With the debut of CBC’s High Arctic Haulers, Canadians coast to coast to coast will get a chance to see what it really takes to haul goods to Nunavut communities.
This latest iteration of Northern-based television programming shows yet another perspective on the challenges of Northern life, albeit with the usual emphasis on drama and less so on the mundane.
There have been several shows over the last decade focusing on the North – all marketed to an incredulous southern audience who can only marvel at the difficulties faced by Northerners trying to get in an order of groceries or chipping through ice to set a net for fish.
Much of it has been superficial baloney, whether it be Ice Road Truckers, which showcased the diamond mine winter road transportation system in the NWT; or Ice Pilots, starring the Second World War era planes of the Northwest Territories’ Buffalo Airways; or Arctic Air, a fictional drama following the trials and tribulations of a fictional airline, which was particularly bad television and took many liberties with its northern setting.
Hopefully Haulers, created by Kelvin Redvers of Hay River, NWT, will paint a more truthful account, because there really is a story to tell about shipping in the high Arctic, one that should open the eyes of southerners to the great cost and difficulty of this endeavour.
If these past shows’ popularity is any indication, Canadians will gobble up this newest northern ice-related show and it will be one of the first in our largest territory.
There might even be a few residual benefits to follow, such as interest in the Arctic shipping professions or even in Arctic tourism as viewers learn about scenic communities and culture.
What High Arctic Haulers highlights more than anything though is just how difficult it is to transport goods to Nunavummiut.
For the residents of Pangnirtung, Resolute or Pond Inlet, to name only a few, relying on sealifts to bring everything in from vehicles to constructions supplies to food is a yearly reality.
Those waiting for the precious cargo also have to hope Mother Nature plays ball as harsh ice conditions can considerably slow down and alter schedules.
In 2018, for example, unfavourable ice conditions led to serious delays which saw the NWT-based Marine Transportation Services (MTS), which supplies the Kitikmeot, in federal court for three lawsuits.
With air cargo bringing in a large quantity of food as well, the realities of transporting goods to the Arctic means a high cost of living for everyone in the territory.
Southerners developing a greater understanding of life in Nunavut should only help support calls to alleviate the needs of the people in the territory, starting with the need for improved transportation, but also with cost of living, the need for proper medical services, proper economic drivers and more housing.
Though this will be some light Sunday night entertainment for most, perhaps they will realize there are real Canadian citizens living this reality.
So when southern politicians and their constituents are sitting around at budget time each year and wondering why so much of taxpayers’ money is spent on the North, hopefully High Arctic Haulers will show them the arduous path to getting necessities that other Canadians take for granted.