Monday, January 24, 2011
Montreal to Qikitarjuaq, via Ottawa, Iqaluit and Pangnirtung
Weather: A frosty but bearable -22c
Today was the day. After months of planning, Eye on the Arctic was finally heading back North.
First stop, Qikiqtarjuaq, Nunavut.
After our last Arctic trip, with all my cultural gaffs and logistical miscalulations, I considered myself well prepared this time around. I’d packed my state-of-the-art thermal underwear, polished off my beginner’s Inuktitut and succeded at cramming 30 kilos of Arctic gear into one compact suitcase.
But I’d barely been in Nunavut an hour before I’d managed to offend people.
If you’ll remember from last trip, no matter how much I travel North or how well-intentioned I might be, I’m constantly committing cultural gaffs.
Well, it became apparent to me today, not much has changed.
I’d been in Nunavut for less than two hours and already I was offending people.
After de-planing in Iqaluit, we boarded a Dash-8 to take us to Qikiqtarjuaq. I trundled on, found my place (3C) and started to put my laptop computer under the seat. The women standing next to the seat looked at me, completely apalled. The elderly Inuk man sitting in the window seat next to mine said ‘My wife is sitting there’, I double-checked my ticket and said ‘Hmmm … it says 3C on my ticket’. The man rolled his eyes and raised his voice as if I was insufferably socially delayed: ‘It’s the Arctic, there’s no reserved seats here!’
Duely chastized, I slinked to the very back of the plane and was on my best behaviour for the rest of the flight.