Saying goodbye
Inuvik couple embark on new adventure in Whitehorse

by Ian Elliot
Northern News Services

INUVIK (Jan 30/98) - It's always hard to say goodbye to a town that is your home, but in the North, saying farewell seems a little more wrenching.

Brian and Charlene Alexander know this. Now on their way to Whitehorse after spending the last decade in Inuvik, the two have said goodbye to the town.

Brian, the district engineer for Inuvik, came from Vancouver in 1989 to work for the GNWT fresh out of school and is a volunteer firefighter for the local department. Charlene came up as a photographer years before Brian and is best known as the co-founder and leading organizer of the Great Northern Arts Festival, which will mark its 10th anniversary this year.

The two plan to stay in the North, where in Whitehorse, Brian will take over the public works department there and Charlene will give birth to the couple's second child.

"It's time for a new adventure," Charlene explained.

Prior to a large going away party on the weekend, the two reflected on the hold Northern communities have on people.

"Inuvik, for me, has been a good community," he said. "It's been our home and it feels like home. This is where our son was born. When you leave Inuvik, you feel it, because people have come up without their families and you do develop that extended family here."

"In the North you get chances that you would never get in the South," added Charlene. "What Brian got to do as an engineer just out of school, what I got to do with the festival, you just wouldn't get that chance anywhere else."

She will be back for the festival this summer, having watched it grow from its small beginnings to the event it is today -- many people say last year's was the best ever.

"I feel pretty confident that I'm leaving it in good hands," she said.

Brian reflected that it was a bit strange to be the guests of honor at one of the North's regular goodbye parties.

"One thing I find a bit of an irony is that in the North you establish friendships with people and you know as sure as anything they are going to leave," he said.

"I picked people as friends that I thought would be around for a while and now I'm the one who's going."