Tourists and old timers

There are two kinds of people who come north from the south. There are the tourists who stay for one or two years. Then there are those like … who have been here for decades. Those like … recognise that the longer they are here, the less they know about the north. They realise there is always more to learn. (Underlying this is a longing to be recognised as a complex people whose reality cannot be grasped quickly by an in out visit.)

I could not connect with this group and after awhile I realized I didn’t even want to.

I thought X had a kindly, compassionate expression on his/her face. I was disconcerted by his/her questions on the First Nations Treaty issues: […] Was I wrong or was X uninformed of the First Nations and Inuit relationship of decades long negotiations of treaties that were not respected and demanded constant re visiting? My heart sank when I realised the mind, heart and spirit behind the promising smile were without interest to me. I guessed that X spent very little time trying to understand the First Nations and Inuit point of view. X returned to the workforce after retirement to take up lucrative contracts with the Nunavut government? The combined package of salaries and benefits seems obscenely high here. X’s rates as a consultant are even higher. How frightening that X plays a pivotal role in a decision making team here. Behind the congenial face, is the face of the bureaucracy here that keeps the status quo in place.

As I write I am torn and I feel physically affected by the awful truth. Iqaluit is filled with X’s. No wonder the money continues to enrich bureaucrats leaving the Inuit population here without substantial services and in over crowded conditions that are more like third world than a developed country. I knew this. I knew there was skimming.

Please let me be wrong. [I am hoping that my…] my own inadequacies have led me to misjudge. I need to remember that once a light has come on, and the picture of inequalities is clearly visible, I too have some small role to play in it. I can contribute to maintaining the social injustice or I can work towards greater social equalities. I have a strong feeling that I am more effective in the background until my degree is completed. I am more useful right now in helping those in the foreground perform their work more effectively. I just have to trust that slowly I will be led to like minded people. Prevent me from wasting any energy on judging others.

Working for the Government in the North

[They] began to compare employee benefits between the Nunavut government and the federal government.
Y works for Customs and Immigration as a Custom’s officer. Y inquired about working for a summer term here. (Y’s father worked here last year.) Y was offered a two year contract. The federal government was not interested in hiring anyone for a short term contract. Y’s employment package would include: an apartment, a car, 2 trips south a year with 6 weeks vacation each?, 2 trips south for business, a salary of upwards of 70,000 plus northern benefits. The total package sounds like it would be $120, 000 for a Custom’s officer in a town of 7000 people with an airport that does not have international flights. Y’swork would be fairly abstract to say the least!

I have heard people snickering about the limited enrollment of Nursing and Law students here in Iqaluit and the cost of these programs.

Few people snicker at these obscene government employees packages that drive up prices in Iqaluit and exaggerate the have and have not divide.

Sons and daughters of these employees reap the added benefits of well paid, prestigious summer jobs.

I have been trying to understand the phenomenon of so many Government people working on weekends and evenings. Z explained that it is considered to be a part of many jobs. Work is scheduled with an assumption that people will be willing to work overtime on weekends. These government workers have three month vacations! They are encouraged to travel on business trips often. No wonder they have to work overtime to catch up!

The language they use is closed jargon. Even the location of their offices is very confusing. They refer to their buildings by number not by name.

Z noted that for the last budget he recommended that the government not instate the use of vouchers to replace cheques for welfare. Z’s suggestions were not listened to. This is one of the Nunavut government’s … advisors?????