A Belated ‘Thank You’

It takes a village to raise a child.

This African proverb is one that I’ve believed, but it’s up there with the seemingly contradictory notion of children learn from their parents and behaviour is contingent upon appropriate role models. I think the answer is somewhere in between.

For those of you who are not familiar with health service in northern Canada, I think you’ll need a little bit of a primer. First off, medical services can be very sparse to non-existant in some of the more isolated communities. Most hamlets don’t have a permanent doctor and, for those without a resident nurse, medical staff comes in only on rotation. Emergencies between those visits? Medical evacuation to the first available community where services are available.

While living in the Baffin area (Pangnirtung and Qikiqtarjuaq), my closest stop would be Iqaluit or, in a real emergency, Ottawa. The same would be true about seeing a specialist. Anyone in the Baffin area who needed to see a specialist would end up in the nation’s capital; living in the Kitikmeot area (Kugluktuk) it would be Edmonton; and those in the Kivillaq region – where Rankin Inlet is located – are sent to Winnipeg. Look them up on a map. Department of Health expenses must be huge.

The bonus to the craziness? Often you get to see a specialist much quicker than you would in the south – waiting lists eat up the time down there. The negative? You’re given very little warning. When I was sent to Winnipeg a few weeks ago, I got a call at work and was asked if I could leave that morning and, if not, whether I could be on the plane that night; I was set to be admitted the next day.


Chaos ensued. J had to come with me as a medical escort, and Aidan had to stay in Rankin. So, what happened?

I want to bring your attention back to that proverb. Sometimes your village, your community, your ‘tribe’, and your family mean the same thing. With about 814611158_690380514469265_4141717356533411430_n hours of notice we were able to find several people who offered to take Tuktu for different periods of time. His grandparents, who care for him every day, took the first shift. Aunts, uncles, cousins…there was so much support. As our return from Winnipeg continued to be delayed, more and more people stepped up to take over.

So thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. As a qallunaaq from the south, I know I fall outside the realm of certain traditions, but this was an amazing gift J and I were given. The videos and pictures that you sent kept a smile on my face (though tearful) while I was in the hospital. Having him dressed up and celebrating Halloween for the first time in Rankin? Classic.

And I think that’s it…there are no words that can express the gratitude that I feel and just hope that I can pay it back in kind someday.


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