“I’m going to Yellowknife!” I announced this exciting fact with an equal mixture of pride and delight. I was anticipating a response of euphoric cheers from my friends – I was ready to bask in the glory of my exciting news. Much to my dismay, the cheers actually sounded a lot like my friend Lial saying “What? You, in the North? Your idea of nature is sitting near the window at Starbucks”. My friend Cristina chimed in with a “You know there’s no Zara there, right?”
We were lounging around and drinking tea in Lial’s chic condo on Richmond & Spadina, a post-work tradition of ours ever since we became friends. Beyond our conversation, the low decibels induced by the commotion of the city continued to spur. Sirens, horns, laughter, and chatter- it was an ever present reminder that we were amongst many.
I’ll admit it, they had a point. I’m not exactly what you’d call “adventurous”. I’m more known for keeping an inventory of my book collection on Excel than for having a compendium of wild camping stories. But, while I may not be an expert on the outdoors, I am no stranger to challenging myself through new experiences and opportunities. I had the same reaction from family and friends on many occasions of my life – when I decided to become a nurse, when I became my nursing school’s first international exchange student, when I recorded my first music album, and when I decided to pursue a Master of Health Informatics degree. Their disbelief in my potential essentially became my litmus test to determine whether I was stepping far enough out of my comfort zone. Yellowknife passed with flying colours.
So, why did I apply for a practicum that was 5000 km away? Opportunity. The opportunity to make a significant impact in a region ripe for change. The opportunity to use my health informatics knowledge as a force multiplier for good. And finally, the opportunity to challenge myself and learn from new experiences.
If one quote could sum up Yellowknife, it would be Margaret Mead’s “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” The city’s culture possesses a uniquely acknowledged readiness for change that reverberates through many of its industries. Change is not a buzzword here; it’s a way of life. With historical roots in gold mining, Yellowknife continues to discover pockets of hidden potential and greatness. Simply by the power of numbers, the atmosphere is thick with the weight of every citizen’s actions. The consequential gravitas of knowing that my project will potentially impact an entire territory is a great source of empowerment.
Technology as a Force Multiplier
The problems facing the Northwest Territories are quite different to those of Ontario’s but a common thread is that many solutions to their respective problems are augmented through the use of technology. Having completed two semesters of the health informatics program, I am excited to contextualize the concepts I learned in class by applying them to real life problems.
Moving to Yellowknife for four months is definitely also a personal challenge. I will certainly miss my family and friends but am grateful for the way technology will allow us to keep in contact. As I am interested in a career that requires lots of travel, I look at this trip as an opportunity to strengthen my travel muscles and ultimately reinforce my ability to adapt to new situations.
Now that I have settled into Yellowknife, I look forward to sharing my upcoming stories about what life is like here, what I learn about healthcare, and my overall practicum experience!
-Allie Margaret May, MHI Student
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