Words from a CFA…
I wonder when a ‘southerner’ becomes a ‘northerner’. If you’re born and raised somewhere outside of Nunavut, can you ever say you’re from the north?
I grew up in a small community in Nova Scotia and, though some families were very large and had multiple branches, mine wasn’t. Other than my parents and siblings, no one shared my last name. Growing up there, I felt like you had to have a few generations of roots in the area before really belonging. We were true ‘CFAs’ (Come-From-Aways). What’s with that type of exclusionary mindset, and how long can it be expected to persist?
Today I found myself in an odd situation. The conversation in the staff room got turned around to the recent by-election here in Rankin Inlet with the open-ended question of: “So, how do you guys feel about the results of the vote this week?”
Then someone said, “Well, I guess it depends on who your family’s connected to.”
This type of statement usually excludes me but, for the first time, I realized that I was included. Yes, I looked at the candidates. Yes, I voted. And, yes, I was probably influenced by family connections.
Through J, suddenly I’m being absorbed by a huge local family. People I’ve never met know who I am in relation to someone else. They also associate particular attitudes and political leanings to that. Yikes!
The problem here is that it heads in both directions. I am no longer classified simply as another qallunaat living in Nunavut for a period of time…that was my path for a few years. These days, I’m still a qallunaat with a southern upbringing, but I’m involved – whether I like it or not – in family disputes, grudges, and lasting friendships that have taken decades to evolve. Blind loyalties abound and are absolute in the north.
I’m not sure how I feel about being a part of this; it’s difficult to determine where I belong. All of a sudden, I’m classified as part of a group I don’t know much about. It’s weird and more than a little bit disconcerting!
I guess the best thing to do would be not to rock the boat with any sweeping statements…I no longer have to deal with only the personal consequences; my mistakes are no longer mine alone. My missteps will affect other lives in a way they never used to. Similarly, my successes will be shared.