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working in Nunavut (Arctic Canada)

working in Nunavut (Arctic Canada)

Old Aug 7th 2002, 6:30 pm
  #1  
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Question working in Nunavut (Arctic Canada)

Anyone out there have experience of working/living in the Nunavut territory of Canada? Have opportunity to do volunteer work with school children there for 5 months from next February but have read some pretty negative things about the area such as "highest teenage suicide rate in the world!" and "severe problems of drug abuse, alcolholism and depression" due to strict Inuit moral codes and the "depressive" climate which prevents much outdoor activity etc.
Frankly I'd still like to give it a go but my family and friends think I would not be able to "stand it" from Feb. to June, and just could not survive the climate.
What I really need is to hear from someone who has first hand experience rather than just reading about it. Don't mind if it's negative or positive would just like some help in making my decision.
Look forward to hearing from you out there.
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Old Aug 7th 2002, 7:05 pm
  #2  
Peter L
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Default Re: working in Nunavut (Arctic Canada)

"dondon" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > Anyone out there have experience of working/living in the Nunavut territory of
    > Canada? Have opportunity to do volunteer work with school children there for 5
    > months from next February but have read some pretty negative things about the area
    > such as "highest teenage suicide rate in the world!" and "severe problems of drug
    > abuse, alcolholism and depression" due to strict Inuit moral codes and the
    > "depressive" climate which prevents much outdoor activity etc.

That's why they need people to work there to help the children, right?

One of my nephew spent 6 months volunteering in India. He has been to the Philipines
and will be going to Guatamala next. The last thing he'd expect is anything positive
about the conditions. His positives come from service that he is providing.



    > Frankly I'd still like to give it a go but my family and friends think I would not
    > be able to "stand it" from Feb. to June, and just could not survive the climate.
    > What I really need is to hear from someone who has first hand experience rather
    > than just reading about it. Don't mind if it's negative or positive would just
    > like some help in making my decision. Look forward to hearing from you out there.
    > --
    > Posted via http://britishexpats.com
 
Old Aug 7th 2002, 8:05 pm
  #3  
Polar
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Default Re: working in Nunavut (Arctic Canada)

On 7 Aug 2002 18:34:00 GMT, dondon <[email protected]> wrote:

    >Anyone out there have experience of working/living in the Nunavut territory of
    >Canada? Have opportunity to do volunteer work with school children there for 5
    >months from next February but have read some pretty negative things about the area
    >such as "highest teenage suicide rate in the world!" and "severe problems of drug
    >abuse, alcolholism and depression" due to strict Inuit moral codes and the
    >"depressive" climate which prevents much outdoor activity etc. Frankly I'd still
    >like to give it a go but my family and friends think I would not be able to "stand
    >it" from Feb. to June, and just could not survive the climate. What I really need is
    >to hear from someone who has first hand experience rather than just reading about
    >it. Don't mind if it's negative or positive would just like some help in making my
    >decision. Look forward to hearing from you out there.

I haven't lived or worked there, so dunno if this input is useful, but here goes:

I *have* visited the Canadian Arctic numerous times,
e.g. going throughthe Northwest Passage, stopping at various native settlements;
mushing dogs on the Great Slave Lake, etc.

Visited Iqualuit, capital of the new Territory of Nunavut a few months before the
official establishment.

As you can see from my handle, I am attracted to the Polar regions, N and S. I found
the climate as quite endurable, if one has adequate housing, clothing, and an
appropriate diet. I have slept in a (good, insulated) tent at -25 C. and been quite
comfortable. Also in a not-so-good, not-insulated tent at -25 C and survived nicely,
thank you!

The snow, ice, glaciers, Northern Lights, Polar bear sightings, the marvelous cloud
formations, the tundra in summer -- these have their own peculiar beauty. Not
without reason do people get "hooked" on the North!

Taking the concerns you cite:

" but have read some pretty
    >negative things about the area such as "highest teenage suicide rate in the world!"
    >and "severe problems of drug abuse, alcolholism and depression" due to strict Inuit
    >moral codes and the "depressive" climate which prevents much outdoor activity etc."

I get a little angry at such one-sided stuff (not picking on you).

The problems of the Inuit are largely due to the whites barging in and changing what
was a sarisfactory lifestyle for about 10,000 years!

If you can get to the Nunavut-produced film "The Fast Runner", you will get an idea
of what it was like.

As to "outdoor activity: In the past, Inuit went out in any weather, using home-made
sleds and fittings, pulled by the right breed of dogs. They could stop and build a
warm igloo anywhere within an hour. They wore animal furs, excellently designed for
warmth and air circulation.

They ate fresh-killed, vitamin-loaded meat, and had almost no infectious illness
because of the cold, antiseptic climate.

Now, they are in a no-man's-land, between their ancient culture and the consumerist
white culture. The government, having destroyed their way of life, now treats them
as welfare wards of the state. They are given "white" educations, housing, clothing,
and doped up with satellite TV, with its dreadful materialist programming.

As a result, the young people you cite above don't know who they are or what life is
about; have lost touch with their culture - JUST LIKE AMERICAN INDIANS ON OUR
RESERVATIONS.
. There ARE efforts to reconnect them, and you might be a wonderful force for good in
those efforts.

They eat terrible processed food; drink awful soft drinks, and, yes -- no doubt
succumb to drink and drugs -- JUST LIKE OUR LOST TEENAGERS IN AMERICAN CITY GHETTOS.

Listen to your own heart, not to family and friends who are trying to tell you what
you can "stand".

Lots of people would kill to be offered an adventure such as yours!


--
Polar
 
Old Aug 8th 2002, 12:22 am
  #4  
Floyd Davidson
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Default Re: working in Nunavut (Arctic Canada)

Polar <[email protected]> wrote:
    >dondon <[email protected]> wrote:
    >>What I really need is to hear from someone who has first hand experience rather
    >>than just reading about it. Don't mind if it's negative or positive would just
    >>like some help in making my decision. Look forward to hearing from you out there.
[snipped]
    >" but have read some pretty
    >>negative things about the area such as "highest teenage suicide rate in the world!"
    >>and "severe problems of drug abuse, alcolholism and depression" due to strict Inuit
    >>moral codes and the "depressive" climate which prevents much outdoor activity etc."
    >I get a little angry at such one-sided stuff (not picking on you).
    >The problems of the Inuit are largely due to the whites barging in and changing what
    >was a sarisfactory lifestyle for about 10,000 years!

Dondon, please *listen* to what Polar has said there. It is important.

Someone else replied that of course that is why you need to go help, and the
positives are the "service" you will provide.

But get something clear right now... the "service" you will provide will not cure
any problems, and will most likely cause more of whatever it is you see as something
you can "cure".

I'm not saying don't go. I am saying to go to be a missionary. Go to learn. Go to
let them teach you. Go for the experience and the adventure. But leave whatever
thoughts you have about a White Man's Burden behind.

As to the climate and how you'll do??? I can't say. And though I've lived above or
near the Arctic Circle virtually all of my adult life (and I have half a dozen
grandchildren), I've never lived in Canada's Arctic so I can't give you specifics.

I can tell you that weather is not really a problem. I came to Alaska from southern
Arizona in the 1960's. It takes people a couple _years_ to adapt to heat, and a
couple months to adapt to cold. One winter, and you'll think you were born there.

The problem is culture. Most likely you are in for a huge volume of culture shock.
All of it because typically Westerners have little exposure and little understanding
of the world outside their own back yard. As a result of that as much as the
climate, there is one overriding characteristic which describes people who come north
to Alaska and like it, and I'd bet the same applies to Canada's Arctic regions too.
That characteristic is adventure.

If you don't like routines, and want to drive to work by a different road every other
day, want to try new foods, can't stand a schedule, never vacation to common places
and don't go anywhere twice, hate office drugery and have both a hard time going to
bed on time or getting out of bed on time, then you'll likely *love* living in an
Inuit village! If you want your pants pressed just so, want to know this week what
is on the schedule for next week, love to go over the books three times to make sure
they add up right, enjoy doing timely routine maintenance on anything, rent the same
vacation room in Hawaii every year, and are terrorized when things don't happen when
they are supposed to, then you do *not* want to think about even getting on a plane
going north.

Heh, I'll give you an example of the difference. A couple fellows (engineers)
visited my work location a couple years ago, doing surveys on fuel our tanks. One
fellow was born and raised in Alaska. He was the younger of the two. The senior
fellow was from Colorado. The next place they need to go was Kotzebue, a few hundred
miles west and south of here. There are two ways to get from Barrow to Kozebue. The
obvious one is get on a 737 jet to Anchorage today (two hours), spend the night, and
catch tomorrow mornings 737 jet to Kotzebue (another two hour flight). The other is
spend the night in Barrow and tomorrow morning get on a twin engine Beach 99 (14
seats) and take the milk run to Kotzebue, stopping at (maybe Wainwright) Point Lay
and Point Hope on the way, and arriving in Kotzebue after maybe 4-5 hours and 450
miles of Arctic Ocean coastline.

When these two fellows started scratching their heads over which way to go, I looked
at the young fellow and said "When's the next time you'll have a chance to see Point
Lay?" His face lit up like a Christmas tree and it took him 1.34 seconds to make up
his mind! Why would _anyone_ spend a night in Anchorage and miss seeing Point Lay?
The fellow from Colorado agreed to go that way, but he never did really understand
what had passed between myself and his partner that clinched the deal in an instant.

If you don't see it, don't go!

--
Floyd L. Davidson <http://www.ptialas-
ka.net/~floyd>
Ukpeagvik (Barrow, Alaska) [email protected]
 
Old Aug 8th 2002, 5:15 am
  #5  
Floyd Davidson
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Default Re: working in Nunavut (Arctic Canada)

Floyd Davidson <[email protected]> wrote:
    >I'm not saying don't go. I am saying to go to be a missionary.

Typo alert! That should be "*DO NOT* go to be a missionary.

--
Floyd L. Davidson <http://www.ptialas-
ka.net/~floyd>
Ukpeagvik (Barrow, Alaska) [email protected]
 
Old Aug 8th 2002, 6:17 am
  #6  
John Ramsay
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Default Re: working in Nunavut (Arctic Canada)

The book 'Arctic Crossing' by Jonathan Waterman gives first hand experiences.

dondon wrote:

    > Anyone out there have experience of working/living in the Nunavut territory of
    > Canada? Have opportunity to do volunteer work with school children there for 5
    > months from next February but have read some pretty negative things about the area
    > such as "highest teenage suicide rate in the world!" and "severe problems of drug
    > abuse, alcolholism and depression" due to strict Inuit moral codes and the
    > "depressive" climate which prevents much outdoor activity etc. Frankly I'd still
    > like to give it a go but my family and friends think I would not be able to "stand
    > it" from Feb. to June, and just could not survive the climate. What I really need
    > is to hear from someone who has first hand experience rather than just reading
    > about it. Don't mind if it's negative or positive would just like some help in
    > making my decision. Look forward to hearing from you out there.
    > --
    > Posted via http://britishexpats.com
 
Old Aug 8th 2002, 9:45 am
  #7  
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Thumbs up working in Nunavut

Thank you guys - Polar, Peter and Floyd Davidson - it was great for you to get back to me so soon. You are right of course that IS why they want people like me to go out there, and it's precisely because I feel I have the skills they are asking for that I want to do it. Let's face it most people don't consider my qualifications and work experience as a performer and actress as "Real" jobs - but here I have found someone who WANTS just that so I should feel valued from the start.
I am definitely NOT without a sense of adventure - I too have travelled in Guatemala, Thailand and have already worked abroad in Europe. I have also worked with People suffering from Mental illness trying to "get back" into the real world, and know my work was appreciatd - I HATE daily routine, office politics, the whole rat race thing anyway.
If I am lucky enough to get taken on I will of course do plenty of OPENMINDED research - being in UK rather than USA I dont know quite as much about the "native" issues, but like I said on my world travels so far I have only ever come back with good vibes especially about the people I've met in these places, different though our lives may be.
Don't be too hard on my family though - I am only just 24 and my parents are really supportive - they are only playing devil's advocate really - I should be glad they care enough to worry about me! They would never talk me out of it or try to stop me, and will always bail me out if ever I need it - so I feel I owe it to them to at least take their feelings into consideration. But as of right now my minds pretty set on giving it a whirl - you guys have helped me to realise that I DO have the RIGHT attitutde. Shall I keep you posted as to whether I get on? Thanks again.
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Old Aug 8th 2002, 6:40 pm
  #8  
Dennis P. Harris
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Default Re: working in Nunavut (Arctic Canada)

On 7 Aug 2002 18:34:00 GMT in rec.travel.usa-canada, dondon
<[email protected]> wrote:

    > Anyone out there have experience of working/living in the Nunavut territory of
    > Canada? Have opportunity to do volunteer work with school children there for 5
    > months from next February but have read some pretty negative things about the area
    > such as "highest teenage suicide rate in the world!" and "severe problems of drug
    > abuse, alcolholism and depression" due to strict Inuit moral codes and the
    > "depressive" climate which prevents much outdoor activity etc. Frankly I'd still
    > like to give it a go but my family and friends think I would not be able to "stand
    > it" from Feb. to June, and just could not survive the climate.

As Floyd says, it's not the climate, it's the culture shock.

What do your family and friends really know about this situation? Zilch, beyond what
they read in the sensationalist slanted media, I'll bet.

If, as Floyd says, you have a sense of adventure and a high tolerance for surprise
and random events, as well as an open mind, you should seize this opportunity. As he
says, the open mind is the most important thing. If you want to succeed socially and
in your volunteer work, you'll have to shed any preconceived notions, particularly
any that you might have about Native Americans or "Eskimos", and be willing to listen
and learn.

This is a culture that haz survived physical hardship for thousands of years, and the
assault of Western culture for several hundred. The problems you have heard about
are a result of the cultural conflict, and though they will get better now that the
Inuit people have regained control of their land and have their own government, it
will take time for them to resolve many of those issues.

If you are seriously considering going, I recommend that you do some reading about
the culture, as well as take some cross-cultural training. Father Michael Oleksa, a
Russian Orthodox priest and counselor who has spent 30 years ministering in rural
Alaska and who is married to a Yup'ik woman, worked with Juneau's public TV station
to produce a series of 4 one hour videos on cross-cultural communication which I
highly recommend.

The set sells for $80, and I predict that if you buy it, you'll watch it several
times, and probably want to take it with you to Nuvavut. For info on the video
series and on ordering, see http:-
//www.ktoo.org/videos.cfm?Pgm=COMM&S=1

 
Old Aug 9th 2002, 3:12 am
  #9  
Floyd Davidson
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Default Re: working in Nunavut (Arctic Canada)

[email protected] (Dennis P. Harris) wrote:
    >If you are seriously considering going, I recommend that you do some reading about
    >the culture, as well as take some cross-cultural training. Father Michael Oleksa, a
    >Russian Orthodox priest and counselor who has spent 30 years ministering in rural
    >Alaska and who is married to a Yup'ik woman, worked with Juneau's public TV station
    >to produce a series of 4 one hour videos on cross-cultural communication which I
    >highly recommend.
    >The set sells for $80, and I predict that if you buy it, you'll watch it several
    >times, and probably want to take it with you to Nuvavut. For info on the video
    >series and on ordering, see http-
    >://www.ktoo.org/videos.cfm?Pgm=COMM&S=1


That is a really good pointer. Father Oleksa can keep the attention of an audience
in a way you just won't believe. He's one of those rare folks that I could just sit
and listen to for hours and hours, regardless of what he is talking about.

His work on cross-cultural communications is simply fabulous, and the video series is
worth many times the cost.

--
Floyd L. Davidson <http://www.ptialas-
ka.net/~floyd>
Ukpeagvik (Barrow, Alaska) [email protected]
 
Old Aug 10th 2002, 1:27 am
  #10  
Aramis
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Default Re: working in Nunavut (Arctic Canada)

Can you skin a seal in under 2 minutes, in the dark, with frostbitten fingers?


"dondon" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > Anyone out there have experience of working/living in the Nunavut territory of
    > Canada? Have opportunity to do volunteer work with
school
    > children there for 5 months from next February but have read some
pretty
    > negative things about the area such as "highest teenage suicide rate
in
    > the world!" and "severe problems of drug abuse, alcolholism and depression" due to
    > strict Inuit moral codes and the "depressive"
climate
    > which prevents much outdoor activity etc. Frankly I'd still like to give it a go
    > but my family and friends think
I
    > would not be able to "stand it" from Feb. to June, and just could not survive the
    > climate. What I really need is to hear from someone who has first hand
experience
    > rather than just reading about it. Don't mind if it's negative or positive
    > would just like some help in making my decision. Look forward to hearing from
    > you out there.
    > --
    > Posted via http://britishexpats.com
 
Old Aug 10th 2002, 5:33 pm
  #11  
Polar
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Default Re: working in Nunavut (Arctic Canada)

On Sat, 10 Aug 2002 01:27:07 GMT, "Aramis" <[email protected]> wrote:

    >Can you skin a seal in under 2 minutes, in the dark, with frostbitten fingers?

Hey, don't spook the guy! We're just getting him up to speed!

Dondon, babe, they have satellite TV and Fritos and all the amenties of U.S. "life".

But if you *want* to learn seal skinning, heck, it could come in handy some time.

Personally, if I were up there on your great job, I would find an Inuit family
to take me snow-camping and teach me how to build an igloo. Now THAT is a
survival skill!


    >"dondon" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    >> Anyone out there have experience of working/living in the Nunavut territory of
    >> Canada? Have opportunity to do volunteer work with
    >school
    >> children there for 5 months from next February but have read some
    >pretty
    >> negative things about the area such as "highest teenage suicide rate
    >in
    >> the world!" and "severe problems of drug abuse, alcolholism and depression" due to
    >> strict Inuit moral codes and the "depressive"
    >climate
    >> which prevents much outdoor activity etc. Frankly I'd still like to give it a go
    >> but my family and friends think
    >I
    >> would not be able to "stand it" from Feb. to June, and just could not survive the
    >> climate. What I really need is to hear from someone who has first hand
    >experience
    >> rather than just reading about it. Don't mind if it's negative or positive
    >> would just like some help in making my decision. Look forward to hearing from
    >> you out there.
    >> --
    >> Posted via http://britishexpats.com

--
Polar
 
Old Aug 11th 2002, 9:36 am
  #12  
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Default

I didn't mean to start any online arguments guys! But just one thing which I hope does not make any difference to you all - I am NOT a guy - I am a 24 year old female!
I have already telephoned through from UK to Canada (Head "office" is in Toronto) re my volunteering but can't go until after Christmas (I am an actress and have a tour committment until then) and they seem quite keen to hear from me - although apparently they can't "promise" that they will have a vacancy for me but are keeping me on their books - hope it does come off now as I'm already getting myself worked up to it!
dondon is offline  
Old Aug 11th 2002, 11:56 pm
  #13  
Polar
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Default Re: working in Nunavut (Arctic Canada)

On 11 Aug 2002 15:55:07 GMT, dondon <[email protected]> wrote:

    >I didn't mean to start any online arguments guys! But just one thing which I hope
    >does not make any difference to you all - I am NOT a guy - I am a 24 year old
    >female! I have already telephoned through from UK to Canada (Head "office" is in
    >Toronto) re my volunteering but can't go until after Christmas (I am an actress and
    >have a tour committment until then) and they seem quite keen to hear from me -
    >although apparently they can't "promise" that they will have a vacancy for me but
    >are keeping me on their books - hope it does come off now as I'm already getting
    >myself worked up to it!

Keep good notes! You may get a travel article or even a book out of the experience.
You'll certainly get material which will help you grow as an actress.

As to possible vacancy, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Couldn't hurt to make
an occasional phone call or send an email suggesting that you are very eager to
take the job.


--
Polar
 
Old Aug 12th 2002, 10:39 pm
  #14  
Bravenewwhirl
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Posts: n/a
Default Re: working in Nunavut (Arctic Canada)

At a guess I would say you are far too negative for Northern Canada. Don't go there.

For everyone else - it is a beautiful place with the most incredible people. But
Southern Whites without the real stuff should just stay away.


dondon <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:<[email protected]>...
    > Anyone out there have experience of working/living in the Nunavut territory of
    > Canada? Have opportunity to do volunteer work with school children there for 5
    > months from next February but have read some pretty negative things about the area
    > such as "highest teenage suicide rate in the world!" and "severe problems of drug
    > abuse, alcolholism and depression" due to strict Inuit moral codes and the
    > "depressive" climate which prevents much outdoor activity etc. Frankly I'd still
    > like to give it a go but my family and friends think I would not be able to "stand
    > it" from Feb. to June, and just could not survive the climate. What I really need
    > is to hear from someone who has first hand experience rather than just reading
    > about it. Don't mind if it's negative or positive would just like some help in
    > making my decision. Look forward to hearing from you out there.
 
Old Aug 12th 2002, 10:42 pm
  #15  
Bravenewwhirl
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: working in Nunavut (Arctic Canada)

Floyd Davidson <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:<[email protected]>...
    > Floyd Davidson <[email protected]> wrote:
    > >
    > >I'm not saying don't go. I am saying to go to be a missionary.
    > Typo alert! That should be "*DO NOT* go to be a missionary.

Thank you for that clarification. The missionaries have friggin near done in the
Arctic peoples.
 

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