Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Chasing Ice

Before last Saturday, the last time I had seen an ice burg was the day I moved to Iqaluit. I remember seeing it from my window on the plane, it was sitting in the bay as if to say, "you really are in the arctic, welcome."

A disappearing Ice burg
When I saw the ice burg that floated to the edge of the bay, I wanted to get as close to it as I could. I figured I could hike to it. That hike ended up taking me to the most Southern tip of Iqaluit and further than I had ever been. It had to be made on foot and I had to race against the tide to climb back to a spot that wouldn't be engulfed by the salt water.

By the time my day off rolled around, the bulk of ice had shrunk but I was determined to get to it before it was gone.

The little black spot on the end of the rock is me, the ice is almost invisible
It is so nice to be able to get out on the land and enjoy a sunny day. Knowing that the winter season is on its way scares me into loving the weather while we have it. There is always something beautiful to see in Iqaluit.

One of the Ships on the water

Friday, August 26, 2011

Iqaluit's Air Show

On Saturday August 13th, I spent my day off at Iqaluit's air show with my friends Nick and Nate. I had expected something to actually fly but it ended up being more of an airplane show and less of an air show. It was very interesting none the less. We got to explore the insides of all sorts of planes, from the kind we fly on for travel, to cargo planes, a military plane and the small planes that are used in medical emergencies.

Nate and Nick, looking lost

The guys were much more taken with the mechanical aspects of the air crafts than I was. My favorite part about the day was exploring the Military plane, admittedly because it was packed full of incredibly good looking men. I also enjoyed seeing Nate and Nick's faces as they explored. Their expressions reminded me of those you might see on the faces of little boys in a candy store. It is always nice to get out and get involved in what is going on in the City. I happen to have most Saturday's off so I got lucky and got to enjoy this cold summer day with my friends.

Bow Head Whale

Last week Iqaluit was slotted to set out on a Bow Head Whale hunt. When a community catches a whale, everyone hears about it. The catch is always news worthy in the North. My friend Ashley from work shared the pictures that her boyfriend took while he watched the hunt.

These pictures were taken by Andrew Burry. I wanted to share them here because of the awe I felt when I first looked through them. It is traditional outings like this that inspire me. The banding together of community to take part in something so raw and so foreign to me. A whale hunt, or any hunt for that matter, is nothing I was commonly exposed to growing up in the South. To think about the beauty and tradition behind the hunt for Inuit people makes me appreciate it.

Before moving North, I scoffed at hunting. Lets be serious, I cried at the sight of road kill. Now, however, I have a new appreciation, seeing and being a part of a community that not all that long ago, hunted as a survival method.

It is incredible, the amount of people that one whale feeds. I have seen gatherings of community around seal and muktaaq and have been blessed to be able to see them. I respect the hunt not only for its origins but for its power to close gaps between strangers. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Lets Talk Country Food

I am a semi vegetarian, I learned in culinary school that it doesn't just mean picky, it is a legitimate term for someone who doesn't eat meat but does eat poultry and fish. Knowing this about me, imagine the thoughts running through my head as I was faced with the chance to try muktaaq.

I cant be sure of the exact definition of the word muktaaq but I have heard it used to describe the raw meat of Beluga's, Narwhals and other whales.

This time, it was the meat of a Narwhal sitting on a piece of cardboard in front of me.

Our friend Alannah had said she had a freezer full of it that a friend had brought her from another, more northern community. Katie's face lit up at the mention of this country food delicacy.

Later that day, I found myself sitting at Katie's kitchen table, watching the excitement in her eyes as she cut the muktaaq with an ulu. I was mesmerized by the appearance of the food. I wasn't sure which part of it we were meant to eat. The skin of the Narwhal was beautiful, smooth and thick. It looked like a marble counter top of greys, black and white. I stroked it repeatedly with my finger tip, apologizing to Katie for playing with her food. She laughed at my intrigue.

Since moving to the Arctic, I have been inspired and filled with an unparalleled sense of adventure and curiosity. I do things now that would have terrified me a year ago. If it seems like something I wouldn't do, I make sure to do it.

And so I tried muktaaq, raw Narwhal, for the first time.

The taste was mild, slightly fishy and the texture disturbed my palate. I felt like I was chewing on a rubber band. The face I made had nothing to do with the taste, just with the texture. Please keep in mind that I have a flare for dramatics. I tried the smallest piece that I could get away with, just to say I did. Then I watched Katie enjoy her meal and listened to the stories she told of enjoying muqtaak on the kitchen floor with her mom and siblings when she was young.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Polar Bears in Iqaluit

I have never actually seen a live Polar Bear in Iqaluit but there were two who ventured into the City last Tuesday. The bears were found at Sylvia Grinnel Park, just down the road. Fellow Iqaluit resident, Annie Manning managed to get out and snap this fantastic close up. I love the North.

A Canadian Thank You

Some times in such a small City I wonder when things will stop surprising me, when the opportunities will run dry and boredom will set in. It never seems to happen.

I have a friend here named Collin, who moved up from Newfoundland. Collin has a friend in Iraq who buys a round of Tim Hortons coffee for his troops once a month on behalf of the Canadian Army Veterans Motorcycle Units. Collin decided that he wanted to do the same for the service personnel in Iqaluit.

We discovered that there were going to be about thirty soldiers in Iqaluit on stop over on Wednesday so we made coffee, packed up some donuts and headed over to surprise our new friends.

We had a fantastic time and it was wonderful to meet all of these kind men and women. Most of this group was stopped over and leaving later that day but we met a few people who stay in Iqaluit. One man in particular, Joe had only moved to Iqaluit the previous day. I'm glad I had the opportunity to welcome him to his new home.

To have the chance to get involved with the community I live in and to create relationships with wonderful people is something I always appreciate. All in all this was a fantastic day and we were so glad to be able to say thank you to our troops in a small way.