Bryan Welch, AVC 2020, traveled to Nain and Natuashish in 2019 as one of the student participants on the Chinook Project. As part of the experience, the students craft various pieces of reflective writing.
The day of our flight from Goose Bay to Nain was so clear that we could see for forever. I spent the entire flight glued to the window of the small twenty-seater plane amazed by the picturesque landscape that only seemed to get more beautiful the farther North we flew. It felt as if we were going back in time from the life we left in Prince Edward Island; leaving a climate of 70 degrees and sunny that had not seen snow in months for the snow and ice-covered North.
The landing strip in Nain looked so short from the sky that there seemed no way that we could possibly land on it. The strip was so small that there were not even any lights to mark our way. Sure enough, as we descended from the clouds alongside Mount Sophie we landed smoothly on the small strip and arrived in Nain, a beautiful town tucked in a valley along the frozen coast. Waiting for us on the ground was a small welcoming committee who were full of smiles and greeted us like we were long lost friends. The town’s generosity was apparent immediately as we were leant two vehicles, no questions asked, to help transport ourselves and our supplies within minutes of landing. We were all so excited to get started that we quickly piled our many boxes of supplies into the back of our vehicles and headed straight for the fire hall; the future home of our pop-up clinic.
After surveying the fire hall and game planning how our clinic would operate, the students and clinicians of the Chinook Project set themselves loose cleaning, unpacking boxes and setting up. There was an exciting amount of “MacGyvering” required to get things set up just right at our clinic. Some examples of our ingenuity included a makeshift surgery suite wall from two tarps and rope, ziptying the oxygen generator line to the machine, making washers from cardboard to level a surgery table and even using an old firework launch stand as an endotracheal tube rack. To everyone’s surprise the fire hall ended up becoming a well organized and designed clinic
After the clinic was set up, the locals who were gracious enough to house us for the week stopped by to meet everyone. My personal host, D, stopped in to meet me and offered to take me and my things to see where I would be staying for the week to which I happily accepted. It is a strange feeling coming into a community where you do not know anyone and to not know exactly where you will be staying, but at the same time believing that everything will work out. D first took me to her home to drop off my things and to meet her dogs Dozer and Oscar. Instead of going back to the fire hall she took me on a detour to visit the gorgeous local lake and to the top of a large hill next to Mount Sophie which boasted an amazing view of all of Nain and the surrounding countryside. D told me “You can’t visit a place and not see it”. Her words really stuck with me and thanks to D and her impromptu tour, I can most certainly say I did see Nain.