From the French Riviera to the Canadian Grand North.

I am very excited to introduce you to my long time friend Gérard whom I met in High School, back when we both lived and studied in France. He is now living and working in the Yukon, a territory in northwest Canada. On my side, I am still living and working in New York City.

Gérard, we know each other since we are teenagers and we kept in touch throughout the years. At one time we met in Budapest, Hungary where I worked temporarily. At that time you came to visit me all the way from Bucarest, Romania as you were there for a job. I can count friends like you on the fingers of my hand, so I am pretty excited to share your latest adventures here.

Gerard and I in front of the Budapest-Bucarest night train he was about to embark on,
circa 2007

Please tell me a little bit about your world travels up until now, and where you have you lived since the last 10 years?

It’s kind of hard to establish a rational list of all my travels up to now, I have been moving constantly and rather irrationally for the past 10 years, driven either by the call of adventure, the need to work and make money, the desire to be close to certain people or simply the urge of disappearing from the world. New Zealand, Australia, Japan and Taiwan have been the places where I spent the longest time, either working or studying. I have a preference for Asia so I traveled a lot around that continent, mostly for leisure, returning to my native France every now and then to visit family and look after my film collection.

How was the process of preparing your immigration to Canada? How long are you planning to stay there? 

I tried several times to get a working visa for Canada, and year after year I kept on trying while my interest for the country was slowly fading away. When I last expected it I was finally granted a visa and I just sort of came without much enthusiasm. The only thing I did prior to come to Canada was to attend an event in Paris called ” Destination Canada” where representatives of each territory/province were promoting their region and counselling those interested in migrating to the country. It was my first encounter with the Yukon, represented by l’AFY (Association Franco-Yukonnaise). My visa is for two years so I intend to use it up to the end. If my sponsorship is approved then I can extend it a little longer.

Tell me why you chose to go to the Yukon, vs. a more popular destination for French people such as Montréal or Toronto maybe? 

I always had a soft spot for remote or far away places. In Australia I spent two years in Darwin, a big country town in the Northern Territory while most temporary workers preferred to live in Sydney or Melbourne. I used to work in Iceland and I remembered how much I enjoyed being alone in those wide untouched spaces, only surrounded by endless nature. So the Yukon was calling me, I couldn’t go to any other place, it was the Yukon or nowhere else. Besides I learned from my past experience that work is more easily found in remote places than in the big cities : less competition and more advantages. 

Yukon Territory, Canada

Knowing that you grew up in the South of France, how was your ajustement to minus something temperatures? By the way, what’s the lowest temperature you experienced? 

Weather is the least of my concerns. It’s not something I take into consideration when moving to a new area or just traveling around. I am very adaptable, I enjoy the tropical heat of the Philippines as much as I can bear the extreme winter of Northwest Canada. The lowest temperature I experienced? -41°(Celcius) on February 3rd, here in Watson Lake which, by the way, is known to be one of the coldest places in the world.

What are some of the most unexpected challenges you faced living in the Grand North?

The cold of course, also the isolation, the loneliness, the lack of sunshine in winter time, the long drives, the lack of services, such as dentists, furniture supplies, reliable internet connection… And the cost of living, everything is expensive in the North.

What advice would you give to someone contemplating a long term move or even a possible immigration to the Yukon?

Don’t come, unless you’re crazy!

If you would like to ask more about life in the Yukon, feel free to reach out to Gérard via email at bounmovie1 (at) hotmail.fr

If you’re interested in learning more about Canada’s Express Entry Immigration System, I highly recommend this read.

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