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Silver lining: Blizzard creates an opportunity to build connections and community in Nunavut

A week in November turned into one of unique connections and experiences.
As part of Red Cross contracted work with the Government of Nunavut, Department of Education, Respect Education Trainers, Lisa Evanoff and Dana Mackie, were scheduled to deliver a Psychological First Aid workshop and Bullying Prevention Youth Facilitator training in Baker Lake, Nunavut. Arriving in Rankin Inlet, Lisa and Dana expected it to be a short layover before heading on to Baker Lake.
Blizzard conditionsMoments before take-off, a mechanical issue grounded the plane and soon the flight was altogether cancelled. Calm Air arranged hotel rooms for everyone, expecting to get on a flight to Baker Lake the next day.  Whiteout conditions greeted everyone the next morning - there would be no flights that day. The internet connection was painfully slow and everything was shut down in the community, including the schools, Northern Store, and government offices. Everyone was stuck!!! For some, this was their first night, while others had been trying for weeks to get home.
Red Crossers stranded due to stormOn the second day of being storm stranded, Lisa suggested that they deliver a Psychological First Aid (PFA) workshop that afternoon and offer it to whoever was interested. PFA is a process designed to provide a supportive response to those experiencing a crisis event.  PFA has already been delivered to all School Community Counsellors in late 2016 in the territory as well as to key communities where we have been providing social emergency support. The Look, Listen, Link components of PFA make up the foundation of how to care for yourself and others in a crisis by recognizing stressors, listening  to identify immediate needs, and linking people to basic needs and access to services. 
Lisa and Dana quickly prepared a poster for the lobby, secured a complimentary board room in the hotel and went around inviting the other people who were also stranded in the hotel. That afternoon, there were two Elders from Inuvik, a staff from the Department of Education from Yellowknife, four Telus technicians, three of them from Vancouver, one technician from Whitehorse,  a physician from Ontario and four Learning Coaches from Nunavut. The importance of connectedness and supporting one another during a crisis was not lost on those in the room and as one of the participants said “These are life skills.”  

Though Lisa and Dana never did make it to Baker Lake to deliver the trainings, the three days they spent stranded with what started out as strangers, turned into connections that will last long after the storm had passed. 
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