So what does it take to brave the North? Is it a certain personality type? Maybe a particular astrological sign? One thing is certain: not everyone is up for the challenge of transporting their lives to another city, never mind one located in Canada’s northern territories. So who is the right candidate for living and working in the North?
It is part of Gillian Lee’s job to know. She works to recruit students for her accounting firm in Yellowknife. When she is sifting through resumés, Lee says she looks more at personality type than job experience in order to find the select few who are ready for the challenge. “A lot of it has come down to trying to assess who might actually stick around, who might actually like it here,” she says.
For the most part, the people she’s looking for are outgoing and social. Winters in the North are long and can drive people inside, into what she calls “hibernation.” She believes it is important to keep active and involved in the community: “I’m not suggesting you have to be out snowshoeing or ice fishing every day, but just because it is cold outside, doesn’t mean you have to be wrapped up in a blanket on your couch.”
To sum up in a word, Lee says, you have to be “adventurous.”
In Whitehorse, Deborah Bartlette agrees. She says people who enjoy active lifestyles thrive in the North. Her favourite part: “The fact that you have fantastic sports facilities, arts and culture—a very vibrant community—yet within a 15-minute drive, you are in remote back country.”
Of course, it’s not for everyone, and Bartlette cautions people whose idea of fun is to wander around and browse at a mall: “We don’t have that, so it is probably not the best place for you to come.”
The important thing is to be open to the experience. Both Bartlette and Lee say people should come up north wanting to be there, looking for adventure. There are many experiences unique to the area that can make your visit the adventure of a lifetime—and might even convince you to stay.
Lee met her husband in Yellowknife and is expecting a baby in March. When asked if they were planning to stay and raise their child there, she replied with a laugh: “We’re not going anywhere!” CO
MARIA CHURCH is a journalism student at Carleton University
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