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Chinook Project 2013: day 1 - Samantha Sanford

Well, it’s only been a little over 24 hours since we left Halifax, but it has been so jam packed with activities and new experiences that it feels like we’ve been gone for a week already! In fact, sitting here trying to decide what to write about, things keep popping into my head that I have already forgotten about in such a short amount of time. My excuse is adventure overload.

We arrived In Goose Bay and were welcomed with a delicious BBQ put on by Becky Jackson, our Goose Bay veterinary contact and Chinook Project enthusiast. After a great evening of us all getting to know each other and sampling local food (many of us had Moose for the first time!) we were lucky enough to visit the workshop of a local artist known for his rock and bone carvings. We spent almost an hour there admiring his work despite it being late (after 9 PM), but I’m sure he didn’t mind, as most of us purchased at least one piece.

After a very short sleep, we were up at the crack of dawn to continue on our trip up North. We managed to fit all our people and luggage onto a single plane with room to spare, for the flight to Makkovik (I’ve been told this is generally not an easy task, as in previous years only half the people and/or half the luggage would make it in a single trip). The flight was absolutely amazing! We fit into the smallest plane I’ve ever been on, it only held about 20 people. I got a front row seat, practically sitting in the cockpit! As a nervous flier it was somewhat therapeutic to watch the pilots at work. Not that I could really concentrate on that because the views were absolutely incredible. I think every single one of us had our heads on a swivel trying to take it in from both sides of the plane. I’m sure the local people who take that flight often thought we were nuts, because we all practically had our cameras glued to the windows. As we flew up over Lake Melville, there was ocean, rock islands, hills capped with snow, and completely untouched land everywhere. It was beautiful. I took a ton of pictures, but looking back through them now, not a single one does the sights justice.

Although the flight is what really sticks out in my mind that was just the beginning of the day! We were picked up in Makkovik by our hosts, and taken on a quick driving tour of the town before setting up shop for the day at the Community Hall. As a team we unpacked, set up our clinic and quickly dove into our jobs. When our plane had stopped in Rigolet on our way to Makkovik, one of the doctors with us was summoned off the plane to collect a dog that was coming with us to Makkovik to be spayed. Her owners had heard the vets were coming and didn’t want her dog to miss out, so we had a surprise surgery to do on our first day. The rest of the day flew by with appointments, house calls and surgeries, and before we knew it was time to go home for the night.

But of course, there was still more room for adventure. Our hosts have to check their salmon nets every night, so a few of us were lucky enough to go for the boat ride. We had a great trip around the Makkovik harbor, spotted a Minke whale and found two giant Atlantic salmon in the nets! To top off the night, upon returning from the boat trip, we stopped at the dump to depose of our garbage and watch the black bears (who come down to dine every evening).

As I sit and write this, the rest of the students are fast asleep, and it’s no wonder why. It’s been a jammed packed day – adventure overload is right! And the best part is that tomorrow promises to be just the same.

Samantha Sanford (AVC 2014)

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