Essay Sample on Canadian North

Published: 2021-07-01
1524 words
6 pages
13 min to read
Vanderbilt University
Type of paper: 
This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

The Canadian North is at times a mythical place in the minds of many urban citizens, a place many have never visited and rarely think of. Yet, it is a place that occupies much of Canadas overall landmass, a place where many think only of cold and snow, and it is vastly underrepresented in literature and writing.

Both John Ralston Saul and G.K. Healey and colleagues have written great pieces on the Canadian North, though with a different voice and a variance in how each is presented. Both articles are in support of a stronger focus on listening to the unique needs of Northerners and solving issues with a deeper understanding from a Northern stance, and while each successfully argued their point of view, the writing style of Sauls piece made it easier to both digest the information and gain a clear sympathy towards the issues facing the north.

To write a paper that is both succinct yet intriguing, first one must ensure the organization and layout is clear, and easy for the reader to follow. Saul uses a format that is similar to a magazine or opinion piece, ensuring his piece is written in an easy to read opinion piece that could have easily been featured in the national newspapers Sunday editorial section. The flow of the writing was easy to read, as if it was a fictional story.

Healey and colleagues organization was far more clinical and scientific. The paper was clearly formatted into sections, formatted as research papers and studies often are. The result of which made the subject matter easy to place, and understand the value of the paper. The flow of writing while easy to digest, is overly scientific and though this was likely the purpose, made the reading a bit slower and perhaps less entertaining.

The usage of clear and vibrant examples, and even visual aids such as pictures and graphs are always a positive addition to an essay. They allow the reader to ascertain the facts through their eyes without having to decipher the authors verbiage. Saul did not use visual aids such as photographs or graphs, but he did provide numerous examples of his time in the North, and his utter unpreparedness and knowledge of the needs of the North. Saul (2009, p.217) shows this in the beginning of his essay when he writes I went into the room filled with goodwill, thanks to my urban, southern, western views in other words, I was out to lunch.

Saul uses many examples to show the vast difference between what the North actually requires and what the South believes it requires. He speaks of education and the gap of available schools to Northerners. Saul (2009, p. 220) states that We remain the only circumpolar country without northern or Arctic universities. We have hundreds, perhaps thousands, of northern experts. Almost all of them are based in southern universities. With these few sentences, Saul was able to clearly provide a picture of how little the North is truly represented and gives further examples of how Arctic study centers, millions of public funding, and even doctorates that are on the North are all managed in the south of the country.

The essay by G.K. Healey et. al used minimal examples due to the academic and scientific purpose of the writing. However, their usage of photographs and the clear explanation and grouping of each into themes assisted in providing the reader with clear information showing the purpose of essay. The explanation of the photographs within the correct layout was written well, ensuring the issues were understandable and relatable. As this essay was written in a manner that was quite dry, the addition of the visual aids made the writing more palpable, and due to this, had a deeper impact that would not have otherwise been felt.

Most important in any piece of writing, whether it be academic, scientific, or even fiction is the language and prose. For without words that are able to keep the readers attention while stating a point, the essay becomes worthless in its purpose. This is where the essays really diverge in their impact. While both essays were able to factually pinpoint the authors concerns about the North, only one essay truly stood out with the use of language. Sauls usage of language conveys his personal experience with the North in a way that is relatable to the reader, and in a way that reads as a prose. The article was so easy to read in that the words just flowed that the reader is barely aware that this was an academic and political piece. Sauls talent in writing is not lost with his political, educational, or even climate related examples. He uses humor to disarm the reader as in the above example, and writes of personal experiences to convey a sense of authenticity helping to cement why the reader should even be listening to him. Saul (2009, p. 217) writes that Ever since 1976, I have gone north as often as I can. This shows not only his commitment but also his long-standing relationship with this part of Canada.

Saul is clear about his feelings, showing how ineffective he believes the southern and western Canadian views do not meet the needs of the North. In a poignant example of how Canada is failing the North, Saul (2009, p. 219) speaks of the Rangers units and the ineptness of the planning and support when he states If this was a northern unit, why are the Rangers dressed in baseball caps and sweatshirts? You cant wear this outfit outside ten months of the year. His sharp words easily convey his point, and the reader has no trouble understanding either the theme or the objective of his essay. Lastly, Saul is able to write beautifully, even in an essay perhaps meant to be more academic. His ability to write nearly poetic sentences after writing such honest sentences about men standing in a circle and peeing on snowmobiles to get them started (p. 219) shows his true talent as a writer. Saul (2009, p. 220) captures his poetic ability perfectly with the sentences, These are philosophies of harmony and balance. They are indeed seamless and appropriate evocations of our physical reality.

In comparison, G.K. Healey et. al struggle with the language in that it does not capture the readers attention with quite the same tenacity. While the verbiage used is scientific, grammatically correct, and even useful, it comes across as rather dry and almost dull. The descriptions of the photographs and the participants relation to them are the one bright spot in the writing, showing a human side to the essay. While there is no doubt as to the sincerity of the authors purpose in the study, the writing and language make the entire essay nearly a chore to read. Showcasing this point, sentences such as building upon the conclusion that transition is nearly inevitable, the participants highlighted the importance of adaption for health and well-being in light of climate change (Healey et. al, 2011, p. 393).

There were some bright spots in the essay in terms of language owing mainly to the discussion from the participants themselves from the descriptions of the photographs. The usage of direct quotations from the community brought about a human perspective giving the paper life. Healey et. al (2011, p. 391) quote one participant with particularly eloquent words with We need to think about the past, reflect on our experiences, and look forward to the future. This statement essentially represented the entire studys purpose in language that was adept, graceful, and impactful.

Though both papers were written with a clear purpose, and the objective and themes of each were understandable, overall my preference was Sauls essay Listen to the North. I found his writing cohesive, honest, and at times poetic. His essay caught my attention quickly, was able to state why I should listen to him regarding the North, and gave enough examples to persuade me to not only listen but to learn more about this overly ignored vast amount of land in Canada. While I found G.K. Healey and colleagues essay informative and the photographs telling, the scientific language was off-putting. However, despite the harsh assessment of the drier usage of language, it is understandable given the context of the essay in that it was a paper written on a research study conducted.

Saul (2009, p. 219) states that If southern Canadians are now seriously concerned about the status of the North, then this is an ideal moment to listen to what northerners are saying. And this is where his essay clearly gains my preference; he was able to convince me of not only that there are issues in the North, but that there is a clear need to involve those who live there.


Healey, G.K. et al. (2011). Community perspectives on the impact of climate change on health in Nunavut, Canada. In E. Henderson, The Active Reader: Strategies for Academic Reading and Writing (pp. 388-398). Don Mills, Canada: Oxford Publications

Saul, J.R. (2009). Listen to the North. In E. Henderson, The Active Reader: Strategies for Academic Reading and Writing (pp. 216-221). Don Mills, Canada: Oxford Publications


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