A good day and great evening in Gjoa Haven

AR flag presentation at Gjoa Haven Community Hall. ©Arctic Return


Today was a full day. So much happened, I am not exactly sure where to begin. A good place to start, I suppose, is that we checked out of Jacob’s comfy fishing shack accommodation on the sea-ice after a good night’s sleep, to check into the local Co-op Hotel to get ourselves sorted, and showered and shaved, so to speak. Our first such opportunity, since March 26th. It felt great.

After a month’s ski-expedition that took us from, Naujaat to Point de la Guiche, across all manner of rugged terrain and frozen sea-ice, scrabble and mounds, rivers and lakes— 200lb sleds in tow, and sleeping in the cold, windy rough of it all… it takes a bit getting used to, this business of actually having beds other than our trusty Thermarest pads, to sleep on. I suppose we shouldn’t have been surprised that neither of us managed to get any sleep this first night. (We each have our own room, so Richard will not be blaming his lack of sleep on me, this time —for a change.) 

I actually considered getting down off the bed to sleep on the floor. Seemed as that was what my body (and likely his) was asking for. So it is, the slow transition of reorienting the body and mind…adjusting to a new reality.  A muscle-memory* kind of thing. However, enjoying a real breakfast—one that was prepared for us—was great. 

A very busy day, nonetheless — with time spent taking in the local Visitors’ Centre and checking in with the Constabulary, the RCMP, to let them know we had arrived, safe and sound. We also met with Connie Baines, Gjoa Haven’s EDO (Economic Development Officer); Joannie Sallerina, the Hamlet’s Mayor; and the area’s MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut), Tony Akoak. 

Connie Baines, had kindly organized an event for Arctic Return, to take place at the Community Hall, the Wednesday evening.  It was really an honour to have the chance to stand up in front of an audience, so that we could tell our story, where we’d come from, why we were doing it, and how long our expedition took, and so on. What made it special, I think, was it gave us the opportunity, once more, to relate the important history of Rae, how it inspired our project and why it is still so significant today; given how one of their own, Louie Kamookak, had played such a major role in bringing this amazing story to light here in Canada, and abroad. 

After many questions, all of which we were delighted to answer, and the great discussions that took place over the course of the evening, Richard and I, to show our appreciation and mark the occasion, culminated it all, with the presentation of our commemorative Arctic Expedition Flag, to Mayor Sallerina, and MLA Akoak.  It was indeed our honour, to be able to make this presentation — and a great ending to our first full day in town. Thank you Connie, for organizing this wonderful evening spent with the people of the community.

* It is interesting, just walking again, after skiing so long. You use different muscles. Richard and I, are re-discovering muscles we’ve not used for so long. Reacquainting ourselves with a normal gait is—well—a bit awkward and difficult. I am hoping we find our footing soon.

Richard and David, [and the entire Arctic Return Team]