Cold on the Outside, Warm on the Inside

There’s nothing like a hot bowl of pea soup on a cold day.

That was my welcome to Rigolet this past Saturday, and it set the tone for my entire visit: cold outside, yet oh so warm inside. Nakummek to Jane, Inez, and the rest of the Shiwak family for making room for me at the table, and for sharing this delicious meal.

As always, I am humbled by the generosity of the people in this community. Whether it’s food, tea, time, advice, or a laugh, sharing is just a part of life here.

And as always, it’s been hard to leave. I only had a few precious days to spend in Rigolet this time around, and I have the community to thank for making each of those days so meaningful and memorable.

Thank you.

Thank you for feeding me (in addition to pea soup, I was treated to fried salmon at Sandi and Karl’s, and redberry tarts at Kristy and Eldred’s). Thank you for welcoming me so warmly into your homes and workplaces. Thank you for your passion and commitment to the research we’re doing together, as you are the heart that keeps it alive and moving forward.

I was overjoyed to come and chat about what I’ve learned through the conversations I’ve had with many of you over this past year. You have given me so much of your time, and an immense amount of your knowledge. This visit served as a small way for me to give back and show how the knowledge you shared with me is being mobilized. It was so important for me to check in and see if how I was starting to pull together and connect your thoughts and ideas made sense. I also wanted to show how the knowledge you’ve given has shaped the way this research is developing, and in turn how you have shaped my development as a researcher and the way I approach research itself.

I was told that the best scientists are the people who are out on the land. The people who understand their relationships with the land to be intrinsic to wellbeing and ways of living. The people who feel an inherent responsibility to take care of the land because the land takes care of them. These are the people we need to be listening to and learning from.

I feel especially lucky to have accompanied some of you on trips out on the land. It is on the land where I have learned the most; where I have come to understand the role that deep listening and deep experiences play in keeping this research grounded in Inuit culture, values, and ways of knowing.

I have learned so much from all of you, and am excited by the fact that I’ve only just begun this learning journey.

As I sit here writing this, I may feel cold on the outside, but I feel so warm on the inside. It feels a lot like eating a bowl of pea soup in Rigolet in January. Because there’s nothing like a hot bowl of pea soup on a cold day. Except for maybe two bowls of pea soup.

But the science of the earth is a different creature from the science of numbers and theorems. It’s a discipline of coexistence. It’s the knowledge and acceptance of the mystery that surrounds us – and the awareness that allowing it to remain a mystery, celebrating it rather than trying to unravel it, engenders humility and a keen sense of the spiritual.

 

Richard Wagamese, “One Native Life”, pg. 126

 

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Rigolet at sunset, January 7, 2016

 

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