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We’re not in St. Vital anymore, Toto

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Krystalle Ramlakhan, usually a St. Vital resident, is in the middle of a three-month contract with CBC in Iqualuit, Nunavut.

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Krystalle Ramlakhan, usually a St. Vital resident, is in the middle of a three-month contract with CBC in Iqualuit, Nunavut. Photo Store

This prairie gal has been living in Iqaluit, Nunavut for about a month and a half. I usually write about St. Vital for this column, but for the next couple of months I’ll share what it’s like moving from Winnipeg to the Arctic.  

At my new job at CBC I’ve had many opportunities, including covering the Nunavut territorial election on Oct. 28. We were at the station until 3 a.m. on election night producing a live radio and TV show along with content for the morning.

Many people here understand what it’s like to be a newcomer and how much community matters in a small place like Iqaluit. One of the most interesting experiences I’ve had so far is being invited to a Diwali (the Hindu festival of lights) celebration out of the blue at the grocery store.

At first I was a bit surprised to be invited to a stranger’s home, but that’s the great thing about Iqaluit. Everyone knows everyone. As soon as I told my friend, she knew exactly who I was talking about and told me not to miss out.

When I arrived at the gathering the following weekend I was welcomed with open arms and great conversation. I even recognized some people I’d already met and was sent home with many delicious leftovers.

Another socializing hot spot is the Royal Canadian Legion. I’ve never seen a lineup to get into a Legion but it happens almost every weekend in Iqaluit. It’s the place for a night of dancing, but you have to remember to find a member to sign you in.

Potlucks are also big in Iqaluit. I’ve been invited to quite a few. At the last one I tried raw narwhal. It was chewy but quite delicious. It reminded me of sushi with a smoky flavour and was served with soy sauce.

While you’re at any social establishment, you also have the chance to buy gifts and souvenirs. Artists walk around with beautiful works of art such as carvings, jewellery, and hand-made fur mitts for sale.

In these places you will also hear many different languages. English, French, and Inuktitut are all spoken often. Nunavut has four official languages.  

And you won’t see anyone chatting in one of the four official languages on an iPhone. They do not work here as phones. Most people have BlackBerrys. The recent release of BBM an the Apple app store was exciting for people living here, as they can now connect with their friends in the south with iPhones.

If you have any questions about my journey please feel free to email me at krystalle.ramlakhan@gmail.com

Krystalle Ramlahkhan is a community correspondent for St. Vital.

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