I’ve had many new experiences in Nunavut since I last wrote. I’ve been living in Iqaluit for almost four months now.
Christmas can be a lonely time in a new place. But I had plenty of invitations to people’s homes. Many people move here for work without their families, so holidays are spent with friends.
Around the holidays I did something I’ve never done before. I attended Christmas Games. People gather at a school or hall and play games for prizes. I attended the games at Nakasuk School. A few hundred people of all ages were there.
We had staring contests and relay races with a hockey stick. and the winners won prizes such as dish towels and cookware. I went with my co-worker and we jigged until we could jig no more. About 50 people stood in a circle with a partner and danced. It lasted more than an hour. As the gym heated up, many kicked off their winter boots and pulled off sweaters.
Another holiday tradition in Iqaluit is the craft fair at the high school. More than 50 tables showcased homemade wares such as hats, jewellery, mitts, and food. People lined up hours before it opened. I am now the proud owner of a home made parka. Many people don homemade jackets in Nunavut. My co-worker’s sister made it by hand in Rankin Inlet, which is located above Manitoba on Hudson Bay.
I also survived one of the worst blizzards in Iqaluit in years. Winds gusted around 140 km/h and my house shook so much I felt like I was on a boat and a drink on the table spilled. Everyone in Iqaluit was without power for most of the afternoon and night.
Friends and I celebrated the winter solstice with a bonfire outside. This is a bit difficult when you live in a place with no trees for firewood, so we burned wooden shipping pallets and the fire was surprisingly warm, even at -30 C.
I am also enjoying the impromptu feasts at work. So far I’ve tried raw narwhal, caribou, and Arctic char fish. Everyone gathers around the food and cuts it up with an ulu, a knife that looks like a half moon with a handle. People also stop by the office selling delicious fresh bannock a couple of times a week. Sometimes it’s even still warm.
Krystalle Ramlahkhan is a community correspondent for St. Vital who is working a term assignment for CBC in Iqaluit, Nunavut. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org