While I have always been interested in travelling and experiencing new lands and culture, admittedly, I have done very little of it and chose to spend most of my time close to home. That being said, I was thrilled to be a chosen participant for The Chinook Project, not only for the veterinary experience, but for the cultural and travel experience as well. Seeing the vastness and beauty of the Canadian North has always been a bucket list item for me – and it did not disappoint.
Our first few days in Igloolik were consumed with the busyness of setting up our clinic, moving in to our new “home”, and tending to our patients. The days were long and though there were 24 hours of daylight and I was eager tour the area, I was too exhausted at the end of the day to explore.
To satisfy my craving to experience the wonderment of the North, in the mornings – while everyone else was asleep – I would sneak outside and sit on the stoop of our house. I would take a deep breath of the cool, crisp northern air and just sit. I would sit in absolute awe of the vastness of the land, and the blueness of the ice, the brightness of the sun and the freshness of the air and a smile would slowly come over my face. I have always had a love for winter and the mystery of the North – for the cold, for the beauty of snow and ice. Something about it has always seemed magical to me. I distinctly remember the indescribable feeling that came over me when I first stepped out onto that clear, blue ice on our third day in Igloolik. I had the same feeling the following day when we took the evening off from clinics and walked up Cemetery Hill. The view from the hilltop was the most incredible that I had ever seen. The rawest and purest form of natural beauty that I had ever experienced – it was a beauty that no photoshop or Instagram filter could ever replicate – blue sky, and frozen land for as far as you could see. Something about it instantly made my heart happy and peaceful. Pictures that I had seen did not do this place justice, there was no replacement for being able to see it with your own eyes, and feel it deep within your own soul.
Something about the North calmed me – soothed me – comforted me.
And though I was thousands of miles away from my small Maritime hometown, I felt immensely and perfectly at home.
Julie Sparks, AVC 2018, traveled to Igloolik in 2017 as one of the student participants on the Chinook Project. As part of the experience, the students craft various pieces of reflective writing.