet access so I’ll have to post this in the morning.  Hope you all had a great Christmas!


 Day 26: 

Minus 12 with light snow; feels like minus 26

I didn’t have internet access for most of yesterday, so I went to bed and woke up about 1:30 in the morning, inspired to see if it was on.  It was, so I was able to get everything caught up in the middle of the night!  And I am grateful!

My Outlook isn’t responding again today; but my internet seems to be so I’ve been able to check all my emails online.  This being Christmas Eve, it’s been a quiet day email wise and I am grateful!

When I was out shovelling snow, I noticed that Badger had a playmate!  Another husky, larger, and not tied up, had come for a visit.  I was impressed at how well they played together for a few minutes; no barking, and the other dog didn’t eat Badger’s food.  Then without me even knowing, it went on its way leaving Badger alone again!  Any time I’ve seen other dogs in sight, Badger has been barking continuously, as if she wanted to go play, but with this one here, playing with her, she didn’t need to bark, and I was grateful!

Two pieces of information I thought might be interesting:

During blizzards (3 since I’ve been here), it’s harder to get on to the internet, not because the wind is interfering; but because the schools are closed and the kids are all competing for the bandwidth!

The public library is in the high school.  The adult fiction section is in a locked room and the librarian has to give you access (and no, it’s not that kind of “adult” fiction!).  There is no card catalogue or computerized listing of the books on hand; instead there’s a handwritten list “somewhere” (probably with the same person who knows the wireless password)!  When I went to check out a book, the librarian (teensomething?) was watching a movie in the back room with her friends and had to put the movie on pause to help me!  I was asked how long I wanted to borrow the book!  Then my first name and last 4 digits of my phone number were written onto a card with the book’s title.  I wasn’t sure I had the phone number right, but that didn’t seem to matter.  I didn’t have to show proof of residence – it was all done on the trust system!


Day 25: 

Minus 21 and overcast; wind chill minus 36; blizzard warning

 Blizzard beginning this afternoon. This is a warning that blizzard conditions are imminent or occurring in these regions. The combination of an Arctic high pressure system over the Northwest Territories and a strong low pressure system moving through Quebec will give snow and increasing winds to the Kivalliq today. As the winds increase, visibilities will be reduced in blowing snow. Strong north winds of at least 50 gusting to 70 km/h along the Hudson Bay coast, along with falling snow, are likely to give sustained blizzard conditions beginning this afternoon and ending Monday. Monitor weather conditions..listen for updated statements.

I stayed up late last night doing a tedious but necessary job.  My database of quotes for bahaiquotes.com had exceeded 1500 pages in a word document and although I liked having them all in one document, it was taking too long to repaginate every time I added a new quote.  So I painstakingly created a separate folder for each letter of the alphabet and then transferred the quotes over, file by file.  I hope it makes entering new quotes more efficient; and I hope the search feature will let me search for the quotes I need quickly.

No internet again for most of the day.  It’s 7:00 pm and it’s only been on once, long enough to download some emails but not long enough to do any work online.  I’m so glad I was able to catch up on so much yesterday!  Today I’m trying to hold on to gratitude for “enough” internet access to meet the needs of my students and clients.

Success!

I’m reading “My African Heart” by Bonnie Fitzpatrick-Moore, an African American who pioneered to South Africa in the 1970’s, at the height of apartheid.  Imagine a black couple deliberately choosing to go to a place where black people were not welcome and treated abominably!  She talks about going into mud huts to talk to people about the Bahá’í Faith.  She said that because she was coming as a guest, the floors would have been freshly laid with cow manure in her honour!  She says:

 “What an intoxicating smell in the intense heat of summer!  The flies would be everywhere, because they are attracted by the smell and all things wild and wonderful would be biting you.  I learned the hard way that once you started to scratch or allow that minor thing (the bite or the buzzing on insects, or the chickens or goats running around) to distract you, you lost all conscious thought about teaching and your responsibility as a good guest.  If you lost your focus, the next thing you knew you were appending all your time sitting there in absolute misery scratching digging, poking, and swatting flies and trying not to step or sit on this bug or that.  You would find yourself so far away from the reason that you came there in the first place.  I found that if I once gave in to the temptation, I became a distraction to what was going on in the room.  So while I sat there I used to pray for Bahá’u’lláh to calm my spirit, and to allow me to become blind to irritations, so that I wasn’t the causes of estrangements.  I became aware of the awesome power of prayer.  It seems a strange thing to pray for, but I can tell you I spent many an hour sitting in many a hut in various villages praying to be transported beyond this physical realm, to have my awareness taken away from those physical irritations.”  (p. 76)

My African Heart

It was a powerful reminder, given at just the right time!  The wonderful thing about reading this passage at this moment, is that I’d become acutely aware of how much the quiet in the house was getting to me, not being able to have Radio Nur on in the background; and how the incessant howling of wind could drive a person crazy.  It reminded me that my irritations are all mental, and solveable with patience; but hers were physical and intense, with no way to abate them but prayer.  How lucky I am to be here instead!

Before my host left, he said it was the dearest wish of his heart to come home to some plants.  He hoped that if I met people here, I’d find someone with cuttings to share; and I certainly understand the need for green things growing in this polar desert!  I put a request out on the hamlet’s facebook page; and mentioned it to a couple of people but didn’t get any takers.  So I decided to try to root a pineapple top and an avocado pit for him!  Tonight I tackled the pineapple, with a curved Inuit knife called an “ulu”.  I’ve fallen in love with this knife!  It was designed for skinning animals, so it had no trouble giving me the maximum amount of pineapple with a clean cut skin!  And I am grateful!  Please pray that the top roots and doesn’t rot!

The other night I had a dream about a cougar, which symbolizes courage.  Richard Hastings, a Bahá’í who analyzes dreams suggested in part:

 The cougar is a symbol of being courageous and independent.   So you are trying to take back your courage and independence.  You can bring the cougar inside of you as if you are a cougar.  The exercise would be to bring the cougar inside as if you were a cougar and then feel and see and hear what that is like, then use it.  The goal is be a cougar with pure intentions.  When you can let go of physical concerns, bring the resources inside of you and use them, then amazing things will happen.

I realized that I don’t know much about courage, though I think my life has been a courageous one in many ways.  I was curious to see what light the Bahá’í Writings could shed on this concept so I put together a blog posting exploring my thoughts.  I invite you along on my exploration:

I also spent a long time researching and crafting an answer to someone who posted a comment on my blog posting Sex Before Marriage 

 


Day 24: 

Minus 16 and light snow (still no sunlight); feels like minus 26

Well the world is still here . . . !  I’m certainly glad to have the apocalyptic fervour behind me!

It was a real pleasure to go out and feed Badger last night, without having unbarricade the house and then barricade it back up again.  Thank you God (and Judy) for weather stripping!

Last night I dreamt that I’d received a series of emails from people suggesting I get out into the community more and meet people.  In my dream, I responded that I was here to maintain a Bahá’í presence, have an adventure and a writer’s retreat.  My goal wasn’t to establish myself in the community by meeting people or doing a lot of direct teaching.  I woke up praying fervently for God to show me His truth for my visit here.  In the morning I realized that I need to let go of trying to be someone I’m not by doing what other people want me to do; and trust that everything that is unfolding is according to God’s plan.

Got up this morning and I could get into my email long enough to review my “quarantined” email list from my new spam blocker.  Needless to say, there are some critical work emails which are on the list and have been for more than 24 hours and just as I tried to approve them all, the internet went down again!  Yesterday it was sort of OK since I was preoccupied with weather stripping and shrink wrapping windows, but I was counting on today to “catch up”.  The quote that comes to mind is “thou wert created to bear and endure, O patience of the worlds!”

My plan for the day was to go back to the Matchbox Gallery to see the beautiful ceramics – images of them have been seared on my mind and I’d love to see them again at more length, and hear the stories that go along with each one.  I think I can learn more about the Inuit culture this way.  The Gallery didn’t open till 1:00 and just as I was getting ready to go, I noticed the internet was back.  Having asked God to guide my movement and my stillness today, I felt some urgency to get to work while I could and worked happily till Bev called for prayers at 3:00.  After we’d finished it was too late to go.  There was an urgent coaching issue which had been stuck in the queue so I worked on that instead, and when it was time to send it, Outlook stopped responding again!  But I figured out why and have had enough consistent internet and Outlook access, that I’m almost caught up and I am grateful!

 


Day 23: 

Minus 19 and cloudy, feels like minus 26 with the wind chill

I wonder if I can wear my Arc’tyrx jacket?

Success!

There was milk and dog food when I went to the store AND all 4 parcels I was expecting after Christmas arrived together!  I was warm enough with just my light-weight jacket with the hood and my glasses stayed clear!  The taxi driver helped carry my parcels.  Life is good and I am grateful!

I said “Merry Christmas” to everyone I saw (it being 3 days before Christmas); but even when people said it back, it was clear it wasn’t something that rolled naturally off the tongue, and then I realized:  why would it?  This is not a community of people with centuries of Christmas tradition, this is a community where until recently, every single day was focused on survival.  Even though the Christian churches have taken hold, the focus is where it should be (I’m guessing) – on Jesus’s birth and not on the materialistic trappings.  That’s why there’s no Christmas carols in the store; no decorations or lights downtown; no lights in the windows or on the houses.  I’m sure they’re a lot better off without the Christmas angst and materialist excess we live with!

My Christmas present from Marlene arrived safely; as did several other presents which I’ve already opened:  weather stripping for 3 doors and an anti-fog mitt for my glasses from Judy (which is designed for car windshields – and I’ve been desperately seeking something like it for years!) and a heating pad and cozy warm shawl from Kim.  I put the shawl over me, not knowing I was cold and was quickly feeling toasty warm and comfortable.  I’m keeping Marlene’s for Dec 25, grateful to her for honoring my need for a gift on that day, even though we are both Bahá’ís!  Having a present to open on Christmas is one tradition I still haven’t been able to let go of!

After having continuous internet access, and after one day, taking it for granted, today it’s cutting out again.  I haven’t had access to the internet for most of the day.  I’ve got lots of work for my job which I can’t get at.  I think it’s God’s way of saying:  Put up the weather stripping!

I’m really missing having Radio Nur on in the background.  The positive energy from the Bahá’í-inspired music really helps me keep focused on what’s important.  I have some Bahá’í music on my computer somewhere.  I hoped to be able to put it onto my ipad so I could shuffle it and listen to it, but I haven’t figured out how to do this yet.  Much of it hasn’t been downloaded either – it’s just YouTube links.  I wonder if there is a way to download the music from YouTube?  It used to be easy but maybe it was stopped because of copyright violations.

I’m glad it’s relatively warm tonight (minus 14, feels like minus 22) – probably this is as warm a time I’ll have for putting up the weather stripping.  It wasn’t so bad on the back porch off the kitchen, but to do the main outside door, I had to put on my coat and gloves and work with the door open.  I was grateful that Judy had included tacks in her package, and I knew where to find the hammer, but picking out the tacks with gloves, setting them, and then trying to hammer them in wasn’t easy in the cold!  I only got the side and bottom done before my fingers were frozen and I had to come in and get warm.

This is the porch off the kitchen which I use as my “walk in freezer”. The black bag with the snow covering it, is the suitcase with all my frozen food I brought with me.

I’ve decided to put the last of the shrink wrap on Alan’s son’s window, since his room is the coldest in the house. It’s just inside the back door but hopefully between the plastic on the windows and the weather stripping on both doors, his room will be a little warmer when he gets home. Fortunately I had enough left over to do the window in my room that’s above my head.  The whole house feels warmer!  Thank you God for shrink wrap and weather stripping!  The heating pad is warming my mattress as we speak, and I am grateful!

 


Day 22:

Temperature minus 12 feels like minus 20; light snow (another day of no sun!)

I’m feeling really sun deprived today – I suspect Seasonal Affective Disorder is kicking in!  Either that or I’m worried at some level about a world-wide cataclysm tomorrow.  It’s hard to stay positive in the face of so much fear mongering, and even though most of me doesn’t believe it, I’ll be really glad to see Dec. 22!

Today there were 13 pieces of junk mail in my inbox and I added up the bandwidth they are robbing me of – just those 13 cost me 514 kb; which is half a gigabyte or 1/20 of my allotment for the month.  And it’s not even noon yet!  YIKES!  I’ve been putting off  paying for a spam blocker but I think it’s time . . . It was pointed out later that “it isn’t half a gigabyte but half a megabyte, so 1/2000 of a gigabyte (technically a little less even, but let’s round it up). Figure twice as much for the whole day times 30 days in a month and… your bandwidth is still quite safe.  Enjoy!”  Just goes to prove that I’m math challenged as well as technologically challenged!

I wondered about Skype interfering with my bandwidth – I use it with my coaching clients overseas. The odd thing is that on the days my internet access was intermittent and I most needed to use Skype; it worked! God must be watching me!  And I am grateful!

Every day I pray “let my movement and my stillness be wholly directed by Thee” and I’m always surprised by how the day turns out.  For example, this morning, I woke up feeling slightly depressed and also prayed for my mood to change particularly so I could be positive, loving and upbeat during my devotional gathering and study circle over the phone this morning.  I called and the person wasn’t there; I thought I would go over to Victim Services and introduce myself; and go to the store and see if the milk had come in, but I didn’t do any of these things.  Instead I used this time to work on my own projects, and this did much to improve my mood, and I am grateful!

Judy is sending me some weather-stripping for all 3 doors; and an anti-fog mitt for my glasses; Kim is sending me a heating pad; Marlene is sending me a Christmas present; and I am grateful!

It’s certainly clear that I am being totally supported and loved in coming here.  It’s one of God’s greatest gifts to me.  Before coming to Rankin Inlet, I was feeling unloved, unloveable and pretty sorry for myself! Single, alone and lonely!  Because God has systematically removed every significant relationship from my life; and everything I read says we need relationships to heal, I asked Him to show me I was loved and loveable. And look what He did for me! He’s used relationships with all of you to prove my worth!  It’s amazing, awe-inspiring, humbling and I am grateful!

I posted a review of my Arc’teryx jacket on their website.  I’d bought as a transition jacket for those summer days when it was getting cooler in the evenings.  I wanted something lightweight, that I could pack in my backpack to have with me “in case”; and I used it that way all summer and fall.  I’d been told it was good down to minus 20 so brought it with me to put under my parka for an extra layer of warmth.  This was the jacket I wore to shovel snow in the other day, the miracle coat with the miracle hood which for the first time in 3 weeks, kept my glasses from fogging up!  I also wore it a couple of times to the stores this week, as my only jacket, in temperatures of minus 20 and was indeed still warm and more importantly, my glasses stayed clear!  This jacket was worth every penny, and I wanted to tell the company so!

I put together and uploaded a Feast Program for the Feast of Names; attended 3 devotional gatherings and a study circle on the phone.  One of the devotional gatherings was to contribute positive energy to whatever forces might be at work on this day when some people expect the apocalypse!

My biggest fear?  It’s that the world-shaking calamity will occur while I’m here and I won’t be able to get “home”!

I’m someone who is typically very busy all day long; I love being busy and more importantly, I love being productive!  I thought that if I left behind the typical activities which took me away from my computer at home; I would be able to be more productive here.  Not so!  Everything takes longer to do, from having to cook and feed myself (instead of going to the soup kitchen and living on leftovers and take-out for the rest of the meals); to getting dressed to go outside and unbarricading the doors; to dealing with slllllooooooowwwwwww computers and intermittent internet.  I’m rolling with the punches and find it fascinating at the same time!  I don’t understand it and I do trust God!

My skin was as dry as sandpaper the other day and I have a cold rash on my legs (I’ve heard of heat rashes but not cold rashes!)  Fortunately I’d brought some good cream with me which I put on before I dressed and it cleared up in a couple of days.

I asked a friend if she saw me as someone who doesn’t tolerate imperfections well; and she suggested that I feel safest when things are within my control.  This is certainly true!  My life in Huntsville is very ordered; with everything I need and all my needs taken care of effortlessly and easily, so it’s bound to be a shock to come to a place where many of the things I take for granted are out of my control.  Once I understand the lay of the land, though, I can roll with the punches; find other ways of solving problems or accept what is.  If I was staying longer, this too would become the new normal and soon my life here too would be just as ordered. I’m grateful for all of it!

Now that I’ve got more bandwidth and the internet stayed connected all day; my Outlook email program has not been responding for most of the day!  You gotta laugh!

Outlook not responding

People have asked if there are Christmas activities to participate in.  If there are, I don’t know what or where they are.  I found out about the Christmas Craft Sale via a poster in the post office and though I’ve been reading bulletin boards everywhere I go and buying the local paper, I don’t see anything.  Perhaps in a community this size, it’s all by word of mouth.

Others have asked about the spiritual receptiveness here; and I didn’t know how to answer this question till tonight.  I’m doing Ruhi Book 8 (a Bahá’í study circle on the Covenant) with many long-term pioneers to Nunavut.  They mentioned that although many stalwart Bahá’ís have been here a long time; and many others have come and gone over the past 60 years; there are no Local Spiritual Assemblies here (though there have been in the past).  I was reminded that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said specifically about the “Eskimos”:

Effort, the utmost effort, is required. Should you display an effort, so that the fragrances of God may be diffused among the Eskimos, its effect will be very great and far-reaching.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 27-28)

I’m certainly confident that the scattering angels are busy diffusing the fragrances of God as I circumambulate the hamlet with prayers; and as I pray with others for Rankin Inlet on the phone every day – it may be the best effort I can offer in so short a time.

Shoghi Effendi said:

He hopes that your Assembly will endeavour to reach the Eskimos with the Message; he fully realizes how difficult a task this is, but it is also one of great importance.  (Shoghi Effendi, High Endeavours –  Messages to Alaska, p. 13)

Here he’s suggesting it will take a whole Assembly’s effort; and that even so, it’s a difficult task.

So I shouldn’t feel too bad that I haven’t connected with anyone.

Alan has given me a list of people I could connect with.  Being an introvert and fiercely independent, it’s a real stretch for me, and it takes great effort.  It’s a lot easier to stay home and pray; or look at everyone, smile and pray for them; or say prayers in front of every house I pass.  Surely it’s better than nothing.  Please God, let it be enough; or give me the strength and impetus to do more!


Day 21:

Minus 10 with light snow (no sun); feels like minus 19 (a warm day!)

I’ve started wearing my scarf over my head to keep my head and neck warm.  It looks like a hijab but it helps my whole body stay warm and I am grateful!

Keeping warm inside

Someone asked what I’m doing to keep warm:  I’m wearing thermal socks (great investment from Canadian Tire) and slippers in the house – my feet are always warm!  I’ve discovered that if I wear my hoody or a scarf to keep my head and neck warm I’m a lot more comfortable.  My legs are always cold, no matter how many layers I’ve got on.  At night I pre-warm the bed with my hot water bottle, moving it from one spot to another; and sleep with a long t-shirt, long johns and socks.  Someone in my Christian book group is sending me a heating pad which will be even more efficient as a bed warmer.

Even though I’m still feeling cold, I must have done a good job stuffing the cracks, or maybe because it’s warmer outside (minus 19) . . . the house flies are driving me crazy!

I’m certainly alone up here but I don’t feel lonely, because my friends are doing a great job keeping connected and I am grateful!

I went to buy milk today and the shelves were still bare (as they were 2 days ago).  I asked the manager when the milk order comes in and she said she didn’t know when they’d be getting more!  That’s one way to break my café-au-lait addiction!  J

Someone suggested that I don’t tolerate imperfection well, and perhaps that’s true – Having moved so much I think I’m a lot more flexible than most people and I think anyone would be challenged adjusting to a new way of life.  Hope I’m not coming across as negative or victimized or full of self-pity!  All of these frustrations are helping me be more grateful for all the things I take for granted.

The thing that’s hard for me to get my head around is that less than 50 years ago, the Inuit of this region were a nomadic tribe, with absolutely none of the organized “civilization” that we’ve taken for granted for thousands of years.  The elders of the community have only values to pass on to their children and grandchildren who live an entirely way of different life. Everything about their lives is different – from cooking, to earning and spending money, to living in communities, to governing their entire territory . . .

This has been a dry community, where organizations could only apply for “special occasion” liquor licenses; and individuals had to bring alcohol in from other communities; and there was a ban on individuals bringing alcohol in over the Christmas holidays. Last Monday there was a plebecite where people had to vote on whether or not they wanted to change the law so organizations could sell beer. I understand it passed, so now it has to go to the Liquor Licencing Board for approval. This will mean that people can go to a bar and order a beer (but not hard drinks).

With regards to addictions: this is a problem wherever alcohol is available! Oddly enough, there are official posters all over town about getting rid of smoking addictions, because smoking related illnesses kill so many Inuit!

You ask if they are healthier – On the one hand, definitely, because they have access to medical care now where they didn’t before. Living a nomadic lifestyle, if they got sick, they died. On the other hand, since being exposed to white man, they are now getting illnesses they never got before. It’s also harder to get “traditional foods” which their bodies can assimilate better and easier to get food with empty calories. Because of the high cost of food, the Canadian government subsidizes “healthy” food and in the grocery store there are signs on things like milk and eggs, showing what the price would be without subsidy, so people are encouraged to make healthier eating choices. But they’re still eating “white man’s” food and not their traditional diets.

You ask if they are happier . . . it’s hard to say since I haven’t had any “heart to heart” chats with people. However, if you see them in the stores, they are very friendly, have quick and ready smiles and love to laugh.

I’ve just finished reading a great novel called Rankin Inlet which tells the story of an English nurse who came to work here in the 70’s; fell in love with a man who was born in an igloo and left this lifestyle by going to work first on the DEW line; and then in the mines. She married him and raised 4 children who left Rankin to become educated and came back to Nunavut to provide services to this community. It was a novel, but read like a true story – I really recommend it! If you can’t get it at the library, it might be available through interlibrary loan.

Tonight, for no reason I can think of, there was a FANTASTIC fireworks display I could see out my front window!  It went on for quite some time and had a great variety of colors and styles.  These pictures were taken by Doug McLarty, a local photographer.

 

I took some videos with my ipad mini – will upload them when I can figure out how!


Day 20: 

Minus 17 and partly cloudy (though I can’t see the sun anywhere!); feels like minus 25

I’ve got 6 tabs open in my browser and can move back and forth between them (as long as the internet stays on) and I am grateful!

Sadly though, the internet keeps going off and on at will.  A call to the internet service provider was not helpful.  All they told me was that the internet was working properly and I should unplug the modem for a minute.  I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve done this and it doesn’t seem to make a difference. I’m not sure what 10 GB has bought me!

When I was pioneering in Cyprus, I learned of a book called “Four on an Island” which had been written by Bahiyyih Nakhjavani, about 4 of Bahá’u’lláh’s followers who had chosen to be exiled with Him in Akka but instead were banished to Cyprus with Mirza Yahya, Bahá’u’lláh’s half-brother, who did more to discredit the Faith than anyone else.  I thought it would be a good read and somehow relevant to my stay.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find it anywhere, including the bookcases at both Bahá’í Centres in Nicosia!  Imagine my delight to find it on Alan’s bookshelf on another travel teaching trip!

It became quickly apparent that the author had very little information about the 4 and after telling what she knew, used their stories as metaphors, which tend to go over my head.  Still, her writing was compelling and I continued, till on page 57, when it looks like she’s running out of material, she says:  “At this stage, this book must admit to being about pioneering.”  I laughed out loud!

Review of Rankin Inlet, a novel by Mara Feeney, posted on Amazon.com:  This is not a book I likely would have read had I not come to Rankin Inlet for a short (10 week) visit, but it’s the kind of book I normally love to read, to learn more about different cultures and ways of live.  At times it had me laughing, but more often than not, it moved me to tears as I watched the different characters deal with very real issues that on the surface seem cultural, but in the end transcend culture.  It’s hard to imagine how people in my lifetime were born in igloos and had a hunter/gatherer lifestyle, and in the course of a very few years, have moved into communities, become educated, learned to use technology and find paid employment, none of which was familiar to their ancestral memory.  This book bridges the gap well and does a good job of educating the reader about the issues facing the modern Inuit community in a very real, believable way.   I recommend it highly!

I’d hoped to learn more about this transition and to this end, I posted a lot of videos on an earlier blog, planning to watch them on my ipad.  Sadly, without the bandwidth, I won’t be able to watch them till I get home.

Interestingly enough there’s been no time for meditation/contemplation and in the last week, not much time for writing either!  My days are consumed with activities of daily living and just trying to do my job, limping along with inadequate technology; and saying prayers and consulting with people over the phone.  I ask God every day what He wants next and His answers are always fascinating!  All in all, though, life is good and I am grateful!

 


Day 19: 

Minus 23 with freezing fog; feels like minus 30

Success!

I was warm enough to sleep without socks for the first time since I got here!

I’m grateful to have had 17 nights in a row of uninterrupted, deep sleep, with only one trip to the bathroom or less!

Success!

I walked over to the internet service provider today who agreed I should have access.  I was prepared to pay the unpaid balance, especially since the CAP site at the library is closed on Mondays, but fortunately I didn’t have to!  I’m back online and I am grateful!

Success!

There was toilet paper at the store today, ten cents cheaper than my raincheck!  And I am grateful!

Success!

Vicki told me that cayenne capsules would warm up my blood and although the store doesn’t have them, they promised to order them for me, and have there here on Friday!  And I am grateful!

Tests!

I bought a cordless kettle today and was looking forward to not burning my hands anymore (a Christmas present to me and then to Alan when I leave).  Sadly the corded base was missing and I have to take it back . . . L

Tests!

I had internet access for less than 2 hours and then it stopped again and none of my work emails downloaded.  ARRRGGGGHHHH!  It’s been intermittent on and off all day again.  Really frustrating and hugely disappointing!

Rankin Inlet’s Jordin Tootoo of the Detroit Red Wings will be leading a hockey camp here this coming weekend, if the NHL lockout doesn’t end before then!

The snow has still not been plowed in the parking lot since the blizzard a couple of days ago and a big pickup truck is going back and forth, to flatten out a path, nearly getting stuck with every try!  Makes me grateful for all the mornings I had to be up early to move the car so my parking lot could be plowed!

Uneven ground in parking lot poses a tripping hazard when I can’t see!

My heart goes out to those who can live here!  It’s not for the faint-hearted!  I’m glad to be here; and really glad to know I’ll be going home again, though I can imagine coming back again for another short stay, now that I know what to expect!

 


Day 18

Big Test!

I got up thanking God for 10 shiny Gigabytes of bandwidth promised for today, but I didn’t have internet access of any kind, all day!  I spoke to a Bahá’í in Baker Lake who suggested that my lack of internet could be because there’s an outstanding bill on the account, which is entirely possible!  When I bought the extra gigabyte of bandwidth last week, the name on the account was the Nunavut Arctic College, and there was definitely an unpaid balance.  I can’t call the internet service provider today because it’s Sunday but you can be sure I’ll call them in the morning!

The good news is that the wind blew the windows clear so I can see that it snowed last night and I will have to shovel again.  The parking lot hasn’t been plowed and I’m adding regular and efficient snow plows to the list of things I’m grateful for.  I wonder though . . . how do people get to work and school on time not knowing if or how much they have to shovel before they can get on with their day?

Looks like I have to shovel today!

I spent most of the day on the phone with those in need of prayer, and catching up on some homework for Ruhi Book 8.

The weather has been a little warmer today (my guess is around minus 25 with the wind chill), so there have been a lot of children and dogs playing outside.  As a result, Badger has been barking most of the afternoon and evening.  I find it really irritating as must the neighbours and I don’t know how to make her stop.

 


Day 17:

The blizzard last night threw so much snow at the house that I can’t see out of the windows.  With so little sun, I wonder if they’ll ever be clear again while I’m here?  I’m adding windows I can see out to the list of things I’m grateful for!

 

Because I couldn’t see out the window, I had no idea what to expect when I went out to feed Badger this morning.  There was a wall of snow, shoulder high and about 3 feet wide, in front of the stoop and a foot high right against the door!

This isn’t my door, but this is what it looked like!

The only shovel available to me is a blunt-nosed garden shovel, which, needless to say, was buried under the snow.  Without a word of a lie, the only snow was 3 feet in front of the stoop – the rest of the ground was as it was yesterday (I know because there’s still 3 weeks’ worth of dog urine frozen into it!)  Fortunately it was fairly fluffy snow, but even so it was a BIG job!  The shovel was small and the snow stuck to it, and because the area I was shovelling in was over my shoulder, I had to carry each shovel full several feet to where I could toss it and then come back for more.  When my glasses inevitably fogged up, all I could see was white!  Thank you God for snow scoops, electric shovels and snow blowers!

 

Badger was barking on one side, impatient and eager for food and TLC and the neighbour’s dog was barking on the other, which gave a whole new meaning to the line in the Fire Tablet:  “The barking of dogs is loud on every side”!

 

Today I can have several tabs open in my browser and scroll through my facebook wall – I wasn’t expecting more bandwidth till tomorrow, but I am grateful to be able to catch up on all my friends again! I will never again take bandwidth for granted!

 

I’m going to start a list of things I won’t take for granted ever again and add to it as I go along.

 

  • Being warm
  • Houses that come with toilet paper dispensers, door bells and weather stripping around doors
  • Doors that don’t have to be barricaded against the cold
  • Stores that sell the things you need
  • High speed internet with unlimited bandwidth
  • Webpages that load quickly
  • The ability to watch YouTube videos and take online courses
  • ATM machines that work
  • Windows you can see out
  • Glasses that don’t fog over
  • Being able to see where I’m going
  • Affordable, unlimited long distance calling
  • Indoor dogs
  • Affordable groceries and toilet paper
  • Post office that’s open during the day
  • Second hand clothing stores open during the day
  • Daylight
  • Car mechanics
  • Internet installers
  • Free local newspapers
  • Cats
  • A well stocked kitchen
  • A broiler that works
  • Roads and transport trucks bringing a steady stream of consumer items into a community, instead of having to wait for and pay for the sea lift or air cargo
  • My own car and a mechanic who can fix it when it breaks down
  • Toilet paper
  • Not getting burnt when pouring hot water out of a kettle
  • Muskoka!
  • My comfort zone

 

Never underestimate the bounties of living inside your comfort zone!

 

For some reason, I’m not getting all my students assignments into my inbox, because my internet cuts in and out at will, but I am getting a LOT of spam (91 emails in the last 2 days!), which uses precious bandwidth to download!  I can’t do my job properly or read my gmail but I can get:

 

  • Premium cigars
  • Better gifts
  • Paid for my old ipad or iphone
  • Wireless internet deals (if I thought they’d work here, I’d bite!)
  • Citi cards
  • Energy patches
  • Extended car repairs
  • Cheap Xbox, Wii, iphones, ipads
  • Melted body fat
  • Learn a new language
  • Time and attendance software
  • Costa Rica vacations (looking mighty tempting right now!)
  • Space bags
  • Refinancing of my mortgage
  • Senior relief
  • Auto price finder
  • Loans for retirement
  • Personalized letters from Santa
  • Lower my bills
  • The old Brooklyn lantern
  • Better mood control through saffron extract
  • Better vision through LASIK
  • Boost my metabolism through natural green coffee beans
  • To know if my arrest record is public
  • Printable coupons for WalMart
  • All inclusive vacations

And a whole lot more I’ve deleted!

Ed told me about a way to make free phone calls using Gmail and I downloaded the program and made my first call.  It was pure magic!  Easy to use, crystal clear and FREE!  Needless to say, with limited bandwidth, the call cut off after 5 minutes and I had to go back to using the landline to finish the call!

Every day I say prayers with Bev, and for the last 8 days, we’ve been reciting over 400 names of God in the spirit of the prayer which starts:  “Thy name is my healing, O my God . . . ”.  You can see them here:  Today the ones that jumped out at me were God as “The Inflictor of Trials” and the “Uprooter”.  He’s certainly been inflicting an increasing number of trials since I got here; and uprooting me from all the ways of doing things which are so familiar and comfortable.  So I’m calling on God as “the Comforter” to help me through them!

God is truly using people to show me how much I am loved!

I am blessed to have friends who are problem-solving with me; and who care enough about my well-being that they are focused on making sure I have the things I need.  Unasked they have sent or are sending:

  • Bev is saying prayers with me every day
  • Marlene sent me a box of hand-made chocolates from her favourite chocolatier
  • Lynn asked Apple to call me and find out how they could help download Magic Jack
  • Michelle is sending Christmas lights
  • Kim (from my book club) is sending me an electric heating pad and extension cord
  • Judy is sending me an anti-fog mitt for my glasses

And I am grateful!

Success!

It’s 10:00 pm and I’ve just come in from another round of shovelling snow.  It’s a balmy minus 21 with the wind chill so I just wore my light all-weather jacket (normally worn under my parka for an extra layer).  It had the kind of hood I’m looking for (minus the fur lining) – it sticks out along the side of my face.  With a hat on top of the hood, it held the sides in place, forming a wind break.  As a result, my glasses DID NOT freeze, for the first time since I’ve been here, even after a half hour of heavy exertion, moving snow!  Yay!!!!

Success!

It was so bright with the new-fallen snow, and my eyes were accustomed to the dark and my glasses were so clear, that I wanted to prove to myself that I really could walk around town after dark.  I walked around the block and the glasses were still clear!  And I am grateful!

Success!

When I came home from my walk, my next door neighbour was outside having a cigarette so I went over to re-introduce myself.  I thought that with a different jacket, and without my face mask and ski goggles, approaching the house from the opposite direction, she might not recognize me.  We chatted for about 5 minutes; I had a chance to mention the Faith, and we agreed it was likely we’d chat again.  And I am grateful!

 


Day 16:

Again my internet is intermittent.  One minute it’s working and the very next minute it stops; then it’s on again.  I don’t understand!  I’ve turned off wifi access on the iPad but that didn’t seem to make any difference.  I will NEVER take bandwidth for granted again!

Getting dressed to go out takes about 5 minutes to put on all the layers and make sure my ski goggles are on tight and then to remove all the things I’ve put against the doors to stop the drafts from coming in. I thought I’d shorten the time by putting soap on my glasses when I got up, so I can see if it stops them from fogging up.  Big mistake!  It’s left a film that’s difficult to see properly through! I can’t wait to get out and home again so I can wash it off!  Next time (if it works!) I’ll put it on just before I leave!

It’s too early to go out for a walk.  I want to go back to the Matchbox Gallery but it doesn’t open till 1:00. There’s a blizzard warning flashing on my computer screen but I can’t get information about it because I can’t get on the internet!   Do I go out or don’t I?  In any case, I have to unbarricade the two doors to get out to feed Badger.

“Blizzard developing later today into tonight:  A low pressure system approaching from the west will spread snow and blowing snow throughout much of the Southern Kivalliq region this afternoon into this evening, along with strong southeast winds gusting to 70 km/h. Snow and blowing snow is expected to begin this afternoon in Arviat then spread northward along the coast with blizzard conditions in most communities this evening. The blizzard will continue into Saturday morning over Rankin Inlet before easing Saturday afternoon.”

Every day I make my tea and boil hot water for my thermos in an old fashioned whistling tea pot on the stove and every day I burn my hand pouring it out.

Have I mentioned how difficult even the simplest of tasks is here?

All of my frustrations are so miniscule and so incredibly petty I’m ashamed of mentioning them, in the face of people with much more dire forms of suffering.  Nevertheless, I came across this quote today which seems to suggest that being out of my element has a purpose and that my discomfort is normal:

Even man, the highest form of created beings, needs many things for his very life; first of all he needs air, and if he is deprived of it for a few minutes, he dies. He is also dependent on water, food, clothing, warmth, and many other things. On all sides he is surrounded by dangers and difficulties, against which his physical body alone cannot cope. If a man looks at the world around him, he will see how all created things are dependent and are captive to the laws of Nature.  Man alone, by his spiritual power, has been able to free himself, to soar above the world of matter and to make it his servant.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 20)

Please God, let me soar above all of the inconveniences that come my way!

Lynn called today and was sharing some of her recollections of Bruce Matthew, who was named a “Knight of Bahá’u’lláh” for pioneering to Labrador during the 10 Year Crusade.  We’re all being asked to prepare a talk for our book 8 study circle on one of the people who arose during that time, and I chose Bruce because I met him at a summer school and because I too pioneered to a virgin territory in Labrador and feel a connection with him for that reason.  Lynn was good friends with him and had lots to share.  One thing that stood out was how Bruce never talked about himself.  He always stayed focused on using the Writings and never complained about his own challenges.  I wish I could be more like that!  I feel like I’ve done nothing but complain since I got here!

Last night I heard from Alan (the man I’m house-sitting for) in New Zealand: He picked up an Israeli hitch-hiker who lived in Haifa and often went to the Baha’i gardens to pray and meditate. The agreement with the Israeli government is that Baha’is are not allowed to teach Israeli’s in Israel so Alan was able to answer all this man’s questions. They had quite a lengthy discussion which culminated in the man claiming he was a Baha’i! Clearly Alan had to leave Rankin Inlet and go all the way to New Zealand so he could teach this man! And my being here, helped make that happen! Can’t you just see the hand of God in all of it?!

What are my favorite parts of being here?

  • Being able to maintain a Bahá’í presence in an Inuit community
  • Learning about a new and different way of life
  • Having to find creative solutions to problems doing the most ordinary things
  • Learning that I can’t take anything for granted
  • Feeling supported in this adventure by so many unexpected people
  • Being able to share what I’m learning with others
  • Having time to catch up on my blog postings
  • Discovering 2 new books in the making

That’s not a bad start for my first two weeks!  J

I’m sure I’ll add more to the list as time goes on!


 Day 15:

Wanted:  a red “china” pencil.Before I left, my optician told me that a red “china” pencil was the best thing to prevent glasses from fogging up but neither Staples nor the art supply store in Huntsville had one (they aren’t used much anymore). If anyone has one lying around, please send it up!

I was looking forward to using “Magic Jack” to use my iPad as an iPhone so I could make free phone calls.  I was in the middle of downloading it, and being a brand new iPad user (or was it a bandwidth issue?), something happened which caused the download to stop. When I went back to the App Store, and did another search for “Magic Jack” using a variety of search terms and options, it came up “not found”.  ARGGGHHH!

How cold are you, you ask?  I have to warm up my fingers for each command on the iPad Mini, because if your fingers are cold, the touch screen won’t respond!  Nothing is easy here!

Today I set out to find the Sugar Rush Café and Matchbox Gallery and found them both!  I also found a variety store and Victim Services, which I will visit later on and possibly donate a copy of my book.

The Matchbox Gallery was a special find.  The artistry was incredible!  More detailed than anything I’ve ever seen!  Check out these pieces!  I had to get home for a devotional gathering with Bev so couldn’t stay but I’ll definitely go back when I have time to absorb their beauty.

I spoke with the owner (who wears glasses).  She suggested I see if I can borrow the kind of parka that has the hood that goes way out, with the fur lining.  I had one of these coats in Labrador and they were great!  There’s one in the laundry room that’s ripped and the zipper is broken, but the hood is glorious and I’ll put my jacket underneath and definitely give it a try!  She also suggested I try dish soap on the glasses.  I’m eager to try this out tomorrow too.

Today there was so much snow built up inside the house that the door wouldn’t close! The wind blew it in under the door! I had to get down on my hands and knees with a knife, to scrape it out and throw it back outside.  Now the door closes again and I am grateful!

I continue to get bumped off the internet for no apparent reason.  Several of my students complained to head office that I wasn’t returning their emails so I went on to the server and discovered 7 assignments which hadn’t come into my inbox.  YIKES!  I hadn’t thought to check, since I was getting some emails.  I don’t know if it’s because of the intermittent access or the dial-up, but I’ll have to double check there from now on.

The good news is that even with 2 study circles and 2 devotional gatherings (over the phone) today, I still managed to get them all done, and I am grateful!


 Day 14:

For reasons unknown, not only am I reduced to dial-up because I’ve used up too much bandwidth; but now the internet connection terminates for no apparent reason, which is why yesterday’s entry wasn’t able to be posted till today.  Usually it comes back on again if I fiddle with it, but not last night.  Fortunately I was able to upload the new blog postings and I am grateful!

Nancy and Cheryl called from Feast in Huntsville last night to include me and hear my stories.  It was great to be included!

Reminder to self:  do NOT go out without your ski goggles!  I thought they might be causing the fogging problem but no, they delay it!  My glasses on their own had fogged over so badly in less than a minute that I had to take them off for the first time in my life, and walk downtown without them!  I’m well beyond the definition for legal blindness without them, and can only see shapes.  For a familiar route it was OK but I don’t want to make a practice of it!

Success!  I got my ipad Mini AND the smart cover today!  Yay!  Having let go of it yesterday, I woke up inspired to go back to the post office and check through “General Delivery” instead of the tracking number FedEx had given me and it worked!  They were both there, despite UPS saying the cover was still in Winnipeg, and I am grateful!

I walked over to the bank machine to get some cash for future taxi trips, but it was still “out of service”.  I went into the bank and asked when they expected it to be working again and the clerk rolled her eyes and said it was dependent on a technician “booking a flight” to come up and fix it!  I gathered she wasn’t expecting him anytime soon!

She did say I could use one of the other bank machines in town, keep the receipts for the extra charges and they would reimburse them for me.  I thought that was reasonable!

It was obvious I was new in town so she asked why I was there and seemed impressed when I told her I was housesitting so we could maintain a Bahá’í presence in the community.  I also said I’d come for the adventure, and again she rolled her eyes and said that’s why she’d come too.  She arrived in April and will be here for 2 years.  I also asked her how people kept their glasses from fogging up and she had no idea.  She told me she doesn’t go out in the winter because she’s afraid of falling.  She takes taxis everywhere.  This is the second or third person who’s told me the same!

I bought an extra 1 GB of bandwidth so I could download the most important apps for the iPad Mini.  When I got home, my virus checker wasn’t happy because Windows wasn’t up to date (I’d turned off the automatic updates because they suck up a lot of bandwidth).  Keeping my virus checker happy is very important since I can’t use my backup service or store my files in the cloud where they can be retrieved in case I get a virus, so I “agreed” to download the missing components and realized they were almost 1 GB just for those!  YIKES!  I immediately stopped the download, but some of them must have been downloaded because I’m back to dial-up and downloading 3 apps was painfully slow.

I spent the evening inputting my address book and calendar but my fingers were so cold I had to warm them up to get them to activate the commands!  J

I’m worried that I’m coming across as a victim so my prayer request is to find positive things to focus on, so tonight, I’m grateful:

  • I got both the iPad Mini and the Smart Cover at the same time
  • I got a parcel from Marlene, which I will save to open on Christmas day.
  • I got all my calendar dates inputted, including all the Feasts, Holy Days and LSA meetings; as well as all the recurring activities I’m involved in
  • I got my address book all put in (I had to do it all manually, so it was really time consuming, so I’m particularly glad that that job is done!)
  • I’m profoundly grateful that I can still do my job!  I really think that if I couldn’t work on my projects, I would go insane!
  • I’ve got lots of food to eat
  • I’ve got an adventurous spirit and don’t let the challenges stop me from going out and trying again
  • I’ve got Bev calling for prayers everyday
  • I’ve got a wide variety of friends calling and emailing and staying connected
  • A childhood friend called tonight – I’m grateful to be back in touch with her
  • There’s a library and I am able to borrow books
  • I got a book called “Rankin Inlet” which is a story of a nurse who came to work here in the 1970’s and it’s grabbed my interest.  It’s told from her perspective as well as the father of a patient under her care who describes how his way of life changed from growing up in an igloo, to working on the DEW line; and in the mine and as an artist living and raising his family in a heated house.  At times it moved me to tears!  I recommend it highly!

It’s nearly midnight so I want to get this uploaded and get off to bed!  Two of the things I’m always grateful for are being able to sleep anywhere; and for the gift of sleep itself!


Day 13:

Today I met the next door neighbour, Louisa, who thanked me for cleaning up the dog’s waste and keeping the yard clean!  I wish I’d known what to say after that, so I could keep her talking, but I was cold and focused; the dog was barking for my attention and I wanted to run my errand before my glasses fogged up.  Please God, let there be another opportunity!

I set out in search of the Matchbox Gallery to introduce myself to the owner, whose mother is a Bahá’í.  Same story – took the wrong road, glasses fogged up.  This time I didn’t retrace my steps because I couldn’t see where I was going and truly got lost.  Fortunately I was able to stop a couple walking on the street, who showed me where I lived!

I had an email from the criminal defence lawyer whose staff are keeping her busy this week, so it’s unlikely we’ll meet.  I’m truly glad she’s got people to take her under their wings and doesn’t have to orient herself to town and to her new job!

I called Apple today to see if they could call Canada Post to find out where my Ipad Mini is.  They promised to call me back within the hour and needless to say, they didn’t.  I’ve totally let go of trying to track it down.  I’ve done everything I can – the rest is up to God!

As I took the clothes out of the dryer I wondered:  “are these clothes cold because they still aren’t dry; or are they cold because cold air is getting into the dryer?”  Of course, it turned out to be the latter!  Yet another example of how the simplest things are not so familiar here, as it’s common for the dryer in our apartment building to not dry the clothes.

Two more blog postings completed and uploaded and I am grateful:

  • Consent to Marriage
  • Assessing Character

Day 12:

Someone suggested I’ll come back a changed being and I replied: Absolutely right! Already I’ve got a HUGE appreciation for those who choose to pioneer and stay here; and for the absolute resourcefulness of the Inuit who live here; and I will never take simple things for granted again! Ask me again at the end of my time here what else has changed!

“My” criminal defence lawyer arrives today so I left a message for her at the hotel and followed it up with this message:

Maybe we can meet for coffee or a meal at a local restaurant.  I haven’t been to any yet so can’t recommend them and barely know where they are!  J

You’re welcome to come here but I don’t know where “here” is!  Hopefully the taxi driver knows how to find me at “The Courtyard, next to the SeaCan, where Steven Sayles used to live”!  J  If not, I’ll have to walk over to the hotel and get you.  Hope you brought lots of warm clothes!

I haven’t been out after dark yet, since I don’t’ see in the dark and my glasses and ski mask keep fogging up so I can’t see where I’m going, though I’m highly motivated to try it tonight, since I just found out my ipad mini is (finally!) at the post office, which is closed between 12:30 and 3:30!

Welcome to life in the north!  It’s certainly an adventure, and I’d love to share the start with you!

The honeymoon is over!  I’ve reached the limit of my endurance with the tests that have come my way since coming here.  They are all little, petty problems but they’re wearing me down.  The last thing Alan said before leaving was “If you can’t hack it and have to go home early, just let me know.”  I thought it was an odd thing to say at the time, but I’m starting to get it!

The broiler doesn’t work in the stove, there is no toilet paper holder in the bathroom; the towel rack keeps falling off the wall; the toilet constantly runs if I don’t remember to jiggle the handle; the windows are drafty even with the plastic on; there are no weather stripping on the doors which have HUGE gaps to let in the cold air.  The downstairs (where the bedroom and bathroom are) is always cold; the bed is freezing and the sheets and blankets don’t cover both sides of the bed.  I go to bed in my long underwear and socks clutching a hot water bottle.  I haven’t been warm since I got here!

I’ve barricaded myself in the house, trying to stop the cold air leaking through the cracks between the door and the wall.  I have 2 layers of cardboard across the top of the door; and 3 separate pieces of cardboard down one side – above the bolt; between the bolt and the lock; and below the lock.  I’ve got a heavy pair of felt pant liners against the lower part of the door, where the double layer of cardboard still isn’t enough; and a towel across the bottom of the door.

Barricading the Front Door

Outside that little porch area I’ve got more towels against the inside door; and against his son’s bedroom door which also is a HUGE source of cold air coming in to the house.   There’s cold air coming in through the bathroom fan and I have no idea how to close that off.

I wanted to hang a blanket against the door.  I can find the hammer but no nails.

I opened some frozen veggies but can’t find any twist ties or elastics to seal the bags with.

I can’t do my job properly because I only have dial-up for the internet; I can’t do the training courses I’d planned to do; I can’t synch my laptop with my desktop and the ipad mini; I can’t have Windows updates on and I can’t use my automatic backup service for my computer.

I can’t go out in the dark to participate in community events if I could find ones to attend.  Everything started up in September and is winding down for Christmas.  It’s the wrong time of year to come to a new town!  And even if I did find something to attend, it costs me $12 to take a taxi there and back, which adds up quickly.

I’ve spent $30 in long distance calls because even though the plan I’m using only costs a penny a minute; it costs 50 cents just to connect; which doesn’t sound much but it adds up quickly.

I’ve had problems with my iPad Mini ever since ordering it and the problems continue!  Apple shipped the cover and the mini separately.  The cover (which was supposed to be in Rankin Inlet before me!) has been stuck in Winnipeg for 3 weeks and Apple thinks UPS has lost it.

I got an email from FedEx this morning, saying they’d attempted to deliver the Mini the day before and when I called them, they told me it was at the post office here and gave me a tracking number to give them.

For reasons no one understands, the post office is closed till after 3:30 and since I was saying prayers till nearly 4:30 and it was dark outside, and since I can’t get the apps I need with only dial-up, I decided I’d pick it up in the morning when I could order more bandwidth.   I went to make some dinner and discovered I was out of milk and wouldn’t have milk for my coffee in the morning, which was the final straw.

I called a cab, not knowing where I live.  The best I could tell him is “I’m in The Courtyard, in the unit next to the SeaCan” and hope they understood.  Fortunately they did and a cab arrived soon.  The driver was very helpful, telling me I lived at 42-50!  Thank God!  Someone knows where I am!

In Rankin Inlet, when you call a cab, you have to share it with others, so the cab took the long way around, dropping other people off and picking up some new people before we got to the post office.  I wanted to pick up my parcel and get to the internet service provider by 5:00 so I can buy some additional bandwidth so I can download the apps on the Ipad Mini, and it was cutting it close.

Of course, it being Christmas and the post office being on such reduced hours, there was a long lineup!  There were two lines – one to pick up parcels and one to mail, so I got into the pick up lane and when I got to the front, I could pick up a parcel for Alan, but all I had was a tracking number for mine; and of course, this line-up didn’t handle tracking numbers, so I had to get into the other line-up!  And of course, when it was finally my turn, they said this parcel wasn’t in Rankin Inlet.  She didn’t know where it was, but it wasn’t here!

Disappointed, I took Alan’s parcel and went across the street to the Northern store, to pick up some:

  • milk (4 litres at $14.30)
  • salsa (small bottle was $6.15)
  • corn chips ($6.95)

I wanted to buy some Miss Vicki’s potato chips (my comfort food) but they cost $6.95 too, and at least the corn chips have some nutritional value if I eat them with the salsa; and the salsa is good with eggs.

I’d decided this was the day I was finally going to buy toilet paper, but the shelf was empty!  There had been a sale on; and it had sold out.  The shelves were bare!  I asked for a rain check and they gave me one; and asked when to expect it to come in and was told “we should have it within a month”!  Toilet paper!  Within a month . . . !

Thank God for J-Cloths and warm water . . .

Out of toilet paper. Again!

Wanting to walk my disappointment off, I decided to walk home in the dark.  I got about half a block away and my glasses were fogged over so badly I couldn’t see at all (I don’t see in the dark).  It was clear I had to go back to the store to call a cab.  I took my glasses off and all I could see were headlights and an outline of the store (I’m legally blind without my glasses).  I had to cross the road and couldn’t tell how far away the headlights were on the oncoming cars and snowmobiles, so I had to wait in the cold until they had all passed before I could go across.  There wasn’t a phone to call the cab and I had to ask a clerk to call one for me.

When I got home, I called FedEx and they said the parcel was definitely at the post office in Rankin Inlet and had been for the past 3 days!  The post office here doesn’t recognize the tracking number!  They suggested I call back in the morning (during regular business hours) to ask customer service to contact Canada Post for me.  ARGGGHHH!  Why does everything in this town have to be so difficult?

I know I sound like I’m complaining and I seem to talk about the same problems every day.  I don’t mean to be negative.

All of it makes me appreciate what I have at home in Huntsville so much more!  Even there, I don’t have much but I do have enough.  I often give thanks to God for having everything I need.  Being here, I don’t have enough of the things I need.

In Huntsville I have a landlord I can call when something goes wrong; and it’s fixed immediately.  Here I’m on my own.  In Alan’s defence, he moved here just a month before I arrived and his time was spent unpacking and getting the place ready for me.  He works full time and isn’t home to see what all needs fixing and he didn’t have time to fix it.

At home, if I needed something, I could always find it somewhere; here if they don’t have it, there’s no telling how long it will take to get it again.

Here when I’m outside I’m always acutely aware of how fragile life is – if I was to slip and fall in the dark, in these cold temperatures, I might not be noticed and I would be dead very quickly.

One of the names of God is “the Unfastener” and He’s clearly unfastening me from all the comforts I hold dear.  Thank God it’s only for another 8.5 weeks!

It’s not all bad, though.  Here is a list of things I am grateful for:

  • the bed is comfortable and I’m cozy in the morning when I wake up
  • there’s plenty of hot water
  • there’s a big window to look out and brings lots of light into the house during the 4 hours a day of daylight
  • I’ve got a comfortable desk and workspace
  • There’s lots of lighting in the living room and over my work surface
  • There are 3 phones I can rotate when the batteries lose their charge
  • I can walk to the stores, post office and to the library
  • I have lots of work to engage my interest
  • I have lots of food; and lots of variety
  • I have daily prayers with a Bahá’í from Huntsville; and other Bahá’ís calling to check in and pray with me
  • I have access to Facebook and people engaging with my postings
  • I have a lot of well-wishers rooting for me

Maybe I should let go of all expectations of engaging with the community; accept the time and space in which to write and focus on just having a Writers Retreat.

 


 

Day 11:

I was up today at 4:00 am (having gone to bed by 9:00 last night, worn out by the cold).  The furnace was automatically set to a night temperature of 67 and it felt so cold in the house I had to wear my coat and gloves to work on the computer!  I tried to adjust the thermostat, but it kept getting colder and colder.  When I finally checked it was down to 61!  I cranked it up to 75 and it’s finally feeling warm in here, and I am grateful!

Today was my shortest walk ever!  After cleaning up the yard and shovelling the stoop, my goggles were already fogging over.  I wanted to go check out the Art Gallery but all I managed was a walk around the block!  When I got back, Badger was in a playful mood, and we played hockey with a bone, till it rolled under the komatik and I couldn’t find it because I couldn’t see!

Badger and the Komatik

It seems odd to me that in a town that’s dark 20 hours a day, I haven’t seen any Christmas lights!

After years of relying on food banks and soup kitchens for all my meals, it’s both a joy and a test to have to shop and cook for myself!

Today I consulted with Daniel about the problems of junior youth and youth in Iqaluit and how the Bahá’í Writings could help them; had devotions over the phone with Rachel, Bev and Lynn; and researched, wrote and uploaded two more blog postings.

Since I’ve been here, I’ve completed the following blog postings:

  • Departure
  • Flights and First Impressions
  • Dealing with Anger in Marriage
  • Using the Marriage Tablet as a Prescription for Preventing and Healing Troubled Marriages
  • How to Know when it’s Time to Divorce
  • Dark Night of the Soul
  • Drawing Closer to God

In addition to posting every day to “Day by Day in Rankin Inlet”

I’m proud of the fact that I’ve been able to maintain one of my goals of using this time as a “Writers Retreat”, despite the technological challenges.

 


Day 10:

I pioneered to Labrador for 4 years and thought it would prepare me for Rankin, but it’s totally different – probably the biggest difference (aside from the obvious ones of size, culture, road connecting it to the rest of Canada and location below the tree line) was the presence of the iron ore mine.  The mining company made sure that families would be encouraged to stay, so provided a LOT of resources that other same-sized communities wouldn’t have.   I didn’t realize how big a factor a major employer can have on a community.

“This is a warning that blizzard conditions are imminent or occurring in these regions. Monitor weather conditions and listen for updated statements. Snow and blowing snow with strong north winds of 50 gusting 70 km/h could keep visibilities between 200 and 400 metres. The blizzard should gradually come to an end on Saturday night or Sunday morning.  24-Hour Precipitation Outlook:  We don’t expect any precipitation from Saturday Afternoon to Sunday Afternoon.”

Today was a blizzard with winds gusting up to 50 km/hr.  When I was growing up, blizzard meant LOTS of snow and blowing snow.  I’m not sure what it means here, except it’s cold and windy.  The wind is a real blessing, since it’s shown me where the drafts are coming from.  I’ve never had to plug a draft before, so I’m grateful for all the men and landlords in my life who’ve done it for me!  I know it involves weather stripping and caulking but after the last adventure with the price of plastic for the windows, I shudder to think what that will cost!  I set out in the blizzard, nearly blown over by the wind several times, to find out, and of course, the department store didn’t have any!  So I came home andstuffed the cracks with cardboard and put down towels at the bottom to stop the drafts.  It’s not perfect but it’s a start!

I’d been really, really looking forward to going to the Christmas craft sale, since they were advertising a lot of traditional Inuit crafts.  I was hoping to find a new pair of slippers, among other things, and to connect with the locals.

I didn’t know if they’d cancel the event with the blizzard warning.  It’s a long way to walk to find it closed, especially since I have to stop by the bank and pick up cash.  It feels too cold and the visibility is dropping though I’m not sure why, since it’s not snowing and there’s no obvious blowing snow.  I can take a taxi I guess.  It all feels so complicated.  Will the taxi wait while I go to the bank machine?  If so, do I tip him twice?  If not, how long will I have to wait for another one?  How much is it going to cost?  I don’t usually use taxis, especially when I can walk, but there’s probably a time and place and this might be one of them!

I called a cab but the line was busy so after a few prayers for teaching and for my glasses and goggles to stay clear, I set out for the bank machine so I’d have money to take to the craft sale.  It was ‘unavailable at this time”!  I nearly turned back, but someone told me the craft fair was definitely “on” so I kept going.  Alas, it was only half a dozen tables, half of them baked goods!  There were 3 pairs of Inuit-made mitts that were way too big for my tiny hands, and no slippers.  The craftspeople didn’t speak English and the shoppers in too much of a hurry so it seemed like another wasted effort.  I’m sure there’s a wisdom in all of this – perhaps it’s just patience!


Day 9:

I hitched a ride with someone the other day who was complaining about the walkers not getting out of their way!  They were driving too fast on icy roads and instead of being grateful they had transportation, and were in a warm vehicle, all they could do was complain about those less fortunate trying to get to where they were going in the cold.  I didn’t say anything, though.  I have to pick my battles and they obviously didn’t have ears to hear nor had they ever walked a mile in someone else’s moccasins!

Of all the things I brought with me, the thing I value the most is my hot water bottle!  Unfortunately it developed a crack and I had to go in search of another one.  My best option was the Northern Store but when I asked where I could find it, the clerk said:  “Good luck!  You’re SOL!”.  Fortunately she steered me in the direction of a drug store, who had one for $13.22 (!) and I am grateful!

I walked over to the company that provides internet and discovered that my “restricted usage” expires on Dec 16, when I get 10 GB back (yes, Alan did pay for 10 GB despite what his computer tech told me!).  It’s still 1/5 of what I used last month, but hopefully it will make searches faster.  I’m sure I’ll learn a lot about slowing down by using dial-up for another 9 days!

The Hamlet of Rankin Inlet has implemented its annual ban on importing alcohol during the holidays.  This year’s ban on liquor shipping will run from Dec. 21 until Jan 4.

I worked on a blog posting on “Drawing Nearer to God” and spent the evening reading about The Arctic Millennium Expedition,  a five person, 7000 km snowmobile trek across Canada’s Arctic.  One of the five was a business mentor of mine, now responsible for bringing high speed internet to Muskoka, Rob McPhee!  http://www.frozentoes.ca/expedition/reports/report1.htm


Day 8: 

A liquor licence plebiscite will be held in Rankin Inlet on Dec 10.  As it is now, no one can buy or sell beer, wine or spirits in the community.  Certain organizations (legions, hotels) can apply for a “special occasion permit” or “guest room license”.  Individuals have to order their personal liquor supplies from outside the community.  On the ballot, they will be asked whether or not they are in favour of replacing the current system of liquor restriction with an unrestricted system so that organizations can apply for a licence to sell beer.  I know what my vote would be (but sadly I’m not allowed to vote J  )

I put out my second bag of garbage today.  Admittedly the first wasn’t all mine, but still!  It’s a real eye opener on how much goes into the landfill when you aren’t recycling!

The garbage bins don’t have lids so any critter can (and does) get in!

I spent the day on the phone – 2 study circles and 2 devotional gatherings!  Even though I’m using “penny talk” which advertises a penny a minute, I’ve already spent $20 on long distance calls in the first week.  Can’t wait to get back to my phone plan!

What someone referred to as my “internet habit” is actually my full time job!  I work online, training ESL teachers by correcting their assignments and offering feedback on their lesson plans.  I’m also a researcher, writer and life coach, all heavily dependent on the internet!  As expensive as increasing my bandwidth is, I can’t buy the bandwidth I need at any price!

I can’t get my assignments returned to my students because the corrections and supporting articles take up so much bandwidth that on dial-up it will take 33 hours to send an assignment back; and even though I left the computer on all night, the assignments are still in my inbox because the internet timed out.

To put things into context:  normally I have all the websites I use on a daily basis open in my browser.  For my ESL job, there are 3 separate sites I need:  I get paid per assignment, so one is my invoice where I record which student’s assignment I have corrected on which date; another is where I record the grades they got.  We’ve just switched over to a new way of doing things, so there are 2 different sites where I have to go, depending on which student is in which program.

Now instead of being able to go back and forth between them quickly, I can only have one tab open at a time.  It might open in 5 minutes or it might time out and I have to reload it.  If it opens, I will just be at the login screen and have to login and wait till that screen opens.  I have several more clicks to get to the site I need:  first I need to turn editing on; then I need to filter out my students from those of other tutors; then I have to sort my students by alphabetic names; then I’m finally at the screen where I can enter the grades!  Each page has to load separately before I can click to advance to the next screen!  This process might take up to half an hour or more!  And then I have to start all over again to get the invoicing done.  I spend so much time trying to do my paid job, there’s no more time left over to work on my books and my blog!

Alan signed up for Xplorenet several months ago but there’s been no one to aim his dish at the satellite; and even when it finally happens, I’ll still be limited to 1 GB bandwidth. The problem is that they haven’t found a way to lay fibre optic cables across the tundra; and there are too many people competing for usage on the same satellite and probably a whole host of other reasons I don’t know about! I’m going to send a “thank you” to Muskoka Community Network for all the wonderful efforts they’ve been making to bring internet access to Muskoka. We take it for granted until we don’t have it!

I didn’t comment on what I was going to do about increasing the bandwidth because I was just absorbing the reality of my situation and waiting for directions from my “boss”!  J  I’m not feeling inclined to spend my money that way . . . I think there are definite lessons to learn in slowing down.  Having said that, it takes forever to do my paid job, which doesn’t leave much time for working on what’s now grown to 3 books!

It’s good that 2 more books have presented themselves, since one of the courses I wanted to take while I was here was on ebook design – which turns out to have more to do with marketing and selling than the actual book design.  So if I can get the two books ready as ebooks, then I can do the course when I get back to Ontario – it might actually be a better time.

I’m sure God’s got a plan and I’m impatient for it to unfold quickly, but like everything here, I just have to slow way down and accept what is.

I’ve been getting a lot of encouragement to do the library job but the answer I got loud and clear was NOOOOO!

I thought that living in Labrador would prepare me for life here, but they are totally different towns.  Of course, I wasn’t in an Inuit community there – but in a mining town, and it’s become apparent just how much the local people in Lab City benefitted from having a large employer in town!

I’m definitely spreading lots and lots of prayers around town.  Every day I go out a different way and say prayers outside each house and for each person I pass.  I’m also praying daily with a Bahá’í who isn’t very active in Huntsville (YAY!); for my tests and for the teaching here.  I’m very much aware that I’m here as a travel teacher.  My perspective has definitely shifted from “maintaining a Bahá’í presence in an Inuit community and having an adventure” to having a role to play here.  It’s not clear what it is, other than showering the town with prayer and mentioning Bahá’í wherever I can.  I’m sure the Concourse on High is looking down in amusement at my petty concerns and feeble attempts to be a Bahá’í here!

I’m getting the message that the climate forces us to hibernate.  People think I’m crazy going out walking in this weather and for the distances I’m going (which really isn’t much more than 20 minutes in each direction); but I’m only here for 10 weeks and if I don’t do it now, it won’t get done!  Of course, every day I ask God to guide my movement and my stillness, so whatever happens is His will and I’m learning to trust it even when I don’t understand it!

I heard a story about a man who shipped a Toyota truck up on the sea-lift.  When it needed to be repaired, there wasn’t anyone who could fix it here, so he had to wait for the sea ice to thaw so he could ship it back down south again to have the repairs done; then have it shipped back here.  I shudder to think how expensive that repair was!  I’m sure he could have bought the car many times over!  It’s now become apparent why my host’s Jeep hasn’t been repaired and sits idle in the driveway . . . !  J

I couldn’t bring my SAD lamp with me – it was too big and bulky.  It was either that or groceries and food won over depression!  I did bring some daylight light bulbs and I’m hoping that will bridge the gap till I get home.  If my postings start to sound depressed, you’ll know why!  🙂


Day 7:

So here’s the problem . . . my typical internet usage is almost 50 GB per month.  Alan’s monthly usage is 1 GB (which is a typical plan here)!  To increase it to 20 GB (less than half what I typically use) will cost me $400 per month PLUS $250 installation fee or over $1000 for the time I’m here!  And I’d be using more of the community’s bandwidth than 98% of the population!  The Things we take for granted . . . !

At 3 GB ($145/mo or 3x what I pay in Huntsville for unlimited!) the plan is called “multimedia pro” but I can’t imagine how much multimedia 3 GB of bandwidth will get you!

The biggest “hogs” of my broadband usage seems to be Windows updates, my online back-up service, my “cloud” files, YouTube (including the 2 courses I was planning to take while I’m here) and Facebook, in that order!

The computer tech suggested I invest in an external hard drive with automatic backup software – less than @200 at Future Shop apparently – which would make sense if I was staying here but I’m happy with my online service.

 

Imagine a picture here to break up the thoughts

if I had more bandwidth to look for one!

 

I had a meeting with the computer repair guy at the Trade School today and I was happy thinking that the solution to my bandwidth problems might be to use the computer there.  I’d have been happy to pay for the service and imagined that by going there every day I’d be in a much better position to meet people and talk to them.  But this was not to be . . . The entire town seems to be limited by the same bandwidth problem sand it was clear that I wasn’t welcome.

Another option was to use the computer at the library, which might be a CAP site, so off I went to the library, but the clerk told me that she didn’t know the passwords for the wireless network and the person who did, worked somewhere else.  I didn’t get the sense she’d be finding it out anytime soon!

I’d been told that the library wasn’t able to open at night because they couldn’t find anyone to fill the position.  I thought it might be a service I could render, and another great way to meet people, but the person doing the hiring worked somewhere else, and the clerk couldn’t find his phone number or give me clear directions on how to get there.  It was just as well – the walk home took less than 10 minutes but it was dark at 3:30!  I don’t see in the dark and I don’t have any depth perception, so I was stumbling on the uneven ice and snow.  My glasses were totally fogged over.  I’m very near-sighted and wear trifocals, so the “distance” part of the glasses is very small, so when that frosts over, I’m functionally blind.  The combination of the dark and foggy glasses, combined with my lack of familiarity with the route, meant I was practically totally blind by the time I got home, and my anxiety level was so high I couldn’t even pat the dog on the way in!  I just had to get inside, where I could take off my glasses, get warm and see again!

A long climb up the hill to the John Ayaruaq Public Library, in Maani Ulujuk High School

Now I’m moving my files out of the “cloud” and onto my laptop, leaving me more vulnerable than I want to be, even with a good virus checker.  I’ve disabled my Windows updates, working offline with my email and will go online once or twice a day instead of constantly checking my emails.  I can only open one website at a time – no more multi-tasking!  I’ve had to give up my goal of completing 2 online courses while I’m here and will focus on writing my books when I’ve got some free time – the computer slooooooowwwwwwwdoooooowwwwwwns make everything take 10 times as long; and I really miss the lack of being able to multi-task!

Jayce Broda encouraged me to write a book on marriage and I realized I have enough blog postings on that topic to easily put together a “Bahá’í Marriage Manual”.  With a little more effort, I can also pull together a “Bahá’í Perspective on Anxiety and Depression”.  I thought I was going to work on my new book on the “Spiritual Roots of Disease”, but now I’ve got 3 new books on the go!

The question is:  am I here to travel teach or to write books?  O God, help me find the balance and stay open to seeing your Will.  At the moment, the doors seem closed at both the college and the library.


Day 6: 

The dark is problematic!  I’m ready for bed around 5:00 and have to fight sleep for another 5-6 hours so I go to bed at a normal time.

I’ve been cold since I got here, and bought some ginger to put in my water to warm the blood.  I just realized that it would make a BIG difference if I put some shrink-wrap plastic on the windows, so I bought some today – it cost $54.23! It helps if I think of it as costing less than a dollar a day to keep me warm!  There goes my toilet paper budget!  Thank you God for J-Cloths and hot water!

The plastic is up but I can’t say I notice a difference!  I wonder if that’s why he keeps the blinds down on the other two windows?  I’ll try closing them and see if that helps!  There’s a furnace downstairs with an automatic thermostat that says it’s 70 degrees in here . . .

I spoke to a local person who told me most people take taxis rather than walk in the cold weather!

Gas is $1.08/litre (I paid $1.24/litre in Huntsville before I left).  Apparently they still have what came in via sea-lift a couple of years ago, and charge what it was worth then.  The prices don’t fluctuate like they do everywhere else!

The quality and variety of fresh produce was much better than I expected!  It was surprising to me that they charged so much for the plastic bag (25 cents) yet there’s no recycling program here.  I’m absolutely amazed at how much garbage I have!  When it’s sorted in different places it doesn’t seem like so much!

My internet connection has been sooooo slow.  Pages might take half an hour or more to load; or not load at all.  I spoke to Alan’s computer tech guy tonight and he tells me that I’ve probably used up all my bandwidth so I’m now on “dial-up” until the anniversary date of when he signed up for the internet.  It’s unknown what that date will be . . .

 


Day 5:

Success!

I went out to feed Badger this morning and she was gone!  Her chain was on one side of the komatik and the lock on the other.  It must have been open yesterday after all!  I put her food out anyway hoping she’d come home and was going inside to call the bylaw officer when she came right up to me.  She was more interested in TLC than she was in her food!  She let me chain her back up and close the lock and I am grateful!

Back home, safe and sound!

Success!

Lynn called to tell me the reason my face mask was freezing over was likely because it wasn’t sealing to my face.  Sure enough, there was a huge gap on the nose-piece, right where all my hot air would be escaping.  I plugged the gap with saran wrap and it definitely reduced the icing up and I am grateful!

Success!

I finally figured out that my reference point on the map (you are here) was slightly off, which is why I wasn’t able to find the stores!  I set out in the opposite direction, and after a couple of false starts, I was able to get to the post office and Northern Store (which sells groceries and snowmobiles; has a pharmacy; department store, KFC and Pizza Hut under the roof of a building roughly the same size as the Staples Store in Huntsville).

Today I bought the following groceries:

Milk (2 litres of 2% Lactaid):  $7.15

Butter:  $6.49

Eggs:  $2.65

Bananas (6):  $3.18

Carrots (bag) $2.99

Grape Tomatoes:  $4.59

Soft Soap (2):  $4.79 ea

They charged me 25 cents for a plastic bag to wrap the eggs in (in case they broke in my backpack).

Total:  $37.31

I’m not a shopper and I don’t keep numbers in my head, but I was expecting it to be a LOT more, and I am grateful!

Still no opportunity for direct teaching, but I’ve been saying prayers outside every house I pass on my walks.  The rest is up to God!

Test!

The computer and internet are both painfully slow today and I’m having to slooooooooow down with them.  As someone with multiple windows open in my browser, going back and forth between projects, it feels like very little is being accomplished.

Yesterday I figured out how I’d managed to destroy my Outlook and YNAB (You Need a Budget) programs, and with that information came great hope that I might be able to get them back.  I was counting on doing it today but what should have taken a couple of hours to accomplish still hasn’t really started because I can’t get access to the programs I need.  Tomorrow is another day!


Day 4:

Badger is an “outdoor” dog and I’ve been assured that she can withstand extreme temperatures and to bring her into the house would be to do her a real disservice.  I’ve had to accept that “When in Rome . . . ”  🙂

You’ll have to be patient for pictures!  I took a lot when I first got here and all I got were colorful blurs.  I don’t know what’s wrong with the camera or the user.  My ipad mini is en route (currently in Milwaukee) and I could have it by the end of the week if I can believe the shipper’s ETA.

Of course, the case was supposed to arrive a day before me, and is still in Winnipeg and has been for the past 11 days with a note on the file “The address is in a remote area and deliveries are not made daily”!  I know for a fact that there are at least 2 flights a day to Rankin Inlet from Winnipeg, so I don’t know what it’s waiting for but I sure hope it arrives with or before the ipad!

There must be a trick to unlocking the dog’s chain so I can take her for a walk.  I’ve tried but it’s hard to get at when she’s licking me to death!  When I finally get the key in the lock, it doesn’t seem to come off and I’m reluctant to use lock de-icer because I don’t want her licking it off!  Admittedly I’d try harder if it wasn’t minus 50 with the wind chill and my fingers quickly get numb and clumsy in the cold!

I asked Annie but she doesn’t know how either!

I don’t know my dogs, but if I had to guess, I’d say she’s a Husky. She certainly has a beautiful temperament! I’d love to bring her indoors and have her sleep with me, but her owner said it would do her a disservice, so I have to use my hot water bottle instead!

Mitra suggested I take 3mg of melatonine to deal with the lack of sun.

 


Day 3:

I tried to go to the post office yesterday and today and went the wrong way both days!  Now I know where not to go!  Both days my glasses (with anti-fog spray) and “anti-fog ski goggles” froze up so badly I couldn’t see a thing and was wandering the streets looking drunk!   Today is minus 50 with the wind chill!  Tomorrow is Sunday so it won’t be open, but I’ll probably venture out just to be able to say prayers down another street!  Sooner or later I’ll have circumambulated the hamlet with prayers!

Setting out along a different route

Personally I prefer the cold to the hot!  I can put on more clothes to keep warm, but I don’t function well in the heat.  Guess it’s what you’re used to, though.  For example, today it’s minus 50 Celcius outside with the wind chill, which sounds extreme even to most Canadians.  I grew up in a part of Canada where minus 40 was normal, so this isn’t that much different.  Also it’s a “dry” cold which is easier to take than a “damp” cold, which goes right to your bones (which is normal where I live).  During WW2, my father was in the deserts of Ghana and Sudan and used to tell me that temperatures could fluctuate from very hot to very cold in the same day; and he found that harder to take than the minus 40 in our home town, where unlike everyone else, he seldom went out without a jacket or boots.

I haven’t taken the dog out yet!  She’s locked to her chain and might get loose.  She hasn’t lived here very long and might not find her way back and I would have to pay the bylaw officer to find her.  I’m waiting till she knows me better and I know the neighborhood better!

My biggest challenge is feeling sleepy!  When the sun goes down by 3:00, my body thinks it’s bedtime soon and I can hardly keep awake!

Windchill warning:  Extreme wind chill values of -55 are expected to last for more than 3 hours tonight. At these extreme wind chill values frostbite on exposed skin may occur in less than 5 minutes.


Day 2:

Went for a walk to the store this morning, but went the wrong way and couldn’t see where I was going because my glasses and ski mask both fogged up.  I did book 1 and said prayers on the phone, and am unusually tired starting at sunset (3:30)!  I think my body thinks that when it gets dark, it’s time to wind down!

RIP Berangere Gagne! Just heard that my friend from Canada World Youth passed away after a short battle with ovarian cancer. She and I had a wonderful walk this past summer when our CWY group had a reunion in Montreal, and she wondered what life would bring her next. Neither of us could have imagined she’d be starting on her next great adventure!


Day 1:

This morning I went on a 5 minute errand by snowmobile with my host, wearing what you see here, plus 4 layers under the coat; my ski goggles, snow pants, and two layers of gloves. My hands and fingers were so cold in 5 minutes I thought they’d never warm up! The wind was whipping through or under my mask on the way home; and my bum was frozen from sitting on the skidoo! There’s no way I would survive a dog sled trip and an overnight in an igloo!

You’ll have to imagine it, since the computer won’t let me add it!

Alan is living in a “condo”, which might mean it’s one of the better homes in Rankin!  It certainly isn’t the calibre of housing that the word “condo” conjures up in my mind.  I suspect all it means is that he owns it.

This is my “home” for the next 10 weeks – a condo at “The Courtyard”

 

The Condo

 

It has a lot of nice features, including a well-designed kitchen with granite counters and wood floors:

Note the snow half-way up the window, blown there by the wind

 

The main floor is bright with an open floor plan, hardwood floors and big picture windows

Main floor

 

I haven’t mentioned the back door off the porch near the kitchen.  I don’t think I could get out it if there was a fire.  The porch windows and door are thick with frost; the floor is covered in snow as is my frozen food!  .


 

The back porch is my walk-in freezer!

My host uses this space to play darts!  He’s lived here for 30 years so I guess he’s immune to the cold!


Arrival:

My host met me at the airport in a skidoo; and took my baggage home in a komatik (sled) pulled behind it!

 

Departure!

I was up at 7:30 so I had time to wash the sheets and put them back on the bed for my pet sitter and do a last bit of house cleaning.  Everything got done and I was ready to leave on time.  Now I’m sitting in the plane waiting to take off for the first leg of my journey – to Thunder Bay.

There are so many things to be grateful for – my heart is filled with gratitude!

  • Two of my neighbors (Bonney and Claudette) offered to help me take my bags down to the car (there’s no elevator in our building); and were there at 10:30, right on time!  What an important service they provided.  I didn’t even know how helpful it would be to have us all take them down in one trip instead of 3-4 it would have taken me.  I’m grateful they knew to offer!
  • I was ready early enough to be able to make a last visit to T-Zone Vibration, where I did some stretching exercises on their whole body vibration machine; and then get a whole body massage in their new massage chair!  I left with all the tension from rushing around and last minute challenges fully discharged.
  • I picked up my duffle bag filled with frozen food, which M&M Meat’s had lovingly packed for me.  There was a little room to tuck in some treats from my own freezer.
  • I had some leftovers in the fridge which served as meals on the plane, without any forethought or planning.  I love when things work out effortlessly!
  • One of the Bahá’ís in our community (Allison) offered to take me to the airport and store my car, which saved me a lot of money.  I’d planned to take the shuttle and pay for parking, which would have been expensive.  Again, I didn’t know to ask for this service, and it was presented to me easily!  It was great to have someone to share the adventure with for a few hours; and to have help unloading the car when I got to the airport.
  • A Bahá’í friend of mine (Lynn) had been inspired to buy me a neoprene face mask at Canadian Tire, not knowing that the mask I ordered hadn’t been shipped!  She brought it out to the airport and waited in line with me while I paid for my excess baggage and got my boarding pass.  We had time for a few pictures before I had to go through security, and had fun worrying about being mistaken for a terrorist in my new mask!

 

 

  • I was charged for excess baggage; but they didn’t weigh it, so it was only half of what I’d budgeted for!
  • Going through security and boarding was easy

 

Thunder Bay

I didn’t have a place to stay in Thunder Bay and although I’d researched hotels close to the airport and prices, I didn’t feel inspired to book a room.  The day before I left, I had a call from a Bahá’í I don’t know in Baker Lake (Peter), asking if I had a place to stay overnight.  When he found out I didn’t, he called a Bahá’í friend of his (Carolyn) who agreed to pick me up at the airport at 7:30 pm.

Because my layover was more than 4 hours, I had to claim my baggage and keep it with me, so we loaded it into her car.  She was on her way to a meeting of the Local Spiritual Assembly, so I went with her.  After they’d finished their consultation, they asked me to do a deepening on Homosexuality, which I had with me on my laptop!

It was the night of the Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá so the friends were gathering for the Holy Day celebration at 11:00 pm.  One of the LSA members was trying to put together a program at the last minute and wanted ideas.  Again I had a complete program (with videos and music) on my laptop (and on my website); so I had the honor of using it in their community!  Click here to see it

The night before I left, it was the Festival of the Covenant (where Bahá’ís celebrate the appointment of `Abdu’l-Bahá as the Centre of Baha’u’llah’s Covenant) and I was flying on the day of His Ascension.  I was acutely aware of the incredible blessing of having these two events at the start of my travel-teaching trip!

I couldn’t help but remember that at the end of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s visit to North America, he said:

O that I could travel, even though on foot and in the utmost poverty, to these regions, and, raising the call of “Ya Baha’u’l-Abha” in cities, villages, mountains, deserts and oceans, promote the divine teachings! This, alas, I cannot do. How intensely I deplore it! Please God, ye may achieve it.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 41-42)

Please God, accept this feeble effort as my response!