Hooked on the North
Southerner answers the call of the Arctic

Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

RANKIN INLET (Sep 09/98) - The lure of the North was so strong for one kindergarten teacher from Toronto that she moved to the Eastern Arctic to learn more about the land and its people.

Northern newcomer Pam Inglis arrived in Rankin Inlet two weeks ago after taking a leave of absence from her job to experience the true North.

She says she made the decision after a seven-day visit to Sila Lodge in Wager Bay last summer. She also spent eight days in Inuvik the year before, which included a boat ride down the Mackenzie River and an excursion to Tuktoyaktuk.

"Sila Lodge is a pretty special place," she said. "The people were so wonderful -- the land and the water seemed to go on forever. I loved it. I didn't want to leave. Maybe that's why I had to come back."

Inglis can't say what exactly brought her back to the North, but maintains she couldn't get her mind off the Arctic all last year. By Christmas, she had read several books about the Eastern Arctic and decided she would take a year's leave from her job to move North.

She had to return to find out what it was that had such an impact on her when she visited the North, particularly the Eastern Arctic.

"I guess that was enough to whet my appetite to come back and see what the appeal was," she said. "Maybe that's why I'm here."

After 20 years of teaching, Inglis said she needed a change and it was her trip to the Keewatin last summer that exposed her to a world she knew nothing about, but wanted to immerse herself.

Though they are typical of southerners who first come North, her descriptions of the landscape and the friendliness of the people reveal her genuine affection for the area.

"We went out on the land and saw polar bears and hiked on the land," she said. "The excitement of seeing polar bears up close. We saw a wolf hunting a caribou. And the fact that it was daylight all the time...it was the first time I'd ever experienced that."

Still settling into her new surroundings, Inglis plans to find a job and spend a year in the Arctic.

She looks forward to a year of learning about the region, its history, geography and people. And while it didn't play a major role in her move to Rankin Inlet, she is also excited about living in Nunavut when it becomes Canada's newest territory on April 1, 1999.

"I think it will be interesting to be here for Nunavut," she added.