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Return to the Arctic

The story I forgot to tell...oops!

By Oneg In The ArcticPublished 3 months ago 3 min read
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Image taken by author in 2023

Somehow I never seemed to share the story of my return to the Arctic which coincidentally happened only a year and a half ago.

So in the spirit of “it’s finally cold outside and I have time to write this done”, let’s share Oneg and fam’s adventure back to the Arctic. But with a twist!

This time, we’re going across Canada horizontally too!

When we last joined Oneg in the north they were jammin’ in the bush of Northern Ontario…

… then they got married, got a cat, and started playing Stardew Valley…

But also, COVID hit the community, school/work shut down, and we got stuck on our asses for six months. Among other reasons, my wife and I realized it was time to move on from the small community in the middle of a very big forest. But where would we move to?

I had only taught previously in Nunavut, and after two years surrounded by trees I quite frankly missed the vast tundra. I missed the openness, the feeling of endless existence and the freedom to look beyond. I also longed for the cultural activities and traditions that I had experienced in Nunavut, like drum dancing, hunting, eating food of the land, etc. Though the First Nation community we were in had some hunters and trappers, the community had been greatly impacted by colonization and was also quite religious. And the religious aspect did make a difference as we are a queer couple, and I am also visibly queer. I have to note though, that this was not a reason for why we left. We never had any issues with locals, it was always the non-locals who stirred things up.

Anyhow, I applied to teach in a few communities in Nunavut again, but then realized that I was limiting myself to an experience that quite frankly was quite rollercoaster-y. So, I decided to take a peek to the left of the map and tried not to cringe at the distance.

Northwest Territories.

Tundra!

Far…

Why not?

My dog Zack just chillin’

I applied to one school, in the town of Inuvik- 3,000 people. It was a big step up from the 400-600 person communities so far. And it seemed to have quite a few cool opportunities while maintaining that small-hub vibe. It also seemed to be north enough that the temperatures would be acceptable. Ya know, the -30s and such.

But I never heard back.

And while I called schools and sent out more resumes, my inbox remained empty.

That is until of course, I got an email from this random place with three ‘k’s in its name- Ulukhaktok.

Try saying that three times fast.

The principal of the school there had seen my resume in the job pool and reached out saying they had an opening for a Junior High Humanities position. Perfect!

So we packed up our lives (again), and flew across Canada both horizontally and vertically to a small hamlet on an island in the arctic.

GoogleMaps journey

Ulukhaktok - the place where ulu parts are found.

Definitely found parts of myself here.

We’ve been here for a year and a half now and my heart has been filled. This year I teach a Grade 5/6 homeroom class and it’s quite a ball.

I’ve had the honor and privilege of going out on a musk-ox hunt with my students, enjoy ice fishing in spring and berry picking in summer. I’ve had the opportunity to learn Western and Central drum dancing, learn about and how to set fox traps, as well as skin a fox! I’ve had so many wonderful experiences here so far. So much laughter, mamaaq (yummy) food, good dancing, and the best company.

Going by skidoo to set up fox traps in November 2023

Ulukhaktokmiut (people of Ulukhaktok) are one of the friendliest people I’ve met in my life, and they have been so accepting and loving towards me and my family. Everybody loves my wife for sure (I mean, who wouldn’t), and I’ve made some really good friends here.

I’ve told a few isolated pieces about some of the fun things that have happened here so far, like about getting backwards in Tales of the First Day Back, and some poetry about Berry Picking in the Arctic and The Darkness Settles Like Snow.

But I know there’s definitely more I could write about. I guess I was just a bit too occupied living it. Sometimes that happens; we get too busy living.

Ain’t that a beautiful thing?

Ulukhaktok in Fall 2023

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About the Creator

Oneg In The Arctic

A storyteller and poet of arctic adventures, good food, identity, mental health, and more.

Co-founder of Queer Vocal Voices

Some other rad writers to check out:

James ❄️ TheDaniWriter ❄️ Melissa

RiverJoy ❄️ J. Delaney-Howe ❄️

Water is Life ✊

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Comments (12)

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  • Kelsey Clarey3 months ago

    The pictures and descriptions are wonderful! Canada's North is such a fascinating place.

  • Those pics were spectacular. Enjoyed reading this. Going to the Alaska Tundra, living there what an adventure. Thank you for sharing your journey with us

  • Test3 months ago

    Such a wonderfujy positive piece! Enjoyed learning about all of new experiences though would draw the line alittle but under skinning a fox! I et needs must and all that bt made me a little shaky!

  • Yamileth Tristán3 months ago

    I always enjoy reading your stories ❤️ keep talking more about the Arctic!

  • Heather Hubler3 months ago

    I always enjoy hearing about your arctic adventures. So happy for you that you've found what makes you happy :)

  • Thank you for the map & pictures. I finally understand where you are & have been located! So how big is Ulukhaktok?

  • Thanks for sharing, some great images as well

  • C.B. Visions3 months ago

    Living is the most important part of our lives and almost always the essence of our creativity. Just seeing that last photo, it shows a bunch full of great stories and even the photographer in me says, that's a place for the bucket list. The arctic is still the missing peace of my career somehow. One day...

  • J. Delaney-Howe3 months ago

    Nice to read about your adventures!!!

  • Ace Melee3 months ago

    The pictures and the story are my favorite parts of the piece (meaning the whole). I found it fascinating how people live in the cold, where it often drops down below freezing. It takes strength and guts to live there. I know where I live gets cold (close to Canada), but not that cold. Thank you for sharing!

  • Judey Kalchik 3 months ago

    You have a real gift of making us see your surroundings. Glad you wrote this.

  • Daphsam3 months ago

    Beautiful pictures and wonderful story. You have a very fascinating life!!

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