Gjoa Haven and me.

          Gjoa Haven is located in the Canadian Arctic.  It has snow on the ground from October until the beginning of June.  Winter is a way of life for the people of Gjoa Haven, known as the Nattilik people.  Gjoa Haven is located on King William Island; its Inuktitut name is “Uqsuqtuuq” which means “place of blubber”.  In the community of Gjoa Haven, there are roughly 1200 people who live there, 95 percent of the population are Inuit.

          In the last sixty years, the hamlet of Gjoa Haven has seen a lot of change.  Originally, the people lived on the land and lived off the land.  Today the community members live in traditional houses with running water and electricity.  The community has two school, two grocery stores, an indoor arena, a hotel, a health centre and various government offices.  Gjoa Haven also has daily flights to Yellowknife on two airlines.

While traveling by dog team was common in the past it is more of a novelty today as nowadays most travel is done by all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles, while trucks are used in town.  Water delivery and sewage are completed by truck in Gjoa Haven.  Although there is a high unemployment rate in Gjoa Haven, there are various job opportunities in town.  These opportunities are municipal workers, mechanics, and office workers for the hamlet itself.  There are also employment opportunities at the schools, health centre, stores and government offices and for the airlines.  The mining industry also provides employment opportunities but this work requires people to leave town to explore these opportunities.

          I was born in Yellowknife, but was raised and have lived in Gjoa Haven all my life.  As a young child growing up in Gjoa Haven my way of life was different from those who grew up in the south, where there were more amenities available to youth.  While there were stores and the community had a gym and an arena, a lot of the time I found myself walking around town with my friends, we would stay up late walking the streets or hanging out on the steps of the school.

          School itself was hard, I stopped attending in grade 10 because of bullying which I fell is a major part of life in a small community such as Gjoa Haven.  Life as a teenager in Gjoa Haven was not always easy, with not much to do but hang around, it was easy to find one self doing bad things such as drugs and alcohol.

          Although Gjoa Haven has changed from when I was a teenage.  I am still worried about the life I am able to provide for my children.  Not all of the changes have been positive but there are worst places to live and therefore I am confident that my children will have everything they need and want.

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November 16, 2011. Uncategorized.

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