I have always had a fascination with indigenous cultures and the Arctic. Because of this, I was immediately drawn to the opportunity to work with the Labrador Institute in a small, remote town named Happy Valley-Goose Bay, which sits about 1700 miles northeast of Ann Arbor and roughly 150 miles west of the Atlantic Ocean. So far, I have been far from disappointed – the generosity and graciousness I have been treated with since my arrival and the time spent exploring landscapes surrounding the town have both been nothing short of incredible.
I have been working with an organization called the Labrador Friendship Centre which seeks to create opportunity and provide aid to the Aboriginal community in whatever way possible. Specifically, I have been working with the Community Outreach Department in efforts to assess and address issues with food insecurity and poverty that are deeply affecting the surrounding populations. Through this work, I have had ample opportunity to interact with members of the community on a deep level and have been struck by their kindness and willingness to speak about their struggles. Their culture very clearly conveys a close-knit people who are tied to their land and committed to maintaining cultural tradition despite the increased difficulty of doing so.
Aside from this work, I have been able to visit one of the neighboring reservations and also to meet several of the dogsledding teams (one of the leaders is shown above) which are cherished by the locals for both work and sport. I hope to continue to learn about the traditions and culture of the Aboriginal people and also to hopefully make a difference in their access to healthy, affordable foods.