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Anxiously Awaiting Departure – Nicole Cummings

A series of blog posts from the Chinook team of 2009. We didn’t have a website back then! Nicole Cummings is now Dr. Nicole Breda. She is a busy veterinarian and mother of twins in Massachusetts, USA. Nicole returned to the Chinook Project as a veterinary instructor in 2011 and 2013.

Originally published at

Friday, May 8, 2009 | Posted by Nicole Cummings

I have been lucky enough to have a week off before our trip to the arctic. However, I really cannot tell you anything of importance I’ve done this week. I definitely did not pack, did not do the mountain of laundry that needed doing, and did not catch up on those hours of Tivo’d shows I have been putting off all semester. What I can tell you is that I spent most of the week anxiously waiting for Sunday. That is when my trip to Nunavut officially begins. Even typing those words gives me butterflies!

My name is Nicole Cummings, and I will be blogging my experiences during the Chinook project’s trip to Kugluktuk and Cambridge Bay. Although physically the trip begins Sunday, my preparation for this type of trip has been a long time coming. I grew up in a small town called Ashland, Massachusetts. I have always wanted to be a veterinarian. I know this sounds like a cliche, but I can honestly say that I have never aspired to work in any other field.

Nicole, after arriving in Kuglutuk.

I was lucky enough to work at a wonderful animal shelter throughout college-the Sterling Animal Shelter. The vets I met while working there were the first to really show me that a veterinarian was much more than just a doctor for animals. What most people do not understand is that working as a veterinarian involves not only working with animals, but also working with the owners of those animals. It is a unique profession that encompasses medicine, science, public health, and both animal and people skills. I learned that veterinarians have a responsibility to help better the lives of not only the animals we serve, but the people of a community. This is why I chose to participate in the Chinook project. I know that while the skills I possess will help the communities of Kugluktuk and Cambridge Bay, I also know that I have a lot of learning to do myself, and that the communities of Kugluktuk and Cambridge Bay can help me to grow as a person, and veterinarian. I’m off to try and pack, now; and I’ll send my next entry once we arrive in Kugluktuk on Monday the 11th.

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