Helen Navalik Tologanak marks 25 years of Cambridge Bay Tea Talk

Helen Navalik Tologanak is marking 25 years of bringing stories from Cambridge Bay, Nunavut to the rest of the territory and beyond.

The woman from Cambridge Bay who can write about anything celebrates her silver anniversary with NNSL

Helen Navalik Tologanak has been writing her Cambridge Bay Tea Talk column for Northern News Services Limited for 25 years. (Submitted by Helen Navalik Tologanak)

Helen Navalik Tologanak is marking 25 years of bringing stories from Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, to the rest of the territory and beyond.

The author of Cambridge Bay Tea Talk, a weekly column in Nunavut News, a Northern News Services Limited (NNSL) newspaper, first stated writing and taking photos for NNSL back in 1995.

This year marks her silver anniversary covering everything from children's Christmas concerts, to chronicling the lives of the community's elders and meeting with people from all over the world who visit on cruise ships during the summers.

"In the old days, I would just walk around and phone around to see what's happening," she said during an interview with CBC Northwind host Wanda McLeod.

"When you live at home, you know everybody and half the town is related to you."

She says her favourite parts of the job are being able to meet people and showcasing the community and Inuit culture and traditions, like sewing.

Credits teacher for writing career

Navalik Tologanak traces her writing career back to a period of her life when she was going through a lot of changes in the years after her parents died.

She decided to enrol in a basic office procedures course at Nunavut Arctic College in Cambridge Bay. It was her teacher, Vicki Bobinsky, who inspired and encouraged her to keep writing.

"So I just carried on and I really enjoyed it ever since," she said.

A 1995 class photo from Nunavut Arctic College in Cambridge Bay. Helen Navalik Tologanak is in the middle wearing the black shirt. She credits her teacher Vicki Bobinski, far left, as her inspiration to keep writing. (Submitted by Helen Navalik Tologanak)

Column's origins

Navalik Tologanak said her column started after she reached out to Bruce Valpy, the publisher of NNSL. She had read a similar column from Iqaluit penned by Wende Halonen and wondered if she could write her own version from her hometown — and was given the green light.

"She knows everybody and everybody knows her and respects her and she's very protective of the Inuit culture and a real promoter of it," Valpy said.

"And she's a very good writer. She's one of those people, who unlike the rest of us, has a natural talent and the words flow and they flow well."

Twenty-five years on, she has no plans to slow down.

"Oh my goodness, I could write about anything," she said.

"Cambridge Bay always has something going on."

With files from Wanda McLeod and John Van Dusen