Remote opportunities

Remote opportunities

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Cameron Dueck
Arctic communities like Baffin Island, Canada, offer few opportunities for teens

Every teenager I met in the Arctic during this summer's voyage spoke about 'opportunity' - the lack of opportunities where they lived, the chance for more opportunities in the neighbouring town, or the opportunities a new school or business might bring.

When you live in a large, international city with excellent schools, universities and world-class companies that offer you a wide variety of career choices, it is easy to forget how lucky you are.

In Hong Kong there are many chances for employment, advancement and progress if you are willing to work for it. Meeting teenagers throughout the Arctic reminded me of how important opportunities are when you're young and how frustrating it is when there are few.

Arctic communities are small. Most of them have a population of only a few hundred, and the biggest, maybe 1,500. There is little business, only one school, and it is very expensive to travel to other towns in the region.

I met Logan in Tuktoyaktuk, in Canada's western Arctic. He's 17 years old and dropped out of school a year ago. He can't get a good job and plans to return to school.

'I'd like to get a government job ... good pay with benefits. But there's not too much opportunity for me now,' Logan said.

In Cambridge Bay, an important stopping point for any traveller in the Arctic, I met Melynda, a 15-year-old who worked at the tourism office. She was eager to learn all she could in her summer job and interact as much as possible with the few visitors her small town attracted.

'A lot of my friends are dropping out of school, but I love school and I'm staying. I know it's the only way I'll get any opportunities,' she said.

In Pond Inlet, in Canada's eastern Arctic, I met Bradley. He hoped to graduate from high school this year.

'Then I want to go to university But I'll come back. I want to work here, in the Arctic. This is home,' he said.

If you have any questions, e-mail them to yp@scmp.com with postcards in the subject field and we will forward them to Cameron. You can follow his voyage in his weekly log book in Young Post and on http://www.openPassageExpedition.com

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