Wednesday, November 17, 2010

North Pole Blog - Day Two, Part Three

Day Two: Friday September 24, 2010
Part Three

Resolute Bay, Nunavut


Feeling fulfilled by the experience meeting the children at Resolute Bay’s Qarmartalik School, Rishi, Satish, Sunanda and I move to exit the building and face the Arctic frost. Suddenly out of nowhere, Rishi pulls out his back. We grab the nearest chair, sit him down and are immediately present for him. With a back in spasm, he cannot move much and his breathing feels laboured. Slumped over the chair and wincing, he quietly closes his eyes, tunes into himself, going within to find a healing space that may perhaps bring him some relief from the pain. 

After a few silent moments, he says he feels that his pulled back is a reaction to shooting video in this deep cold. He is used to neither shooting video for such long periods nor to such extreme weather. We encourage him to take it easy for a bit. As I watch him relax and soften, I get a sense that Rishi’s back speaks volumes about the burden we see here on these Inuit children, the difficulties they face with broken families and a broken culture; the burden we put on our planet due to our ignorance; and the immensity of the global ecological problem that we are now seeing first hand on this journey to the North Pole, as we face the seriousness of quickly melting polar ice. 

We speak a bit about what we just experienced in the classroom. We all feel the same. There is much need in these children. As the grip in Rishi’s back seems to lessen, he says that he just wants to lie down and rest. So he and Satish decide to walk slowly back to the hotel, leaving Sunanda and me to go to the health clinic for a tour with nurse Jackie from Barrie, Ontario, whom I met on the plane ride over from Iqaluit. 


After a two-minute walk from the school, we arrive at the doors of the clinic. Jackie and her co-worker Pat are pleased to see us. We bring warmth and social interest to what is perhaps otherwise a routine day tending to the health needs of a remote village on the Arctic Ocean. Pat has been the main nurse and Jackie the relief nurse in Resolute Bay for years. Currently there are no patients at the clinic, so we are free to take off our heavy winter footwear and coats and start a tour down the halls of this medical one-stop shop. 

The clinic is equipped with a comprehensive array of modern tools, technology and medications. The nurses live above the clinic somewhat like doctors on call in a mini hospital. The main-floor facility is geared to handle most emergencies, from birthing to severed limbs. Air ambulances are available to fly people in to Iqaluit, but that is over a three-hour journey. This clinic is the local personal therapy center, eye doctor station, baby delivery room and emergency ward. Equipped with satellite access to doctors on call, they have relatively easy contact with specialists as required.


When Sunanda and I return to the hotel, we find Rishi resting, healing his back. He is beginning to feel better. He just needed rest. 

While we were at the clinic, Satish was with Wayne Davidson, a weather scientist at the airport. Satish is keen to share Wayne’s interesting insights. We open a discussion about Wayne’s research and global warming with Silas, a weather observer who works in Resolute Bay now visiting his friends, our inn keepers, Meghan and Chris. Neither of these two weather specialists has any doubt about the reality of global warming. Wayne spoke earlier and Silas speaks now about the rapidly thawing ice in the Arctic and the impact this is having on the locals and on the rest of the world.

Meghan and Chris bring out dinner. We happily refuel with warm food. I am surprised at how I can pack it in. The serving of traditional poutine from my homeland Quebec, a massive plate of French fries and gravy, is a welcome sight in front of me, which is quite odd since I would not normally eat anything so heavy. But I am ravenous. I figure that simply keeping warm in the dry -10C cold is taking a lot of energy. At this point, a plate of lard would seem perfectly fitting. I think of the Inuit who traditionally eat whale blubber. That seems now like the perfect food up here, much more fitting than the broccoli, milk, pop, Doritos and other Western foods that area flown in for regular household consumption.

At dinner Meghan tells us that we will be visited this evening by her friend Lisa and her mentor and elder Louisa. Both are Inuit healers. We are very pleased they are willing to stop by and share with us. They are coming in response to my request yesterday when we arrived to meet local elders and healers that remember the old, shamanic Inuit ways. I eat up my fries and gravy and look forward to meeting these two women. There is warmth growing within my belly and an unexpected sense of home, familiarity and perfect comfort here. For years I have dreamt about meeting Inuit healers. A wave of light moves through my body/being. It feels like here in Resolute Bay, dreams and reality are converging.


Lisa and Louisa

I walk downstairs from our room to see if Louisa and Lisa have arrived for our evening sharing. The front doors open and icy winds pour in to invade the warmth of the inn. Lisa is already in the dinning room, chatting with Meghan. It is Louisa who has just arrived. I feel my whole body open with excitement and receptivity to these two who I know are dedicated to spiritual healing and have come to share. I sincerely wish to learn, receive whatever wisdom they wish to offer. I know that the ancient traditions that honour and listen to the Earth have so much to offer us culturally as we face the devastating effects of our global disconnect with Nature.

Lisa is younger than Louisa. She could even be, perhaps, her daughter. But both women clearly show signs that their lives have been full. They seem to carry with them experience, pain and wisdom gained from living through challenges. In them, I see myself and other women I know. All humans understand pain. Women have faced and still face much suffering through other’s misunderstanding the gifts we can have as healers. Women have been tortured, silenced, shamed and killed through the ages and still in some countries today for their wisdom and healing talents, for following intuitive guidance, for understanding Nature connection. These are inherent powers that established religions and governments have found threatening and beyond their control. We cannot control Nature. We must work with her. Establishments may try to oppress the Earth and silence the wisdom she offers, but they cannot stamp these things out completely. Nature revolves around cycles of life. That which dies is reborn. That which is born out of ignorance will breed ignorance. That which is born out of wisdom-compassion, will cultivate love, interconnection and expansion.  The compassion and unconditional love Nature offers is evident in all of life. We are made of the very same matter that makes plants, trees and animals. We are literally connected to her.

Yet there is an attempt to silence the knowing. Through my teens and twenties I could not mention the burning of women at the stake without breaking into sweat and rashes. I have had to process and come to peace with in my own therapeutic healing journey the many memories of being tortured and killed for what I know. Now upon the seedbed of fierce, uncompromising and fearless peace within myself found through listening within, I see Divine spiritual guidance and the wisdom of healing reflected through Nature and all of creation. I move out into the world not on shaky ground but on supportive, fertile soil upon which the fruits of this journey may grow. In this Nature tradition, I feel these women and I are part of a much larger women’s knowing family. We are those who listen to Her, the Healer, the Wise One, the Earth, the Grace of Spirit in the land and in the sky that exists through all.

As I look deeper into Lisa’s face, her brown eyes show signs of sorrow and deep compassion. An awkward tension in her mouth shows me her long-standing need to be heard. There is a wounding in her eyes, which make them a bit cloudy and pale. But behind this cloudiness a deep light shines. Her short hair cut is both contemporary, fun and practical, speaking of a woman who is creative and has little time for herself, bound to motherly duties and in demand by many.

Louisa’s straight, long black hair, pulled back into a ponytail is striped by streaks of grey. Cheeks still flushed from her cold walk to the inn, she is wearing a traditional Inuit coat. Her dark, almond eyes are sharp and penetrating. The taut corners of her lips show signs of discernment. Her open smile is warm and inviting. 

I sense that both of these women are trying to figure me out. (Who is this blonde woman from the South who asks about Shamanism? Is she just another New Age flake? What suspicious forces in her would draw her here?) I reach out to welcome them. I want to hug them, but realize this may be overly familiar, a bit premature. So I warmly shake their hands and meet their eyes. I feel immediately comfortable with them. I know we have met before. My intuition never lies. I am keen to head up to the lounge where we can dive into deeper sharing. What surprises lie here in this encounter, with women that I have anticipated meeting for years?


  1. I find it most exciting and inspiring to read of your deepening acquaintance with the Mother Earth wisdom you encountered in the North, Parvati. Looking forward to reading more about your encounter with Lisa and Louisa!

  2. Thank you Parvati, for taking the very important time to update the Arctic Saga! You speak of the cycles of life and that ignorance begets ignorance. I've been thinking about that lately...because most people do not know what they do not know! Interrupting the cycles born out of ignorance are our biggest hope - and our biggest challenge! How to get the attention of those not yet actively seeking expansion? Maybe Mother Earth has to suffer for us; deepening the damage in order to reach more of the humans. As they reach desperate living conditions then will they cry out to know what they can do to survive!
    Meanwhile, I am looking forward to hearing about the multidimensional shamanic women you met!

  3. Thank you for reading and sharing. It seems that many of us learn through suffering, but it does not have to be that way. It seems at first a gentle feather taps us on the shoulder. If we do not hear and learn the lesson, the louder it gets, until a huge boulder crashing down. May we all be inspired by the cultures that still know how to listen to Nature, so we may learn to listen within and listen to each other and embrace the joy of being alive.

  4. Om Namah Shivaya. Dear Parvati, Thank you for another fascinating installment on your Arctic journey. It was interesting reading about the anxiety hearing about the Burning Times used to cause. And how you have learned to see healing Ina all of Nature-- fertile soil instead of shaky ground. Thank you for that message.

  5. Ahh, now I cannot wait to know what happens next... we are nature, we co-create with nature, nature allows us to exist as we are now, otherwise how could we feel the breeze or the noise, see the light, taste the pizza, not only because it is nature but because our bodies are nature too. Without nature, the game of life would not exist.

  6. Parvati, you have written yet another excellent blog. For future trips I will not a diary as you have a memory like an elephant and an eye for detail like a hawk. You also have the conviction of truth like a judge. From the spiritual encounter to the poutine, you are covering it all. As a side note, or should I say side dish... I loved Chris's poutine and found myself to be ravenous in that cold climate.