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Practical information about living in the Northwest Territories.

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Hmayak's Story - Yellowknife

I never would have thought that I’d one day come to Canada, let alone the Northwest Territories to make my mark on this town. I came to Yellowknife from Nor Hachn, Armenia on a diamond-polishing contract with Arslanian Cutting Works in 2005. When the factory closed down, I took a job as a baker at Extra Foods. After a year and a half I’m now the Bakery Manager. When I’m making something with my hands I’m happy, whether it’s diamonds or bread. My belief is that no matter what job I’m doing it is my responsibility to do it well and to find pride in my work.

I came here with my family, my wife Satenik and my son Aramayis (9) and Mikayel (4), who was born here. There is an Armenian community of close to 100 here in Yellowknife and they are like my extended family. My children are doing well; they like to play soccer and have a lot of opportunities here. I also play soccer sometimes and we try to take part in all kinds of events in town, like carnivals, parades and festivals. There is never a problem finding something to do.

I’m happiest when I’m playing music. I mostly play keyboard or accordion, and love to play the music of my country. There are lots of opportunities for parties and to play Armenian music here. I’ve also played at events like Folk on the Rocks, International Music Day, Ceilidh House, Fort Smith Friendship Festival, Music in the Park and Caribou Carnival. I write Armenian music and lately I’ve been playing with some of the other local musicians in town who play western music, which I’m learning to play by ear. It is very different from what I’m used to, but I enjoy the challenge and we have fun together. I also recorded my first music CD right here on top of the world! I’ve been playing at Fuego International Cuisine since it opened and the manger told me I should make a CD to sell to the customers. I applied for grant and now have a CD, entitled “Sillhouette”. And that’s my mark in the North (so far!).

We are waiting for our Landed Immigrant status here in Canada, and one day will become citizens. I’ve never lived in other parts of Canada, but I imagine if we lived in southern Canada I’d couldn’t do as much as I do here. I’d be too busy working and wouldn’t have as much time for my family and friends or playing music. Here you can fit in everything.

There is something interesting in each part of my life. I try to be ready for anything that comes my way because if you have an open heart, there is so much that can fill it up.