On a beautiful Tuesday afternoon, I walk through the door of the Iqaluit Youth Home only to be ambushed by a choir of three voices. Mary nonchalantly saunters into the entrance and helps herself to my drink as she tells me about her day before I can even take my shoes off. I can hear Geeteeta’s “hello” echo off the walls as she yells from the kitchen, preoccupied with making dinner. Julie greets me from the sofa, calling me over to give her a hug. Entering into this space is gaining access to the intimate quirks of these girls, an insight into their interpretation of the world and the past that brought them here.
The Iqaluit Youth Home, is a space of the present. A constant roster of rotating youth and youth workers that are part of a patchwork of experiences, never fully remembered. Past moments of joy, crisis and love reside in the checkered and irregular memory of the building long after the residence leave. The future and what it holds is uncertain.
The girls and the staff try their best to create a positive life in a community that is often in transition. Tip toeing around family oriented holidays like father’s and mother’s day where unanswered phone calls reverberate through the hallways.
On my way to the staff room, the girls fill me in on the moments that I have missed during my last shift, little anecdotes allowing them to share how they have been doing.
“I am getting a new phone.”
“My mom and my little brother are in Iqaluit!”
“I beat everyone at Skip-Bo four times in a row”
Slipping into the staff room is a more somber catch-up. In a room filled with prescription drugs, detailed logs of the girls days and snacks for special occasions, the youth workers play a game of tag team to understand the current state of being of the girls.
Cautious tales of sullen looks, mood swings and extreme behaviour are mentioned between the reminders “to wake Geeteeta up at 7:45am!” and reviews of milkshake experiments.
The coexistence of moments crisis and joy created a genuine space where youth and youth workers can exist together with a rare kind of subtle intimacy. Somehow, both worlds are important to understanding the mosaic of youth experience.
A young adult seeking to help her community.