Well, we are coming to the end of my adventure here in Kugluktuk. It is hard for me, reflecting back on the past 2 years, as they are filled with a lot of laughter, love, and hardship.
I fell in love with this community as soon as I moved here. The spirit of the summer, everyone embracing the never-ending sunlight, despite the swarms of mosquitos. The spirit of fall as everyone is eager for the snow to fall so that they can use their skidoos to get out on the land. The spirit of the Christmas season as the community gathers for season-long celebrations. And the time when spring finally arrives, marked by the sunrise and the Nattiq Frolics.
Sadly, the love that I had for this community was not reciprocated, and that has been damaging for me. It becomes so excruciatingly difficult to care, to get out of bed, to put in any effort when time and time again, everything that I have actually accomplished is ignored, or even worse, put down and crushed. However, I did care, I did get out of bed, and I continued to work hard despite all of that. I know that even though very few people may acknowledge the difference that I have made, however big or small, or however long it might last, that I did something good and at least made a positive change for the children here.
I know that there are many people who actively despise me, who don't respect my efforts as an outsider coming in, who believe that things will improve once I go. I suspected that it would be difficult, as someone from somewhere else, from a different culture and a different lifestyle, to fit in and to find common ground with the parents and the families here. I am so thankful for the parents who welcomed me, who encouraged me and who stood behind me and held me up when I was ready to just flop down and stay there.
Don't get me wrong - it wasn't all bad. This place is so beautiful. I have learned so much about Inuit and the North, and I have experienced some unforgettable things, like walking on the ocean ice, building an igloo, having my breath taken away by the Northern Lights..
I have learned a great deal about myself, my ability to overcome obstacles that felt impossible, to persevere in spite of those who were actively discouraging me from pressing on,
I have learned how thin I can be stretched before I break, and how to come back from being broken.
I have learned the importance of self-care and self-love and how to say no.
I have learned how very important it is to disregard those who are toxic and mean only harm.
I have learned how to maintain professionalism, even when the parents are acting like children, being bullies, being rude.
I have learned to stand up, really stand up for what I believe is important, what I believe needs to change, what I believe should be the priority.
Most importantly, I have learned that it's ok for me to walk away, to continue searching for something to make me happy, and that I am not obligated to be miserable just because there are some people who are relying on me and depending on me for their own convenience.
What will happen next? No idea.
The feeling is unsettling and unnerving. I'm the kind of person who prefers to have control, to know what's going to happen next, to have a plan. Though I am certainly someone who knows that life rarely goes according to plan, it still provides me with peace of mind knowing that there is a plan. So, I am taking a giant leap way out of my comfort zone and trusting that things will fall into place and work themselves out. As long as I continue working towards my goals and live responsibly, everything should end up ok, if not great.
I will continue with professional development through online programs. I have been thinking about also doing Children & Youth Human Rights and Addictions Studies certificates while completing the Children's Mental Health certificate. I may or may not pursue grad school for next fall. I'm not sure now that I've found the right program for me, and I need to do a bit more self-discovery and more exploration of what my options are. The plan for now is to move back to Toronto, to find work I enjoy, and to spend time with the people I love, for I have desperately been missing the life I left behind. Though I am not returning the same person I was who I left, I am excited to get back to some normalcy, to city life, to access to malls and restaurants and fresh produce.
A HUGE thank you to the people who have been with me every step of this journey and telling me to keep my chin up during the hardest of times: Mom & Dad, Laura, Jesse & Sol, Geraldine, Zachary, Chris, Steve & Kerry, Peter & Amanda, Wynter, and Lena.
Off I go - into the next part of my life, doing whatever it is I will be doing and going wherever the wind takes me!