#2 | Polar Bear Meat, Nature, and Food Security

Over these past couple weeks I have found that I have a love – “hate” relationship with Happy Valley – Goose Bay. What I love; the people, the work, the nature. What I hate; the sand, the snow, and the isolation.

However, this place has so many great things to say about it. As I mentioned in my last blog, I have met some of the nicest people here in Goose. My friends Nascha, Paul, and Philip (he is the one doing the backflip in the video below!) have been nothing but fun and kind and accepting of me here. I don’t see them very often as they live about a half hour away on a Innu Reserve here in Labrador called Sheshatshiu, but when they come to town they often visit the res hall I live in and say hi, which is always a welcoming sight.

I had the opportunity to travel a few hundred kilometers down the Trans-Labrador Highway (it’s a dirt road that is nearly impassable to small vehicles, yet it is also the main road to get to any smaller village) to help deliver polar bear meat (photos below) for NunatuKavut (the body that is responsible for helping Inuit peoples and villages with a variety of different things including food security, education, and research). Their Freezer Program provides traditional foods such as caribou, moose, fish, and (very, very rarely) polar bear meat to seven different locations that help feed members of NunatuKavut who need it. However, that was a one-off day (but hopefully I will have more opportunities to do things similar to that). Most days I stay in an office reading up on other food security programs that have been founded by other people and governments across the circumpolar north to try and find one that NunatuKavut can implement for their people. They are going to start implementing a community garden starting this summer with a couple of their smaller villages as a trial run. This is difficult because of the very short growing season this far north, but it could be a vital source of vegetables and nutritious foods that seem to be lacking here. This lack of fresh vegetables is because of the remoteness of these villages. When veggies do come in, they are often times partly rotted or on the verge of it because of the long travel time to these communities, not to mention they are three to four times more expensive than somewhere like the States. That is why finding a successful alternative is crucial for some of these communities who rely too much on non-perishable and typically unhealthy foods, which is where I come in! Hopefully in my time here I will find a few options that could be implemented successfully into NunatuKavut.

 

In addition, the nature is incredibly beautiful. As I traveled the Trans-Labrador Highway for my entire Friday, left and right all I saw were trees, trees, and more trees. Snowbirds (photo below of it is not mine unfortunately) flew by the truck while you could see the mealy mountains in the background. At one point the driver, Donna (she’s the best), stopped to let me climb up and take a picture of this carved out part of the hill (not sure if it was man-made or not). In my attempt to climb for the photo, the snow I was standing on constantly broke under my weight, making me belly deep in the chilly substance… But it was always worth it, as the sights were amazing. Hopefully I will be able to do more things like that as the weeks come by, because without transport it is difficult to reach these beautiful locations.

    

 

(Bigfoot spotted!)

I wanted to mention the “hates” of Happy Valley – Goose Bay as well, but I also want to say that two out of three of those “hates” aren’t really bad things, (that being the sand and snow), I just happen to be a fan of grass and no snow! The isolation is a big deal here. If you don’t have a vehicle (and I don’t), going anywhere in Happy Valley – Goose Bay is typically a few kilometer walk. It is difficult to do things outside of the residence hall at times, which means a lot of Netflix typically. When it gets warmer, the walk won’t be an issue, but it is still often times below freezing or just above it. Or it is raining… or windy… or all three.

This ends the second blog, maybe I wrote a little too much and now I won’t have anything to write about next week, but I am sure something new will happen, as it seems to do here, in the most unexpected ways…

Enjoy the photos!

 

Oh! I forgot to talk about the food dilemma I was having. Basically the chef of the dining hall, Rick, quickly realized that I was vegetarian and has prepared me a separate meal for every dinner since he found out. He has been really supportive and friendly and helpful with that and so I haven’t had an issue of filling up! (The picture of the food is what he made me the first day after he found out I was vegetarian <3 )

 

One thought on “#2 | Polar Bear Meat, Nature, and Food Security

  • May 15, 2018 at 6:14 pm
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    Michael,

    Thanks for sharing your reflections as you continue through your internship experience. It certainly seems like you are experiencing some new things!

    I love how you are approaching every day with an open-minded attitude – not everyone would have taken the idea of polar bear meat in stride like you did! In addition, I really applaud your flexibility and adaptability, particularly regarding your dietary needs and restrictions. It can be really frustrating when you have certain needs that may seem strange to some cultures, so I am really glad that you found someone to accommodate those needs!

    I really appreciated your analysis of food insecurity and the role your organization (and you) play in tackling that issue. You mentioned that you mostly stay in the office to do research on this topic, but it may be worthwhile to ask if you can get more opportunities to go out and interact with the people whom your organization serves – you seemed to enjoy the chance to get out of the office, and it is good practice for communicating your desired outcomes/experiences to your supervisor.

    -Josh

    Reply

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