It’s amazing what we take for granted.
As a Canadian, with a large family and a fairly comfortable life, I never thought that housing was going to be a major concern at any point in my life. That’s not to say there haven’t been struggles, but there were always options – fairly reasonable ones at that. Imagine my surprise when I discovered just how dire a housing crisis can make it for a person moving to a new city for a new job opportunity.
For those of you who have been following our other blog, I’ll Have Nunavut, you’ll know that Ian and I are in temporary accommodations for another two weeks…and then…? Well, that all depends on what happens during that time. Things are not completely bleak. We still have some avenues to explore, but we are actually some of the luckier ones. If we are able to find a place to stay, we will be able to afford it. There are so many out there who are not even able to make enough money to afford a basic apartment.
Iqaluit is a bit different. The relatively remote location means that homes are very expensive. By virtue of the costs of shipping building materials by boat or by air to Baffin Island, as well as the short construction season (only a few months to construct the pile foundations, and a few more months before the snow, wind and sub-zero temperatures make it impossible to work outdoors), everything here is two, three and even four times more expensive that down south. A small one bedroom apartment can run you $1600 to 1800 monthly – and that’s if you can find one available. There is a housing crisis here, where overcrowding is the norm. Families live with extended family members. All the property management companies have waiting lists, but unless you know someone in the know, that can mean months or even years of waiting for a unit to open up. And since the arctic is no place for outdoor living, the consensus seems to be that it’s just the way things are. And complacency breeds contempt.
Alas…I did not mean to turn this into a rant about the state of housing in my new territory – I would have reserved that for my other blog. This is a discussion about being fortunate. Up to this point of my life, I have never truly feared being homeless. But with the current economy, there are thousands who are merely one pay cheque away from not having shelter. It’s something that we likely don’t consider all too often. Not until the threat begins to become reality.
As the holiday season approaches, and both the Canadian and American versions of Thanksgiving have passed, I truly hope we can all take stock in what we have. That we can all be thankful for the fact that we have a roof over our heads, four walls, and heat in the winter. That we can share our shelter with those that we love. That we can feed ourselves and our families. That we have our health – or at least enough of it to get us through life in a reasonably comfortable manner. Because there are so many out there that are missing pieces of that puzzle. Some are missing the puzzle in its entirety.
Don’t take your health, your ability to buy and prepare groceries, your ability to stay warm in the cold season, and your home for granted. Be thankful for these things every day. I know that I will certainly be much more aware of what I have in the future. It’ll be easier to do that now that it’s been threatened to be taken away from me.