Host family - Nick Muckpa, bottom right, is visiting from Arctic Bay, Nunavut and staying with the Thomsen family in Guelph-Eramosa Township, including parents Mark and Susan and sons Brian and Michael. Joining Muckpa is fellow Nunavut visitor Bernard Angootealuk, bottom centre.
It took him a while, but Nick Muckpa is finally acclimatized to the weather in southern Ontario.
The 19-year-old resident of Arctic Bay, Nunavut says he sweat profusely during the first few days of his stay in the area, which was made possible through the federal Northern Youth Abroad program.
“I don’t want to leave this place,” Muckpa said, joking that he’s likely to catch a cold upon his return home, where the highest summer temperature is about 15 degrees Celsius and winter lows can reach -70 with the wind chill.
Muckpa told the Advertiser he is enjoying his stay with hosts Mark and Susan Thomsen of Guelph-Eramosa and also his work placement with the township’s parks and recreation department.
“The experience here is pretty good. I’ve learned a lot,” said Muckpa, who is fluent in English though his first language is Inuktitut.
Parks and recreation manager Robin Milne said he didn’t hesitate when asked about a job for Muckpa.
“I thought it would be a good opportunity for us and for Nick as well,” Milne said. He added Muckpa is learning a lot about life in the area, and likewise, his co-workers are learning about life in one of Canada’s most northern communities.
In addition to the climate, Muckpa cites several other big differences between the two areas.
“I had never seen a stranger for 19 years,” he said with a smile. According to the 2011 Census, the population of Arctic Bay was 823, and Muckpa said everyone there knows each other.
Yet despite the culture shock, particularly during visits to Ottawa and Toronto, Muckpa said his stay in Guelph-Eramosa has helped dispel some of the misconceptions he had about southern Ontario.
He was expecting to see very few trees but lots of huge buildings, and he also expected to witness a lot of violence, “But it’s not really like that.”