Interview: Relocating for Work to Teach in Canada’s North


A desire for meaningful travel isn’t hindered by the need to work. Today’s interview is with Tammy, an experienced & accredited teacher who relocated for work to Tuktoyaktuk (often simplified to Tuk).

If the exotic name has you imagining sun and sandy beaches, then you went the wrong direction. Tuktoyaktuk is a community in Canada’s North West Territories and, while officially a desert, is north of the 60th parallel and has a sub-arctic climate. We talked with Tammy to find out how relocating for work fit into her travel life.

Tim Hirtle Profile

Tim Hirtle (on the left)

Tammy (on the right)

Tammy Hirtle Profile

Question 1

How did you discover your most resent career opportunity in Tuktoyaktuk?

I applied for three jobs up in Fort McPherson [also in the North West Territories, but not nearly as far north] and said I might be interested. And then about a week later I got an email saying we liked your resume and they emailed me about this position in Tuktoyaktuk and wanted an interview.

Question 2

What factors convinced you to relocate for work?

It was family. It was mostly my daughter [who is in junior high and moved with Tammy] that pushed for it. And it was the experience, it was something I had thought about for a while.

Question 3

What did you due to prepare before moving?

I had to talk to people. To prepare I ended up talking about what I would actually need. Like if I needed a deep freeze or didn’t. I didn’t need a deepfreeze. I talked to the secretary and the schools old principal. I also talked to a friend’s wife who goes up cause her son is an RCMP officer up there with the three grandchildren; so she takes a month and works up there and then comes back home.

Question 4

What’s the best part of relocating for a new job?

It the new experience I guess, that’s why I wanted to go. I wanted to see the darkness, when it gets darker and darker and darker and when it’s 24 hours of light.

Question 5

What’s challenging about settling in someplace new?

I found out it was a dry community [no alcohol for sale], that was kinda an interesting thing. And leaving my husband was challenging; that was hard, it’s the thing I miss. Everyone tells me I whine when I say that though.

Question 6

You live in a remote northern community, how is it different from your preconception?

It’s very Canadian. They have minor hockey, they have a swimming pool, they play volleyball, they play basketball, they play soccer.

I didn’t expect that.

The kids all have internet and iPads, they all have Xboxes and play Call of Duty. They had a curling rink till it fell into the ocean. It’s all very universally Canadian. But there’s no Tim Hortons, it’s too small.

Question 7

If your career returns you home would you consider traveling elsewhere for work?

There’s opportunities in Dubai, there’s opportunities in Australia’s outback that they’re always looking for placement. The pay isn’t great but they pay for all your room and board. One of the teachers in Tuk did it for a couple years. And as long as I go someplace warm my husband will come with me.

Dubai or Australia would be warmer than Tuk.

Yes, but I wanted to move within Canada first because I knew the standard of living.

Question 8

What advice would you give others considering travel for their careers?

Research, know where you’re going. I didn’t talk to a lot of people but I got a lot of information off the internet and I did talk to the principle and the DEA and stuff. So talk to people and find out what you’re getting into and be open minded.

Thanks Tammy, I’ll end this interview and let you get back to work.


Tammy signed a year-long contract to teach in Tuktoyaktuk and is considering a second year. She’s also thinking about how her teaching profession is a meaningful way to travel. Would you consider relocating for your career?

What do you think?

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