Saturday, January 26, 2008

Seeking an Owl's Wisdom

[Lorraine writes] Life has been busy but good. The pace quickened over the past weeks as I got ready to argue a big legal case this past Friday.

In order to make an appearance in the Nunavut Courts, I had to be called to the bar here. Which I was, a week ago, in a lovely, intimate ceremony. Another lawyer and I appeared before the Chief Justice, in her sealskin sash, in one of the courtrooms which have kamotik (sled type) railings, and a court clerk whose uniform also had sealskin edging, swore us in. A number of lawyers from the local legal bar showed up, which is a nice tradition here. Here's a photo of me taking the oath.

I was thinking it would be nice to commemorate the occasion, but how? The more I thought about, the more I thought it would be good to honour my call to the bar up here with a traditional Inuit carving, related to my understanding of practicing law up here.

Then on Wednesday, I had to go to Kimmirut for work. Kimmirut is the nearest community to Iqaluit, on Baffin Island. There are no roads between any communities in this territory, so you can either fly or snowmobile. Its a one day snowmobile trip or 40 minute flight. I flew, although I swear the small plane I was on was just as cold as being out on a snowmobile!

Kimmirut is a beautiful community, with houses perched on steep cliffs coming down to the seashore. You can see the 30 foot ice walls where the tide goes up and down. It is the jumping-off point for travelling to beautiful Katannilik Park, which has a microclimate along the Soper River, and thus has the only (?) trees in Nunavut. (Nunavut bloggers can correct me if I'm wrong on that). Its a popular canoeing and rafting river in the summer, and the general area is gorgeous. There are interesting geological formations, including large outcrops of white marble (and including the big white marble hump in the village that looks like the heel of a foot -- Kimmirut means 'heel'). (Check out for more info).

While there, I had a chance to talk to the Park Manager, who showed us the interpretive centre and gallery which are usually open only in summer. There in the gallery were many gorgeous carvings (there are a lot of talented carvers in Kimmirut), including a beautiful 8 inch high snowy owl in green marble. Ahhh, I thought, owl. As in wisdom. That is a nice metaphor for how I hope to practice law here. The carving was done by a young carver in his late teens, named Johnnysa Mathewsie. Its now in my living room: here's a picture.

So here's to hoping that I live up to the example of my carved animal friend, and find some arctic wisdom up here...

1 comment:

Way Way Up said...

You can still encounter trees in the extreme south of the Kivalliq region just north of the Manitoba border. We had arctic willows up here in Arctic Bay. They have woody stems at any rate and grom right along the ground. I never would have noticed them if they hadn't been pointed out to me.