Saturday, February 28, 2015

International Polar Bear Day

Friday was International Polar Bear Day! The Greenlandic newspaper the Arctic Journal published a feature on this occasional and printed my little anecdote about the time we ate Korean kalbi-style polar bear meat. You can read it here along with the other stories about polar bears.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Oscars in the Arctic

Just because we're in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, instead of Hollywood during the Oscars doesn't mean we can't class it up and enjoy it.

Oscars party food, featuring home made pizza. Probably better than the real party food.


Being in Cambridge Bay also doesn't mean we can't dress up for the Oscars...before throwing on our snowpants and parka and seal mitts over our Oscars outfit.

Oscars selfie in a panda dress

With no movie theatres in Cambridge Bay, I haven't even watched most of the movies that were nominated for Oscars, and my only knowledge of them comes from reading plot synapses on IMDB.  But, I do enjoy party food and panda dresses.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Korean New Years Day with the only Korean in the Western Canadian Arctic

It's funny how family traditions become really important to you when you're away from your family.  I really wanted to celebrate Korean New Years Day this year, but because my family and relatives live in Ontario and British Columbia, I decided to have my own festive celebration here in Cambridge Bay.  Yes, I am the only Korean in the western half of Nunavut, but that didn't stop me - luckily, my friends in town are like another special kind of family to me, and more importantly, they like any opportunity to eat food.

Of course, when I planned this New Years Day dinner party, I wasn't actually expecting to cook. That responsibility usually falls on my spouse.  I am a terrible cook - seriously, I have found ways to burn water - and it's no surprise that the family recipes of kalbi and bulgogi have been passed on to my partner rather than me.  My job is to get the house ready and entertain the guests. Rob does the kitchen magic.

Alas. as it turned out, Rob was going to be cooking at the new restaurant in Cambridge Bay, so it looked like I was going to have to cook the traditional Korean New Years dish ddukgook.

Korean pasta "dduk" 

Rob left me a set of instructions which seemed pretty precise at the time; the Korean pasta dduk also came in a plastic bag that also had a set of (different) instructions.  Also, I found two Korean cookbooks on our shelf that had two more also very different recipes. None of these recipes carried the same ingredients.  I was starting to get confused.

I called my mom for Stoveside Assistance. She gave me a fifth different recipe to follow,  (She also sent me a link to a sixth recipe on a website that was entirely in Korean, but I guess I could look at the picture.)  With much struggling and repeated phone calls back to my mom until I am pretty sure she started screening me, I eventually made the soup.  It tasted right, but it was the wrong colour.

Feeling tired and a little frustrated, I took a break and had a scotch while putting on the classic Korean romantic comedy, My Sassy Girl.

If nothing else, my guests were going to have excellent Korean snacks.

Fortunately, I also had my grandmother's yummy jangjorim beef, which is one of the most delicious things in the world. I also had prepared two different kinds of kimchi, my own special batch that I made with arctic char jerky, made "famous" by this newspaper article

look at my pretty side diches

In the end, the dinner party turned out great. Rob came home in time to "correct" the soup, and my friends enjoyed the meal. They brought along great dishes too, including dumplings, steamed pork buns, a roasted Peking duck, fried rice, cupcakes, ginger tea and fortune cookies. Most importantly, we got to enjoy each other's company, which I think is an important part of the Korean New Years tradition. That and bowing to your elders for money, which we'll have to do next year.

best part of dinner parties: leftover dessert for the next day

Friday, February 20, 2015

Cambridge Bay Helping the Less Fortunate

Recently I wrote a newspaper article about a  new Facebook group in Cambridge Bay. You may have heard of the Helping Our Northern Neighbours group that coordinates southerners who want to send boxed of food up to needy families in Nunavut. Well, Cambridge Bay has started up its own group called Cambirdge Bay Nunavut Helping The Less Fortunate for local residents to donate food and clothes to needy families in town. One of the many benefits of this is that donations can include perishable foods, and we don't have to pay the expensive shipping costs! I think it really reflects the generous spirit of Cambridge Bay folks, who always seem to be willing to share, even when they don't have much themselves.

You can read the Nunatsiaq News article here.

The generosity doesn't just end with Facebook either. We'll be holding a fundraiser for the local food bank next month on March 21 at the Community Hall for the food bank. In the past, this has been a great opportunity for people who help local needy families, and I'm always amazed at how kind and enthusiastic Cambridge Bay folks are when it comes to doing their part. Read about last year's food bank fundraiser here

 Details for next month's Food Bank Fundraiser can be found here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Kitikmeot Trade Show 2015

The Kitikmeot Trade Show happened in Cambridge Bay last week. It's one of the busiest times of year for the community, as big wigs from businesses and other organizations come into town for a few days to attend the events.

I wrote about the Kitikmeot Trade Show for the Nunatsiaq News, which you can read here.

The Youth Delegates giving speeches

The Department of Health hands out flu shots on the trade show floor

I really enjoyed the community entertainment night, which was open to the public on the final night of the Kitikmeot Trade Show. We got to perform in front of a lovely receptive audience.  There were also drum dancers, throat singers, and a performance by Elisapie Isaac.

I love watching the drum dancers. It's such a thrilling feeling when the drums kick in; the way stories are expressed so vividly through singing and dancing, whether it's about survival through the winter or digging through ice to hunt seal.

Elisapie Isaac

Monday, February 16, 2015

Valentine's Day at Saxifrage, Cambridge Bay's newest restaurant

My Valentine's Day was productive. I shopped at the community market, worked out to Richard Simmons, took a nap, and then went out to dinner with some good friends at the new restaurant in town.

Saxifrage has been open to hotel guests since late last year, but just last week it opened to the public. It's technically a soft opening, in that the menu is limited and they're trying a few things, but anyone can dine there now.  It's been nice have a new dining option in town. Cambridge Bay has a Quick Stop which contains a Pizza Hut and KFC Express, as well as the cafeteria-style restaurant at the Arctic Islands Lodge, so basically our dining options just increased by a third.

My husband cooks at this restaurant, which is why I was here on Valentine's Day with my friends, eating his food, instead of eating with him.

The restaurant went out of their way to arrange a romantic ambience - classical music on the speakers, the big screen TV playing a tropical aquarium instead of the usual news feed, and roses on the table - not an easy feat for the frigid Arctic.

Of course, we're still in the Arctic, so any romantic outing is an Arctic romantic outing. You show up hugging your honey on the back of a snowmobile. You enter the restaurant, and just before your glasses fog up due to the temperature chair, you admire the restaurant ambience. And then you take off your pants. Your snowpants, that is, because otherwise you'll overheat inside the dining room. But you leave your kamiks on.

Like I said though, it was nice to be able to sit down at a table, look at a menu, and have your order taken and your meal served to you.  It would be a lovely place to take a date. If your honey isn't the man in the kitchen, that is.

I actually wrote a song about not seeing your spouse on Valentine's Day, as part of the February Album Writing Month challenge I'm doing: 

For more stories about Northern dating, which obviously I am no expert in as a married woman, check out this guide to surviving northern dating from Up Here magazine, and this post about online dating in Nunavut by Finding True North.

Monday, February 9, 2015

the beer situation

I've been writing songs for February Album Writing Month and today I wrote a song about the beer situation in Nunavut.

I don’t have beer
No, I don’t have beer 
I don’t have beer
Someone bring me beer

I live in a land with no roads
Everything’s flown in here
It’s pricey to ship things in by plane
And so, I do not have beer

We ordered beer on the barge
That comes in once a year
But the ocean froze before the boat arrived
And so, I do not have beer

Well, we watch the Super Bowl
Sometimes we raise a cheer
We have barbecues and curling leagues
But we do not have beer

There’s an extreme cold warning in effect
It’s minus sixty here
Better stay home, I need to stay warm
But I do not have beer

I don’t have beer
No, I don’t have beer 
I don’t have beer
Bring me beer please

You can check out the rest of my FAWM songs here

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


I heard it was really cold in Toronto and New York City lately.  That sure sounds terrible. I think I heard the term "snowpocalypse" thrown around a few times. 

-56 windchill? Whatevs

Over here in the land of "everything you touch outside with your bare hands will give you instant freeze burn" I've been busy trying to coin the phrase/hashtag #TrueArctic Woman.
A photo posted by Gloria Guns (@gloriaguns) on

A photo posted by Gloria Guns (@gloriaguns) on

"Extreme Cold Warning...Avoid alcohol." 

Don't take this as complaining though. Through the shocking cold, we also get these gorgeous skies, sunsets that cast the most beautiful light on the ugliest of industrial buildings, like an unexpected halo.
A photo posted by Gloria Guns (@gloriaguns) on