Every once in a while I’d like to share with my readers the history of other immigrants living in Canada as well. To start this series, I’ve invited a friend of mine, Ed Maruyama, a Brazilian living in Iqaluit – Canada.
This is Ed Maruyama, I’m a brazilian from São Paulo who’s been living in the great white north for close to 6 years. Currently, I am the network administrator for the City of Iqaluit, but I am also an avid photographer since my high school years.
I’ve spent some time in Oakville – ON, did a telecommunications management program down there, tried to find a job in the area with no luck, so decided to check it out and see “what’s up with the north”.
I’m glad I did. It’s completely different from everything else I’ve ever imagined… I’d say you might need some sense of adventure in your blood to survive up here, but it’s awesome!
Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut, is a tiny community, with close to 7,000 people, way different from São Paulo, where I used to go to football/soccer games (Morumbi – Vamos lá tricolor!) with 50.000 fans! and ALL Nunavut, 28 communities have like 30,000 people!
It was a really good timing for me, as I ended up coming to Iqaluit and started working for one of the Internet Service Providers, helping them launch WiMax (high speed) Internet.
Everything is satellite based, as we don’t have fiber optics connecting the communities, so, along with the physical delay, we have the delay caused by the lack of expensive bandwidth. But it was really awesome to be part of a project where I was able to see from it scratch to deployment. Something I really doubt it would happen to me, at that stage, if I’d stayed in the south.
The Inuit have been around for centuries, and I’d say if you dress up properly, it ain’t a big problem to face -40C temperatures, that might drop to -60C windchill! as I once experienced a few years back, while snowmobiling and taking off a “frozen” balaclava…
Yes, Mother nature plays a big role up here. It’s quite common to be stuck if a blizzard decides to “close” airports, schools and offices for instance, but if you’re prepared, life goes on and actually, most people I know will be happy to stay at home due to inclement weather…
The cost of living is crazy expensive… You might make more money here, but for sure, you’ll spend more. A “regular” lunch, Chinese buffet, all-you-can-eat style, at one of the few restaurants in town would cost you close to CDN$25, and if you go get some groceries, you can easily carry a few small bags with CDN$100-worth of products.
We don’t have lots of options in terms of entertainment, but we do have a movie theater with 2 screens and a few restaurants / bars. So, it’s quite common to go to friends for parties.
Another interesting fact is that lots of people have their families far away, so, I guess everybody tends to mingle with everybody. While in Oakville, I’ve experienced friends hanging out with friends with the same ethnicity, like Chinese with Chinese, Pakistani with Pakistani, Brazilians with Brazilians, and so on, and so forth. Yeah, I know language plays a big role here, but I truly believe in Canada as a melting pot of different cultures, and I’m sad to see people pretending to be in their old countries they left behind, by pretending to “bring it over” to Canada.
Language is also another interesting “feature” from the north. We have Inuktitut, along with English and French as official languages. But to makes things even more interesting, there’s a few “flavors” of Inuktitut as well! some written in syllabic, and others in roman letters! along with dialects from different regions of the arctic!
Overall, I’d say it ain’t easy to adapt to the north, but there is something in it that I must confess I don’t plan to leave it behind. I don’t know exactly what it is, but yep, I wanna stick around! Maybe I don’t mind the worst traffic jam ever here to be like a 2 minute wait at 4-way crossroad
Feel free to drop me a few lines at email@example.com, and check out a few of my photos at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/edmaruyama or Facebook.
Regards from the north,