(Patrick White/Globe and Mail, 29 August 2010) -- As Arctic settlements go, Cambridge Bay is a modern, sprawling town featuring many of the amenities southerners crave: gym, library, curling rink – even a golf course. Last week, Ottawa acknowledged that sophistication, awarding Cambridge Bay the Canadian High Arctic Research Station, a cutting-edge residence and lab scheduled to be built within seven years. But despite the cushy new facilities, the 55 researchers set to move in should steel themselves for a strange cultural acclimation. Syd Glawson, mayor of the 1,400-person hamlet along the Northwest Passage, recalls southerners arriving in his town completely ill-prepared for the 24-hour daylight, the absence of water and sewer service, the high-priced veggies, the ongoing struggles with booze, the local obsession with karaoke and, yes, the cold. “Will there be culture shock? You’re darn right there will be,” Mr. Glawson chuckles. ...
Local politicians lobbied heavily for the station, envisioning a generator for jobs, visitors and learning opportunities for local kids. But northern researchers already have a reputation for isolating themselves from the community, according to residents, often exacerbating a latent cultural divide between white professionals and local Inuit. ...
While the research station is not expected to open until 2017, the social upheaval that will come with arrival of dozens of construction workers followed by international scientists is a matter of anticipation and trepidation in the place northerners simply call Cam Bay. ... There's also a worry that the southerners will sequester themselves away from residents, as they have done often in the past. The most glaring example of this exists among the 18-member crew of the local Distant Early Warning line station. They live between the station and the airport, rarely setting foot in the town’s shops.
Posted by Amanda Graham – 29 August 2010; 11:32:27 PM – Permalink
Tagged: Arctic, News, Research infrastructure