Sunday, September 27, 2009

polar bears, caribou, radio, oh my!

It's been a little over two weeks since I arrived in Arviat, Nunavut. Arviat is a town of 2800 people, mostly Inuit community, located on the west shore of the Hudson Bay. There are no trees but there are caribou and polar bears. I just saw a polar bear the other day -- luckily, from a distance.

And! There is really cool community radio. The station here is called Arviaqpaluk ("The Sound of Arviat" in Inuktitut). The station is on air Monday through Friday from 9am-11, 11:30-1 (everyone goes home for lunch here), and 7:00pm-10pm. It's a combination of birthday annoucements ("Hello Charles, happy birthday, we love you!"), for sale items ("Television, 150 dollars, call 2459") and general announcements ("Stephanie, please come home, your mom says that it's past your curfew"). There's some special programming too, a music call-in show called "Huvigo" ("What do you want?" slang), gospel on the weekends, and radio bingo (my favorite). Pretty much everyone in town listens during lunch and after dinner -- lots of people have told me that the station is central to the town community.

Today I'm going to host a call in show on the topic "Arviaqpaluk," and solicit anyone who wants to call in for favorite memories of the station, why they think the station is important. This is all with the of my new bingo friend Cecile, she's been kind enough to offer to come along with me and translate. I'm really interested and excited to hear directly from people listening to Arviaqpaluk as to why they listen.

In the meantime, I've been keeping myself busy with adventures. I've been caribou hunting and fishing and berry picking. I've tried mukta (beluga skin), which was pretty good. I had it boiled and raw, it was best with ranch dressing. I've been eating lots of caribou meat, which is delicious, I made caribou pad thai for the family I'm staying with the other night, kind of a culinary adventure. Char (salmon-like fish) is really delicious too.

I have a cold, so I've been taking it easy this weekend, but I still managed to win $200 dollars at radio bingo on Friday! It was hilarious. I freaked out a little, and Cecile and Joyce and the other friends I've made playing radio bingo had to call the station for me! Afterwards, I crossed the street to the station and picked up the money -- cash. Exciting. Radio bingo is crazy popular here, I've been playing every weekend.

Here's some sad news: I lost my camera, and all of the pictures I took from the last month, and I haven't been able to take many pictures of Arviat. Luckily, I've been able to borrow a camera to take some pictures, so those will get uploaded soon. In the meantime, here's a picture of a caribou I saw crossing a lake:

Many hugs from up North,


  1. What a wonderful image!

    just discovered your blog and will spend more time on it. but wanted to say hi and good luck with it.

    all the best,