Iqaluit: The Snack

An Inuit man walks up to me in the Snack with drawings on fabric. I swear he starts by saying my name. “Wayne Johnston?” But when I ask “How did you know my name?” he responds “I don’t know your name. My name is Nola.” He offers a drawing for $80. I talk him down to $20.

Chris hits Sean in the face with a bong causing Sean to bleed heavily. Sean shoots Chris in the neck causing damage to his spinal cord resulting in immediate death.

Melanie and I are at the small press book fair. James has a stall with a variety of creative products including buttons that assert “deep frying is like adding love.”

Iqaluit: Nunavut Arctic College

The ice crystals forming in my beard; these are the words I have not spoken.

“Iniruvik” is ice that cracked during tide changes and then refroze. “Maujaq” is the snow in which one sinks. “Qautsaulittuq” is ice that breaks after being tested with a harpoon. There is no word for “law” in Inuktitut.

Symmetrical consonants can be arranged as a diamond. Asymmetrical consonants can be arranged as a square. The orientation of the consonant determines the vowel sound. Pi, pu, pa. Ti, tu, ta.

Iqaluit: Navigator Inn

I decide to leave my room in the Toonoonik Hotel and walk the 50 meters to the Navigator Inn for dinner. After dinner, as I’m leaving the Navigator I discover that a blizzard has descended on Iqaluit. With the combination of darkness, strong winds, stinging snow and frigid temperatures I can’t see a thing but I feel confident I can find the Toonoonik. In no time at all I am disoriented and lost. I stumble and grope snowbanks and eventually find myself back at the Navigator. Foolishly, I decide to try again. I orient myself and figure it can’t be that hard. What I don’t realize is that the blizzard has created a six-foot snowdrift across my path. After getting lost a second time and beginning to fear for my life I again discover that I’m back at the Navigator. I decide to pay for a night at the Navigator even though I have another hotel room a mere 50 meters away. I don’t even register the irony that all this happens at a place called the Navigator.

My parents stop at the side of the road to pick berries. I wander into the bush and find a large clearing. After exploring for a while I decide I had better return to the car as my parents may be ready to leave soon. I return through the bush but soon realize the road is not where I expect it to be. I return to the clearing and try again. Soon I have lost not only the road but also the clearing. When I finally stumble upon the car my parents are in a high state of anxiety.

My mother, older brother and I have set out to find my grandfather’s homesteading site. What began as a hint of a dirt road soon disappears in the dense bush. Our mission is replaced by the growing panic to find our way back to the road, or any road. When my dad, who stayed behind with my younger brother, tells Grandpa what we are up to, Grandpa reacts with dismay. “You’re crazy. They’ll never find their way out of there.” Dad begins driving around and around the circumference of the bush until we finally emerge, shaken but unharmed.

Iqaluit: Apex

I send the veterinarian a book that features an intense and very disturbing passage about a gang rape. My enthusiasm for the book as a work of literature clouds my judgement about what constitutes an appropriate gift.

It is a frigid night when the man who works with me at NWMB has me over for dinner. The wind is whipping between the houses. His huskie is curled up by the front door. I ask if he ever brings the dog indoors when it is too cold. He says “no, he is much happier outdoors. He’s built for the cold.”

A watch a dog team heading out onto Frobisher Bay, seeking the floe edge.

Iqaluit: Nunatta Residence

The Americans come in to construct the DEW line, transforming the Canadian Arctic into a trip-wire to warn of Soviet intruders.

One window next to another, one face in each window, each face looking down at the building. One window next to another, one face in each window, each face looking up at the airplane. One solitary figure walking down the road.

I am driven by boredom to leave my room and wander the hallways and the common rooms, looking for other people, hoping I won’t find any.

Iqaluit: Arctic Ventures

I open my wallet to pay for my purchases. The young Inuit woman at the cash sees my NYC transit card and says “I used to have one of those.” I am so caught off guard that I neglect to ask her why she had been living in New York.

With a severe blizzard forecast, people are clearing the food shelves at Arctic Ventures. Particularly conspicuous is the absence of potato chips.

A sign hangs above one of the few tables in the Grind and Brew. Pointing down it says “order here.” It’s where the owner sits, chatting with the locals. A shipment comes in from Amazon. Someone comments “that box is big enough to fit my grandmother.” It’s full of paper towels.

Iqaluit: Nunavut Wildlife Management Board

I ask someone for help finding building 1104D. He struggles until he realizes I’m looking for NWMB. “It’s right in that building. You can go in that door and you’ll find them.” The woman at reception confirms they were in the Parnaivik building when I worked there. When I mention Jim Noble she says “He’s still kicking around. Do you want to talk to him?”

An Inuit man and his wife come into the office selling woodblock prints and CDs. I buy one of each. I’m hopeful that the CD will feature traditional Inuit songs, perhaps some throat singing. Instead it is full of Christian gospel songs with the typical drums, electric guitar and bass that you’d hear in any Pentecostal church down south.

I struggle for the longest time trying to determine whether “caribou” and “reindeer” are two names for the same animal. It turns out that they are the same species but caribou live wild in North America and Greenland while reindeer are domesticated and live in Eurasia. I also learn that a group of ravens is called an unkindness.