Date and Place of Birth: January 9, 1961 Guelph, Ontario
Place of Residence: Nanaimo, BC
Other Employment: Formerly worked in the addictions field for 20 years.
Andy Sibbald is a Canadian author with an interest in the Canadian arctic, mental health, addictions and satire. His teen trilogy recounts some of his experiences living in the Canadian arctic through fictional characters 30 cm tall.
In 1986, Andy Sibbald moved to Coppermine (now Kugluktuk) in 1986 to coordinate the local alcohol and drug program in the 97% Inuit community. He recalls:
"I lived in one of three white trailers about 35ï¿½ long that were in a row together close to the middle of the community.
"During my first week living in the arctic, I remember the local Anglican minister knocking on my trailer door to ask for help. The minister was a small nervous man with a British accent. He seemed anxious to complete the task that he was asking me for help with. I agreed to help the minister, because I wanted to get to know people and become part of the community.
"The minister asked me to come with him to the trailer next door. When we got there he unlocked the trailer next door and went inside. I followed him into the poorly lit trailer and was shocked to see a young man in his early twenties laying on the floor. He was in laying in a corner of the living room beside a plywood box. I later found out that the box had been constructed by the local Housing Association.
"I asked the minister what had happened to the young man. The minister said the young man had killed himself. He then shared some of the tragic details of the young manï¿½s life. He looked strong and fit and his death seemed such a waste. It was very sad and I noted that he was only three years younger than me.
"The Anglican minister nonchalantly asked me if he would help lift the young man into the box. I was surprised when the minister said that he hoped the young man had not stiffened up yet(rigor mortis) because he didnï¿½t want to have to break his legs to get him into the box. Fortunately, this was not necessary.
"I soon learned that much of what I had learned in southern Canada was of little use in the north because the Inuiit culture is very different. Severe culture shock ensued but I adapted to living in this new environment. Many southerners complain about the lack of stimulation when they move to the north but I found that the extreme learning curve required to live and function effectively in the north gave me no time to get bored."
Sibbald lived and worked in the addictions field in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon for a combined period of 20 years.
Ihigaq: The Little People's Arctic Quest Home (Lunatic Publishing, 2010) is the first book in his proposed trilogy for young teens (11- to 14-year-olds) derived from his experiences in the north. The story follows a colony of 30-cm tall characters of Little People, known as Ihigaq in Inuit lore, who leave no imprints in the snow. They must continually move northward to stay safe from predators and minimize the impact of global warming on their lives. It entertains first and educates second.
In an article for Visions: BC's Mental Health and Addictions Journal, 2008, Vol. 5 No. 1, Sibbald writes: "In 1983, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) came out with a report titled Unemployment: Its Impact on Body and Soul. I requested a copy from CMHA in 1986, because I was very concerned about the devastating impact unemployment was having in the Nunavut community where I worked.
"The report fit exactly what I was seeing in the community. It linked unemployment to addictions, family violence, mental illness and a host of other health and social problems. It confirmed that unemployment could destroy people, relationships and communities."
Ihigaq: The Little People's Arctic Quest Home (Nanaimo: Lunatic Publishing, 2010)
ISBN is 978-0-9812961-1-1. The price is $11.95 plus postage and packaging (no HST).
Grease My Hooves: Politics in Canada (Lunatic Publishing, 2012). ISBN 978-0-9812961-4-2 $19.95. An excerpt can be viewed and copies can be purchased at www.lunaticpublishing.com.
Ishigaq: Following Nipsterâ€™ Dream-Lunatic Publishing-2010
Ishigaq: Nipsterâ€™s Magical Cane-Lunatic Publishing-2011
Ishigaq: The Quest For Home-Lunatic Publishing-2011
Editor: Stacey Curtis
Illustrator: Lauren Brown
Layout/Design: Simeo Goa
Printer: Island Blue