Only In The North

I often hear people of all walks of life that live in Nunavut use the phrase ‘Only in the north’ or ‘Only in Nunavut’.  It is almost always in reference to a negative situation or experience.  I hear it in response to high prices, lack of quality service in terms of repair and maintenance, and often in reference to the maniacal crimes and situations caused by the debauchery of the citizens of Nunavut.  Certainly due to our lack of road infrastructure there are times when need cannot be reached by supply.  This does not mean that the level of service or quality of work should be diminished further since we are facing these challenges from the get-go.

Yesterday, someone questioned the freshness of a product.  I assured this person that it was absolutely fresh.  I was told, ‘Well you have to check. This is Iqaluit!’.  To me that was the same as saying ‘only in the north’.  Unfortunately, people have lowered expectations of service, product, and quality in our territory.  I assured this person that I do not lower my work ethic or standard of quality regardless of where I live.  I strive to give my customer’s quality service, honesty, and the respect they deserve.  Evidently, others do not share in my standards.  The customer went on to tell me that she saw a liquid egg product that was expired by two years previous at another store.  It may have been exaggeration but I know there is truth in the story.  This apathy towards customer concern is extremely distressing.

I once saw a chef in Rankin Inlet thrown across the kitchen from an electrical shock from a stove that had been serviced by a shoddy electrician.  I have heard people quite loudly say to clerks in stores ‘only in the north’ in reference to our high prices in Nunavut.  I have heard contractors, sprinkler fitters, plumbers, and carpenters try to justify obviously bad work with this ridiculous mantra.  To some it has become a joke, I however do not find it a laughing matter.

The drunk passed out on the blacktop on a sunny afternoon in July – only in the north.

No one is wearing seat belts – only in the north.

People smoke with children on their backs – only in the north.

The mechanic stole the parts I supplied and used cheaper ones – only in the north.

The hallway in the high school reeks of tabacco – only in the north.

Houses cannot be built this summer due to supplies being shipped to the wrong place – only in the north.

Being in the drunk tank gives one bragging rights – only in the north.

Women regularly sport black eyes – only in the north.

Children have no rules – only in the north.

Those statements I made are ridiculous.  Not only are they a reflection of our apathy to things many Canadians take for granted but they can create prejudice.  It is high time more people exercised personal responsibility and started performing with excellence in all their pursuits in our territory.

I demand quality customer service.

I demand action regarding the social ills of our territory.

I demand service without attitude, unfriendliness, or patronization.

Are these things too much to ask?  I think not.

All we have to do is act.



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4 responses to “Only In The North

  1. Every day I look out and see a million dollar view. I talk to people and they are friendly back. The fresh air blows in my face and I learn to like the wind.
    …only in the North

  2. Very well put. Being a fellow Northerner I know exactly what you mean with regards to people just accepting matters. It’s sad. For a territory with so much potential it’s disheartening to see some of the stuff that goes on still in this day and age.

  3. I can’t imagine being in an environment with that type of malaise.

    However it’s joining up with folks who want to and are making a positive difference locally. Hope you find such a gang of folks!

  4. Noah

    Many regions have a persecution complex, that things are not as good in their community, city or province as they are in others. The North may have some legitimate claim to this in some areas, but I agree completely with your assertions that allowing a lower standard only makes things worse.

    Unfortunately, if there’s a strong sense of despair created by legitimate concerns over lower standards of living, that feeds into perpetuating the cycle of just accepting it and not having the strength to improve things, thus a case of lower standards being the norm.

    I have no clue what life is like in Nunavut and the northern regions so I can’t draw parallels or such, but a community is only as strong as its residents. If people accept a lower standard they perpetuate that lower standard and nobody will fight for improving that.

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