He aint heavy, he’s my brother
Yellowknife is like my bastard brother, a Jon Snow, if you will… I’ve grown up in Yellowknife and am one of the few that can actually say that I was born here. It doesn’t necessarily give me an overwhelming sense of pride, but much like the city itself, it’s unique. It’s hard to explain what life in the north is like to those who have never experienced it. And while most Canadians like to joke about how ignorant Americans can be regarding all things Canadian, I find most Canadians pretty naive about Yellowknife. No I don’t live in an igloo, never seen a polar bear, and most definitely can’t tell you what life is like in Whitehorse.
The city surely has it’s share of problems separate from it just being a city of only 19,234 (Statistics Canada, 2011 Census); Homelessness, lack of proper addictions facilities, and domestic abuse to name a few… and that’s just the downtown core. Yeesh! I’m absolutely guilty of criticizing the city. I have opinions on how things could be done differently that I’m comfortable voicing after needing only one pint of Strongbow to anyone willing to listen. I love leaving, but more importantly I love coming back, after all, it is my home. The winters are brutally cold and seemingly never end, the cost of living is insane, and due to the isolation most people develop a cabin fever that would rival Jack Nicholson’s character in the Shining if they don’t make it a point to leave twice a year. Despite all of it’s flaws I feel compelled to love this place, and even though I’m a horrible spokesperson (see above), I feel obligated to defend it to others. As long as I can remember Yellowknife has always been a transient city, people come and go on a regular basis, some claiming they’ll only be here for a summer, then end up staying for 10 years and four children later. I can completely understand frustrations with this place, especially from those who have spent more than just a year here. As a longtime Yellowknifer I feel that I have a right to bitch about it. Fuck, I’ve earned it, my frostbite says so… And just like a bastard brother, I feel like I’m entitled to have my own opinion about them, but I will be damned if I’m going to tolerate the same from a stranger… Like the old saying goes “blood is thicker than most Torontonians” Or something like that.
Experience the East Arm of Great Slave Lake, then tell me it sucks not to have a Starbucks here. Enjoy Folk On the Rocks, then tell me the music scene is a joke. Watch the aurora borealis from the comfort of your very own deck, and then you can complain of the temperature in September. It drives me absolutely insane when people won’t even give this place a chance because it’s different then what they are used to. Yep, it’s different up here, duh, moving on… That’s why this place can be so great, you can choose to make it what you want. If you choose to surround yourself with only the shitty things Yellowknife has to offer by making generalizations to facilitate your choice to not engage, chances are you won’t be enjoying your stay… OR you can stop holding on to everything you know from wherever the hell it is that you came from and actually partake in some of the distinctive Yellowknife traditions and the awesome adventures that go along with them… You just may find yourself missing your pumpkin spice lattes less (plus you can still get them here, but instead of a global chain, you’ll have to support a local business :S)
Trust me, I hate being this positive about anything… I don’t necessarily love being put into a position where I feel the need to defend this place, but if you’re going to blindly pick a fight with Yellowknife, you’re picking a fight with me.
Now don’t we all feel better?… just remember, bundle up, and try the fish!