I am so thankful to Google for bringing me to Iqaluit, Nunavut in the Canadian Arctic recently to speak for Grow with Google. Ironically, I personally grew from the experience of traveling to such a remote, amazing place in my homeland, Canada. The following are some discoveries from my brief time in Iqaluit.
I take low food prices and availability for granted.
No matter how often I try to be thankful, I still take things for granted. The price of goods can often be astronomical. Grapes can cost up to $28 (CDN) and a head of cauliflower is $13. I bought two bottles of water for nearly $14.
While I was visiting, a fire broke out at the main grocery store, NorthMart. The merchandise was either harmed or not available since the store had to close for several days. This put the city into food crisis mode.
Not only are prices of items so dear because of exorbitant shipping fees, availability of such goods can suddenly grind to a stop in an emergency like fire or weather.
How to get your baby to sleep
I remember helplessly trying to get Ella to sleep when she was a baby. I would bring her to the bathroom, run the water gently from the tap, and softly bounce her up and down against my chest and shoulder. This worked - sometimes.
In Nunavut, women strap their babies, skin-to-skin to their backs. Together with a partner they produce the most amazing sounds from their throats. This guttural form of singing produces vibrations that lull the baby to sleep.
I must admit, I've always sided with organizations like Green Peace without much thought. I still admire much of their work. However, seal hunting is an essential part of Inuit culture that they have attacked.
Organizations like Greenpeace and PETA have lobbied for an all-out ban on seal hunting. They have successfully reduced the value of a seal pelts from $100 to $10. The Inuit argument is valid and should be seriously considered.
They hunt seals for food and spiritual ceremonies (advance the slides to view a video). Unlike sport hunters, Inuit use every part of the seals they kill. For example, the meat is used to feed many people. The blubber is pounded and the oil derived is used for candles. Even the bones are used for a dice-like game that families play together.
The United Nations commission and other government organizations have made revisions in seal hunting bans to permit Inuit people, but there is a big problem. The Inuit are apart of the global economy, they need to be in order to survive (we all need money). Beyond using seal pelts for their own clothing, they also need to sell these items. The money they earn is used to pay for equipment like rifles, Ski-doos, and gas. The documentary, Angry Inuk, does an excellent job describing this struggle.
I learned that I should understand both sides of a debate before jumping to conclusions. Yes, seals are cute, but they are paramount for people who were here before us and who deserve our respect. Take the argument one step further and understand that Inuit people do far less damage to the earth than we do. Don’t get me started about the push for mineral exploration in their region.
Do much more for your community
I had the great fortune of meeting Mathew Nuqingaq, a local silversmith, metal artist, sculptor, drum dancer, photographer and educator. I was directed to his Aayuraa Studio in an unassuming, small building. I was nervous to knock on the door. I didn't think I had the right place. Mathew greeted me with a somber stare, "Who are you?" He then pretended not to know any Mathew. I froze in awkwardness as he proceed to laugh and smile, "I'm Mathew, welcome.”
His jewelry is amazing. I ended up buying Heather two items. It turns out that Mathew is a recognized Canadian artist. I watched a CBC story about how he uses his studio to teach young locals his craft. He doesn't teach them for profit, he does so to empower them.
Mathew reminded me that I need to do much more to support people in my own community. I intend to do this by registering to help non-profits with the Community Foundation of Nashville.
I am also launching a free weekly career counseling and small business support hour. I'll be announcing details to my Nice Maker newsletter subscribers soon on how to book this time with me.
Iqaluit is a wonderful place, isolated far north of major cities in Canada. Located just west of Greenland in the Baffin Islands. While it gets unbelievably cold, the people are as warm and hospitable as they come.
Thanks to the older couple in the minivan who picked me up along my long walk back to town from the Apex. Thanks to Brian for warming me back up with coffee at his shop, Grind and Brew.