A date with Siku girl: my favourite photos of 2017

2017 was a year when I appreciated having a camera or cell phone with me at all times because I saw a lot of beautiful things in places like Cambridge Bay, Iqaluit and Rovaniemi—and many of these things lasted only seconds.

So, here are my 10 favourite photos of 2017, beginning with my Number 10.

10Here you see ice nearby Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, taken from the air, in this photo from late March.

Number 9

Here are two similar views down into Frobisher Bay, from Happy Valley in Iqaluit, Nunavut from April, then in May. I like these both, especially the photo with the pink sky.

Number 8


Here you see sled dogs, a photo taken on the ice maybe in mid-late May, in Iqaluit, Nunavut, near the causeway. What I like here are the colours. Very spring-like and ephemeral. It’s probably my favourite photo of the year on this account.

Number 7


Here you see a huge and surprisingly full moon rising above the roof of the house next door in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. It was rising so quickly I just grabbed my camera.

Number 6


Charming fairy trees: ice-coated birch trees in Rovaniemi, Finland, taken in mid-November. I wanted to look at them all day.

Number 5

Beautiful and fast-fading frost flowers, photographed in early October in Cambridge Bay Nunavut.

Number 4

real4Embroidered dancing kamiks from Cambridge Bay, Nunavut.

Number 3


Can it look hot and be minus 45 C? Sure. That’s what it was in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut last November when I took this double-sun sunset photo from the shelter of the back porch.

Number 2

2My first fog-bow. I had never seen a fog-bow until early last October in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, where the light often does funny things.

Number 1

1Here’s the proof that you don’t need a freezer to store fish in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut where these fish were flash-frozen on top of a freezer in late October.

My runner-up

5.jpgThis chubby snow bunting was always at the feeder until one day he left….

You can see my favourite photos of 2016 here.

And I encourage you to read my blog series “Like an iceberg” about being a journalist in the Arctic in the 1990s as well as my most popular blog entry to date on the ancient links between Inuktitut, Saami and Finnish.

Hoping you all have a great 2018.

🍾Godt nytår
🎆Gott nýggjár
🍾Onnellista uutta vuotta
🎆Ukiortaami pilluaritsi
🍾Gleðilegt nýtt ár
🎆Godt nytt år
🍾Buorre ođđa jahki
🎆Leklvaž ođđ ee´jj
🍾Buorre ođđa jagi
🎆Buorre ådå jagev
🍾Buerie orre jaepie
🎆Luholâš uđđâ ive
🍾Gott nytt år
⭐Happy New Year⭐


Amazing and un-amazing Iqaluit

I’ve been thinking in lists as I walk around Nunavut’s capital, Iqaluit, so here’s my top five list of amazing things in this city of roughly 8,000.

But for each of these five amazing things there’s a shadow list of things, which make the Iqaluit of today an un-amazing place and on its way to becoming a mini-Yellowknife, with its clash of prosperity, commercialism and poverty.

1) Iqaluit Aquatic centre

A $40-million facility with a huge draw. And that’s no surprise: Kids frolic around in the children’s pool. Teens slide down the big yellow slide, and when you do laps, you can watch the snow whipping around outside. If that’s not enough there’s a full fitness centre.

2) Avocados

Before you could only reliably find onions and carrots in Iqaluit stores. Now you can find a variety of produce, including piles of avocados.

3) the Plateau

This neighbourhood seems to go on forever on a ridge overlooking the city, and a lot of people can’t remember what Iqaluit, whose population is now about three times more than when I first came here, looked like without it.

4) Cell phones

You can text, post to social media and check the weather on your phone. And talk.

5) Diversity

There’s a shawarma restaurant in town, a mosque, international foods on the store shelves and your neighbour could originally come from the Ivory Coast or the Philippines.

So here’s what you will find on my list of five un-amazing things about Iqaluit:

1) Bad infrastructure

When the snow melts, roads fall apart. Nearly every road in Iqaluit is unsafe to drive for weeks. Does this look like a capital city in Canada to you?

2) Expensive food

if you don’t know how to cook and you buy food at the grocery store, a full cart will probably cost you $1,000 and you will eat badly, and you won’t buy the government-subsidized avocados which often end up rotting in the stores. And if you don’t have any money, a lot of the time you’ll go hungry.

3) Poor, overcrowded public housing and expensive private housing

You might be able to rent a room for about $1,000 a month, but a buying a house will set you back by $500,000. There isn’t enough public housing and visible homelessness, and all the social problems, including violence, addictions, crime that come with these are part of life in Iqaluit.

4) Dreadful internet

It can be so slow you’ll want to tear out your hair trying to load a page. Everyone suffers from not being able to get to knowledge online or to tap into the commercial possibilities. or, as Mayor Madeline Redfern says, be able to “govern, manage, admin, deliver.”

5) Marginalization of Inuit culture and language

Inuit are the first residents of this place, but they are now in the minority in Iqaluit, and, if they don’t speak English,  are likely to feel like a strangers in their own land.