Ice roads are thawing and so are the river crossings. The ice melting will soon cut our access to the outside world via the Dempster Highway for a few weeks, before the waters are clear of ice and the ferries can start carrying trucks across. (In the meantime, fresh food is brought in by plane, which means very expensive groceries.)
We also have 24-hour sunlight in the community. Most people cover their bedroom windows with either cardboard or tinfoil. The sunlight really messes with your perception of time. Sometimes it feels like being jet-lagged without leaving home. The other night I was bored and awake, and so I went for a walk. I met another neighbour, walking his dog at 2 a.m., and we both laughed a little. “Yeah, I can’t sleep either.”
Inuvik has a surprisingly large and well-stocked studio. There is a video tour available on Youtube in which I walk people through the building.
Inuvik has had a radio station for 50 years, with some of the same country records playing all the while. That means we have more than one generation of people who’ve grown up with that crackling AM signal and fiddle music. The station used to produce an entire day’s worth of programming, but today the only remaining shows in Inuvik are Northwind and Tusaavik. Both offer a look at life in small communities, in English and Inuvialuktun.
Whenever the red light goes on, and we see the signal “on air,” I imagine people sitting around a little battery-powered or wind-up radio at their cabins, drinking tea and listening as they have done for years. There’s a history to Northwind and many of our interviews are heard on radios in pickup trucks during long drives – it’s a 10-hour drive south from here to Dawson City.
Our shows try to show “real people doing real things.” Stories tend to be edited long (5 or 10 minute interviews are common ) and are usually about topics of everyday conversation. We discuss the weather, hunting and fishing, sports, school programs or anything else that people would enjoy hearing on their lunch break. We also feature stories from local elders, who discuss the traditional ways.
Last week there was a series of complaints from local muskrat hunters. They said they couldn’t find the animals out there and they blamed an increase in the otter population. We spoke with a trapper from a small community who told us about cutting through the brush and setting snares only to return empty-handed. That’s a lot of work for no money.
Though our daily interviews, news reporting and messages, we try to inform and entertain the listeners of the western Arctic. It’s a wonderful job and I very much enjoy life in the Arctic.
- Philippe Morin, Reporter, Inuvik, CBC North