Well, it’s been 21 years now in this territory and what a ride it’s been.
It seems like just a few months ago when I was developing film in a broom closet, checking my fax machine every 30 minutes out front because I only had one outlet in back (old gyms are built that way), and one had plenty of time to go do their grocery shopping while waiting for a page to load on the internet, taking for granted one was able to log onto the darn thing to begin with.
As a reporter, a school principal or teacher could talk to you about school activities and those students, classes or programs that were exceeding expectations without first getting permission from a media specialist in government.
Nobody knew episodes of the Golden Girls would one day have to be buried forever because they were racist, and newbies to the territory were still hyperventilating every time they checked out at their friendly community grocery store (OK, maybe not everything has changed).
I still remember some linguist from the south saying there was no reason Nunavut couldn’t have an Inuktitut steam from kindergarten to Grade 12 within a year or two, and another presenter asking me if there was some kind of guide as to what level of door prize visiting parties were expected to offer at their meetings. I told the well-intentioned gentleman at the time that pens, hats and water bottles had been done to death and don’t draw for the prizes until the end of the meeting.
One thing I’ve done almost every year as the grads were decorating the gym for their graduation ceremony, is stop by and ask six of them what their plans were now that they had finished high school.
During the first few years of Nunavut the answers were almost always hoping to get a job with the hamlet or GN, while today almost every single grad talks of some level of post-secondary employment.
Folks today are also starting to figure out that the guy who fixes your toilet often makes more than the person who teaches your children. The trades have arrived.
Most of us aren’t even embarrassed anymore to ask our children, or someone a third of our age, how to work all the doohickeys on our cellphone or iPad, and we even know that yes, indeed, a slingbox and a sling blade are two totally different things.
GN Minister Lorne Kusugak is bang on when he says 21 years is nothing in terms of time, and Nunavut is still in its infancy with still a long ways to go to meet its challenges in health, housing and education.
One thing that has not changed is the fact that you can’t please (spin doctors and government media specialists would say fool) everyone all the time and that fact will never change.
And, there will always be missteps, corrections and changes in course because, collectively, we learn by our mistakes and recognize better ways of doing things when they come along.
Overall, however, it has been nothing short of miraculous how far this territory, and its peoples, have come in just 21 short years, and don’t let anyone ever tell you anything different.
Happy birthday, Nunavut!