Freddie’s Fall Flight Recap!

What a trip!!!

It took me a couple of weeks to process the epic launch journey for Freddie the Flyer last month. From KidsFest / Afterwords in Halifax through school, library, and bookstore events in Alberta and the Northwest Territories, I’ve been soaring through the fall (with some turbulence, of course!).

Freddie on tour!
Getting from Halifax to Inuvik definitely takes a bit of work. I began my journey on Sunday, November 5 flying from Halifax to Calgary to Edmonton, spent the night there, then continued on to Yellowknife, Norman Wells, and finally, Inuvik by Monday afternoon (where we ran to the CBC North studios for an interview with Wanda McLeod of Northwinds)!

Tuesday: we climbed into a six-seater Cessna 206 operated by North Wright Aviation and headed to Aklavik, Fred’s hometown (they renamed the airport tthe Fred Carmichael Airport in the mid-1990s!). We presented to two groups of kids in the library, bracketing a delicious lunch of caribou stew and bannock at a friend’s home (and a coffee visit with Fred’s folks in the community). Miki asked, “Are the little kids always so…energetic and wiggly?!” Yes, Miki, they are. Buckle up for the week ahead!

Wednesday: We caught the “sked” to Fort McPherson – a Twin Otter operated by Aklak Air in the morning. The local principal picked us up and squired us the short distance to the school, where we had two lovely visits (and once again had a nice lunch visit with their friends!).

Thursday: In the morning, we geared up for back-to-back sessions in the Inuvik elementary school’s gym, speaking to a total of 400 people! That afternoon we did our first virtual visit from Fred and Miki’s living room into classrooms in Tuktoyaktuk, up on the Arctic Ocean. It was so wonderful to see 140 kids’ faces beaming through the screen, but we really wanted to be able go in person. Next time, eh Fred?!

Friday: We spent the day getting ready for a community feast at Ingamo Hall, the Native Friendship Centre in Inuvik. Fred and Miki wanted to thank people for all their support over Fred’s nearly 70 years of flying, and share the book with them. Sally Ross, Fred’s great-niece and a local caterer, prepared delicious soups and buns, and baked macaroni and cheese – along with 150 cupcakes with northern lights colours to match the art! And there was also a big sheet cake featuring the book cover. Yummy! The best part of the evening, though, was hearing so many people share their stories of Fred encouraging them in their dreams, doing mercy flights, and showing up for his community. I definitely teared up. A lot.

Sunday: After a quick rest and chance to pack our bags, we headed to Yellowknife. I got to lead a two-hour session for NorthWords Festival on my current favourite topic: Creating, Joining and Elevating Writing Groups (I’m offering a four-evening version virtually through the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia in January and February, if you’re interested). Then I ran down the hall to the library’s children’s section for our packed launch event filled with friends, family, and a few VIPs from the aviation and reconciliation worlds!

Monday: It was so hard to say goodbye to Miki and Fred after our wonderful week together, but they needed to go home to Inuvik while I made my way back south. First stop on Tuesday: Edmonton for an evening event at Audreys Books (and a Radio Canada interview). I’m so grateful I got to see old friends – and make some new ones!

Wednesday: I tried to embody “Mustang Dani,” driving the cherry-red GT rental from Edmonton to Calgary with short stops at the Red Deer Indigo and Hangar Museum of Flight (Calgary) to sign books, as well as my friend’s new Veteran’s Voices museum. I screeched into Owl’s Books for our afternoon drop-in event just in time to see a few friends and sign some books.

Thursday: I flew direct Calgary to Halifax, straight into the waiting arms of my loving family. It was a bumpy landing, though: one had gastroenteritis, one had pretty severe separation anxiety, and another had kennel cough. I’ll let you try and figure out who was who! Ha!

Mahsi cho! Quyanainni! Thank you!

Fred, Miki and I are so grateful to the following folks. Without you, our tour – and book – would not have been possible!  

  • Gwich’in Tribal Council, Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, Beaufort Delta Divisional Education Council, NWT Arts Council, Ingamo Hall, Mo’s Stationery, Stanton’s, the Yellowknife Library and the bookstores in Yellowknife, Edmonton and Calgary

Thanks as well to all the volunteers who helped with the Inuvik feast, videographer David Stewart for capturing that special evening, and everyone who has lent a hand or a kind word along the way. And a huge thanks to my family for supporting Mama’s epic 12-day journey!!