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Inspired by Kivalliq landscapes and rockin' radio tunes

Cody Punter is acting editor of Kivalliq News. 

The last time I interviewed someone from the Kivalliq for the newspaper was in January. The Arctic Winter Games were coming up in a few weeks and headquarters in Yellowknife wanted me to work on a story about the athletes who had poured their heart and soul into getting prepared for the biannual Games.

But by the time I actually got on the phone with Andrew Bell, everything had changed.

Instead of attempting to break yet another AWG record, Bell and the hundreds of other athletes would be joining the rest of the world on the sidelines, as we wait for a pandemic to pass.

There has been no shortage of cancelations and disappointments. The last five months have also been extremely difficult for some people, especially those already struggling.

This summer will be the the fourth time in five years I have filled in for Darrell Greer as the editor of Kivalliq News. And I am looking forward to it as much as ever, even if things seem a little different due to the pandemic.

Among all the negative impacts of the COVID-19 lockdown, one positive effect for me has been my ability to slow down and reflect more. With less to do and more time, I have tried to focus on being grateful for the people I love and more appreciative of the little things that can make life enjoyable, if you just let them.

Which brings me to one of my love affairs with Rankin. Navigating Toronto traffic during the winter over the years taught me to appreciate the value of a good radio station.

And nowhere does radio better than Rankin. When I'm in town one of my favourite things to do after a long day of working is get on the road and blast the community radio station. It has such a diverse soundtrack: from 1950s-era oldies and 90s dance music, to Inuktitut folk songs and The Tragically Hip. Over the years I've been recording videos of the stunning skyline on the land while blasting music.

It's not as peaceful as when you're hunting and fishing, but it's a kind of big city technique I learned to get you through being stuck on a highway.

Of course, there's no traffic jams on the road to Diane River. Which is what makes it such a perfect road to rock out on!

Last year I ended up condensing four years of footage of me driving on the land into a six-minute montage. I showed it at a photo festival in Quebec where I was sharing images of the Kivalliq as part of an exhibition, to mixed reviews from critics, who weren't quite sure what they were watching. It should make a bit more sense to anyone who has spent time driving on the tundra.

One of the things that has united people through the pandemic is the ability to create and share art online. The Kivalliq has shown this in spades over the last few months. Whether it's the outpouring of video submissions that were sent out to celebrate Jack Kabvitok's birthday in isolation, or more recently with the meme competition that Whale Cove held as a way to celebrate Nunavut Day in a socially distanced way.

Seeing as how I'm back covering the Kivalliq, I figured I would finally share my own strange homage to the beautiful land and the community's radio station.

I'm looking forward to hearing people's stories and sharing them over the next few weeks. In the meantime ... Rock on, Rankin!