Each Survey, I feel like I got more than I give

Michel Poulin is the most seasoned off all the Inuit Health Survey staff. He worked in the 2004 survey in Nunavik and during the 2007 and 2008 survey in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Nunavut and Nunatsiavut. In all, he visited 47 communities in the four regions.

Hailing from St-Victor Beauce, Quebec, Poulin first started working in the North as a nurse in Kuujuak in 1984. From there he went on to work as a relief nurse, doing replacement work for nurses in communities in the Ungava and Hudson’s Bay.

In 1992 a land based Inuit Health Survey was planned for Nunavik.

‘They were recruiting people who were interested in being part of the survey and they were looking for someone who knew the culture and environment. So I applied and I got the job,’ Poulin said. His name went onto the publication about the survey, which is why he received a phone call years later asking if he’d like to apply for a clinic job for the 2004 survey in the region, this time on board the Amundsen.

When the project moved to the other Inuit jurisdictions of Canada, Poulin naturally applied. He worked as a nurse and was given the added responsibility of collecting the heart monitor data in 2007 and 2008.

‘2004 to me meant a lot of things. A lot of things brought me feelings. For example, I met a lady who said, ‘Oh Michel, I recognize you because you were there when I delivered my first baby.’ It was a very good feeling,’ Poulin said. ‘For me, I did the survey for them. It meant a lot, that one. It was nice to see the people 15 to 20 years after.’ 

‘In 2007 I loved the scenery. In 2008 I learned a lot about the historical Northwest Passage,’ he said. ‘Each survey, I feel like I got more than I gave.’

The survey is finished and the Amundsen is sailing into Quebec City to deliver Poulin back to his permanent job as a nurse and health counselor with Hydro Quebec in the northern camp of Brisay, but his involvement may not yet be over. He received an e-mail yesterday morning, inviting him to return to Nunavik to do the follow-up from the 2004 survey. Approximately 900 people involved in that survey agreed to be included in the follow-up, which will take place in the coming months. ‘I had thought it was all over!’ he said with a laugh.

How Michel stays healthy? To be free, free of mind. To always have new goals and projects. And stop talking- do something.

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