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Court Circuit to Sanikiluaq

Sanikiluaq 1

As I mentioned in my last post, my travels for the Court took me to the little community of Sanikiluaq, which lies on the Belcher Islands down at the bottom of Hudson’s Bay. It is the most southerly community in the Nunavut territory and is some 1200 kilometers from my home here in Iqaluit…

Sanikiluaq 2

Here, you can see the location of the rather odd shaped Belcher Islands. Sanikiluaq is the only community here and is located on the northern tip of Flaherty Island and is marked in red. The community has a population of only 800 people or so and is somewhat notorious for a famous murder case back in the 1940’s in which one man convinced community members that he was Jesus and that another man (a friend of his) was God. An unbeliever was nastily bludgeoned to death, and then one follower led women and children out onto the floe ice and forced them to undress to await translation to heaven. Several of the poor unfortunates froze to death.

Sanikiluaq 3

One of the things I like about this court circuit is that Sanikiluaq is inaccessible directly from anywhere else in the Territory and, from Iqaluit, one has to fly by jet some 2000 odd kilometers south to Montreal, overnight there, and take a smaller aircraft back north to the Belcher Islands. I always arrange my flights so that I get two nights in Montreal and I will be posting reviews of a couple of restaurants I visited there in a few days.

Sanikiluaq 4

I would love to have been able to take a decent aerial photograph of the whole town but we dropped down out of the clouds very quickly and this was the best I could do in the minute or so window of opportunity I had before we banked for the final approach.

Sanikiluaq 5

This where I stayed during my five nights in the community. The local hotel occupies two buildings, with the newer part being just up the street. The older part has eight rooms and five of these (mine included) do not have en-suite bathrooms. There is, however a kitchen, and my colleagues and I bought and cooked our own food rather than having to trudge to the other building for every meal.

Sanikiluaq 6

The common area of the hotel is a bit Spartan, but still pretty comfortable…

Sanikiluaq 7

One serious drawback to the hotel is that the old building where I stayed has no Wi-Fi service at present. My co-defence counsel brought her own modem but it fell apart on the first day. Luckily, she managed to get it working by attaching the power connection unit back on with chewing gum and some duct tape she peeled from her suitcase, and then held it all in place with a rock. It worked very well, actually, and I got to use it to check my e-mail for a brief spell. For the rest of the stay, however, I was completely without internet service.

Sanikiluaq 8

Another little nuisance was the heating situation. There are two furnaces in the old building; one, which heated the rooms at my end of the building was pumping out heat sufficient to keep my room at a stifling 30 degrees most of the time, while the other was broken and everyone else was freezing. It got fixed on the third day but it had a little design flaw as you can see from the above sign!

Sanikiluaq 9

And here is a picture of yours truly outside the hotel…

Sanikiluaq 10

The woman in the red coat is Kadla, assistant to the Prosecutor. Here, she is taking a practice slap-shot using a stick borrowed from this group of boys who were on their way to play hockey out near the airport. The building with the long, low roof in the background is the school.

Sanikiluaq 11

And here is the school bus…

Actually, although this overloaded ATV was on the way to the school, I did see a real school bus while I was there in the community.

Sanikiluaq 12

The wind picked up on our second day in the community…

Sanikiluaq 13

… and stayed that way for most of our visit. When the sky cleared, the temperature dropped quite a bit and, though I didn’t check, I am fairly sure the wind chill was well into the minus 40’s. On my visit to Sanikiluaq last January, the wind chill temperatures were in the minus 50’s and 60’s the whole time I was there.

Sanikiluaq 14

Court was held in the local community Hall. Here you can see it before we got started on the first morning. The male in the foreground is the Court Clerk and, opposite from him, is Tina, one of the RCMP officers at the local detachment. The other person is Caroline, the Crown prosecutor.

Sanikiluaq 15

Here is officer Tina again… She is coming from the RCMP detachment next door to the hotel to tell us that she will be by with the truck in a half hour or so to take the court party to the airport for the trip home. She looks a bit like she is singing but, actually, she is grimacing in the face of a very nasty and biting wind.

Sanikiluaq 16

And here is my last view of Sanikiluaq until I return in late April. Our plane landed to pick us up just a few minutes before we boarded and Wes, a pilot I have flown with countless times, said that the visibility was so poor due to blowing snow that he just closed his eyes on the final approach and landed ‘using the force’. Luckily, it was much better back home and we landed safely just a little over two hours later with the added speed of a great tail wind.

Anyway, keep an eye out over the next few days for my reviews of two dinners in Montreal…


16 Comments Post a comment
  1. I got up this morning with a head full of excuses why I should procrastinate… then your workday shut me up good and proper! LOL

    January 30, 2013
    • It’s not always like that … I’m in Pond Inlet this week in a really comfortable hotel with excellent food and great scenery. Tomorrow the sun will rise here for the first time since early November!

      January 30, 2013
  2. Wow! I can’t imagine how is to live in such a small community… must be nice for a while 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    January 30, 2013
  3. Love your reports from the “field.” Fascinating!

    January 30, 2013
  4. What a story!

    January 30, 2013
  5. Love to read about how other people live their lives. Someone’s ordinary can be another’s wonderful.

    January 31, 2013
  6. Brrrrrrr it all looks very cold 😉 love the picture of the modem with the rock!

    January 31, 2013
  7. I love your arctic articles, how fascinating to know what happens in your corner of the world!

    January 31, 2013
  8. Joe Marin #

    Nice photos John! Makes me nostalgic for NU circuit life.

    February 1, 2013
    • Thanx Joe … just got back from Pond with Bonnie T. as judge … busy docket but good circuit generally!

      February 1, 2013
  9. I love these slices of life law up north. Keep them coming!

    February 2, 2013
  10. Thanks for this Far North dispatch. It looks like tough living on that tiny Arctic island. Your service is welcome there.

    February 2, 2013
  11. Paula McNabb #

    Years ago, I went to the most challenging job interview of my career, and was hired to teach in Sanikiluaq. I was also hired to teach in Ottawa a few days later. I chose Ottawa because I had ties there at the time, but I have always wondered what my life would have been like if I had gone to Sanikiluaq. I had a roommate, an apartment etc.,and came so close to going. The people who hired me were great, and I felt bad to let them down. I am still teaching, now in the Maritimes, but maybe I will have a northern experience before I am through. I have always been fascinated by the north, and really appreciate the photos and story you have shared. Thank you.

    March 20, 2017

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