Canada – HVGB: A Marathon, Thanksgiving and Coastal Flights

Last weekend was the town of Happy Valley – Goose Bay’s annual Trapline Marathon. As a newcomer to town, I was immediately volunteered to help out…

The marathon was a fantastic example of what a small town can pull together to achieve: it was a phenomenal event and I was delighted to be able to attend. I was tasked with helping to set out the food for the post-race athletes. Along with the obligatory moose stew, there was also fish and brewis, pronounced brews, (a Newfoundland dish of fish and potatoes, mixed together and served in a mound) and toutons (another Newfoundland special of fried dough). Deee-lish!

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Canada – Thunder Bay, Class and Tobacco Making

Yesterday, I sat in some first year classes at NOSM. We spent two hours playing a brilliant game about the social determinants of health. Each team rolls their dice initially to determine their sex, socio-economic status and race. They were then given “vitality points”, determined by these randomly-assigned factors. As they progress through the game, they progress through stages of life and rolling dice determines things like whether they get a good education (with the odds higher for those of a higher socio-economic status) and whether they smoke. Factors that become apparent early in the game (such as smoking and level of education) affect the odds of adverse events later in life, such as illness and job loss. Some plays on the board increase their number of vitality points (such as a public health intervention that improves the population’s health), others reduce them (getting hit by a car because their neighbourhood isn’t bike friendly) and one team were unexpectedly out after a series of unfortunate dice rolls had them die in a car accident as a teenager.

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Canada – Thunder Bay, Walking With Our Sisters

Walking with our Sisters is a exhibition commemorating the missing and murdered indigenous women of Canada. It started as a call for crafters to donate 600 “vamps” (the upper part of a moccasin, also called a tongue, they are often beautifully decorate with intricate beading); a year after the call was made, over 1 600 vamps had been donated. I only found this out after, but one beading group was based just up the road in Aberdeen – they received tuition via Skype!

The exhibition is touring Canada, and is currently at Thunder Bay Art Gallery, so I went along to have a look.

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Canada – Thunder Bay, Ornge Air Ambulance Open Day

Ornge is the air ambulance service here in Ontario; they cover a huge area and their website has a fantastic tool that gives daily statistics on what they’re up to.

Last Saturday, they had an open house, which was a community engagement event that invited the public (enticed with pizza and popcorn!) into their hangar to see what happens behind the scenes.

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Canada – A Greyhound Journey

Yesterday I took an ten hour bus from Sault Ste Marie to Thunder Bay. It wasn’t very eventful as I slept and read (Oh, Mr Darcy!) the whole way.

Some excitement was, however, to be gained at the Greyhound bus terminal in Sault Ste Marie, as they had a vending machine, unlike anything I’d seen before.


pie-machine1When you select your scran, the giant freezer door opens and the package is sucked up and delivered…pie-machine2

…ready to be microwaved and devoured.

It was much better tasting that I thought it would be!

Canada – Sault Ste Marie, Agawa Canyon Train

Just a quick update on my weekend…

I took a train journey (that was over four hours and 114 miles each way) on a lovely tourist train to visit the Agawa Canyon. It was gorgeous: with “fall” fast approaching, the trees were changing colours (hi, Lisa!) and there was plenty of time for a walk (or a hike, for the North Americans…) around the waterfalls at the top.

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Canada – Bear Island and Nipissing, Ontario

Today I took a road trip and it was great fun. It might be something about being in Canada: I saw lots of pick up trucks, drivers were very courteous and we made a stop at Tim Horton’s (maybe more than one). Anyway, the trip was to visit two First Nations Reserves.

As I mentioned before, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine places all first year students in Aboriginal communities for a four week placement. Furthermore, the school works throughout the year to maintain and strengthen links with local communities and to ensure that they are accountable to these communities. Some of the communities are close to NOSM’s campuses in Sudbury and Thunder Bay, others are further away. This map is a brilliant illustration of many of the areas that the medical school reaches out to. We visited two that were within driving distance of Sudbury.

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Canada – Sudbury, Ontario

My first stop is Sudbury, Ontario:

Population (according to Wikipedia): 160 274
Fun fact (according to Wikipedia): The city is home to Lake Wanapitei, the largest lake in the world, that is entirely contained within a city.

When I checked in at Edinburgh Airport on Monday, I saw that my connecting flight from Toronto to Sudbury had me sitting on Row 9. I was pretty excited: perhaps I’d been upgraded for my frugality and finding the cheapest Air Canada flights possible…

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