Charlotte Verriere won the lottery.
Born in Brittany, France, she grew up in a life devoid of snow and sled dogs. But a few years ago, she got word of a working holiday visa program where she could travel and work in Canada.
She put her name in the pool and several months later got the call. She was going to Canada.
“You apply and put in your profile,” she said. “Then the Canadian government immigration selects you. You can work or travel as much as you want for two years.
“So I came to Inuvik in January 2018 and spent the summer here, came back and spent the summer of 2019 as well.”
Verriere started her journey here in Inuvik. Since then, she has travelled and worked her way around the country.
But her first travels found her back here with the huskies of Inuvik.
Initially starting out as a volunteer, Varriere eventually earned herself a job with Arctic Chalet caring for the dogs. She hasn’t looked back since.
“I loved it, so I just kept coming back here,” she said. “I never had a dog or anything. I had a whole bunch of places in Canada I wanted to see and do. Canada for me was things like the Northern Lights, huskies and dog sledding.
“I found that in the North. I don’t have winter where I live, I don’t have snow. So that was a dream for me. I found everything I wanted up here.”
Inuvik’s French-speaking community ebbs and flows, so while she doesn’t get a lot of opportunities to practice her mother tongue, Verriere said she loves the community and people.
Largely she said she gets to practice with clients — though she noted she speaks a bit of Spanish with clients as well. She noted most of the French speakers she knows in the North live in Yellowknife.
“I think for a French person who wanted to come up here to improve their English, for sure they’ll improve it,” she said.
Since starting her contract with Arctic Chalet, Verriere has moved up in the company somewhat.
Now handling clients and booking, she still gets to spend time with the dogs that made he stay put.
“I train the dogs, feed the dogs, take care of them,” she said. “The more I’ve stayed, the more tasks I’ve gotten.
“Now I’m more of an administrative assistant, but I still take care of the dogs, which is the highlight of the day.
With her contract with Arctic Chalet wrapping up this September, Verriere said she’s looking around for future job options, noting she loves Inuvik so much she really doesn’t want to leave.
“Even if there isn’t a big French community, the Inuvik community is very welcoming,” she said. “As a French speaker, I don’t feel by myself or anything. There’s so much going on for people to gather together that I don’t feel alone at all.”
“I would love to stay in Inuvik. I love this community.”