Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Baker Lake 2010 DAY TWO:

A little information about Baker Lake before we fly there today! Baker Lake is the only inland community in all of Nunavut, the remaining 25 communities are situated along the ocean. Baker Lake has a population of approximately 1800 people in four hundred households. An estimate of 90% of the population are Inuit and 10% "southerners" as people from the rest of Canada are called. There are between 200 and 250 dogs in the community. Baker Lake has a by-law officer who catches stray dogs and holds them in the "pound" for up to three days. If the dogs are unclaimed, they are shot. The community enforces the law that all dogs must be tied up. Nevertheless, the overpopulation issues continue to some degree in the community amongst the dogs. It is uncertain how many cats are living in homes within the community.

After an early Team breakfast at Denny's, we headed to the airport to board our flight to Rankin Inlet, Nunavut and on to our final destination of Baker Lake Nunavut. It took four taxi cabs to take our entire team and luggage to the Winnipeg airport this morning - one taxi's trunk was so full that the trunk couldn't be closed. As we walked into the airport and headed for First Air's ticket counter, we were greeted with huge smiles and many hugs by our remaining team member, Dr. Gina Bowen of Miami MB, our final missing team member. Our contact person in Baker Lake, Sue MacIsaac, had made previous arrangements with First Air to waive our overweight baggage fees and any extra baggage. Our check-in was fast and easy as compared to the struggle we had in Vancouver at check-in. The ticket agent was very friendly and helpful and no comments were made or questions asked about all of the luggage we had. They were aware that we were a Veterinary team traveling to do volunteer work in Nunavut and just waived us on through! Thank you First Air!

Sue MacIsaac and volunteers have been fundraising in the community for the past year, since last year's CAAT team was in Baker Lake. With the monies raised they were able to pay for our entire teams' flight costs from Winnipeg return with First Air discounting nine tickets and Calm Air discounting two tickets. Barb, Corinne and Archer flew with Calm Air and the remaining team members flew with First Air. Corinne, Barb and Archer departed from the Winnipeg airport at 9:30 a.m. and the rest of us left at 10:30 a.m. After a relatively smooth flight and a most enjoyable one (we were treated like royalty by the two very personable and friendly flight attendants - serving us a wonderful hot meal of Arctic char or a chicken or vegetarian meal, free wine, chocolates, hot towels, free magazines, candies and any beverages we wanted) we landed in Rankin Inlet for a 2 1/2 hour layover. As I walked into the airport lobby (see photo) I thought to myself that it was going to be a long 2 1/2 hours. I was pleasantly surprised by all of the people who came over and struck up conversations with our team members. When people would ask us who we are and what we are doing/where we are going, we would hand them one of CAAT's brochures and tell them how excited we are to have the amazing opportunity to spend ten days in Baker Lake, caring for the community's dogs and cats. We made several exciting and important connections with contacts from other communities in the north, right there at the Rankin Inlet Airport. We received two invitations to come and work in their communities in the near future. There are no Veterinarians living or working in all of Nunavut so whenever a veterinary group such as CAAT can come and hold a clinic, the people are very appreciative. I had the opportunity to meet the Mayor of Baker Lake who was traveling on the same flight as our team and I thanked him several times throughout our conversation for having us come to his community. 


All too soon our flight to Baker Lake was boarding and we had to say goodbye to our new friends. It was with anticipation, though, that we walked across the tarmac and climbed the steps into the plane for our forty-five minute flight to our final distination of Baker Lake. At 3:35 p.m. we landed in Baker Lake were warmly greeted by our contact Sue. We loaded our bags into the back of a pick-up and headed in to town to our places of lodging for the next ten days. Due to the size of our team, we couldn't all stay in one accommodation and were split between Sue's home and a lodging donated to the team by one of the local power companies, I believe. After settling in and a delicious meal of chili and bread, we called it a night. Work would begin tomorrow at noon and we wanted to be well-rested.

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