The Chinook Project is an opportunity for us all to work outside our comfort zones. Despite being on ‘home territory,’ our volunteers are no exception, and their presence and efforts are essential to our success. They are the other half of our team. While I can’t begin to name everyone who gave their time and energy to support the Chinook Project in Iqaluit, I want to recognize a few of our volunteers whom I will never forget.
HEATHER CROWLEY: genuine and giving
Even before we arrived in Iqaluit, Heather booked our flights and even shopped for our groceries. She spent clinic days greeting and calling pet owners. Without Heather, the clinic simply would not have worked. Her versatility and organizational ability were essential assets to our team. Seeing Heather drive up to the clinic with two dogs in tow, I never would never guessed that the vehicle was borrowed, the dogs were temporary foster pets, and she was visiting from her home in Colorado. She had left a piece of her heart in the North with the people and animals of Iqaluit when she first visited on a college exchange. She had returned for this experience, and to give back to the community.
COURTNEY : welcoming and self-assured
Courtney met us at the airport, and welcomed the students on the trip (all four of us!) into her home like we were instant friends. She is one of the RCMP officers working in Iqaluit, which is also where the territorial headquarters is located. It was so fascinating and inspiring to talk to her about her lifestyle and personal experiences working and living in Northern Canada. As a fellow animal lover, Courtney gave up time off-duty to get fur on her clothes and give us a hand, even when it meant a bandaged thumb.
NICHOLE: level-headed and effective
Nichole works for the airline the carried us to and from Iqaluit. It took her under an hour to learn how to monitor a patient during surgery. By her third hour, she was easily proficient, and reporting relevant changes in status to our veterinary team. To put that achievement in context: we were in third year veterinary college before we were learning the same thing, and Nichole was handling it more bravely. Whenever she was with us in the clinic, Nichole was able to see what we were doing, see a way that she could help, and do it. Her dependability and willingness to learn was beyond helpful.
CHRISTINA: bright and outgoing
Christina was one of our youngest volunteers. She spent every free moment she had with us at the clinic. Christina showed an instant love and interest in every animal that came through the door. Her curiosity was nearly insatiable. She was itching to watch, touch and ask about everything she saw. She was an unending stream of questions and comments, and every sentence was punctuated by either an exclamation or a question mark. While most people would shy away from watching a live surgery (especially on their own pets!), Christina was fascinated and completely undaunted. It was exciting to share her energy as we were learning through our experiences too.
JOY: quiet and caring
Joy helped us from our first moments setting up the clinic. She prepared kennels, and dutifully sat with swaddled animals to warm them as they woke up after surgery, while we gathered their vaccines, medications and papers together. She was just there: at hand but never under foot, quiet, caring, and unassuming. When Joy said her goodbye to the clinic, she choked back tears and told us she would never forget us, and how much she would miss us. She drew tears from our eyes, too.
All of our volunteers were inspiring and essential to our experience and the clinic’s success.
To all of our volunteers:
Thank you all for the time and energy you gave to support the Chinook Project, and thank you for every memory you gave us. It was the experience of a lifetime, and it wouldn’t have been complete without you. Nakurmiik.
Dionne Paine, AVC 2017, traveled to Iqaluit in 2016 as one of the student participants on the Chinook Project. As part of the experience, the students craft various pieces of reflective writing. This is one of Dionne’s pieces