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Reports

Friday, 28 March 2003
--> Kugluktuk, Nunavut, Canada (day 2)

The difference with a sleep-in in Elsewhere in Canada and a sleep-in in the north seems to be the fact that the ones in the north are a real necessity to short term visitors. I guess it is the weather that takes so much energy!
When Becky had invited me over through this website, I put a dot on my map and I just had to email her on “how” I could ever get here. There goes an airplane, that’s all what was known at that time.

Now I am really here it still is mind-boggling. It is hard to describe the culture shock I might be having (no, it’s the jetlag!).

Kugluktuk is so far off the mainstream Canadian civilisation that it would be a major insult to stay here only one day. Becky was very amicable about me staying as long as I wished. “Hey, as long as you don’t get bored as I have to work, you can stay!” Well thank you!

“I kind of enjoy having someone around,” she said with honest. So after today’s sleep in I had myself some breakfast as Becky was already teaching at school. Before I would settle myself behind a laptop to do some of my own work, I decided to go for a walk. I think the getting dressed for a walk took longer than the walk itself! Outside it was sunny; still the Arctic winds are more than just freezing. It feels like a knife cutting my face, that cold it feels if I am not covering myself good enough. And then again, after a 15 minutes walk, I was tired again.

Before I would look up Becky at her school later this afternoon, I just had to go for another drive on her skidoo that she had left for me. After warming the snow mobile up for 20 minutes, I got myself on the frozen waters of the Arctic Ocean and spinned and crossed around for kilometres and with a maximum speed of 130km/hr! It was awesome!

And out there, there is just nothing! I loved it!

After this I went to the high school where Becky was about to finish her classes at 5pm. Today was reporting day and that goes quite different that normal. The kids don’t get report cards home with them, as they won’t show their parents anyway when it is bad. The parents and kids are actually both invited over to look at the report card at school. This way they do not only involve the parents in the educational institute, the teachers can really talk speak to the parents. And as the parents are at school, they can also see some of the creations their kids have been making during classes.

When Becky was finished she suggested to me we could have pizza tonight. “Do you want to order it?” I joked to her. She laughed. “We have actually once done something like that. Some of us here were craving for KFC’s chicken wings. So we just called the KFC in Yellowknife and it was no problem for them to send a few meals on the plane!” Amazing! “Of course it was all frozen and we had to prepare it ourselves, but –hey- we had Kugluktuk Fried Chicken!

However pizzas have to be made from scratch, there is no place here where they sell pizza bottoms for example. Jeanny came over to join us for this meal and at the table I shared some travel stories of mine and showed a collection of my latest Canada movies.

After dinner we hung around in a candlelit room with Angel, one of Becky’s students that came over too. “Kids always want to come over and in the beginning I was too naïve to let that all just happen. Sometimes their parents are not home, or being drunk or abusive, so most of them are looking for company. I actually totally forgot about kids getting a crush on their teachers so I had to put a halt on all those kids coming over. It was rather embarrassing,” she laughed.

Becky told me that she won’t be living here much longer. “I plan to get back down to my parents in Calgary and to get together with Cregory in Vancouver. Just after three years in Kugluktuk I am ready for something else.” This was quite a confession, as it was clear to me that it would be hard to leave a community where a lot if based on strong social contacts with most of the residents. “I figured out that my life is too much about teaching around here. And the role of the teacher is different here too. A teacher also is a person people come to talk to for the community. I am never off the job and that can sometimes be tiring.”

“I am considering a study in photojournalism on Vancouver Island,” she said.

Tonight I also had to see The Arcade. The Arcade is the youth-hang-out centre in Kugluktuk and Jeanny is one of the people that set it up as to have something for the kids in the community. At the Arcade kids can buy candies and pop (drinks), rent videos and dvd’s and play pool and computer games.

When we arrived there on the skidoo, it took a while to get inside socializing is of course a big thing here. Everybody said hello to Becky and to me too if they had already met me at the school. And they all love to have some chitchat.

Inside it was a busy playground, with kids acting tough towards each other during their pool table games. It was as I had arrived in da hood of Kugluktuk. 8 Mile Road is around the corner.

I received a backstage tour by Becky and saw the ceiling-high stocks of cans of drinks. Entire pallets were dropped off here. I met Jeanny’s Arcade colleagues and they were just discussing the problem they were expecting with Coca Cola. “As it is going at this moment, we will run out of coke before September.” And that is when the new shipment will come in on the barge that goes all the way from Hay River (!) along all the remote territories of the north. “The kids will become aggressive without coke,” one man said and I wasn’t sure if that was bloody serious or a bit of a joke.

I found it rather amusing toe see three people in the back of a youth centre in the middle of Canadian nowhere called Kugluktuk worry about the high consumption of coke by the local kids.

Becky took a DVD movie with here from the Arcade, but we weren’t able to watch it through the DVD-features of my laptop as Universal Studios DVD’s seem has its own player on their discs that my laptop just refuses to accept.

So Becky got out her guitar and we ended our Friday night on the couch. Outside it started to snow, inside Becky was singing Jewel sounds and some songs she had written herself.

I always wonder why I just can’t find the patience to learn to play guitar myself! Becky can play and sing so beautiful. In Vancouver is this guy called Cregory that should be very proud of her!

Good night Kugluktuk!

Ramon.