It is the end of the snowmobile season, no more hunting at the floe edge: many marine mammals gather at the edge of the ice to feed from the rich waters of the fjords which are once again accessible. It's +12°C, the ice is melting very quickly this year and we are the first to sail in front of Arctic Bay! Yesterday I dived from our boat while the day before there was still too much ice to navigate to the site.
We are busy on board Vagabond during the day with scientific work, end-of-winter maintenance and preparations for the summer mission, and we camp in the evening at Victor Bay to enjoy the flowery tundra.
Our tent neighbor Philip knows our daughters since he works at the school. He lives with his wife Sarah in a very small cabin, all year round, at Victor Bay, as there are eleven people in their house in Arctic Bay. The housing shortage is significant in Nunavut.
Sarah and Philip's niece Julian and her husband Isaia invited us to their son Morgan's birthday party on Saturday night. He was born a year ago, the day after his brother's suicide from whom he inherited his first name. Around the tents and small cabins, there were many of us to share these moving moments, happy despite everything. Their friend Cherita organized on June 26 in the village a suicide prevention march.
After a nice hike on Sunday with a magnificent view on open water and three icebergs in the Admiralty Fjord, we visited Paul. The hamlet's mechanic, so helpful to us throughout the winter, lives with Hanna in a little red house he built 7 years ago. Hanna teaches traditional culture at the Arctic Bay school, she helped France to make Leonie's parka pattern. She has just lost her son, another suicide... Paul tells us about his childhood far from his family, the residential school he went to be able to eat three times a day, and the government help he received much later to make up for the years away from his father and from his hunting and fishing apprenticeship. He caught up. He explains without bitterness that thanks to his education and his work, over time, he was able to offer several snowmobiles to his father.
In recent decades, behind the beautiful Arctic postcards, social problems have been more difficult to overcome than the polar cold. Fortunately the coronavirus did not reach communities in Nunavut.