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Organization: Aurora College LINC Program
LINC Stories from Yellowknife
What do LINC learners think of Yellowknife?
Most comments fall into four themes:
- “There’s lots of work.” Many people have two jobs.
Why settle in the north?
Many people come here for jobs. They stay here because of the community. Yellowknife is a city of newcomers and is truly multicultural. It is a capital city with the kinds of facilities found in big towns, but it has all the personal benefits of a small town. If I am out and about town, I am sure to run into several of my current or former clients every day.
What is the weather like in the north?
Yellowknife has real seasons. Temperatures between the seasons can fluctuate by 70 degrees Celsius. The high in summer is +30 and the cold in winter can be -40 C. Winters are definitely cold and long, but sunny. Summers are short, sweet and warm (if it doesn’t snow). Spring is magical. This year, Yellowknife had a stretch of bitter cold from the beginning of January for nine weeks. Thermometer temperatures ranged from a low of -42 to a high of -28. Of course, wind-chill temperatures go much lower. This bone numbing cold is combined with long nights that make both candlelight breakfasts and candlelight afternoon tea a real possibility. This reality is often surprising for newly northern Canadians and a tremendous shock for newcomers to Canada. But winter isn’t so bad once you know how to dress and if you make the effort to stay busy. There is certainly a lot to do.
How does winter affect LINC learners?
In a number of ways: Before winter sets in (early October), we need to make sure people know how to dress warmly. Many of our clients come from warm and welcoming climates where you can step outside anytime. In Yellowknife, you need to prepare –well– before you open the door. You need warm everything: hats that cover ears, face warmer, mitts (not gloves), layers, long underwear, wind pants, socks (not cotton). Certainly no exposed skin at -30. But once people learn how to dress for the cold, it doesn’t seem so bad. The crisp clean air, crunchy white snow and Aurora Borealis are our rewards.
Where are the people?
I have been working in the LINC program for several years now and will never forget the time of my clients from Vietnam looked at me earnestly and said,
“Judy, can I ask you a question”
“Yes, of course.”
“Where are all the people?”
“Ah yes,” I think, “in winter the streets of Yellowknife are often empty. In Vietnam the street are busy. It’s cold here, but truly, there’s lots to do.”
What do people do for fun?
There is something for everyone. People in Yellowknife stay busy during the long winter. Yellowknife is a small community that has offer big community benefits. There are year round activities to satisfy everyone’s interest. At last count, there were 31 sport organizations and 26 service organizations. There is something for everyone: swimming, hockey, speed skating, gymnastics, curling, figure skating, volleyball, tennis, basketball, softball, hockey, ringette, cross country skiing, dance, judo, Tai Kwon Do, karate, dog sledding and even unicycling. We also have a thriving music, drama and arts community.
Are the schools good in Yellowknife?
We have beautiful, modern and spacious schools. In Yellowknife, you can choose between the public and Catholic schools. The Northwest Territories follows the Alberta school curriculum. Both systems have French immersion. In the Catholic school this goes from K or 1 to 12. In the public school, French immersion goes from 4-12.
I recently interviewed some immigrant children about their school experience in Yellowknife. They enjoyed both the school and the school community. They commented that there were no culture clicks and that students get along well with each other. They liked the small and personal schools. They indicated that they had lots of opportunities for extra curricular activities. They said that they didn’t feel people treated them differently because of their race. They did indicate that they liked growing up in Yellowknife.
Where do people worship in Yellowknife?
We have a great variety of Christian churches and one mosque.
Can you get fresh food in Yellowknife?
Yes, there is lots of choice. We have both big and small grocery stores. Most stock a huge variety of fresh meats and vegetables. Some people find they need to order special foods. The Yellowknife Co-op is happy to order foods that customers cannot find in the stores.
What kind of field trips have LINC learners taken in Yellowknife?
We take trips to all the normal places like the pool, the Co-op, the library, local schools, the women’s shelter, etc. But we also go to interesting and quirky places like a diamond polishing plant, a beach to watch the ice melt in June, a drive on the ice road to the ice castle to crawl into the igloo.
The kindness of strangers
Last year, for our end of the year celebration, we decided to take a trip to Cameron River Falls. On the way, we had a great adventure. Twenty kilometers out of town on a dirt road, we had a flat. The first lesson of the day was how to change a flat tire. No problem. (We read instructions and took pictures.)
The big decision was whether we should head further down the road with only a baby spare. Roads in the north are brutal and quite famous for slicing tires. Our dilemma was solved when a transportation worker stopped his truck to see if we needed a hand. After a little chat, he scooped up our limp punctured tire, tossed it into his truck and took off with the explanation, “You go on to the falls. I’m on my way to town. I’ll get it fixed. My buddy is coming out later and will drop it off on his way.”
Some of my learners looked at me quizzically, “that man just took your tire. Who is he anyway?”
I had forgotten to ask. “No problem,” I said. “We’ll get the tire back.”
We continued on our journey, hiked into the falls, had a great picnic. (Took pictures.) When we returned to the parking lot, there next to the baby spare was our new plump and perfect tire. We did the review of the first lesson. (Took more pictures.) We whipped the spare off, plopped on the fixed one and headed home with an even better lesson about the kindness of northern strangers.
This information has been provided by an external source. Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the content, the Centre for International Migration and Settlement Studies, Carleton University, does not offer any guarantee in that regard.
Cette information provient d’une source externe. Même si tous les efforts ont été déployés pour assurer l’exactitude et la fiabilité du contenu, le Centre d'études sur la migration internationale et l'établissement de l’Université Carleton ne peut offrir aucune garantie à cet égard.