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Cambridge Bay – Shawn MacKenzie

A series of posts from the 2009 Chinook trip, not published on the website before. The team moves from Kugluktuk ro Cambridge Bay and has a chance to experience some local culture.

Originally published at

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 | Posted by Shawn MacKenzie

Sorry to keep everyone on the edge of the seats with lack of a blog entry yesterday, but we were in transit and didn’t have much opportunity to get internet access to write a blog entry. Yesterday we left Kugluktuk and, as Nicole said, we were sad to be heading out but excited to see Cambridge Bay.

We will miss all the people that helped to make our time in Kugluktuk amazing. Everyone in that community pitched in in some way to help make the clinic a success. Thank you to everyone in Kugluktuk, and, hopefully, the Chinook Project will have the opportunity to work with you in the future!

Drum dancing in Cambridge Bay (from 2007 trip)

After finishing cleaning up the clinic, doing a few re-checks and saying our goodbyes, we hesitantly made our way to the airport. The flight from Kugluktuk to Cambridge Bay is only about an hour, and most of us tried to catch up on some well-needed rest in one of the 10 seats on the plane. We were greeted in Cambridge Bay by more cold temperatures and flurries. The two coordinators and the town bylaw officer were very excited to see us, which gave us a well needed boost of energy. We quickly jumped into our white minivan with a siren on top—I’m guessing to indicate we are tourists—and headed into town. We are staying in the Arctic College dorms here, and they are probably the nicest dorm rooms I’ve been in—and certainly the cleanest! We threw our suitcases in the door and headed down to the clinic to setup. It was the last day for The Frolics, an annual traditional festival in Cambridge Bay, so we went down to the water to watch some snowmobile races and try a muskox burger. We were a little late for the burgers and festivities on the ice, but that evening there was the closing ceremonies and traditional dancing and singing, so we got the chance to take that in. At the closing ceremonies there was drum dancing—one or multiple people dancing while playing a large flat drum—and throat singing, which is very hard to describe, but if you’ve never heard it you should definitely look it up. It was a very good first night in Cambridge Bay.

Traditional dancing, Cambridge Bay, 2007

I know there’s a little bit of rivalry between Kugluktuk and Cambridge Bay, so I’ll refrain from making to many comparisons between the two ;). Cambridge Bay is located on the south coast of Victoria Island and is a little bit bigger than Kugluktuk. The landscape here is mostly flat, but you can see three small mountains off in the distance. We went for a little drive in our tourist caravan last night to explore the area. We drove around the Hamlet checking out the local Co-op store and The Northern store (which even has a Pizza Hut and KFC take out that some of us were excited about). We drove by the high school, which has a very cool architectural design, making it appear like a UFO sticking out of the ground. We even found the small golf course, called Many Pebbles, although the foot or so of snow on the ground will probably keep me off the links while I’m here. It’s a very nice place and we look forward to a bit more adventuring over the next few days. There may even be some opportunity to see some muskox down by the local lake!

Today was our first day at the clinic. We had a very busy first day, but I managed to find a few minutes to sit down and make a blog entry. We had five surgeries and approximately 20 wellness appointments. The people here are very friendly and we continue to be treated to the northern hospitality. The high school is right beside the clinic, so a lot of students found the time to make use of the good excuse to come over to the clinic to volunteer for the day. It’s always great to have students around; their excitement is very contagious. We still have a few more appointments to see today, so I’d better get back to work. I’m looking forward to another couple days in Cambridge Bay, and at our clinic keeping busy with a lot of appointments

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