Me – A Moron in a Parka

Weather: -9c and clear outside

MONTREAL, QUEBEC – Only two days to lift off.

The hotels are booked, the plane tickets bought and the winter gear all packed.

We ended up getting ‘Snow Mantra’ parkas. They’re from the Canada Goose company and are bight CBC- red.

I usually hate the attitude I get when I shop in camping stores. But there’s nothing quite like walking into that kind of shop and asking for the “Snow Mantra”.

The clerks .. no matter how many times they’ve trekked Everest or strangled grizzly bears with their bare hands … treat you differently. And if I’m not mistaken, there was even a slight glimmer of respect in their eyes.

Why? Because basically, the ‘Snow Mantra’ is the bad-ass of Arctic parkas. It’s for people that are going outside in sub-zero weather, and staying outside in sub-zero weather.

And doing it for a really, really long time.

Because of all that, I had high expectations today when I tried on my entire Arctic gear kit for the first time. I was half expecting to look like an Arctic adventurer of yore, but as I turned to look in the mirror, I quickly realized one thing.

I look like a complete moron.


Sure I’ll be warm. But the problem is that Mantras (and most other parkas), aren’t made for women. Even if it says “women’s” on the label, it’s usually just an extra-small men’s size.

The clerk at one store even told us they “don’t carry many women’s size Arctic parkas” because “women don’t really go to the Arctic.” (That would come as a surprise to all the scientists, researchers and Arctic entrepreneurs that I’ve interviewed over the course of the last few months that also happen to be women. But that, as they say, would be another blog post)

Anyway, all this sucks, not just for aesthetic reasons, but also for practical ones.

Because, when it’s cold and windy, you should be able to close the parka hood completely, leaving a hole for your eyes to look out.

But my parka is designed for a man’s stature, so the proportions are all wrong. When I close my hood up, it completely blindfolds me, covering everything but my…..teeth.


Just what I need when we’re out on the land in –40c, a way to expose my freakn’ teeth to the elements.

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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