Benoît, January 27, 2004

On my arrival last Wednesday in Kangirsuk, Edward, the municipality manager welcomed me. He is also the KRG local contact person in charge of the Internet access. Because the Internet connection in the village has been working on and off for the last few days, Edward took me immediately to the satellite earth station in order to show me the device that he had to restart every time the Internet connection was switching off.

Assisted in remote by Jean-François and later by Denis, we managed to troubleshoot the breakdown. Later that evening, we came to the conclusion, that the device in question, was defective, that it had to be replaced and that Jean-François was going to bring in a new one the next afternoon. While returning to the hotel, I had the chance to admire a spectacular northern light in a clear sky. This was such a contrast with the past hours spent in a narrow technical room working on a computer breakdown!

On the next day, Thursday, I spent the morning providing technical support at the Daycare and at the Northern Village , where employees from KRG and KMHB work as well (I was also busy there the next day). Later, early in the evening, after Jean-François had arrived from Kuujjuaq, we replaced the defective network device with the new one and performed some tests on the Internet access re-established.

Saturday, a blizzard was blowing at 100 km/h, from 3 am until late in the evening. The visibility in the snowstorm was so poor that one could not see beyond 10 meters. As a result, the scheduled flights were cancelled and we had to postpone our trip to Kangiqsujuaq to the next Monday.

Finally, Sunday and Monday morning the weather conditions returned to excellent. While Jean-François was working at the airport on a computer that provides weather forecasts to Environment Canada, I went to the Makitautik Rehabilitation Center to perform maintenance work on George's computer, the manager of this organization. In the afternoon, Jean-François and I failed once again to fly to Kangiqsujuaq because the scheduled plane had to return to Kuujjuaq due to a mechanical breaking. We finally reached Kangiqsujuaq on the following day, Tuesday.

Éric, November 21, 2003

"Shit, it's 10 AM!". That's how my day started. One would traditionally rely on the colors and nuances of the sunrise to dare a prediction on how their day is going to be. Sunny means "that's gonna be a nice day", whereas cloudy makes you think "I'm looking forward to tomorrow". However, when Captain Haddock is your companion of travel, there's like a distortion of standard rules. The Captain relies much more on his extended vocabulary than on anything else, be it the most beautiful sunrise of the universe.

So, when I knocked on Haddock's door, I heard the mellow whisper of bed sheets moving, and then the tirade "Shit, it's 10 AM". He wouldn't even dump me a "hello" or a "good morning". I was asking too much, maybe. Anyway, Captain was wrong: it was not 10 AM, but 9 AM. I felt really happy because I thought to myself "Captain cursing, nice day starting". If the guy don't curse, day won't be good.

I went down to the Rehabilitation Center to finish George's training on Web development basics. He's a quick learner and a very skilled trainee. We covered basic Web design, text import and formatting, page layout, image resizing, link management and Web publishing. He is aware that he can contact us anytime for support or for more complex tasks such as advanced graphics or formatting. However, I have no doubt he'll be an excellent Webmaster for www.makitautik.ca.

On my way to the NV, I stopped at Amaartuavik to help Lucy on transferring data from George's laptop to her desktop. The laptop wouldn't boot up, though. A diagnostic, confirmed by a Google search, leads me to believe that the CMOS battery on the motherboard is dead (it's hard to be 100% sure, but life expectancy of such a battery is about 4 years). As Lucy told me George goes down to Montreal next week, I wrote a technical note and taped it onto the laptop, to make the hardware repair more straightforward.

Once at the NV, I had to make the access to Mary's thin client more secure, and investigate an issue with the email feature of Excel. Remember my intuition that this day would be awesome? Well... Its ending was quite amazing. On my flight back to Kuujjuaq, I split my time between playing with two Inuit kids and staring at the Northern lights over the snow-covered grounds of Nunavik. Plus that was my first flight on board a Twin Otter. Shit, it's already 8:30 PM!

Antoine, November 19, 2003

Today´s weather brought us a light blizzard that prevented me from leaving for Kangiqsualujjuaq. Too bad. Anyway... I´m really happy to stay in this small team, here in Kangirsuk, where we were able to finish Makitautik´s connection and training. Eric has spent a lot of efforts and time to train George Kaukai on topics as varied as emails, Web and accounting.

I told you before that Duane had a golden heart. He kindly cooked a caribou meal yesternight at the Coop Hotel. A real delight, not only for the cooking but also for the seasoning. By the way, that was Eric's first Caribou meal.

This morning, the power outage caused some trouble to our Satellite Earth Station. We had to do a couple of reboots to get the whole system back up.

Later on, Duane and I had a chance to check the reliability of our 4x4 truck in the famous hill-road that binds Kangirsuk to its airport. Gusts of snow and wind made the situation a bit more tricky. Of course, it would take much more to scare Captain Duane Haddock (with his cigarette like screwed on the side of his mouth). Half way up, our truck slowly stopped. A cool skid of the vehicle by our buddy Duane put us back to front. That's how we went down hill on a slope that a non-stop wet snow had made damn slippery.

We agreed it was high time we got back to the Coop to have a soup and fill up our stomachs before we'd take another chance. What followed was no better. The engine stopped on the first hill. The truck, however, didn't stop! It backed up full gear, and of course, the wheels got totally blocked. The vehicle finally decided to stop at a half-meter of the gully. Needless to say, we were whiter than snow...

Any reasonable person would have taken a break at that point of the story... We did not. We had a big laugh and Duane took the steering wheel over, which allowed the truck to restart in the opposite direction (back to front). As we reached the NV, Captain Haddock let his anger explode about this "fuckin' piece of shit" that was supposed to be a truck. We both agreed we'd better switch to walking, especially after Lucy, the NV's switchboard operator, told us that three white guys had died in similar conditions at the very same place...

Antoine, November 16, 2003

As time goes by, I realize this project wouldn't be the same without the collaboration of our co-worker from the Kativik Regional Government, our buddy Duane, who reminds me so much of Captain Haddock... He's a moaning-groaning ex-fisherman with the typical look and language you may think of. He sheds another light on this Northern reality we're experiencing. He is so much like a caricature that he becomes real funny at times. Raised in Salluit, in the US and in Labrador, he's got the most impressive collection of expressions and idioms. All of his sailor stories show that he's had a rough and tough experience of life.

With his heart of gold and his quick-waning morality, this English-speaking Captain Haddock boasts a pretty good command of Shakespeare's tongue, even in the slightest details, especially when it comes to cursing.

In spite of his always-on spirit of revolt, he never hesitates to give a hand whenever the others need it. But beware the guy if you ever think about challenging his authority! The fisherman has his own morality and habits, and it's always with a lot of curiosity that I would listen to him cursing at life as much as he can.

He would wear his worn-out cap front side back and hold his cigarette on the tip of his lips. This guy has probably seen a lot more than most of us! His good heart and his simplicity move me a lot when he tells us the story of his "fuckin' shitty life up North". Who would believe his mother is an Inuk when one listens to his New-Yorker slang accent, describing his childhood in Salluit, his first days aboard a shrimp boat, his buddy sailors, his divorce, not to mention his daughter whom he hasn't seen for four years. That's also part of the Far North...

Antoine, November 14, 2003

Kangirsuk coincides with the integration of new members into the Internet Project Team. As a matter of fact, I met Duane in Kangirsuk on Wednesday morning, while Eric flew in from Montreal in the afternoon. We'll be the three of us to "tackle" the rocky cape of Kangirsuk, that appears to be more feasible than expected.

We dedicated our first day to the traditional introduction to the various characters of the municipality: Joseph, a just-re-elected happy mayor, Noah, a Treasurer, Mary Nassak, a well-known partner of us from KMHB, and Etoa (meaning Edward), the Local Manager who was kind enough to let us a truck that works for real... We avoided the brakeless Burgundy truck, though.

We started outdoor tasks yesterday morning, taking advantage of a beautiful sun and a temperature that had been increasing for the past week. Mother Nature entitled us to a breath-taking sunset over the bay, in which the tide was already bringing a bunch of ice-chunks. It's only when you've been standing up on the roof of the Rehabilitation Center, facing the ocean breeze and this magnificent landscape, that you'll realize your Imax experiences are just an old and vague memory.

un étrange coucher de soleil à 15 heuresDuane, a pretty interesting character of KRG, demonstrated how efficient he could be. We installed the roof-antenna after intensive communication with the local employees, in order to get all the gear we needed. On his side, Eric kicked off the LAN setup of the Rehabilitation Center, where he had a chance to meet George, the Manager.

Later in the evening, our Internet connection was still not functional. A bit tired and hungry, we took a break for dinner and came back to work at 9 PM. After a bunch of trials, and thanks to a strong team-spirit, we finally got the connection working. Definitely a great collective work that can only lead me to believe this project is on its way to success.

Before I went to bed, I had the chance to witness one of the nicest Northern lights I had ever seen since I started travelling the North. They seemed to be so close to me that I could have touched them. Their light swirls away into the far sky, shedding green, white and orange nuances.

This day was a good one: we got the Police connection working, the Rehab Center done, and I even had a chance to help Xavier on an open proxy issue he noticed at the Cree office of Nemaska. All this happened under a sprinkle of thin snow over the village, shutting down the darkness of this November afternoon.