News, Nunavut

Home in Iqaluit, Nunavut.

It was definitely a white christmas for me this holiday season from my new home in Iqaluit, Nunavut. And 2012 is looking like it’s going to be a radically different kind of year for me. The process of getting a Nunavut residency has begun, and the initial plan will be to live here for at least the next year and half.


It all starts at some point mid-summer when my partner Christina announces that she got accepted for an indeterminate contract as a Dietitian at the hospital of Iqaluit. Indeterminate means that she’ll be staying there for a while… And Iqaluit means that it’ll get cold… Real cold.

Like any good boyfriend would of done, I encouraged her to apply on the job a few months earlier. A dream of hers, that I knew would most likely come true, and a change that would in turn affect me.

Change is something I’ve been looking forward to for a while now. And although I was hoping for something big, I wasn’t expecting it to be so… Drastic. And, had I known, I would of probably wished for something, let’s say, a little warmer.

So September came, and Christina took off to set up a new home for us in Nunavut.

3 months later I was to join her.


Fast forward to December 16th. Months of wrapping my head around this idea of living in the north had passed. The last couple of weeks consisted of serious preparations ending on a high note of 3 days of intense last minute packing and barely any sleep to show for. I was now stuck at the airport for nearly 6 hours before getting on the plane that was delayed twice. I turned my Canada Goose into a blanket and patiently waited for my flight.

My luggage consisted of 5 huge plastic bins, 2 suitcases, a carry-on and 2 cats… Who made sure of sticking close to the action, hiding in my clothes or boxes and making sure that I was constantly reminded that they did not want to be left behind.

The bigger challenge was not bringing everything to the airport, but actually packing it. I had more than enough space for everything, but unlike playing Tetris, weight was an added criteria (a maximum of 70 pounds per luggage) that made the shuffling of items, from my suitcase to a bin to another bin to my carry-on, intricate, to stay the least. I ended up having to leave a few personal belongings behind to make space for food and items that would prove challenging to get once established in this far-away land.

Moving to another country (at least that’s how it felt) is not like going on vacation… or like changing apartments for that matter. It’s kind of the worse of both worlds wrapped up together, especially in the case of going to a remote area where all your needs might not be met the way one expects them to be in a big city.


I arrived in what felt not quite like another country, but more like a newly established colony on the face of the moon. The vast and barren landscape, the architecture of schools and government buildings combined with the Inuktitut lettering made me feel like I was walking in a giant TV set of an episode of Stargate or X-Files.

Needless to say, I was excited.

It was what is considered a “warm” winter night for these parts. A typical -25˚C  with the wind factor. And it quickly hit me that I was far. Far from home and from the constant buzzing and humming of the busy city life. The nights here are quiet. Very quiet. The night sky is filled with bright stars and a moon that seems closer here than anywhere else in the world. And on colder nights, you can expect to see some Northern Lights dancing about in the sky.

After recovering from a 48 hour long flu-like sickness on the first weekend here (most definitely caused by the stress of my last days in Montreal), I quickly got comfortable with the few simple tasks of the coming weeks of vacation; eat well, meet friendly people, sleep in, play video games and take long walks. I was also initiated to the classic Iqaluit social gatherings; a hockey night (Habs vs Oilers) at the Legion and Wednesday night wings at the Frobisher.

I didn’t suffer much during the holidays. For both Christmas and New Years, we had the honour of joining up with many lovely families who have made Iqaluit their home. Their hospitality and insight on Iqaluit, and Nunavut in general, was priceless and appreciated.


Source: Wikipedia

Iqaluit was founded in 1942 as an American airbase, geographically located to provide a stop-over and refuelling site for short range fighter aircraft being ferried across the Atlantic to support the war effort in Europe. Long regarded as a campsite and fishing spot by the Inuit, the place chosen had traditionally been named Iqaluit – “place of many fish” in Inuktitut – but Canadian and American authorities named it Frobisher Bay, after the name of the body of water it abuts.

Frobisher Bay is named after Martin Frobisher, the Englishman that “discovered” the area in 1576 while searching for a Northwest Passage as a trade route to India and China.

After 1959, the Canadian government established permanent services at Frobisher Bay, including full-time doctors, a school and social services. The Inuit population grew rapidly in response, as the government encouraged Inuit to settle permanently in communities with government services.

The American military left Iqaluit in 1963, but Frobisher Bay remained the government’s administrative and logistical centre for much of the eastern Arctic. In 1964, the first elections were held for a community council, and in 1979 for the first mayor.

On 1 January 1987, the name of this municipality was officially changed from “Frobisher Bay” to “Iqaluit”. In December 1995, Iqaluit was selected to serve as Nunavut’s future capital. On 19 April 2001 it was officially redesignated as a city.


Now that is the question I heard on everyone’s lips before leaving Montreal. “Why are you going there?” (sometimes accompanied with a small cringe on their face, other times not). Fair to say that I probably did the same with Chris once or twice myself. It definitely took me a while actually to wrap my head around this idea and get a clear answer, if I ever got one.

Change. That is the one true answer I could give to anyone and everyone. Not the kind of change that is planned out and that has a predefined purpose. But the kind where one shuffles all parameters of his life in order to create an opportunity to jump both feet into the unknown and the unplanned.

Granted, there are a few security issues that are taken care of already with Chris having arrived three months earlier, so no worries, it isn’t half as romantic as it sounds. But it remains an adventure, nonetheless.

New location, new people and a new city to befriend, and absolutely no idea as to what job prospects or projects await me. No real worries there either. I am sure it will be fine, and many pleasant surprises will come my way.

As they say, things have a way of working themselves out. I also heard someone say that Nunavut was Never Never Land… Anything here is possible. I’ll keep you posted on how that turns out.

For more pics, make sure to check out my Flickr Photostream.

Pictures by Patrick Béland © 2012.


Cordonnier mal chaussé

Same old goodness in a new and improved package. The design of my own website gets a much deserved update in 2 major aspects.

For starters, it’s more white. A special attention was given to the fonts and space to allow the words, and work, to live free and breathe easy.

The second aspect, even more important than the first, but neglected for too long, was the actual Design of the website. One might be left to believe that design is all about making things pretty and minimal (and it ideally is), but without good functionality, all this nifty work quickly goes to waste.

I’ve been recently working on many projects as a consultant and as an IA & UX designer, and it didn’t take long for me to realize that my own site was lacking the #1 most important feature any site should have: Informing your user. When visiting the initial landpage of the site, you had absolutely no idea who I was or what I did and thus could not make out what the purpose of this website was.

It’s a classic case of “Le cordonnier mal chaussé.” And it was high time to get new shoes.

Expect a few new updates to come this way soon.


A Trilogy of Updates (In 4 Parts)

The website will be going through some minor changes and additions through-out the next month or so.

Update Part 0 / The Layout

The first part of the update already happenned. I went through every single project and completely re-wrote all the credits. I also simplified the layout by removing a bunch of clunky and useless boxes. And they all have nice titles now too. Viva el Gothic!

Update Part I / Visual Content

I have quite  a few new, and not-so-new, projets that shall be added to the site. To mention a few, Michael Flomen‘s website, Heidi Bronstein‘s website, Fake Studio‘s website and branding, and more. This update has yet to happen since I skipped right into part 2…

Update Part II / The Blog

I’ve been wanting to do this for a while now. Two things were stopping me from implementing my own blog. 1) It was important for me that the blog be a part of my website and not sit at some other address with some default template look. 2) I dreaded looking at eternally long stylesheets and changing code I couldn’t fully grasp.

Clearly, all this is changing now.

After finding myself a nice little WordPress theme called Notepad from N.Design,I decided to open the CSS file and hack away at the code. In the process, I got the inspiration to re-design the menu, and took an extra few hours to integrate it to the website. Looking at it now, I’m wondering if it should go back to being white instead of black… Either way, I’m pretty excited at the idea of turning towards more HTML & CSS driven sites in order to leave Flash to the past.

Things one could expect to find on this blog:

  • Previews of the projects being worked on when permitted by clients
  • Glimpses into more personal projects
  • Walkthroughs to explain the making of how certain projects came to existence
  • Some of my own personal reflections on matters of design and technology
  • And probably a bunch of links to articles on latest trends and technologies that are inspirational

Update Part III / Written Content

Coming full circle with more text editing tasks. The entire website will be revised with a strong focus on the About section which is way too old in it’s age, and too young in it’s style of writing. I’ve grown, and my bio needs to do so as well. I plan to  develop a Services section to help future clients understand the workload behind any given project and how my acquired experience and creative vision can contribute to better their projects.

It’s been a good day (and night). After 24 hours straight of coding, image-resizing and html integration, safe to say we can call it a day.



Coming Soon

As I complete the few tweaks of this blog, I dedicate this first post to Martin Perron (1979 – 2009).

Martin, if only I had the pleasure to share with you the joy of my work (and learning curve) of the past 24 hours. You wouldn’t hesitate to challenge my aesthetic choices and propose your help in any way to better this project of mine. We would surely laugh and get all geeky for a minute. I’d probably get all pissed and offended at some point cause you would say something completely inappropriate. But in the end, I know you would fully share the pride I have in myself for accomplishing this project of mine. And it would make me so happy to share this feeling with you.

You taught me a greater lesson. To share our passion with the world, no matter the adversity.

And this I shall do.

You live in the heart and soul of many people. And no doubt, computers too.

One Love.