When I was nine, I moved with my parents to Maniitsoq, a town in western Greenland. Having just about 3,000 inhabitants at the time, it was big for Greenlandic standards, and the life of the city was fueled by a shrimp processing factory and an alpine ski resort on the local glacier, Apussuit (Big Snow). Moving there was probably the single biggest turning point of my life. The wilderness provided a giant playground for me and the friends I found there, and I was adopted by Mother Arctic with an embrace of her silent, spacious magnificence.

Today Maniitsoq is depopulating, partly because the shrimp factory has closed, and partly because a political centralization plan has displaced the local administration to the neighboring town of Sisimiut, some 200 kilometers north of Maniitsoq. Most of my friends from back then, myself included, have moved away from the town, to places with more social, educational and professional opportunities. This is a general trend which can be observed globally, but I believe that it is only a phase. As I am growing older, I am seeing many of my friends return to the place they grew up in to find new ways of living there. The open frontiers and the tough and warmhearted people of the North live in our hearts, and if you take your heart with you, you will find a way to live.

The information revolution that is currently unfolding is carrying along great opportunities for the populations of the Arctic. Poor infrastructure, harsh weather and long distances suddenly mean nothing, when you can perform virtual work from your computer. All you need to participate in the global village is a computer and a network connection. I believe that the next generation of the Arctic will consist of programmers, techies, computer specialists and network security experts. Cyberized workforces will enable independent livelihoods across borders and make the societies independent from a predacious extraction industry.

A computer illiterate in the age of information is like a blind hunter. Learn a programming language.

 

Originally published in UArctic Shared Voices Magazine 2016 Special Issue: Arctic Council at 20