So I’m in Iqaluit, Nunavut right now. [ed — not anymore]
It’s quite a culture shock really. Or maybe that’s not the right word – geography shock? Is that a thing? If not it should be.
I took a short walk earlier to check out the town. There’s lots of dirt pathways going from place to place that you can tell the locals carved out instead of walking on the road.
I actually saw children playing. Outside. By themselves. I KNOW!
It’s colder, obviously. It’s seven degrees currently, but that’s a temperature I find refreshing after a week of 35.
And yes, everything is more expensive. It’s $7.99 for a large bag of chips, for example. $21 for toilet paper. And anywhere from $30-$70 for kitty litter.
It’s hard to describe the way things are different here. The landscape looks like what I imagine Mars to look like. It’s a typical small town in some ways, one high school, two bars, not much to do. But everything is in three official languages instead of two. You hear people speaking Inuktitut.
It’s another world in a lot of small ways that are hard to describe. Nothing shocking, we all know things like it’s colder, they use seal skins, there are no trees. We know this. But experiencing the people and the landscape, even if just for a few days is totally different.
I came here for a career fair, only to discover a group of youth who are too shy to approach us. A group that only has access to spotty internet at best, so directing them to our website seems kind of like a joke. These kids, every last one of them, are losing friends and family to suicide – Nunavut has the second highest rate of suicide in the world, or so they said today.
Kids who are just trying to survive, dealing with substance abuse and suicide, are hardly going to be concerned about careers. At least not the way we’re talking to them about careers. We’ve got to take a different approach.
I’ve learned a lot in the scant time I’ve been here. I even think I could live here – though not forever.
I was certainly inspired by the kids at the National Inuit Youth Summit. May they lead their people to a better future.