Every Canadian needs to experience Canada’s North and every Canadian needs to know that going north of the 60th parallel - from Western Canada to the Eastern Arctic - is a completely different, unique and rich experience.
In October 2015, I travelled to Nunavut for the first time with work. Having studied the region on my wall map and reading up on temperature, language, Inuit culture and amenities, I was not prepared for the anxiety I experienced sitting in YOW, visualizing the flight, the scenery of the Arctic Ocean, glaciers and a land without trees.
Within 2 hours, I sited my first glacier for the brilliant, fluorescent turquoise glowing object from the ocean and through the thin cloud cover. Photography from the air captured the memory but did not do justice the first-hand experience.
Landing in Iqaluit, my first glimpse of a community - hard to miss - was a bright yellow Airport, of which I was soon to learn, was one of many brightly coloured buildings. Vibrantly coloured homes is clearly a strategy to add colour in the lengthy season of snow and dusk.
In my few short days I experienced language, culture, brainstorming during workshops in full-on Inuktitut (beautiful), generosity of spirit in my Inuit colleagues, resiliency like I have never experienced and, as prevails across the rest of the north - a great deal of healing and growing to do.
Canadians can be a part of this healing and growing story. Through tourism, we are able to explore and become stewards for rural and remote Canada and the corners of our country not on the beaten path. A trip to the north can impact economies in real time for Inuit people, and frankly, any remote or rural community, southern town or major city - but most instantly - the remote and northern regions of Canada.
The greatest barrier to Canadians exploring our country is the cost of air travel. As a dear friend once coined the phrase, a smorgasbord of fees and taxes that is the air travel industry, it’s these costs that separate Canada from being a contender on a global competitiveness scale. How do we impress policy and legislation wizards to see this domestic travel and impact potential? What if Canadians could have more affordable access to our own country? Could we play a part in growing our own national economy? Do we have a responsibility to travel and explore our nations amazing places and support sustainability from coast to coast to coast?
I am going to submit a resounding yes, and not just for Iqaluit, but for every community and culture that defines this phenomenal place will call home. Where in Canada would you explore if air travel were more affordable?