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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

To go or not to go?

BY Sonny Orr Nov 6, 2020

To go or not to go, that is the question these days. I hear stories of workers who will spend their Christmas holidays here and forgo their trip back south to avoid the lengthy process of traveling to and from the south. Up here in Whapmagoostui, we are landlocked with no access out except by air. But there are exceptions. 

After browsing Facebook, a post of an ATV that managed to cross the Hudson Bay to the Belcher Islands, using tides, waves, currents and tires that managed not to deflate on its treacherous journey. The story of this ATV floated around for a while.

Traveling by air seems to be the only solution. But who can afford charters and the long Covid travel list and lack of isolation units and other red tape, plus a healthy or unhealthy dose of local stigmatism with being associated as a “might be” carrier of this disease? I no longer envy the constant traveler who lived off frequent-flyer points and expense forms.  

I just came from a national video conference, which spanned four days, two of which I was confined at home with a stomach flu – try that from a fancy hotel. I managed to not miss the nice midday luncheons normally associated with conferences and the schmoozing normally done in an attempt to make a deal with your new friend, who happens to be the president of a bank or another giant organization. But hey, they’re on Facebook too so not much is lost in terms of getting to know one another.

In fact, it’s probably the best conference I’ve attended because, while on the road, I still had to do my job. When the moderator clicks off at three in the afternoon, I’m right back at my desk doing my work, instead of trying to jab my clumsy fingers on my mobile phone and not having to worry about the credit card at the hotel… a blessing in disguise. 

During lunch hours I munched on caribou pancake, a local delicacy, while the others wolfed down packaged foods. I was gnawing at a caribou bone at another luncheon so I really can’t complain about missing out on the great foods. While I was sick, I was comforted by the thought that I still could function even though my body was not happy with my stomach.  

The nice thing about this video meeting is that you can learn something while working, which I found great. Instead of listening to the local radio, I listened to some expert on the other side of the country, which, by itself is cool. Talk about saving money, my travel budget is zero at the moment and I hope that this surplus can be put to good use in some other department that is short of funds and dependent on outside resources.  

On a personal note, the lack of access to the south and other areas hasn’t put a dent on family life – other than trying to come up with some sort of excitement that doesn’t involve contact sports like wrestling but maybe just solo competitions where athletes could compete or train using a giant screen with the coach’s head screaming at you. Access to the event could include exclusive tickets that have snack foods delivered to your porch door and some other memorabilia like pins, caps and stickers. It might have to be like that, competing in weightlifting from your basement or racing on a treadmill for two hours straight. 

You know what I mean, something that still helps burn off the fat and keep the competitive spirit alive. Maybe a talking head just might win.

Signing off from Cybernorth, I remain frozen due to slow internet speeds.

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Sonny Orr is Cree from Chisasibi, and has been a columnist for the Nation for over 20 years. He regularly pens Rez Notes from the cozy social club in Whapmagoostui where he resides.