2019 brings encounters with the heavens, birds, ice, people, food & ransomware


Stars and northern lights

I am already in my bed in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut on Sept. 30, with a book, when my friend runs in and says “they’re out.” I know what she means and throw on my parka and kamiks and we head out down the road towards Mt. Pelly. We stop before the bridge and step out. Huge pulsating swaths of green light are moving across the sky, curling and reforming.


The most amazing sight: the stars, like a blanket behind the green light. How would I feel if I could see that every night?



I spend some of my spring watching the ducks as they meet on the lake where I live in southern Quebec. There are so many kinds, some of which are already familiar to me from the North: loons, buffleheads, common and hooded mergansers, Canada geese.



Sometimes the ducks form a line and race back and forth across the lake after the ice melts. The water is frothing behind them. I watch them for hours. They are just having fun. In my next life, I want to be a migratory duck.


In the North, I watch the snow buntings and redpolls. This photo shows two birds at the feeder at the same time. That only happened once when both the birds were hungry.



Moving from north to south I see the ice break up and freeze over and over again. In April I see the melting ice under a bright red sunset at the lake.


Then, again on June 8, it’s about midnight when the melting ice in Frobisher Bay turns pink.


In the autumn I watch ice form in Cambridge Bay producing frost flowers.


Then, again, back by the lake, it’s freeze-up again. This time, the island looks like it’s ready for Christmas.



I go to Mt. Pelly near Cambridge Bay in September with a friend to her cabin. We’re lucky because it’s warm enough to walk around on the half-frozen land. Only later we learn about the big grizzly bear that’s out and about in the vicinity at the same time.


When I’m not in the North, I spend a lot of my time off-grid in my island cabin.



What keeps me going in 2019 are people.

Here I am at the Legion in Iqaluit on a tired Friday evening in April, at the left, with a group of my former co-workers. At that moment, we have no worries.



Sometimes a good meal can make everything go smoothly. One day in Iqaluit, in June when I am recovering from a bad cold, I get two portions of the best sushi I’ve ever tasted, of Arctic char and caribou, at the Nanook food truck in Iqaluit.


A friend in Cambridge Bay makes us a flight of drinks one night.


And how about the neighbour’s fish? Who needs a freezer in Cambridge Bay?



I am finally planning on taking a weekend off when the Government of Nunavut is hit by ransomware on Saturday, Nov. 2. On that day, I am not even sure what that is, but, from then until the end of December, I go on to write maybe 20 stories for the Nunatsiaq News about its impact on the GN, on social assistance recipients and on the delivery of health care.191213_NNLayout_6 copy.jpg


hqppy new year!.jpg

It’s been six years since I started this blog, and I’m sure many who end up here have no idea about a series about my experiences in the Arctic in the 1990s, which I wrapped up in the spring of 2013.

In Like an iceberg, I talk about an exorcism, brain surgery with a hand drill, robins in Iqaluit and a visit to the High Arctic’s fossil forest — as well as some big issues like censorship of the press, sexual abuse and violence.

There are also many photos you won’t see anywhere else…

So, here are all the links — and relive those times with me.

Like an iceberg: on being a journalist in the Arctic

Like an iceberg, 1991…cont.

Like an iceberg, 1991…more

Like an iceberg, 1992, “Shots in the dark” 

Like an iceberg, 1992, “Sad stories”

Like an iceberg, 1993, “Learning the language of the snows”

Like an iceberg, 1993 cont., “Spring”

Like an iceberg, 1993 cont., “Chesterfield Inlet”

Like an iceberg, 1993 cont., more “Chesterfield Inlet”

Like an iceberg, 1994: “Seals and more”

Like an iceberg, 1994, cont., “No news is good news”

Like an iceberg, 1994 cont., more “No news is good news”

Like an iceberg, 1994 cont., “A place with four names”

Like an iceberg, 1995, “More sad stories”

Like an iceberg, 1995 cont., “No place like Nome”

Like an iceberg, 1995 cont., “Greenland”

Like an iceberg, 1995, cont. “Secrets”

Like an iceberg, 1996, “Hard Lessons”

Like an iceberg, 1996 cont., “Working together”

Like an iceberg, 1996 cont., “At the edge of the world”

Like an iceberg, 1996, more “At the edge of the world”

Like an iceberg, 1996, cont. “Choices” 

Like an iceberg, 1997, “Qaggiq”

Like an iceberg, 1997, more “Qaggiq”

Like an iceberg, 1997, “Qaggiq” cont.

Like an iceberg, 1997 cont., “Qaggiq and hockey”

Like an iceberg, 1997 cont., “Brain surgery in POV”

Like an iceberg, 1997 cont.: “Masks on an island”

Like an iceberg, 1997 cont., “Abusers on the pulpit”

Like an iceberg, 1998, “Bearing gifts”

Like an iceberg, 1998 cont., “At the top of the world”

Like an iceberg, 1998 cont., “A bad week” 

Like an iceberg, 1998 cont.: more from “A bad week”

Like an iceberg, 1998 cont., “Memories”

Like an iceberg, 1999, “The avalanche”

Like an iceberg, 1999 cont., “An exorcism, followed by a penis cutting”

Like an iceberg, 1999 cont., more on “the Avalanche”

Like an iceberg, 1999 cont., “Robins in the Arctic”

Like an iceberg, 1999 cont., “Fossil hunting”

Like an iceberg, 1999 cont., “Where forests grew” 

Like an iceberg, 1999 cont.,”And then there was Nunavut”

My photo picks of 2018

When I think of 2018, the images that stick in my mind the most were of birds and the sky, in all its amazing shades (but especially pink.) Here are 10 of my photos that still resonate the most with me—so enjoy!

The snow bunting


Here’s a chilly little bunting from this past October in Cambridge Bay. I loved watched the buntings at the feeder. This one was taking a break in the sun.

Pink Cambridge Bay


Walking around Cambridge Bay in October at sunset suddenly everything turns pink over Mt. Pelly.

Frost flowers


This year’s crop of frost flowers in Cambridge Bay: They don’t last long, popping out of the ice only when freeze-up takes place quickly. There are certain places I always check for frost flowers and I wasn’t disappointed this year.



I really wanted these kamiks for sale in Cambridge Bay but I didn’t have $450 (and I already have a similar, if not so beautiful pair.)

Snowy window


This May in Iqaluit I felt like there were just too many snowy days. Here’s how it looked from inside.

Truck on an icy pad


I had never noticed until this June that as the snow finally melts, under every parked vehicle that didn’t move all winter you see a layer of hard snow long which lasts after the snow everywhere else goes. Makes sense!

Clothes as art


This display of traditional clothing in the foyer of the Nunavut legislature looked like fine arts gallery to me.

Awesome dance


Wow what an evening at the Kitikmeot Inuit Association feast in October where Julia Ogina (right) performed with another dancer (left, but I didn’t get his name.) The dance can’t really be captured in a photo but you can find a video on my Twitter feed at @sikugirl: https://twitter.com/sikugirl/status/1053123054560133120

Pink lake


This was my view from my lake home over to the island in Quebec in November when I got to see the pink freeze-up phenomenon all over again.

The woodpecker


My frequent avian visitor in Quebec: a splashy pileated woodpecker.

Check out the other older posts on A date with siku girl as well!