Monday, September 29, 2014

barbecuing in the snow

On Saturday morning, it was -15 degrees with the windchill and the ground was covered in the snow, and ice patches were forming over the Arctic ocean. You know, perfect weather for a community barbecue.

I was dressed warmly in my coat, but I was still a little cold. I refused to bust out my Canada Goose parka until at least October. On principle. It's not to say that I wouldn't have appreciated it though. 

Christine was doing a lot of the barbecuing. She had to keep her wool gloves on because of the cold, which means that her gloves will smell like burgers forever.  Which is kind of awesome.

The event was being held for Ariel Tweto, one of the stars from the Discovery Channel TV show Flying Wild Alaska, who was on her "Popping Bubbles" tour across the Kitikmeot Region. She seemed like a really vibrant positive person, a great role model for northerners, and people were really excited to meet her. 


 People lining up to meet Ariel Tweto

In other news, if you've been looking for new tunes to listen to, my band has a bunch of new releases and announcements. Check them out here!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

so this is autumn, eh

 Yesterday was supposed to be the fall equinox. This was what I woke up to:

Autumn, eh?

It's snowed a few times before this year...actually, it snowed every day this year. But it seems like the snow is here to stay this time. Still makes for a pretty scene though.

In the evening, we were treated with a little snowstorm.


Oh yes, in other exciting Cambridge Bay news, TANYA TAGAQ WON THE POLARIS PRIZE LAST NIGHT. She is the first Nunavut musician to win this music prize.  Too bad the internet in Nunavut was too slow for anyone in her home territory to live stream the event. Still I was so excited when I heard she won that I ran out into the blowing snow to dance.  And post a little celebratory #sealfie.

I wrote about Tagaq's most recent performance in Cambridge Bay last summer.

On a final note about "autumn": for the fall equinox, my friends in the Austria-based band Astronomy for Lovers and I worked on a mashup remix of our songs. Their Cat's Song + our Longest Night = Cat's Night. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Watching the Arctic ocean freeze

Well, I guess it's that time of the year again. It's about -4°C these days, and every morning we wake up to snow on the ground that melts away during the day.  Today when I woke up, the ocean was frozen. It melted a bit during the day, which was a relief, but all of the barge ships still bringing in the rest of our yearly supplies better hurry up.

At least the fuelling ship already arrived to re-supply. Last year, it was really late to arrive and we were facing the possible nightmare scenario of having no fuel for the entire winter until the ocean broke up again ten months later. That would have been hard.


I went for a run today, which did not last very long because it was so cold it felt like the wind was blowing around inside my head - which it kind of was, because it was blowing into my ears. And my lungs, which kind of made it weird to breathe.

But I was struck by the beautiful shoreline where the waves were breaking up the chunks of ice, creating a sloshy tide of snow and ice.  Essentially, the Arctic ocean is like one big Slush Puppy this time of year. Yum.

Hey, can you do me a favour and vote for my new song Fault Lines for the new CBC Music contest? The song is about a really important cause, which I talk about here.

Monday, September 15, 2014

World Suicide Prevention Day

Last week was Embrace Life Week in Nunavut, which coincided with World Suicide Prevention Day.

As I've mentioned before, suicide is a major issue in Nunavut, with suicide rates at a disproportionately high rate in this territory, particularly among Inuit people.  Last year, there were more suicides in Nunavut than there have ever been, causing the coroner of Nunavut to call for a public inquest.

It was really heart-warming to see the whole community come together to show their support about this important issue.  The day's activities included an assembly in the high school and a march through town.

I love this little girl's sign, which quoted Lady Gaga

After last year's Embrace Life walk, I wrote a song called On the Land in direct response to the suicide issues. It's about supporting your friends when they are feeling down. I also wrote it to cheer myself up when I'm having a tough time, and so I also made a little music video comprising of a montage of my favourite moments of last summer, hanging out with my friends. Knowing that the winters here can be long and harsh, I wanted to have something that I can hold on to to remind myself of nice memories and the friends that I am lucky to have.  

Friday, September 12, 2014

Nunavut's big empty spaces

I woke up on Sunday morning to find that it was snowing. Also, the car wouldn't start. So long, summer.

Once I jump started the truck, I decided that instead of just letting it run for a while, I should go out for a drive by myself out on the land.  I drove out towards Long Point, stopping at various points along the way to take in the scenery and take photos like a tourist.

I've been thinking a lot about the nature of solitude lately.   For whatever reason, I have been enjoying my own company and craving time alone.  I have been thinking about taking my next vacation to some quiet place by myself. My husband and I have talked about moving to a farm one day.  It's a bit odd. On one hand, I enjoy and crave a lot of big city luxuries: experimental music, fashion by independent designers, diverse selections of restaurants, coffee shops and malls. On the other hand, I have tendency to hang out in places where there aren't a lot of people, whether it's Namibia, Nunavut, or even Ottawa's Greenbelt.

It's more than enjoying the wilderness; I genuinely enjoy being alone and having a space all to myself. Maybe it has to do with the fact that until I was eight years old, I grew up in Highland, New York, a small hamlet of some 5000 people. My parents bought this house that was kind of in the middle of nowhere. It had been a model home for a new neighbourhood, but the developer had gone broke and stopped building houses. So we had no neighbours, just sprawling fields and hills all around me. I spent hours playing with myself, inventing imaginary friends and fantastic stories, and suited me fine.

Anyway, it surprised me how well we've adjusted to the small town of Cambridge Bay, and how quickly we've fallen in love with the surrounding land. I love the fact that the ocean is just a few steps away, and if we want to go hiking in the wilderness or kayaking in the water, it's only a matter of walking to the end of our street.  And whenever you want to get away from everything and everyone - not that there are that many folks here in Cambridge Bay! - it's so easy, here in Nunavut, to be alone.  Especially on this island, with a population density that allows a hundred square kilometres per person.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

News from the busy Bay

Now we're back to our regular programming!

can you spot the two Newfoundlander fishermen in this photo?

Cambridge Bay has been busy busy busy busy these days.  The barge ships have made it in with everyone's yearly supplies of groceries. My friends are all busy unpacking their stuff like it's a weird grownup Christmas. ("I forgot I ordered these! YES. Toilet paper FOREVER!")

The cruise ships are in and tourists are wandering all over the roads with not a care in the world, and certainly not for their own roadside safety.  I would like to apologize to a particular group of tourists who probably came to get a tour of the meat plant and instead spent the whole time there watching me try to make my credit card work while I purchased more or less all of the smoked char in town. (I'm just kidding. there's some left.)

Other ships are coming in and out. I can't even keep track of them. I partied with a bunch of sailors from the Arctic research ship the Martin Berggman (and probably amused them when I later jumped into the Arctic Ocean right by their boat), soon after which they ran aground somewhere in the Arctic ocean.  It's okay, though. One of the Franklin ships that they were looking for has finally been found.

I keep meeting Norwegians in town, and every time I do, I ask them ARE YOU HERE TO TAKE AWAY THE MAUD. I suppose it's racist to assume that all Norwegians in Cambridge Bay are here to take away the Maud, but, like, I mean, a lot of them are.

They're taking away the Maud

even while you sleep: the Norwegians are waiting to take away the Maud

The old stone church ruins has a roof now. And no longer is in ruins. Wow! I was pretty impressed how quickly that went up. I went exploring around the place, and it was starting to look pretty sharp.  There was no explanation for the random tampon I found on the ground nearby though.

(For reference, here's what the old stone church ruins used to look like.)

And as I mentioned before, they 'sploded the LORAN tower and now it's not so much of a tower as it is a bunch of kind of sad metal on the ground.

sad face

Speaking of 'splosions, especially in that area, FIREWORKS EFF YEAH. I was going go to bed early one night but then I found out they were 'sploding fireworks across the Bay by the old stone church, so I put my pants back on and set up my lawnchair and watched the explosions in the sky while listening to Sigur Ros and drinking some kind of tea called Mother's Little Helper.

I know, kind of interesting that they decided to 'splode fireworks so close to a structure that had just been burned down not too long ago and was just recently restored, right? But everything was fine.

This Jeep, however, has seen better days

I kind of missed the night time darkness

Oh yeah. Guys! Check out my new album! A lot of the songs I wrote about the Arctic and stuff. Being cold, and the like.

hiking out on the tundra