Monday, January 21, 2013

A Response to Anonymous

We received a comment on the blog over the weekend that we would like to address since it's really been bothering us. We decided that instead of responding in the comments section, it was important to address it in its own post.


The comment:

"Hello thanks for all your stories. I've read your entire blog today as I am strongly considering embarking on my own journey to Nunavut. I see there is allot of valuable information for one who is seeking a greater understanding of the logistics and process of moving. I've read sooo very much about your own luxuries of fine foods and wine, but only a few sentences about the lack of affordable nutritious food for the locals. Do you think this portrays insensitivity? Perhaps self-interested blogs like this one add to the negative stigma that people who go up temporarily, take incredible amounts of government money, live in cozy homes large enough to house 3families, limit their relations to other outsiders, dont get involved with the community, and dont care to be integrated into the beautiful culture? Isnt there more to be said about the experience of being closer to nature, and developing a greater sense of community spirit through humbleness and sharing and less to be said about extravagant food hoarding? These anecdotal tales are yes heart warming for some, but consider how offensive it may be to the locals. I feel it is difficult to gain trust and respect of the people, if all that is being presented is selfish ambition. I want to go North to contribute to the greater good of the communities with an understanding of the cultural differences and a sensitivity for the Serious issues that are at hand, such as STARVATION. If you cannot afford asparagus, think of those with empty bellies please. Consider the veiwpoints of your neighbours that are born and raised in the community you know call home."

Our response:

Firstly, we are glad that you stumbled upon our little blog in the vastness of the internet while you were researching a possible move to Nunavut. Though we do offer tips and anecdotes in our posts, this is by no means a comprehensive guide to living in the territory. We only write what we've experienced and of things we are willing to share. We do not claim to know everything about living here, nor do we wish to do so. We write to share our personal experiences as we come across them, so we can offer a mere glimpse into how we feel moving from the south to the north.

You say we don't speak of the food issues that the people of the north face, but that's exactly what we do in our post, Feeding the North. Yes, we often speak of the food we eat and the stocking up we do, but isn't that in itself a reference to how expensive it is to live here? We say that we stock up on food from the south - because the food here is pricey. What you call "extravagant food hoarding" is us being resourceful in finding alternative methods to spend the *same* amount of money and getting 3-5 times the quantity of food to last us months at a time vs. a week or two. Your idea of us being insensitive because we stock up is a correlation that we don't understand - we aren't buying the food and throwing it out to rub salt in wounds, these are things we use and consume on a daily basis in the privacy of our own home. In every case to date, we find our suppliers and distributors based on recommendations from the locals who use the services themselves.

In your comment you also make a lot of presumptions about us and the people within our community. You cannot claim to know what everyone thinks, nor are you privy to what we do ourselves. A blog is a snapshot of what we choose to share of our experiences and not the full story. We do not talk of the significant amount of food that we have donated to food drives, the gifts we gave to friends (who are locals) during the holidays, how active we are on various groups and committees that speak out against the high prices of food in the north, or the many other things we choose to do with our time and resources within our community, but do not assume that it does not happen and call us "selfish" and "self-interested." It is dangerous to make assumptions of people you do not know based on a very narrow view into our lives.

We applaud you for wanting to "go North to contribute to the greater good of the communities with an understanding of the cultural differences and a sensitivity for the Serious issues that are at hand, such as STARVATION." We too, are here with an understanding of the cultural differences and are sensitive to the serious issues - we just choose not to talk about it in every post we write. We choose not to talk about our past experiences such as Jeff volunteering in Africa for a year where he experienced firsthand "Serious issues" that were truly horrific, nor working for World Vision and volunteering our time to 30 hour famines to raise money for matters like "STARVATION." So yes, we are quite aware and quite active in bringing awareness to these issues, but we have chosen to not use this forum to discuss these matters. It does not mean we are not aware of what happens in the world and in our own communities. For instance, there are over 33,000 homeless people in Canada and another 6,000,000 in the United States of America. If we were to apply your logic and your definition of offensiveness, anyone in North America who talks about their house or where they live is being insensitive. Do you know every person that lives in your community? There are probably people who have many problems in your very own backyard that you don't even know. Would it make you insensitive to go to work if one of your neighbours lost their jobs? Would it offend someone on your street if you had a nice meal for dinner and they didn't? These are the assumptions you are implying with your comment, so if it doesn't make sense to you, perhaps it doesn't make sense for us.

This blog is by no means a political soapbox or an official how-to on living in the north. It is simply us documenting certain aspects of our time here and sharing a fraction of our life. You are welcome to continue reading, and we hope you do. Not every post will be about what we're having for dinner, nor will they always be a lesson to be taught/learned either. Whatever direction our experiences lead us, be it towards the kitchen to bake cookies, or out on the land to peek at some caribou, we will continue to write about how we choose to be living in the north.

- L & J

21 comments:

  1. What a dink. Srsly.

    -greg

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  2. um, yeah - like the person who wrote that knows you two AT ALL! And for those who "boast" about all the charities they give to or hours of volunteer work they do or how they are helping everyone, doesn't that kinda defeat the point? "Hey, look how great IIIIIII AM!!! Aren't I great for doing this great stuff and caring????" Give me a break. That person need to spend their time better.

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  3. Perhaps your critic's time would be better spent helping the starving and unfortunate than trolling the blog of two very nice people such as yourselves that don't deserve it.

    - Brooke (And I'm sure Beata would agree)

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  4. Well written reply J&L although I don't feel 'anonymous' deserved such detail into your personal life. The people that know you already know how wonderful you are and we're the loyal readers of your blog.

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  5. The person who wrote that critique is in for a serious culture shock when they do "embark on their journey to the North". The whole tone of the criticism smacks of self-righteous, indignant idealism that will be in for a rude shock when / if he writer ever gets here. It never pays to make disparaging comments when not in possession of the facts and, clearly, this individual has little or no understanding of what it means to live in the North. We do NOT take "incredible amounts of government money" nor do we live in houses that are vastly different from those occupied by the locals. Many of us "southerners" contribute in significant ways to the community at large and make determined efforts to learn as much about the culture, language and customs as we can. The writer should climb down from the high horse he/she is on and not make assumptions about our life in the North that are not substantiated by the facts.

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  6. (1) Wow thank you for your powerful response. Just to clarify, by no means was I attacking you personally as I reread my words I can see how you took it that way. And I sincerely apologize for coming off as super harsh. I actually came across your blog, first reading "feeding the north", was impressed by your words and continued reading anticipating more to be said about the current food crisis for the people of the arctic. I have no doubt that you have both lived very honourable lives and have contributed greatly to others in this world. I respect that you are not using this blog as a platform to voice political opinions.

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  7. (2) My words were ending with question marks, and should not be taken as my own perception. I was hoping to advocate for those who may smile at the grocery store but have deep rooted resentment towards "outsiders" because of the high wages paid and the benefits given to temporary employees of the north but not the Inuit who are struggling to survive in an ever-changing world.

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  8. (3) Im so sorry to go on a passionate rant on your blog, I understand that it was inappropriate & my point missed the mark.
    Over the years, I have gained alot of insight into the troubles occuring up there. I myself have been targetted as an outsider who will never understand the multigenerational ideas passed on that the culture will not be preserved as long as people keep coming from the south to take the jobs that the Inuit should be trained to do. I honestly have my own fears that when I come up I will be misperceived as one with selfish ambition to make fifty+/hr and just peace out when Ive filled my bank account. It is NOT my logic or definition of offensiveness, it is the attitude which some of my Inuit friends have shared with me.

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  9. (4) And believe me when I say it has taken many conversations, much honesty, openness and patience on all parts to bridge the cross-cultural gap.
    It isnt a pissing contest of who has made a more substantial contribution to the issue of starvation, but I thought I should add that I have also participated in numerous 30hr famines, volunteered overseas and do work here at home in soupkitchens and foodbanks. I agree that it is distasteful when people take part of such things as an ego boost and not for the greater good. Anyways, ill stop rambling on.

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  10. (5) I absolutly agree that I am in for a huge culture shock when I live there, it is much different than going up for a few weeks at a time. Im not claiming to be a rocket scientist on these issues.
    I just wanted you to know that I really feel awful for the grief I caused with my words. And I will not be making any more comments to unintentionally evok e negativity. Just in hearing your response, I am confident that you will have a very positive impact on your new community and they are lucky to have you there. Best wishes on your continued journey.

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    1. I am sure your "confidence" in Jeff and Lily's impact on the community is very uplifting for them. I, on the other hand, find the tone of your comments to be patronizing and somewhat arrogant.

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  11. Anonymous seems to infer that all Inuit are helpless victims or at least that's the sense I get from reading the original comment. Many Nunavummuit I know would take great offense to this.

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  12. Does no one understand what a social stigma refers to? There is alot of validity if you read the words in context. Hmm. Interesting.

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  13. I really wish people would proof read their work after typing it. I always do to ensure my point is clear and coming across the way I want. Again, Jeff & Lily, don't change the way you write your blog - we all love it and we all love you, just the way you are and the way your blog is. No need to mention any of your volunteerism, aid or anything of the sort as we know who you are and you don't need to prove anything to anyone. Maybe when "Anonymous" arrives, you could all meet. And yes that's right, NO ONE understands what a social stigma refers to. oy.

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  14. I hope negative comments like the aforementioned don't deter you from continuing on writing your blog.
    I was born and raised in Iqaluit, Nunavut, and am still a resident. I like reading your blog because the difference in perspective, as you guys are "newbies", is very refreshing and fun to read (I never had the chance to view Nunavut through new eyes).
    Thank you and keep up the good work :)

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    1. Thank you for your compliments and support! It's nice to know that our blog is enjoyed, and we will happily continue to share our experiences as we live in Nunavut. :)

      I was just in Iqaluit in October and it's very different from Baker!!

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  15. This Anonymous commenter refers to "cozy homes large enough to house 3 families". I'm very curious as to where exactly these are located as I never actually came across one during the years I lived there.

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  16. I love your blog, I came across it in a search about Nunatut. I live in Pennsylvania and have not traveled the world much but have compassion for those who have it hard in this world and being part Native American (1/4 Seminole) I feel drawn toward those who struggle in Native communities. I love your blog and I prayerfully will someday move to Alaska thats my dream. I pray for the cause of the food prices and the people of Nunavut to continue to live the way their previous generations did. God bless you and thanks again!

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    1. Welcome to our blog and thank you for the compliments! We are happy to write about our lives and experiences for as long as we are in the North to let people from the "south" be able to experience it as well!

      Hope you continue to read and follow our journey! :)

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  17. Good for you... you diplomatically (and without saying the phrase) dealt with Anonymous' paternalistic "missionary" (albeit in its modern form) attitude which has and continues to to cause so much harm across the North.

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    1. I am suprised at your response, sir. At what point did you hear a paternalistic missionary attitude in my words? I am a young woman in my 20s. I will raise my children speaking inuktitut & their father will teach them traditional hunting and fishing methods. I am not a sociologist and am not a religous girl. Im not looking to force change on anyone, I simply was trying to address the fact that there are major concerns with food accesability and housing shortages. Why does everyone have to get their backs up against a wall and become defensive that Ive acknowledged certian negative stigmas that do exist? I know how limited the options for postsecondary education are for Inuit residents. My man has been forced to travel south to get his education at his own expense. It is entirely frusterating because when I go up all my flights are paid for and get my wage for hours spent travelling. Seems kind of backwards to me. Its obvious this blog is not the place to talk about these issues, but I am very interested to hear how you think my words are harmful. Thank you.

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