Sunday, November 10, 2013

October Travels - Part 2 - Flight to Qikiqtarjuaq

The community of Qikiqtarjuaq was the second stop on the Clyde/Qik double circuit. On Wednesday, October 30th, the court party left Clyde River and flew to Qikiqtarjuaq, by Air Nunavut charter.  Approaching Qikiqtarjuaq there were areas where visibility was poor because of snow, but the pilots flew around the bad weather and we made it in first try. The plane flew at a very low altitude for about half of the flight giving everyone a spectacular view of mountains, ocean and icebergs. It was the most incredible flying that I’ve ever experienced.

This is a picture of our arrival. The RCMP met the plane and helped with getting everyone and their bags to the Tulugak (Raven) Hotel.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

October Travels – Part 1 – Clyde River

I spent the last week of October in Clyde River and Qikiqtarjuaq for the double court circuit. This was my first time visiting both communities. The first stop was Clyde River.

 Afternoon light at the airport, shortly after we arrived.

The picture below is a view of the town, taken from the Hamlet Building on Saturday, a little after 10 a.m., just before clients began arriving to meet with me to prepare their cases for court. As you can tell from the light levels, Clyde River is pretty far north. The posts poking out of the snow in the foreground are supports for the new Hamlet Building to be constructed next summer.

While in Clyde River, the court party stayed at the Piqqusilirivvikcultural school which hosts non-student guests when there are rooms available. I’d been warned about staying at the other option, the Qamaq Hotel, an apparently terrible place even by arctic hospitality standards. Fortunately for us they were closed for much-needed renovations.  I’m grateful that the culture school was able to accommodate us. It was a beautiful, comfortable and cheerful place to stay. I only wish that there had been more time to explore and learn more about the traditional skills that are being taught there.

The culture school is a little bit out of town, about a 20-minute walk down a partially empty stretch of road. Before I left Iqaluit, one of my colleagues who had been on Clyde River circuits before warned me to watch out for polar bears when out walking. Bears do sometimes go to that area, but this time none had been seen in recent weeks. So I’m very happy to report that in addition to getting some good results in court, I achieved another important goal that I set for the Clyde River court circuit: avoid getting eaten.

It was overcast most of the time so I didn’t get too many good pictures.  Also, the days were short, and my working hours were much longer.

The scenic walk near the water to the RCMP detachment to meet with an in-custody accused.

Inside the community hall, where court was held. Unfortunately we were too busy to squeeze in a game of pool.

Do I Wanna Know? – Arctic Monkeys
Only – Nine Inch Nails

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Pangnirtung Landing

On Saturday morning, I went to Pangnirtung with circuit co-counsel to begin meeting with clients and getting our cases ready for the August 19th court circuit.  It was a gorgeous day.  In February, when I went to Pangnirtung for the first time, I described the somewhat exhilarating Pang landing in my blog.  I was really hoping to be able to experience that approach again when we arrived.

I wasn't disappointed. And this time, because I knew what to expect, I had my camera ready when the time came. What the pictures below show is the view from my seat as the plane flew low into the Pangnirtung Fiord. The plane then made a 180 degree turn while inside the fiord and then landed on a very short runway really close to town, pretty much in the middle of the community.

Apparitions - Matthew Good Band
Til Kingdom Come - Coldplay

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Ottawa and Easton's Corners

I’m recently back in Iqaluit again after a lovely, but far too short Ontario visit. The main reason that I headed south was to attend the Federation of Law Societies Criminal Law Program in Ottawa.  Increasingly, lawyers across all of the provinces and territories are required (or, at a minimum encouraged) to spend a number of hours each year engaged in continuing legal education. I support this completely - even if it meant that in order to accomplish this, I had to spend an entire week enduring Ottawa’s gorgeous summer lushness, navigating the unfamiliar comfort of a room at the Westin with a king-size bed and no random roommates, being distracted by beautiful views of the canal, and having evenings disappear far too quickly on Byward Market patios enjoying the company of friends and delicious draught beer. No sacrifice is too great to keep this criminal defence lawyer at the top of her game.

Seriously though, it was a great conference and I did actually learn a lot.

But since I had to be in Ontario for educational purposes anyway, I decided to add on an extra week of vacation before the conference so that I could spend time with family and friends. I probably won't be able to go home again until mid-December so it was really important to me to try to cram in as much at-home happiness as I could in a pretty small amount of time.

My first stop after I arrived in Ottawa on June 30th was my mom’s place near the tiny hamlet of Easton’s Corners.

Chez Mom

Mom's garden. The handsome grey fellow with the
white boots is my cat Peter.

Two of my brothers were at Mom’s when I arrived, getting everything set up for the annual Fairchildren Canada Day Explodorama and Hillbilly Hoedown.  As he does every year, my brother Rob bought a shit-ton of fireworks (to use the proper Ottawa Valley terminology for such a quantity). To add to the pyro happiness, my brother Mike managed to get his hands on two huge piles of wood for the annual massive mosquito-annihilating bonfire. Both Rob and Mike also spent many hours getting Mom’s place beautifully lit with colourful Christmas lights in the trees and solar lamps along the paths and the laneway.

This is what most of a shit-ton of fireworks looks like.  They didn't get set out like this until July 1st but I'm including this photo here to illustrate the kind of quantity we're talking about. Making the show ever more spectacular each year is a point of pride for my brother Rob.

Unlike my hard-working brothers, my time at Mom's was spent feeling a little bit travel-worn and being quite a bit lazy. My contribution consisted pretty much of just getting there, and stopping to pick up some beer. I did devote some time to checking the sturdiness of one of the picnic tables by sitting on it. During my picnic table inspection, I chatted with Mom and took this picture of some birds.

Shortly after, the sun began to set set through the trees.

The evening ended with good conversation and the sound of crickets on Mom’s porch.

Mountain Sound - Of Monsters and Men
Ho Hey - The Lumineers

Monday, June 10, 2013

Hall Beach and Igloolik

Hall Beach

Last week I went to Hall Beach and Igloolik for a double circuit.  A double circuit is when two communities have court in one week.  Like any other circuit, the lawyers, judge, clerk, interpreters, reporter, in-custody accuseds and out-of-town witnesses all have to manage to get to a small arctic community, at the same time. But for a double circuit, in the middle of the week, everyone has to pack up and manage the same feat all over again in a second community.

After we finished court in Hall Beach, the entire court party and everyone’s luggage was taken to the airport in the back of an open Co-op cube van.  It was a dusty ride, but it was fun.

After we got to the airport, things got less fun. Somehow, the court and all of the lawyers ended up on two different flights to Igloolik, and both were delayed due to a low cloud ceiling in Igloolik.  After a couple of hours, Canadian North (the airline that all of the lawyers were booked on) decided that they weren’t going to attempt to land in Igloolik but would instead fly everyone to Iqaluit, and then try to go again the next day. First Air (the airline that the judge and the rest of the court were booked on) decided that they were going to fly to Igloolik and hope that it would be possible to land.

You can probably guess what happened.  The court ended up in Igloolik without any lawyers.  The lawyers ended up with an unanticipated night back in Iqaluit.

The next day we went to the Iqaluit airport to try again. When we checked in, the boarding passes were green-stickered with the dreaded “LANDING SUBJECT TO WEATHER.”  Things were really not looking good for the Igloolik circuit.  If we didn’t land in Igloolik this time, we’d lose the one remaining circuit day, and court in Igloolik would have to be delayed until the next circuit at the end of September.

Somehow, we made it in.  There was fog, but incredibly there was none over the runway when it was time to land, and the Igloolik circuit was saved.

Of course the weather was beautiful the next day.


The Prayer of Francois Villon - Regina Spektor
Northmart - The Jerry Cans
I Gave You All - Mumford & Sons
The Wine Song - The Cat Empire

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Second Circuit in Sanikiluaq

From April 26th until May 2nd I was in Sanikiluaq again for court. This time I got to stay in the new(ish) hotel instead of the old one with all of it's problems.  The new(ish) hotel had heat in all of the rooms, working internet and a greatly reduced risk of dying in one's sleep due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Luxury!

Here is a picture of the dining room in the luxurious new(ish) hotel.

The day that I flew in to Sanikiluaq was the same day that the new cook at the hotel flew in. We were chatting, and I learned that this was her first time in Nunavut. I was telling her about how it is such a small world up here. This is true even for southerners with respect to other southerners. I said, "Take us, for example. I'm meeting you for the very first time ever, and if we talked for even a few minutes, I'm sure that we'll pretty quickly figure out that we are connected in some way."

It took less than a few minutes. Maybe one minute or less. I mentioned that I had visited my mom on the way here.  My mom lives in eastern Ontario, about a mile up a dirt road near the tiny (population 120) Hamlet of Easton's Corners and the tiny (population 209) Hamlet of Jasper.

"Easton's Corners?" she said, "Really?" It turned out that the new cook lives on the highway between Easton's Corners and Jasper. There are some farmer's fields between the dirt road and the highway. If my mom and the new hotel cook in live more than couple of kilometres apart, I'd be surprised. 

The Sanikiluaq docket was not a particularly heavy one so I was able to get out and take a few more pictures than I managed the last time I was there. Also, it wasn’t as bitterly cold as it was in mid-January, so I was more inclined to head out for a bit of sight-seeing.

Nunavut Court of Justice a.k.a. the community hall

We ended up staying in the community for an extra day once court was done because of the weather. On the Tuesday, a massive fog rolled in and wouldn’t leave. It lasted well into the next day. 

One hundred km/h winds arrived on Wednesday afternoon. This took care of the little fog problem, but with winds like that, there was no way that the court charter home was going to be able to land.  I went for a walk and the wind was strong enough to pick up tiny pieces of gravel which hit me in the face.  It was also strong enough to push me around so that I was staggering like a drunk person on my way to and from the Northern.  

It was hard to hold the camera steady, but I managed to get a few shots.

Boat across from the Northern

Igloo church

Looking toward the old hotel where we stayed last time

So beautiful

We flew back to Iqaluit on Thursday afternoon and I arrived only a few hours after my daughter Gwenna who came to Iqaluit from Toronto for a two-week visit before heading off to Edmonton.

Next stop: Hall Beach and Igloolik.

Your Ex-Lover is Dead (Final Fantasy Mix) - Stars
Farewell - Apocalyptica

Saturday, April 13, 2013

New Start, Revisited

If you slip and land on your head you can cross here? Upside down people permitted?

The process of making Iqaluit home has been slower than I would have liked. This can probably be explained, at least in part, by the fact that it is hard to make friends, settle into a new apartment, and to adjust to a new office and life when traveling so much. Since arriving here in November, I’ve been on four circuits and I’ve traveled to Ontario three times. I added it up and it comes to about 11 weeks away.  That’s almost three months out of five that I've been gone.

I’m really missing that feeling of connection to place.  Ottawa was where I was born and grew up, and where my mom, brothers and many of my friends live. However, Ottawa hasn’t been my home since 2004. And even then, I only moved back for three years so that I could go to law school. Ottawa really hasn’t been my real home since 1996 when I first moved to Toronto.

Toronto was my home for quite a long time.  I used to own an adorable 1920s house in a great little neighbourhood near Coxwell and Danforth.  It was a wonderful place to raise my family.  But when my nest emptied, it was time to move on.  I haven’t lived in Toronto since August, 2010. Even though my daughters and some of my other favourite people call Toronto home, whenever I visit, the city isn’t really mine anymore. Maybe because I haven’t completely decided yet whether I’m ever moving back.

Even though I lived in Cambridge Bay for more than two years, it never really felt like home to me. For a lot of small town nonsense reasons, and because I missed my family and couldn’t see them often enough to remain truly happy for very long there, it was always just somewhere that I stayed as a long-term visitor. Sometimes I was a very happy visitor though.  I became friends with some really wonderful people. And if I hadn't lived in Cam Bay, I would never have discovered how much I love  fishing and ATVing. I'm really going to miss that this summer.

My contract to work in Iqaluit runs until September 2014, another 17 months.  That could seem like I have a long time left before I start making decisions, but it isn’t really. I’ve already been living in Nunavut for much longer than that without having come to any conclusions about what I want to do or where I want to be next.

If I go back to Ontario, I have no idea where I’d want to live. At this point I’m not entirely sure if I’ll go back to living in Ontario when my contract is done.  Maybe I will eventually love Iqaluit so much that I will decide to make a life here.  But for the love to happen, I really need to try harder to settle in, make friends, participate in life etc. Or, as they say, take off my coat, stay a while.  Stay for more two weeks at a stretch anyway.

Next stop, Ottawa and Sanikiluaq. I leave in a week. I'll try to do better in May.

Iqaluit, and me.

Take Me To The Riot - Stars
Rococo - Arcade Fire