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A tearful farewell

Kivalliq nurse heads south after six years in Rankin Inlet

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Rankin Inlet (Aug 28/02) - Kamlesh Chhabea fought hard to hold back the tears during her farewell party at the Rankin Inlet Health Centre earlier this month.

Chhabea first arrived as a nurse in Rankin in 1996 and says the only reason she's moving to Hamilton, Ont., is because of family commitments.

The former head nurse says her heart and soul will always remain in Rankin.

"I had both good times and tough times here, but I always received tremendous care and support from the people in the community," says Chhabea.

"I honestly feel I still owe so much to the community for all the affection I received."

Chhabea puts an extended period of time in the late '90s, when she was the only nurse on staff at the health centre, at the top of her tough times list.

She says she probably would never have made it through that period without the continued show of support and encouragement she received from the community.

"Today, we're very happy because the Rankin Inlet Health Centre is full with permanent staff. So, I'm leaving with a good feeling that everything here is safe, you know?"

In addition to the support she received, Chhabea attributes her staying power in Rankin to what she calls her "tough background," having spent time in the army, navy and air force.

She says from time to time, even her supervisors were very good to her.

"There was tension, of course, during the times when we didn't have any staff, but everybody pitched in and tried to do what they could to make things better."

Chhabea says she always made sure whenever someone called her -- day or night, week day or weekend -- she found out what was going on with them.

"You need to listen to people in the community when they talk to you and that really helped bring us all closer together -- the fact that I paid attention to them.

"The people here always seemed to appreciate that about me."

Chhabea knows when she gets to Hamilton, people are inevitably going to ask her what Rankin Inlet is really like.

And she already has her answer prepared.

"It's Heaven on Earth. A beautiful place where I really loved to be," she says.

"Rankin is where I left a piece of my heart behind."