Thursday, April 24, 2014

Iqaluit leaves lasting impressions

Modern transports for a Northern life.
At the end of March I had the pleasure of spending a week in Iqaluit, Nunavut working with a local arts festival. That trip concluded one of my most intense 3 months travel schedules covering about 25,000 km and spanning from Baja Caifornia to New York, to St. John's NL and then Iqaluit.

I had never been to Nunavut - it is an expensive place to get to let alone travel in. For years, we have contemplated trekking on Baffin Island, so I was happy to have this opportunity for a first look through work. I did manage to make the most of my free time - visiting the local museum, the visitor centre, a drive out to Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park, meeting local artists in their studio, having a friend drive me around the whole town covering all the available roads. I even had dinner on the Road to Nowhere.

While I was there the #sealfie campaign was just taking off in defense of traditional seal hunting. It quickly morphed into raising awareness of Inuit culture, issues of cultural survival - and even more basic: survival - and what living on the land (mostly frozen land) means. The campaign also showed why Canadian seal hunting is not so easily divisive into commercial hunting and traditional hunting; in following this grassroots campaign, artist-led as it is, and listening to Inuit and Northern perspectives I feel I understand more.

(BTW, personally, I have no trouble with hunting for food and clothing. I eat meats and fish of various sorts and often eat the local fare when I travel, from llama jerky to alpaca steak to guanaco fillets, and  most recently in Iqaluit from caribou to muskox to whale.)
Semi-frozen whale skin and tiny bits of blubber and Ulu knife.
Served with soy sauce

That is what I love about travelling: getting to know landscapes - really being in them - learning how to inhabit them and meeting the local people. It is usually not terribly romantic to learn about living close to the land. Having grown up on a family farm, I know about food production and the ethics involved. I also feel that city dwellers have become disconnected from where food and clothes come from. I wish there was less judgment and more listening and seeking to understand.

With that a few impressions of the arctic landscapes around Iqaluit:
Iqaluit and the frozen Frobisher Bay

Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park
This landscape makes
me want to  hike
Frozen river in Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park
In Apex on the beach.

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