Thursday, July 23, 2009

Okay, but...

The Iqaluit I just left was 22 degrees and sunny.

The Ottawa I'm looking at through an airport window is 18 degrees and rainy.

What the crap, Ontario?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Happy Nunavut Day!

Oh my god I love Nunavut so much today.

It's Nunavut Day, and the territory is celebrating its tenth birthday. Because I am horribly uninformed, this entire business was a surprise to me.

We started this morning with a massive pancake breakfast and a short speech from the premier... and by bumping into a bunch of other federal employees who don't technically have today off, although it's a stat holiday for territorial staff. We all jointly consider ourselves to be engaged in an important federal/territorial relations task. Alternately: flex time, baby. I got "I (heart) Nunavut" buttons in English and Inuktitut.

Then the gents from the office decided that we should probably go fishing this afternoon, purely as an engaging-with-the-land-and-its-rich-traditions exercise, and not at all because it was 16 C and beautifully sunny and fishing is really fun.

Fishing is really fun! And hard. We set up at a part of the river where the current slows a bit and apparently fish feed as the tide is going out. I blame the total lack of fish actually caught on the fact that the tide was coming in. For anyone who's never done it before (pfft, amateurs) river fishing is not like the stereotypical picture of lake fishing that you have in your head. It's way more active, and involves way more time spent trying to dislodge your hook from rocks in the middle of the river. Sometimes they just don't come unstuck. I lost one of each of my bosses' lures, which I'm told isn't bad for a first attempt. I suspect the person who said this was kindly lying.

But I really enjoyed it - actually I could see myself doing this recreationally. I guess I shouldn't make up my mind about that until I've actually handled a fish, which is probably pretty gross. Also I really have no desire to 'gut' anything, no matter how delicious it is... which tells me that I need to find a fishing buddy who's willing to do the gutting.

Then I found out there was a Nunavut Day square dance planned for tonight. Hoooo-ey! I was oddly excited about this - and about observing the town's rowdiest hooligans in action - but alas, it was not meant to be. It was held at the Legion, which bizarrely enough is the party hotspot around here, and you have to be a member or with a member to sign in. Apparently this is not a problem in general since everyone and their mother in Iqaluit belongs - joining only for the drinking rights, naturally. I, tragically, couldn't rustle up a member to take me and had to sit this dance out.

But! I did have a huge and wonderful chat with the family I'm living with which answered a lot of my questions about what the fuck is wrong with social services up here. That's a different, and immeasurably long, post. All this to say, I spent the evening learning some very valuable information about Nunavut, and now at the end of the day, my I-learned-a-new-skill buzz has been mellowed and fortified by an I-understand-some-importnat-things-a-little-better glow.

I'm starting to understand why people fall in love with this place.

I'm not going to dig into this...

... but in short, why is an anti-choice group being given a public platform to slam the Pride parade? If the goal is to protect fetal life, shouldn't they theoretically be embracing the queer community?

Gayness is a great way to prevent pregnancy. Just sayin'. Makes you wonder what the goal is then, huh?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The start of summer

The boss has helpfully informed me that we are in the tiny, tiny window of the year in which the weather is nice enough to be outside without a jacket but the bugs haven't arrived yet - and, even more helpfully, that they will be arriving any minute so whatever business I have with the outdoors I should take care of this weekend.

Today we got a full 12 degrees above zero and a whole day of cloudless sunshine. I took a walk over to Apex, a sister town about a kilometer outside Iqaluit, and down to the rocky beach on the other side. I have to say, as much as I love living in a city like Toronto - and I can't imagine myself being happy living any other way at the moment - it really is great to get out of it for a while. It's easy to imagine the air out here pulling the tar up out of my lungs.

It's getting green here, and there are odds and ends ground-cover flowers growing up out of the rock base. With the waters moving and the bay ice shoving off the beaches in shards, it's starting to get downright pretty up here.

This was taken looking out at the bay from the bridge into Apex. Iqaluit is up and on the other side of the hill on the right, and Apex spreads off to the left.

Some of the original Hudson's Bay Company buildings are still there. I think I remember someone telling me that this is the oldest one in Canada. The fine print on the front lists the date of incorporation as 1670.

As I mentioned, the ice is breaking up. That black dot on the upper-right-hand side of this photo is actually an Ice Breaker. There are two making their way around the bay right now. They don't even look like they're moving, but they must be (for example, they weren't here two days ago).

I went down to the beach for a while to check out the ice. You don't get a good sense of the size from this photo because I couldn't find anything to put in the frame for scale, but each of the blocks is about 2ft tall; those chunks that stick up are a little shorter than I am.

Pretty cool, right?

I'm bringing back my hiking boots in July.