Friday, June 8, 2007
Odds and Ends
I arrived home in Vancouver after four weeks in Inuvik last week. Like my previous trips north it was an amazing experience. The Western Arctic is vastly different from the Eastern Arctic not only in it's landscape, but also in it's cultures and peoples. In the east most of the traditional culture is Inuit in origin. Inuvik on the other hand sits at a cultural junction point where Inuit, Gwich'in and Dene peoples all meet. While I was in Inuvik I had the opportunity to speak with a number of Elders from various backgrounds and learn a little about the areas traditions and life.
Speaking with Elders about their experiences of change over the last century is one of the real priviliges of spending time in the north. It is often amazing what people have lived through, and wonderful to hear their perspectives. In our society speaking with older people about their experiences isn't something that's often emphasized. I remember speaking to World War One Veterans about their experiences as a grade school student, but with no real appreciation of what a precious and limited resource their memories and views were. I hope that my appreciation for the living past is something I'll take with me through my life. (And maybe one day when I'm old some grade six kid will interview me about the times before computers; 'That's right, we did math on paper.....what's paper?!?, well let me tell you it was made from trees, yup there were so many trees we could just cut them down and grind them to pulp by the thousands!')
In mid July Dr. H. and I will both be heading up to Iqaluit for a longer term contract. We are looking forward to it a great deal, and hope not only to learn more about northern medicine as we work, but also to learn about the culture and people we will have the privilige of meeting along the way.
In case anyone thought they'd get away with out being subjected to the endless slideshow, here are some pictures of my brother Shawn and I fishing in beautiful BC!