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Practical information about living in the Northwest Territories.

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Chris's Story - Fort Smith

I came to Fort Smith from Halifax 13 years ago. I was a graphic designer out of college and Fort Smith was the first place to offer me a job. I didn’t know anything about the North back then. I thought of it as a big landmass of nothingness. I did manage to find an article that mentioned Fort Smith at the library, but many people I knew figured everyone up here lived in igloos. And the funny thing is, all these years later, I do live in a house that resembles one!
 
I came here because I wanted to live in a place that would allow me to work in the arts. I’ve explored a lot of avenues in my time here, including being a respite worker in a group home, and over the years I started my own graphic design company (in 2001), I was a part-time coordinator for The Artists of the South Slave Society (TASSS) where traditional and non-traditional crafts courses were delivered, and I’ve been jewellery-making for 6 years now. I even built my own studio a few years ago. I’ve been able to do a lot with funding through Business Development and Investment Corporation (BDIC) and GNWT, Investment, Tourism and Industry. The government is a big supporter of the arts and artists. I wouldn’t have been able to do very much of what I’ve done here if I were still in the South. Anything you decide you want to do, you just do it. 
 
I’ve never had to look for a job here – people call me. The people you play with become the people you work with and the people you work with become friends. Volunteerism is big here. I was a Brownie leader, have been involved with the Legion and the Northern life Museum. I volunteer with the Fort Smith Animal Society, the only completely volunteer-run shelter in the North. The money is really good here; you can earn a good living, even if you don’t have an MBA. 
 

I love to go for dogwalks in the woods; it means freedom to me. I have a friend would lives in Vancouver and once a year she goes to a wilderness lodge for a week to de-stress. She wants me to come, but I have it all here. It amazes me that she has to pay to de-stress. Here, the only stress you have is in having too much to do. Life here may be slower, but it’s fuller. And it’s never boring.