Every morning when I leave the apartment, I look left down Omingmak Street toward the shoreline and search for any hint of sunlight greeting the open waters of the bay. There hasn’t been much sun since my arrival but daylight length has remained adequate enough that even the most blustery days have given the essence of brightness.
Slowly, slowly, I am adding warmer and more practical clothing to my 500 metre commute to work. First came the crampons. This decision came as a result of a good solid fall in the middle of the icy road. The laughter that overtook me as I lay spread eagle on the ground was a strange scene for the passerbys who asked, in horror, if I was ok. In addition to the crampons, a winter hat joined the party about a week ago and just yesterday, I upgraded from hiking shoes to Baffin boots when I finally admitted to my wet socks that the snow was indeed deeper than my ankles.
The last few days have felt colder. The temperatures are dipping close to -20°C now with windchill and the snow has been unrelenting. I caught my first flu this past weekend since spring of 2016 and it has been a miserable few days, for sure. Yesterday was the first day that felt notably shorter than the rest. My sources at timeanddate.com tell me that each day that passes, Cambridge Bay loses around 8 minutes of daylight.
The open waters of the bay that have previously met my morning glances have started changing. They are becoming still and solid, frozen in time until next summer season. The early winter is beginning to affect other aspects of life in the north. Cambridge Bay was one of three communities to make the news this week after a government-run barge, carrying millions of dollars worth of personal and municipal supplies, was cancelled after becoming stranded in Tuktoyatuk as a result of heavy sea ice. The communities of Cambridge Bay, Kugluktuk, and Paulatuk rely on this annual barge for delivery of everything from personal food and effects, business and building equipment, water treatment chemicals, hunting supplies, and vehicles.
This isn’t the first time a barge cancellation has affected the Kitikmeot region but it doesn’t make it any less devastating for the 3,000 people residing here. The Kitikmeot Chamber of Commerce held a meeting tonight in Cambridge Bay and is working hard to identify the next steps needed to advocate for its community members.