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Practical information about living in the Northwest Territories.

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Alex's Story - Fort Simpson

I don’t think you can ever really prepare yourself for living in the North. It’s just something you have to see to believe. First of all, it’s incredibly beautiful here in Fort Simpson, but it’s so much more than that. I think my favourite thing about living here is the people. 
I’m from Windsor, Nova Scotia originally, and even though my brother, who was an RCMP officer in Fort McPherson, told me what it was like here, I had to experience it for myself. I was doing a series of dead end jobs after graduating from university the year before in Nova Scotia, but as soon as I landed I was offered a number of quality jobs like substitute teaching. There are lots of possibilities for jobs here, and to make good money.
I’m now a community social services worker – a social worker –and I work for the Deh Cho Health and Social Services Authority. In my job I do lots of travelling to the communities in my region and every one of them is so different. Each day is like an adventure. I never know what it will bring. 
To be a social worker in the North you need to keep an open mind, and you need self-initiative. Since we’re perpetually short on staff, you end up doing more yourself, which can put you out of your comfort zone, but it’s a great way to build your skillset. You’ll do stuff you’d never picture yourself doing, but you gain confidence and feel so much better about what you’re doing. It’s worth it.
People are my favourite thing. I interact with a really large social group of up to 30 people instead of the 2 or 3 I’d be interacting with in the South. We do a lot of social events that I’ve never done before. I’ve made so many friends just by getting involved in the community. Without even trying I got into coaching basketball, soccer, track and field, I sit on the board of the Friendship Centre, I’ve organized community snowshoeing days, and I volunteer at the school to judge science fairs too. Volunteering can be a full time job here, but it doesn’t feel a burden because it’s for your neighbour, or a friend.
I didn’t like winter until I moved here. Winter’s down east can be pretty terrible. But here we have nice, consistent dry and cold weather. From October to April/May I can go out skiing and snowshoeing right from my door. Weather doesn’t hinder me. You can dress for the cold. There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes!

Sometimes my life here still feels like I’m on a break and that I’ll have to go back. But now I realize I can put down roots here. It’s no longer about the money. It’s about the experience and the people.