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South End Winnipegger in the Great White North

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Community correspondent Krystalle Ramlakhan is working in Iqaluit, Nunavut, on a three-month contract with CBC.

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Community correspondent Krystalle Ramlakhan is working in Iqaluit, Nunavut, on a three-month contract with CBC. Photo Store

Usually I write to you about people and events in St. Vital. But I am far from St. Vital now. I am currently living in Iqaluit, Nunavut. For the next couple of months I hope to discover and divulge what it’s like to be a prairie gal living in the North.

First off, the reason I have arrived in the Arctic: I moved to the capital of Nunavut for a three-month contract working for CBC.

The day I arrived was fantastic. I got first-class service on my flights. There were no TV or radio stations to entertain me but I did get fed. I haven’t had a meal included with my flight for at least 15 years, except for one time when I was upgraded to first class.

My second day in Iqaluit and first day of work I was welcomed by a furious blizzard and friendly faces. My boss came to pick me up because it was too blustery to walk and there weren’t many taxis on the road.

There are no buses, metros, trains, or sky trains in Iqaluit. The only form of public transportation is taxi. It’s a $6 flat rate to get anywhere in this city of about 7,000 people.

Taxis will often stop to pick up other people when they are taking you to your destination. There are also no stop lights here and very few stop signs. Many people own vehicles and they all drive them at the same time around town, resulting in what is evolving into "rush five minutes."

The other mode of transportation is free. It’s your feet, hopefully fitted with shoes with plenty of traction. There are no sidewalks in Iqaluit. You trek on the side of the road, which can greet you with anything from gravel to mud to snow to rocks.

While you walk there is also another free source of entertainment — the gorgeous landscape.
The view is just absolutely incredible and I don’t think the pictures I’ve taken so far do it justice. Iqaluit is nestled along Frobisher Bay. The icy blue water is backed by snowcovered mountains as far as the eye can see. I live on a hill that overlooks the smallest Canadian capital by population. I can see the whole city light up at night. I didn’t think there would be so many twinkling lights, but it’s just like looking at Winnipeg from the revolving restaurant downtown.

The two questions I’ve been asked the most since I got here are "Have you seen any polar bears?" and "Is it dark all the time there yet?"

Yes, I’ve seen one polar bear — a picture of a polar bear on the wing of my plane here. There have been many reports of bears in other Nunavut communities. And yes, there are regular hours of daylight still. The shortest days come in December when the sun is up from about 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

And yes, I’m staying warm. I am bundling up more than I ever have and most certainly more than I would be in Winnipeg at the same temperatures. It’s been hovering around 0 C since I got here.

If you have any questions or suggestions about what you would like to hear about Iqaluit email me at krystalle.ramlakhan@gmail.com

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