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Layover in Iqaluit – Our Gateway to the North – Meaghan O’Leary

October 11, 2017

As our plane prepared to land in Iqaluit – our last stop on our way to Igloolik – my excitement was at an all–time high, and my nerves were pretty close to the same level – even though travel from Charlottetown to Iqaluit had been smooth and uneventful, as we would have hoped. 

It’s amazing how much the world around us can change in such a short period of time and all within our own country! As our flight neared Iqaluit, the ground started to freeze, the trees thinned, and the green landscape turned brown, grey, and white. Going from 30°C and sunshine to 5°C and ice in the couple hours we spent on a plane was a surreal experience.

Our final flight – to Igloolik – was delayed by rough weather, and this gave us a chance to go for a short walk around the neighbourhood. One of the most striking things I noticed was the seeming barrenness of terrain and scenery. The landscape consisted of rocks and dust, without trees, shrubs, or greenery. Despite the absence of greenery, though, the scenery was majestic and not lacking in colour! The beautiful blue of the water and the sky provided a backdrop to the many colours of the buildings. The people of Iqaluit have created a picturesque scene with their multi-coloured homes and buildings as well as with a multitude of artworks around town, in the form of sculptures and stunning murals. 

One of the most amazing things on my northern trip was the summer sun – and the way it remained light outside despite the time of day/night. While waiting for the final flight to Igloolik, I reflected that being in a land without night was going to be a real adjustment! And I wondered if perhaps the absence of night would instill in me a deeper appreciation of the darkness that accompanies our nights at home and the peace and beauty that go along with it.

As we waited, back in the Iqaluit airport, I passed the time by people-watching. Watching loved ones reunite is always heartwarming, but it’s amazing how quiet the experience was in Iqaluit, compared to home. Rather than a bustling, hectic, and loud experience, such as we would observe at home, here it was serene and gentle!

We also met some lovely Igloolik locals waiting to travel on the same flight into Igloolik as us. Everyone we spoke to seemed incredibly welcoming and happy to have us. It gave me hope for the clinic and made me grateful for the spirit and hospitality that was definitely present in this northern space.

Meaghan O’Leary, AVC 2018, traveled to Igloolik in 2017 as one of the student participants on the Chinook Project. As part of the experience, the students craft various pieces of reflective writing. This is one of Meaghan’s pieces.

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