It’s a common cliché among northerners, but it’s true: I came for a year—and stayed for 22 (and counting)!
A friend of mine called and told me Yellowknife was just like northern Ontario – with jobs! At the time, I was working in the family business, a 24-hour restaurant/gas bar and gift shop, and was bored out of my mind. I had recently finished the graphic design program at George Brown College and was looking to break into the industry.
Within a couple of days of being here, I’d fallen in love with the place, met tons of new people, and got a job that ended up leading to a graphic design career that surprises even me. I’ve worked as a graphic designer for some amazing companies and was with CBC North for almost 10 years, producing commercials, organizing concerts across the North and designing sets for three territorial elections. It was great fun and I never would have had those chances in the South.
I ran my own freelance business and then, with a partner, bought a sign shop in 2012. We make signs, do lots of large format printing and try to offer the North the same variety of print services that are available across the country. Along with my amazing clients, I’ve branched out into my own line of quilt patterns, paintings and stuffed ptarmis (that continue to sell out and have travelled around the world!).
I did move south for a year, but honestly, I wanted to come back the whole time. There’s something special about this place and the people – it feels more like home than home. I can’t imagine leaving here again.
I’ve also had the chance to do what my parents did – volunteering for organizations that need my help, like the NWT SPCA, where I served as president until 2009.
Looking back, I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if I hadn’t moved to Yellowknife. It took some guts but here I am, with a rewarding career, great friends, a loving partner, and two dogs. What I know for sure is I would never have been able to make my mark the way I’ve done right here.
Visit Janet’s website: www.signedyk.com