The New North | Arctic Multiculturalism
Part 3: To the top of the world
Many southerners, including immigrants and new Canadians, come to the North in search of Arctic adventure.
Some arrive in Pond Inlet, a community at the northern tip of Baffin Island in Nunavut.
The community has a population of 1,600 and, in late February, the sun is just coming back up and temperatures are often near –30.
It's about as far from South America and Chile as a person can get. But the Fuentes, a Chilean family, has called Pond Inlet home for the last 10 years.
"To come into a new environment, a new community, into a new set of people it was kind of difficult at the beginning. The state of mind was difficult, let's put it that way but the integration wasn't," said Patricio Fuentes.
The Fuentes say they feel a part of the community now that they have built their dream home there. It’s only a few hundred metres from a modern-looking office, where both Patricio and Juana work for the Government of Nunavut.
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The couple also helped renovate the local daycare.
For other new Canadians and immigrants who move to Pond Inlet, it's about helping to build a developing territory.
Bhabesh Roy works here as an engineer. Originally from Bangladesh, he worked in South America for the World Bank and then in Ottawa. He has lived away from his wife and children for seven years to work in Nunavut.
"My recommendation is first-generation Canadians should move to the North and take part in northern development," said Roy.
Communities like Pond Inlet have grown and changed over the years, and many Canadians like Roy have come and gone.
Most of the Pond Inlet’s oldest residents moved to town in the 1960s.
Elder Elisapee Ootoova used to travel by dog team. Ootoova’s favourite hobby is sewing, which she does mostly for family members. It allows her time to sit and reflect on the future of the territory.
"I am not very optimistic about the future of our grandchildren. Especially with global warming, there's no birth control. Young people don't seem worried about the high cost of living," said Ootoova.
She says the changes are not always good, but she welcomes any newcomers who can improve the lives of Nunavummiut.
Those who have made their lives in the North seem happy with their choice of lifestyle and, for now, will continue living where they say they feel like they belong.