In the 10 days that I have been in the hamlet of Qikiqtarjuaq, I have seen many changes. The snow is melting and the small stream that runs next to the ‘SIKU hotel’ base camp is flowing quite quickly. The young boys take immense pleasure in putting things into the water upstream near the school and running along the bank, chasing the items as they float through the culvert under the road and out the other side towards the bay. Yesterday, I saw the hood of a snowmobile pass by. I think that it is probably now wedged under the ice on the beach.
It’s June 10 and school is out for the summer. The kindergarten students graduated this morning. Children of all ages are out on their bicycles, enjoying the 24 hours of sunlight. As far as I can figure, the community never sleeps. Many families are planning their last trips onto the ice to fish. Travel by snowmobile will soon become unsafe and it will be a little while before boating season begins.
Summer in Qik also means dust. Because we are above the tree line, there is very little vegetation, mostly just moss on the craggy mountains that surround the community. The hamlet itself is built on sandy soil that creates a dust cloud as I shuffle my rubber-boot-clad feet along the road. The sand infiltrates everything. The entrance to ‘SIKU’ is constantly in need of sweeping and there are no brooms available at either the Co-op or the Northern Store. Our vacuum cleaner is working overtime!