Since leaving Pond Inlet we have been in Victoria Straits surveying off the northwest coast of King William island . Ice prevented us from surveying our primary area for a week or so we charted an area that has never been done with modern hydrographic equipment. On Monday, Aug. 31 We anchored off Gjoa Haven around 8pm. I got a chance to go ashore Tuesday morning.
I went and toured the Health Centre (I was with the ship’s Physician’s Assistant) and the staff took us around and answered our questions. They spoke about the challenges of living there and it appears to be tougher than Pond Inlet. Nunavut apparently has one of the world’s highest rates of infant breathing disorders plus alcohol is a major problem. Gjoa Haven is windier and they get a lot more snow than Pond to. There is no Doctor or a Physician’s Assistant. They are all nurses or registered nurses. They are at least 8 hours from any additional help so they must be very resourceful and they certainly learn to perform tasks that no nurse down south would do. Oftentimes they have to repair equipment as well. Most live down south and come up for shifts of a few weeks then go back home.
Outside the Cultural Centre was an elderly Inuit woman in traditional clothing who was cutting up fresh and dried fish and through an interpreter was answering questions. Beside her was a skin tent. I tried a piece of dried fish which wasn’t bad. It was really tough though, you can’t pick it apart but instead have to bring the whole piece to your mouth and bite it off.
In the Cultural Centre were exhibits from the Franklin expedition including the bell from HMS Erebus that was recovered last summer. No holographic copy in the Museum of History for me! There were also a lot of artifacts from when Roald Amundsen the famous Norwegian explorer, stayed there in the early 1900s. He was the first person to sail the Northwest Passage and the first to reach the South Pole. There were tourists there from a pair of cruise ships and I am in some Norwegian souvenir photos. The centre also had a gift shop and I bought something I have always wanted, a reahttps://wordpress.com/post/44242408/newl Inuit ulu which is a semi-circular blade with a handle (mine is caribou bone) which is used to slice food and scrape hides. It apparently makes an excellent pizza slicer.
Overall, Gjoa Haven has the same social issues as any Inuit community but has more employment opportunities including a tourist industry.
We left Tuesday afternoon and are now surveying off the west coast of King William Island for the next week or so.