Yellowknife, the village that raises a child

On EDGE: Opinion

by Loren McGinnis

Since my son was born, there is no time. Literally. The concept of time itself has been reduced to mush.

It used to be….

(One sec, going to flip a load of laundry before junior wakes up. He pooped our bed. I’m bak. but I ony have one hand to typ wiht.)

Ya, time. It’s mush. So letting go of that seems an important part of early parenthood. What else needs letting go of? Lots of things. Best not to dwell. And not just because it’s the kind of thing that ought to be said, I really do think this has been the best few months of my life.

Which brings me….

(Hang on. Not sure why, but he’s having a fit. Needs to be held horizontally while I bounce on an exercise ball in a dark room. Should be back in 5-120 minutes. Back. Twenty-three-minute bounce.)

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Which brings me to the point of trying to sit down to write something about it. Our young son and his herculean mom are the stars of our story. But it’s our extended, chosen, Yellowknife family that gets the award for best supporting cast.

There’s the saying: “It takes a village to raise a child.”

I’d heard that. Maybe 100 times in my life. I’ve always believed it to be true. But only now…

(Uno momento. Someone is at the door with a Tupperware of energy cookies and a massive kale lasagna. Ok, back to it. Lasagna in the freezer. These cookies are insane.)

Anyway, the saying about the village. It’s true. But obviously the village has to be up for it. And Yellowknife is. So is. This is not a typical village. It’s better, stronger, kinder.

The meals that arrived every day for weeks from our closest friends. The unnamed neighbour who knocked gently and left a hand-knit blanket on the doorstep. The stranger who mentioned in the liquor store lineup that my son should probably be wearing a toque (she was right).

And so I’m left to wonder why Yellowknife’s generosity and community spirit is so deep?

I suspect it comes from the way so many of us came here from somewhere else. Vancouver, Deline, Lethbridge, Rankin Inlet, Mogadishu.

In the hospital….

(Oh boy. Dog is destroying the empty cookie Tupperware because he’s pissed about having lost his spot in our house/hearts/minds/schedules. BRB.)

Ya, in the hospital my wife and I roomed next door to a couple from Ireland. They’d become our friends in the months leading up to delivery day thanks to our due dates being near one another. Luck had it that their daughter Anne was born three hours before our son, Arnott. Anne and Arnott. Arnott and Anne. I hope they’ll go to prom together some day.

The village supported Anne and her parents and Arnott and us as though both couples were thousands of miles and the Atlantic Ocean away from our blood relatives.

And they supported both families as though we’d always been here and had always been of this village.

(Here we go – one-armed bathroom break. Had to take junior cuz he didn’t want to be put down. He watched me closely. Weird.)

But really, I’m new here. As are our Irish friends. Until now that has been a big part of defining my relationship with the place. But not anymore. Now, I look at my son and think, he’s from here. He’s of Yellowknife.

I’m proud of that. I bet he will be, too.

Now, through his birth, I feel more rooted here. I feel of this village. And I’m trying to figure out how long those roots took to dig down. Instantly, the moment he was born? The few months he’s been around? The eight years since I first arrived? I can’t tell exactly. After all, time is mush.

But I remember why I started: to thank the village, Yellowknife. Thank you.

Loren McGinnis is one of Yellowknife’s earliest risers. He’s the host of the CBC North morning radio show, The Trailbreaker.

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