You find yourself traveling among the northern lights, never forget the ones who live there. 

The Jerry Cans

One of unintended consequences of applying to Polar is that I have been learning about the people who live in the Canadian north. Why am I trying to dogsled in Sweden when I can do that so much closer to home?

Well, flying to the Canadian north costs as much but usually more than flying to Europe. But that’s not the whole story. Having grown up in Richmond (a suburb of Vancouver), I was exposed to the idea of Canada as a cultural mosaic early on. This meant that for the most part, I felt safe being a person of visible minority. And yet, there was something missing in that diversity. And yet, at no time did I really have personal or collegial contact with any indigenous peoples. And yet, when I think about the Canadian north, I’m really ignorant, despite Canada’s reputation in other countries as a northern nation. And yet, going north here in Canada is somewhat more intimidating than planning a trip to Scandinavia. Our territories have a reputation of substance abuse, suicide, unemployment, violence, and poverty while Scandinavia is known for its progressive economic and social policies and environmental leadership worldwide. I doubt it’s fair to compare the two, but there it is.

When I accidentally came across the song Ukiuq by this band based out of Iqaliut, Nunavut, it stayed with me. It made me think about this: What would northern Canadians want southern Canadian travellers, like me, to take away from experiencing the north? How can travellers to the north best honour the culture there? What is it that travellers should most remember about the people who live there?

You don’t have to understand the words to love this song, but it’s great they provided lyrics.

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