I was born in St. Anthony, Newfoundland, but my dad was a schoolteacher and then became a Minister, so we moved all over. I wanted to be a biologist so I studied biology. For 3 summers I lived with my sister in Inuvik, working 5 jobs and making enough money to put myself through college pretty much debt-free.
After I finished school I couldn’t find a job in St. John’s because I didn’t have any experience, so I moved to Inuvik permanently. Even without experience I got a job in my field right away at the Inuvik Research Centre. I did that for a year before I took a job with Matco, a moving and trucking company that works all over the North. I worked there for 12 years and after 3 years I became the Branch Manager at the age of 24. In the South you’d have to have at least 15 years of experience and compete against 50 people for the job. In the North if you can do the job, you can advance quickly.
I relocated to Norman Wells in 2006, but after a year a job came up with the recreation department and I found my calling. I’ve always been passionate about volunteering in sports, and now I’m the president of the softball league, vice-president of the hockey league (and coach for minor hockey) and I’m on the executive of the curling club. I started out as a rec programmer and now I’m the director. I’m in charge of all recreation facilities in Norman Wells. We have a seasonal swimming pool, curling and hockey rinks, and we also have a youth and elder centre and a community hall. I also oversee the staff and programming. I spend a lot of time writing proposals and attending meetings, and I love my job!
If you dress for the weather, you can enjoy the outdoors year round. For the first few years I was too cool to wear a hat in winter. In 1997, when I was doing a job in Paulatuk it was -50 without the wind-chill. I froze my ears in less than the 5 minutes it took to walk from the plane to the truck. The lumps on my ears remind me to carry my wool cap in my pocket all the time. But it’s a lot warmer here in Norman Wells. It’s only -20 today and it’s already late November.
For me, there’s never a dull moment. The only time I’m home is when I sleep. Life anywhere is what you make of it. If you sit at home and do nothing, life would suck no matter where you are. I figure you might as well be somewhere you can do what you want to do, get paid a good wage, and have lots of time to enjoy life.
A lot of people like me come to the North for a summer job to make money and then they fall in love with the place. I came here for a summer job 18 years ago and never left. I say life’s too short — come experience the North. When you get here you’ll fall in love and you’ll never leave. It’s one of those places you have to experience.