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In May of this year, my wife Sharon and I visited a number of communities located on or near the shores of Hudson Bay in northern Manitoba, Nunavut and Nunavik (Quebec). In addition to visiting Churchill, Rankin Inlet and Cape Dorset, it was the first time a Canadian governor general had visited Arviat, Chesterfield Inlet, Coral Harbour, Salluit and Kuujjuaraapik. We met so many wonderful people: families, community leaders and researchers who told us stories about life and learning in this vast, important part of Canada. The six-day visit gave us a greater understanding of daily life in these remote regions and highlighted the many initiatives underway to overcome local challenges and to create opportunities for northerners. We look forward to future visits to Canada’s northern regions.

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Sgt Ronald Duchesne, Rideau Hall © OSGG, 2016 (8)

My grandchildren call me Grampa Book because I’m rarely seen without a book in my hand — often a children’s book! Sharon and I, along with Nunavut Commissioner Nellie Kusugak, had a great time with the children enrolled in the Aboriginal Head Start program in Arviat. The book we’re reading in this photo, Kamik: An Inuit Puppy Story, was in Inuktitut and English, and was a real page-turner!

The Arviat Young Hunters program brings together young people and Elders to share knowledge and customs, as the Elders have a wealth of experience on the land. We were fortunate to go dogsledding on a qamutiq and learn more about Inuit culture during our time in Arviat. The landscape is breathtakingly beautiful.

Cape Dorset, one of Canada’s artistic capitals, is world-renowned for its printmaking and sculpture. Everywhere we turned during our time there it seemed as if we spotted an artist at work. The local sculptor pictured here was working on a soapstone carving of a walrus. The end result was truly beautiful.

AB_SO16_Community_4Food security is an important challenge in Canada’s North, so I was delighted to learn about the success of Kivalliq Arctic Foods in Rankin Inlet. This innovative company works with local hunters to distribute fresh, wild meat to northern communities. The collaboration provides a source of income for hunters and for individuals working in the Rankin Inlet processing plant and store (pictured here), as well as a nutritious addition to the diet of local residents.

AB_SO16_Community_5As commander-in-chief of Canada, I was proud to be greeted by members of the Canadian Rangers and to inspect their guard of honour upon my arrival in Salluit. The Rangers stand on guard not only for their northern communities but also for all of Canada. It was a privilege to meet with these dedicated men and women during this visit.

AB_SO16_Community_6Imagine my surprise when I learned that a group of young runners from Salluit had recently journeyed 7,500 kilometres to Hawaii to participate in a half-marathon! That’s quite a trip! Being active is so important for so many reasons: physical, emotional and mental. The success of the Salluit Running Club is a great example of what we can do when we work together to improve our communities. Sharon and I were delighted to meet with these young people during our visit to the Iqaliarsarvik Fitness Centre.

AB_SO16_Community_8The natural environment of Canada’s North is very sensitive to climate change, which poses a significant challenge to northern communities. This photo was taken in Cape Dorset, where we heard how the annual melt of the sea ice is happening earlier every year.

AB_SO16_Community_7One of the stops on our visit was at the Centre for Northern Studies (CEN) Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuaraapik Research Complex, which is working with local communities and research institutions from around the world to better understand and develop strategies for adapting to climate change. In this photo, scientific director Warwick Vincent tells Sharon and I about the remarkable range of the Centre’s network.