You’ve read the stories about people leaving the NWT and the high cost of living – but some people are still desperate to move north.
Sean Norman, 28, is a photographer living in Richmond, BC. Not for much longer, though, if he can help it.
“It started around five years ago,” he tells Moose FM.
“After a trip to Scandinavia to chase the aurora, I came home and my dad said to me, ‘You know, we have this in our own back yard. You can watch the northern lights in Canada.’
“So I went onto WestJet’s website, looked up their route map and picked the farthest place north that they flew – which was Yellowknife.”
Norman has since been back several dozen times.
“I fell in love with the place. There’s a great community, a great feel, and of course it’s beautiful up there, too.
“I feel so fortunate to have discovered Yellowknife.”
Norman realized this was the life he wanted: living in Yellowknife, under the northern lights, running a guest house and offering tours.
“I couldn’t not do it, it seemed like the perfect mix for me,” he says.
But he lacked the money to get the business started and buy the right equipment for potential guests – so he turned to Kickstarter, the fundraising website.
With 11 days of the fundraiser remaining, Norman has received almost $13,000 in donations to help him get started in the Northwest Territories.
“I’ve been really surprised,” he says. “I’m not very good with social media, it’s been a learning experience for me – people not only pledging but getting the word out.
“Something that’s working for me is it’s quite a unique idea and when you talk to people from all over the world, seeing the northern lights is something a lot of people have on their bucket list. I’m really thankful for all of the support so far.”
The Kickstarter offers thank-you rewards, like prints of Norman’s northern lights photos and signed postcards, in return for donations.
The more you give, the bigger the prizes get.
“For people a bit farther away, for larger donations in the $4,000 and $6,000 range, we’ve got an all-inclusive trip to Yellowknife on me,” says Norman.
He acknowledges he’s walking into quite a busy market, with a number of guest houses, tour operators and northern lights photographers already well-established in the North.
“I’m hoping to add to that,” he says.
Norman hopes to make the move to the NWT in May and be fully operational with the guest house by August.