Monday, October 13, 2014

another Thanksgiving in Cambridge Bay

Happy Thanksgiving from Cambridge Bay!

On this holiday, my friends know that I am fond of repeating the old story about how the first Canadian Thanksgiving (or, as Canadians call it, regular Thanksgiving) was about the explorer Martin Frobisher celebrating his survival of the journey to Baffin Island, and how fitting it is for all of us to be able to celebrate not dying in Nunavut.

As it turns out, Canadian Thanksgiving was actually started by a bunch of Christian lobbyists getting together and deciding to have a holiday that is really different from the Americans, but ended up becoming a lot like the Americans. Which is kind of how Canadian traditions often go. And yet we still like to maintain that it is so much better than the American holiday, and at the very least, Columbus Day.

As if someone knew the true story behind Canadian Thanksgiving, a Jehovah's Witness Bible was left on my bed during Thanksgiving Dinner. Was it...a Christian lobbyist?

Thanksgiving in Nunavut is always particularly special too. Many of us can't afford the thousands of dollars and multiple days of travel that is required to go home for Thanksgiving weekend, so we often celebrate Thanksgiving dinner with the "families" that we have formed here in the northern communities, our friends who have helped us create wonderful memories through the blissfully beautiful Arctic summers and help cheer us up through the long harsh winters.

And it also means finding ways to celebrate it within the limitations of Nunavut. For example, if you want to do a traditional turkey dinner, it means all of your food is going to be shipped in from somewhere else.  I know that the components of a traditional turkey dinner (turkey, pumpkins, corn, etc.) are specifically chosen because they are the harvest produce that is available during that time of year, but not in Nunavut.  Really, bananas and mangos are just as "fresh" and "in season" as pumpkins over here.

Having the ingredients for your Thanksgiving dinner shipped by plane also means that if you have several days of snowstorms in the week before the dinner, then you're going to have some slim pickings at the grocery store. And even if they are there, it's going to be at northern prices - like pie fillings for $10 a can.  And the alcohol you ordered by plane through your liquor permit might not get there in time.

It also means that if you ordered a turducken - because WHAT BETTER TIME IS THERE FOR TURDUCKEN THAN THANKSGIVING -  it might not actually arrive by Thanksgiving.  My suggestion was to DIY - do it yourself.  Stuff a chicken into a duck into a turkey. Does the Northern grocery store not have any duck? Why not substitute it with a classic Nunavut twist - TurKlikEn? Turkey + Klik + Chicken?

In the end we went with an old fashioned turkey. And it was delicious.  Despite the fact that we ran out of running water for a good chunk of the day. We live in the North, and we make do.

If you don't have any Thanksgiving decorations, happy birthday balloons will do just fine.