Between us, Jim Kreuger and I have half a century of experience in Kivalliq communities, but to say we walked in different circles during that time would be an understatement.
Yet, during my recent interview with Jim and the casual conversation that would interject itself into the interview from time to time, it became more and more obvious to me that we shared many of the same experiences and have many of the same observations concerning our time in the Kivalliq.
Like Jim in Baker Lake, I have lived the majority of my adult life in Rankin Inlet – Rankin is the longest I’ve ever lived in one place in my life – raised my daughter in Rankin and now consider Rankin my home.
As I mentioned to Jim, I’m not sure exactly when the change happened, but when asked my entire life where I was from, I simply replied Cape Breton. These days I say I’m originally from Cape Breton but Rankin Inlet is my home.
Truth be known, if not for the fact the cost of living prevents a non-wealthy, non-Inuk from living in Rankin with only the income from the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security to support him, I would, indeed, seriously consider retiring here.
I have never had the sense of community instilled within me anywhere as I do in Rankin. Family and community is everything here.
The good Lord saw fit to call most of who I love home during the past few years, and I have no concerns over the ability of my daughter, Lindsey, to take care of herself and her family.
Lindsey knows in her heart that the sun rises and sets on her in my eyes, so the distance between us, though often hard, has never diminished any of the affection between us and she knows I will always be there for her in any situation. Perfect? No. But our relationship will always be strong.
There are parts of the distance between her two children and I that bother me – as well as my grandson through marriage, Colby, possibly even more so if I’m being brutally honest – and the rest remains personal and dealt with from within.
All of this combined to create the perfect storm when it comes to my deep appreciation for the sense of community I now understand and will deeply miss when the day comes I say goodbye.
Like Jim, I also cannot stifle the odd giggle when asked about the differences in Rankin from when I first arrived in the community to the present day.
Suffice to say there are many and the majority of them are overwhelmingly positive. And I will add, I have never regretted missing the era of the honey bucket in our community, and I still rub my chin in bemusement when I hear someone lament the passing of that era.
Like Jim, I have also dedicated a fair amount of my time to the great game of hockey in my community and, also like him, I consider everyone involved with the game to be members of a special community in its own right.
And while lacking his expertise on the matter, a good number of teachers have grown to be what I consider very close and dear personal friends of mine across the region during the past two decades-plus, and I agree totally with his three Cs depiction of education in the Kivalliq – community, culture and curriculum – as well as his assertion that all three require our constant attention or the process stalls.
I also realize if too much time is spent focusing on one of the three Cs, the education program, as a whole, suffers.
And, I second Jim’s motion that we must all put something back into our community to repay, if even a small bit, all we have taken from it.
In retrospect, my interview with Jim left me wondering why I didn’t make the effort to know the man better during the past two decades, despite interviewing him numerous times on a number of different topics.
Maybe, just maybe, valued readers, you have someone fitting that description on the outskirts of your orbit right now.
If so, time is passing and we’re all running out of tomorrows to catch up on everything we put off today.
Food for thought.