Over the hump
Today marks the beginning of the end of winter

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

NNSL (Dec 21/98) - Today marks the beginning of the end, the climb from the pit, the slow but steady clawing to the light at the end of that long dark tunnel known as winter.

This is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. From here until June 21 the days will be getting longer and longer.

Of course, in the great expanse of the NWT, that means more of a change in some places than others.

"I didn't even know it was the shortest day of the year," said Earl Jacobson of Fort Smith. Apart from Sanikiluaq, the South Slave town is the most southerly community in the North.

"It doesn't make much difference here, not like places up north like Inuvik. Our days are basically like those down south. Our hours (of daylight) shorten up by two or three hours in the winter time, but that's about it."

Zip a few thousand kilometres North and east and it's an entirely different story. Hovering in the gloomy darkness is Pond Inlet.

Hey, Brandy Kanayuk, how much light are you guys down to?

"We have light for maybe a couple of hours and then its completely dark the rest of the time."

Brandy, are you looking forward to the return of full-time daylight?

"Definitely. I really look forward to the 24 hour days. You get lethargic during the winter, because it's always dark. I really look forward to having the daylight back."

In Arviat, Eric Anoee Jr. agrees completely.

"Everyone looks forward to the longer days, especially the hunters and trappers. But it's not as bad here as it is in the other communities above the Arctic Circle."

Anoee said he's been living in the North long enough that he's used to the darkness. Apart from cutting down on his outdoor activity, it doesn't have much of an effect on him.

Over in Fort Good Hope, about 50 kilometres below the Arctic Circle, Verna Pierrot said keeping busy is the best way to beat the winter blahs.

"When I was younger I used to get a little depressed because I couldn't go outside. Now I find things to do, like sew or visit with my nieces.

This year, the 19 year-old isn't looking forward to the longer days one bit.

"I'm leaving in January. I'm doing an eight month program for school. I'm going to a ranch in Vancouver and then travelling around Canada," said the 19 year-old lifetime resident.

That's one way to beat the winter blahs.