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Getting to know the Inuits up close and personal

Boston
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Getting to know the Inuits up close and personal

I am hosting a young Japanese traveler, from Japan. He has been traveling for 2 years and wants to reach the North Pole. First he wants to experience life with the Inuits in Northern Canada soon. Any information how and where to head for from Montreal would be appreciated. He is visiting me in Boston this week. Thank you,

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Jasper, Canada
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for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
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1. Re: Getting to know the Inuits up close and personal

I don't think the North Pole is a place that is easily visited. It's located in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. In the past, I've followed reports from expeditions that have gone there - they usually do it around now, when the sea ice still is frozen solid and not shifting around like it does in summer, but there is daylight; usually they do it on skis, hauling a sled full of supplies. It's a serious undertaking ... right up there with climbing Mt. Everest. (And actually, it is a "thing" for explorers to do the "three poles" - North Pole, South Pole and Everest.)

A quick google search found this link, along with other companies offering similar expeditions: http://polarexplorers.com/

As for visiting the Inuit, I would think that either Montreal or Ottawa would be gateways for the eastern Arctic. For the west, Winnipeg or Edmonton would be the gateways. I would suggest googling for the official tourism sites of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories - they will have all the basic information you would need to know about visiting the North, including lists of the airlines that serve the (vast) area. It's expensive to get there, and won't be a cheap place to visit.

Your Japanese friend might be surprised by what he finds ... I wonder if he envisions that the Inuit still live in igloos and drive dog teams? I was listening to a cross-country call-in radio program last weekend on our public broadcaster .. the topic was on internet and telecommunications services ... one caller, now living in Nova Scotia (not too far from you in Boston) said that she had had far faster and more reliable internet service when she lived in Iqaluit for eight years than in the three years since moving to a rural area in the south.

This news story was big last week - it shows that some people have retained the traditional skills for survival on the land: cbc.ca/news/canada/north/pauloosie-keeyotak-… Your friend may be interested in reading more about the news in the North: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north

Calgary, Canada
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2. Re: Getting to know the Inuits up close and personal

http://wikitravel.org/en/North_Pole

Cheers,

Terry

Toronto, Canada
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3. Re: Getting to know the Inuits up close and personal

It's hard to say without any context, but I have a feeling that if he has to ask, he'll probably be in over his head.

1. Just getting to Northern Canada, even the more populated and relatively accessible places can be very expensive. For example, a RT flight from Ottawa to Iqaluit would be about 2000 USD, and that's not even that far north, compared to North Pole ;)

2. The people of the northern territories of Canada do not really live the kind of romanticized "traditional" lifestyle that one might imagine. I'm not saying he won't find someone to take him out into the wild on a dog sled, where they will set up a primitive camp, maybe build an igloo if there is enough snow, eat muktuk (whale blubber) and gaze at the aurora borealis - that can all be arranged ($$$$) but it's not something normal people living there do all the time. It's more of a recreational activity.

3. Getting to the actual North Pole is a much more involved endeavour. Most of the expeditions do not start from Canada anyway. Joining an expedition would cost somewhere around 30,000 USD. If I were a long term traveller I would probably decide that there are better ways to spend that much money than a 2 week long arctic expedition. Unless one really wants to tick that "Visit the North Pole" box on their bucket list, I guess.

Personally, I will start slow and visit Iqaluit first. Booked my flights with Aeroplan miles to save money (it took quite a while to get the dates that were appropriate for me, I was originally hoping to go a year earlier!) Will see how I will like the great open vastness of the subarctic in the direct vicinity of Iqaluit before I decide to venture further. :) There are blogs by people that live there and I did contact a couple of them with some basic questions. They seem not all that different from folks down south ;)

Vancouver, Canada
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4. Re: Getting to know the Inuits up close and personal

Google Streetview has done a complete drive-around of Cambridge Bay, so that's one way to get a realistic look at what these northern communities look like.

https://goo.gl/maps/rf3KiLRikQu

As mentioned by others, it is very expensive to travel there (flights are the only option. The permafrost is too soft to allow for road construction across the tundra and only allows goods trucks to get through in the dead of winter) as well as being there. There's been a lot of news stories about $12 for a jug of milk and $20 for a loaf of bread.

Iqaluit would be a good place to start because its a "major centre" for the north and would have services available for a tourist.

Boston
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5. Re: Getting to know the Inuits up close and personal

Thank you to all - krp329, martian24, blueskyheart & vancouverite6

Great feedback, advice and information. He is off! After hosting him the past week, we are impress by him. I wish I can say the same for most 20 year olds including my own but this one is different. we wish him well and thank you TA community again for helping out!

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