It forced them to go outside during the darkest months of the year, when the sun barely crosses the horizon and people retreat to their homes. For women who curled, retreating was not an option, as the team depended on them.
“They know they have to get out,” said Mrs. Mair. “If they stay at home, they are unwell.”
The communities of the Northwest Territories, with populations descended from Indigenous and White settler families, stand out for their struggles with mental health, which in many cases is linked to Canada’s damaging colonial history.
This is a familiar story for Mrs. Lennie, the daughter of an Inuvialuit man and white woman who moved to the far north as a nurse. At the age of seven, Ms Lennie’s father was sent to a residential school for the purpose of “westernizing” him, taught by priests and nuns who punished him for using his native language, she said.
He learned silence there, and it stayed with him as an adult.
“You didn’t talk, you didn’t cry, you didn’t have any emotion,” she said. “You grew up in a system that learned that from you.”
She can’t remember anyone talking about mental health growing up, even after her uncle and then her cousin died by suicide. That history has passed into a third generation, she said, children growing up around addiction and violence and paying for what happened to their parents. She carries images of the dog tags her uncle and grandmother were made to wear, the “Eskimo IDs.”
But when Mrs. Lennie tried to live in the south, she couldn’t wait to get back. She hated traffic and pollution. She was used to being near water. Her husband, who is from Tuktoyaktuk, on the Arctic Ocean, did not belong in the city.