February 14, 2000
This week, we are launching 8 stories from Prince George, BC and as a special event you can read their stories as well as hear them. The learners are from two programs in Prince George : the Native Friendship Centre as well as College and Career Preparation at the College of New Caledonia.
Rose LeBlanc is a dedicated student attending the College of New Caledonia in Prince George, BC. She has lived in Prince George for 10 years and is the mother of two wonderful children.
Play an audio version of this story
I lived my adoloscent years in Inuvik, which means "Place of man", and it was a wonderful and exciting experience for me. When my parents told me we were moving there, I felt like I was going to the place of the unknown. It seemed that no one had ever heard of this place. It was September 1969, and I was 11 years old. I was feeling sad as my family and I waited for the train to arrive in the Prince Rupert depot. Prince Rupert had been the only home I had ever known, and I was about to leave all my friends and everyone I knew behind. We travelled to Edmonton by train and flew from there to Inuvik. This was the first time I had ever been on an airplane. It felt scary, and at the same time it was exciting.
Soon it was winter, and by the end of October everything was frozen solid. I was decked out in my winter parka and mukluks. It was so incredibly different from the mild coastal winters in Prince Rupert. I noticed the drastic change in the feel of the cold. It felt much drier and crisper, and when I walked on the snow it would crunch under my feet.
In December, the sun set one evening and never rose again until January. For one month I went to school in the dark, and came home in the dark. One evening I was walking across the school field and noticed all the brilliant colors swirling and flowing across the sky. They were so beautiful, with the colors of green, pink and blue all swirling and dancing in the sky. Oh, it was a magnificent sight ! My Inuit friend explained to me that they were called the Northern Lights, or the auroraborealis. The legend was, that if you sang to them loud enough, the lights would swirl and dance their way down, pick you up, and carry you away. It was a frightening thought to me, but the colors were so beautiful, and I could not help singing to them.
Later, around the month of March, the winter games started up. There was Eskimo drum dancing, seal and muskrat skinning contests, and the blanket toss, where the people would grab a-hold all around the blanket, and toss the person on the blanket up in the air as hard as they could. It was much like a trampoline. The one who could jump the highest wins. There was also the tea boling contest. The women would go to their stations around a gigantic pile of sticks and branches. When the start signal went off, they would run and collect the wood, build a fire, put the kettle on to boil, and the first one to make tea wins the contest. I had never seen such a contest before, and I laughed so hard and had such a good time. This was my favorite contest of all. I also went to see the dog sled races. Everyone owned dogs in Inuvik. I thought that the huskies were magnificent with their strength and power pulling those sleds with ease. It was a very interesting winter, and I learned so many new and wonderful things.
After the long cold winter came the burst of spring, and it was good to feel the warmth of the sun on my face again. I watched everything turn green and wondered how something so frozen could spring back to life with such ease.
The summers were filled with warmth and new life. I was rarely found at home. It was hard to stay indoors after those long cold winter months. I ran and splashed in the enormous puddles that were created by the thaw of the massive amounts of snow. I had a difficult time dealing with the abundance of mosquitoes, but soon I became used to them, and they never bothered me much anymore.
The month of July came, and this is when I learned about the land of the midnight sun. For one month, from July to August, the sun never sets, and it was as warm and bright as it was at twelve o clock noon. I put tin foils on my bedroom windows at night, and then I could sleep without thinking that it was time to get up. The summers were short, but I made the most of it, and I grew to love and respect the north. I loved living and growing up for those wonderful and exciting years in Inuvik. It was a sad and mournful day when I moved away. It felt like I was leaving a part of myself behind, again.