I leave in less than a week, and advice is pouring in fast and furious! Thought I’d share what I was learning with you.
Be prepared to witness quite a different and amazing way of life.
We are a part of Canada and for the most part life here is very much like living in any small community in Canada. I have found that Baha’is sometimes have romantic notions about native and Inuit cultures which in reality is just vain imaginations.
Take every opportunity you can to meet and visit with people who grew up in the North. Their experiences and stories are amazing.
DRESS WARM. Their 20 below is about 20 degrees colder than our 20 below. I have no idea why.
If you are going to be outdoors for longer than 5 minutes. …wear a face covering and tinted ski goggles… seriously! The cold makes your eyes water and then if you don’t have goggles, your tears freeze. It’s the one thing I wish I had when I was there. I had a good warm clothes, but my face got cold. And if you go out on the land, it will probably be on the back of an ATV. Goggles would be handy for that.
Don’t go overboard with the garb if you want to befriend the locals! It’s so true! I’m already worried about the garb! Reading about the wind and knowing I’ll be walking everywhere, I invested in snow pants of course, but also a face mask and ski goggles. I don’t see at night, so I bought a headlamp and plan to wear a reflective vest! I certainly look like something very strange!
Life here is different and one has to be very careful about what you are doing ie the weather and especially when it comes to blizzards. Last week I went out during a blizzard and while walking over a snow drift my leg punched through and I fell forward in such a way that my leg was almost broken. This happened in the back of the house where had my leg been broken I probably would have frozen to death before anyone would have found me. After being here more than 6 years I am still learning and the lesson this time is to be careful where I step and to stay where there is a chance of being seen if something goes wrong.
Wear an amauti.
Inuit love pannitsiak (home fried bread).
Learn a bit of Inuktitut for beginners, simple greetings, common sayings.
|My name is Susan||Susanuyunga||Susan-o-yun-ga|
|How much is it?||Qaffinik?||Kaff-enek|
Make a point of going out for a walk every day no matter the weather. The family I am house-sitting for have an outside dog that will need walking every day so he will be my excuse to get out into the community.
Inuit love to laugh, smile and say hi on the roads.
This is quite an artistic village so you may want to take the opportunity to learn one of their crafts such as duffle booties for instance. All the girls and women would know how to make these…not hard!
There are some people here that I trust and there are others that I would be very careful of what they had to offer and until I can discern the difference I would be cautious. An example of this would be paying someone to take you out on the land. If they have new machines that have been well looked after then it can be a great experience but if it is somebody looking for bingo money then you are taking your chances of getting stranded.
As for frozen food the airlines in Thunder Bay and Winnipeg are used to handling frozen food so that should not be a problem.
Most things are available here and although expensive it is part of the experience of being here. Rankin Inlet is one of the larger communities and is well stocked. One of the things that gets very old is when people come and complain about how expensive it is here. When you have no choice but to buy your food here it makes some people sad that they do not have the same opportunities as those in the south.
Boundaries are boundaries and I have learned that the lack of boundaries is not cultural. I have found that people here have a healthy respect for boundaries and those that don’t know that it is not right. Sometimes saying no is the clearest path to unity.
Sometimes when people find out someone new is in town they come and knock on the door trying to sell hangings and such things which are generally of a poor quality and they are just trying to get money for bingo. For all those that will come after you please say no.