Surviving the big chill
Northerners recount how they coped with the winter months

Mike W. Bryant
Northern News Services

Yellowknife ( May 15/00) - For many Northerners, saying winters can be tough might seem a little bit of an understatement.

With seven months or more of snow and long, dark winter nights, finding a way to keep oneself occupied is not always an easy task.

Fortunately, winter's chill has just about left our bones for the summer and now we can laugh off winter's doldrums and content ourselves complaining about the mosquitos. Besides, most Northerners are a resilient bunch and, heck, there's always cable TV.

Now that the ice is breaking up in Fort Liard and the snow is almost off the ground, Fawna Erasmus is anxious to get on with her summer chores.

"I'm going to work on my house," said a relieved Erasmus.

She wiled away her winter months with a few jigsaw puzzles.

"I did about ten 1,000-piece puzzles. The purple daisies were my personal favourite."

Krina Fraterman just spent her first winter in Inuvik and is pleased that summer is just around the corner.

"I think I blinked and missed the summer," said Fraterman.

Thankfully, she found a new winter thrill to keep her going through the big chill.

"I have a friend who I haven't seen in 17 years, so we had some catching up to do," she explains.

"She curls so I thought I'd try it out. I put one right on the button my first night. It was the winning point."

Chief Lloyd Chicot from Kakisa -- who doesn't mind winter all that much as long as the caribou hunt is good -- reminisces of days when watching the good ol' hockey game was no easy task to perform.

"We only had a car battery for power before 1985," Chicot recollects.

"So you had to charge it all day on the generator to watch a whole hockey game the next day. That's how we watched the playoffs."

This year, Chicot is watching the playoffs on satellite TV.

Carla Salikin owner of Perm N'Frost -- a beauty salon in Norman Wells -- says she had no problem keeping herself busy through the winter months this year.

"It was very busy," Salikin says of her hairstyling business.

"A lot of people were getting their hair done because it's a very uplifting thing to do."

She also says that this winter treated her community very well this year.

"Winter was great. It was very nice. The darkness passed very quickly."

So there you have it. Winter is simply unavoidable in the North and summer all the more fleeting, but if there is one thing that can be said once the ice melts and the snow clears, at least winter doesn't always have to be dull.