Today was a full day at sea as we cross from Nunavut to Greenland. We left the eastern shores of Baffin Island late in the night and set across the Davis Strait. Conditions were good, but the ship was definitely rolling with the swells and some of the students and staff are feeling the effects. We are lucky to have two great expedition doctors on board, Dr. Andrew and Dr. Joanie, who took good care of everyone. Spirits remained high as the excitement to get to Greenland built!
The full day on board gave us a chance to choose from a really broad menu of workshops, activities, and presentations. A workshop called “Glacier Goo” took students through a hands-on activity where they made glacier models and experimented with how their glaciers modified different landscapes. Other workshops taught students how to tell stories through photography, took students through the history of land claims agreements and sovereignty issues in the Arctic, and reviewed a recent landmark court case that had one Inuit community fighting to stop seismic testing in Baffin Bay, the very waters that we were sailing through.
Out on deck today there were beautiful views, nothing but open sea all around us, the odd iceberg in the distance. The fulmars follow our ship, even way out in the middle of the strait, and though we didn’t see any whales in the waves today, we know they are out there. Our thoughts drift to the east as we’re anxious to arrive in Greenland. Tomorrow morning that is where we will wake up and have the opportunity to visit the community and people of Uummannaq.
Take a look below to read how the students are feeling after a full day at sea:
John Gertler – Montreal, QC, Canada
Ian Tamblyn, an experienced staff and musician on board has talked to my pod group about the infinite energy the Arctic radiates during the summer months, “The sun comes up, it doesn’t come down, we do things” he says. This couldn’t be more true. No matter the time of day, everyone on this trip seems to possess great enthusiasm and energy. No one knows what one day to the next will be like, but we can always be rest assured that they will be jam-packed with learning, activities and fun. It has also been a pleasure to see many of us come out of our shell over the past couple days. Poems have been recited, artwork displayed, songs performed–everyone has been opening up.
My favourite trip on land happened yesterday when we explored the North Arm of the Quvvik Fjord and landed on a site SOI had never been to before. We couldn’t have been any luckier, it was a beautiful day and the site was absolutely stunning. We went on long hike surrounded by colourful and textured tundra, including wild blueberries. We got to see well-preserved sod houses, probably inhabited thousands of years ago. I also took part in a talking circle led by Moosa and Pitsiulaaq (two of the Inuit elders on the expedition), where we sat on the soft ground and shared our thoughts and feelings. The experience was truly memorable.
I’m sad to have to leave the Arctic, but excited to see and experience everything Greenland has to offer. We set sail for Greenland yesterday afternoon, beginning to cross the Davis Strait. Unfortunately, as we got into more open waters, many of us, including myself, began to get sea sick. Today is another full day at sea and I’m still quite sick, and not feeling like myself. Consequently, I have spent a lot of time on deck, which I have enjoyed. I can hardly wait for tomorrow when we can get off the boat!
Thanks for reading,
Jack Hilditch – St. Catharines, ON, Canada
Yesterday was filled with amazing activities before we began our journey across the Davis Strait. In the morning, we went to land at Quvvik where a number of interesting land workshops were held. I was amazed by the beauty of the spot. This site had an abundance of vegetation.
To begin my morning, I participated in Roger’s workshop where we were familiarized with the Arctic vegetation within this ecosystem as well as given the opportunity to use the plant press and collect some samples. This activity was tons of fun as it was a great opportunity to explore and be free, while still learning. We also learned about what the various plants were used for (fire, nutrition, etc.) This was also a great opportunity to relax and reflect on the trip as it was so calm. While I do enjoy all of the exciting activities, some of the moments I cherish the most are those spent being quiet and reflecting.
Following the workshop, everyone began our hike alongside a rushing powerful waterfall. People would stop periodically to just sit by the rocks near the crashing water and embrace all that was happening. The waterfall was a pure and beautiful site. Along the way, using the knowledge I had just collected, I collected many plants to eat along the way. While we were hiking, some people fished on shore and caught some Arctic Char for us to try.
Following lunch, we attended a number of student run workshops. This was a great opportunity to hear from a different perspective on important issues such as climate change. To conclude the night, we began our sail across the Davis Strait and a number of us threw our bottles containing messages into the ocean. This is done in hopes that one day the bottles will be found so that valuable information on changes in oceanic currents can be determined. It was also a nice activity to become a closer family as we cheered on everyone as they launched their bottles from the back deck.
Muriel Juncker – Münster, NRW, Germany
We are crossing the Davis Strait! And in the last 24h, I found out that seasick people behave a lot like drunk people: Swaying, not able to walk a straight line and unfortunately also getting sick… A huge kudos to our two ship doctors! Gravol (seasickness medication) was everywhere, some people had it always with them no matter what happens. I am very glad that I don’t get seasick (knock on wood), but the swaying makes me so sleepy. The swaying is so soothing in a way–it makes me feel like a baby being rocked to sleep, which is kinda weird but also very, very relaxing.
If you wanna get an impression on how wonky the ship is: If you sit for example in the dining room and you look straight out of the window, you only see the horizon in passing. Your view is either only the ocean or only the sky. So, yes, it is pretty bad, but at least we escaped strong winds coming south today over the Davis Strait. We could have been right in the middle of that and now we’re thankfully only in the margins.
An exciting thing we did while passing the time waiting for Greenland is throwing messages in a bottle into the ocean. The bottles are biodegradable, so it won’t be an issue if they won’t be found (the average chance of bottles being found are 6-12%). However, there are some awesome stories about bottles being found and how SOI then interacted with the finders–it’s all pretty awesome! And what’s even better is how our bottles are part of the Bottle Drift Project: The number of our bottle (mine is 2017-SOI-86 I think) gets saved in a databank together with the coordinates of the place where we dropped it and the time. So when a bottle is found in, e.g. Portugal or Iceland, we know which ocean current transported it there and how fast it was. Changing ocean currents are a huge consequence of climate change, so the project data can actually be used for scientific projects or research. Apparently, there was already a big change in ocean current speed in the last couple of years. I am so excited to see if my bottle gets found! Cross your fingers for me!
Fathen Jusoh – Teacher
Salam and hello from the Davis strait,
Today was a long day as we didn’t leave the ship and there were workshop, presentation, pod meeting and Isuma. I joined Shari and Scott’s workshop on court case of Clyde river which the Inuit fought the federal government for not having the seismic survey airgun in their area. Seismic survey airgun array is used to locate the oil and fuel at the sea floor. So, they would shot the airgun to detect the oils and fuel and the echo and sound produced by the airgun will be very destructive to the marine lives. Marine lives do produce sounds for certain purposes like mating, keeping track on direction (I imagine it’s like GPS), or detecting the victims through echo. Hence, the echo produced by the airgun will give confusion to marine lives.
I guess Arctic ocean has enough of manmade sound pollution – from trading ships, large ships and all kind of ships passing the ocean. It caught my attention when Shari said that the hunters even told the one who fought for them (I guess it’s Shari who fought for them) “should we go to their ship (seismic ship) to stop them?” – it showed how much they care and fight for their environment and nature. Even the seismic survey is to be done in certain miles of area which could be safe for the people, what about the marine lives? Do they know their borders? Do they know they should not be there? After all, it’s their home that we invaded!
Anyway, since we’ve been cruising on the ship, everyone including me was lost of tracking dates and days! All we see was sunlight, LOL! It’s funny when we ask each other
“what day is today?”-
“how many more days do we have left?”
“like many more meals to go” :p
Speaking of the food, I’m afraid if I gave a hard time to the waiters. They have been so nice to me, but they seem to be so worried to serve me. I’d go like – no gluten for this one, half of this, half of that, yes, for vegetarian, please. And the next meal, they’d be – this is good for your, halal and gluten free. I really thank the management for being understanding, but I’m truly sorry that I might have given you a hard time. A few more days to go, and thanks Liza for always making up our bed. I will tidy my bed everyday, it’s just she will have different styles of laying the duvet! Thanks Liza 🙂
And guess what? I was wrong! I saw a looooottt of iceberg today!! Like so many of them, BIG! HUGE! ones! alhamdulillah, I’m glad that I saw them, at least there is still hope for our planet!
And alhamdulillah, even though the sea was rough and rocky, Bella and Yusuf are doing good today! I have only 8 seasickness pills left. I hope I could spare for the last days – just in case we need them. By the way, sleeping yesterday night was like sleeping in a rocking cradle, I wondered if I hated rocking cradle so much as a child, I don’t think I did 😛
Ok I’ve got to go!
p/s- secretly, I miss receiving messages! I wonder how’s mom, dad and my family doing. I hope once we land in Greenland tomorrow, I would get internet connection, or at least, I’ll receive line for a text messaging.
p/s- Dear Ain Jo, Arif and Hani – Jennifer and Shirley said good things about you! You’ve been so lovely and dearest! 🙂
Sasha Latchaev – Richmond Hill, ON, Canada
It has been an amazing couple of days. We went to Pond Inlet a couple of days ago. It is a pretty big town, where many Inuit people live. It was amazing to see their living conditions and culture. Upon visiting these communities I can see why many believe that the past 150 years in Canadian history was tragic for Indigenous people, and I’m glad that we are putting a lot of effort into reconciliation. I also got the honour to be on the HMCS Montreal, a Canadian Military Ship. Many students got to take a tour around this magnificent vessel.
Then came the next day. We finally went to Sirmilik National Park after three days of attempting the landing. We got to see a lot of artifacts and historic remains. The land wasn’t empty and barren. There were a lot of plants, bones, rivers, graves, and remains of houses. We got to go to a waterfall, learn more about the Inuit culture and their history.
Yesterday we may have discovered potentially never before recorded historical Inuit settlement. The homes were very well maintained and ancient artifacts (and pretty new ones) were scattered everywhere. I got to record the measurements of the different exhibits such as houses, caches (or storage space), and tent circles. It was a lot of fun to contribute to discovering and recording potentially new historical findings. After we were done examining the remains of the settlement we had a choice of relaxing, hiking to a waterfall or fishing. I decided to try fishing and believe it or not I caught a lot of seaweed and some rocks caught me, but as a group we did catch 4 fish. Even though I didn’t get to catch a fish, the feeling of tranquility while standing at a deserted beach in the Arctic really made me feel indescribable happiness and peacefulness.
Now we come to today. Our journey continues as we leave from Canada and make our way to Greenland!
Shelly Leighton – Ocean Mapping Instructor – Marine Institute (MUN)
So today was a full day at sea. We are pretty much in Greenland waters now and will be at our destination in the morning.
I did another ROV workshop today and hopefully the students can test their machines in the pool soon.
Also, Iceberg Alley has taken on a whole new meaning! There are so many super big bergs out here right now I’m surprised we can navigate our way through.
Hopefully I’ll have more to write about tomorrow as we are expecting to be able to go to shore in the afternoon. I can’t wait to set foot on Greenland!
Love you Matt, Avery and Dee!
Matthew Linehan – Ottawa, ON, Canada
It is currently August 17th. The past few days seem to have flown by, but at the same time passed very slowly. On August 15th we finally managed to make a landing in Sirmilik National Park after being prevented on the two days prior. Along with a group of people from Pond Inlet, we made our way across to Bylot Island to see a place called Qaiqsut. This was a solemn landing as there were many grave sites on this now uninhabited beach. The Inuit left in the 1960s when the Canadian government began delivering supplies to Pond Inlet, forcing them to move there if they wanted to have access to the supply shipments. We also saw some old Thule sod houses that have been uninhabited for the last 1000 years. We learned about climate change and anthropogenic sources of underwater noise pollution that have effects on marine wildlife. In the evening our expedition bade farewell to Minister McKenna and her daughters. The following morning we made our way down Baffin Island to a long fjord. We made a landing in a fjord where we did on land workshops and went for a hike. I really felt connected to the land and gained a new appreciation for the people that live off the land. We also learned about edible plants, and picked blueberries and sorrel for eating. In the afternoon we left Canada and entered the Davis Strait, bound for Greenland. The Davis Strait is much rougher water than we were used to up until this point. Almost the entire boat got seasick; I feel like I won the jackpot. I came into this expedition having no idea if I was prone to seasickness, and am so relieved that despite the constant rocking of the boat I don’t even feel queasy. We are currently on the lookout for whales but so far we haven’t seen any. We are expecting to be docking in Uummannaq, Greenland tomorrow morning. It is a little sad that we are past the halfway point of the expedition but I feel like I have learned more in a week than I would in 6 months of school. I have captured several meaningful interviews for my podcast documentary. I have also been getting lots of great advice for this from Greg Dalton from the Climate One podcast. He has given me so many great tips such as capture ambient sounds to use for transitions. I am looking forward to the days to come, and reflecting on what has happened so far. I am still struggling to comprehend everything that has happened and process everything I have learned so far.
Caroline Merner – Vancouver, BC, Canada
Hello, bonjour, ahoj!
I’ve learned that the process of reflecting is called “Isuma” in Inuktitut. I hope to share Isuma about resiliency at sea. ResilienSEA! I have been inspired, amazed, and overwhelmed all at once.
Aboard the Ocean Endeavour ship, every story, workshop, meal and experience has become an opportunity for exchange. Two people in particular blew me away with their exchange called “Coral and Ice”. This partnership sends students North from the islands of Micronesia to understand why their homelands are shrinking due to the melting sea ice of the Arctic. Danko from Micronesia and Brendan from Alaska shared their connected stories about climate change. Many oceans away, they use similar navigation and adaptation strategies. A strong reminder of the purpose of this connected outdoor classroom.
This year has been a historic one for Students On Ice. We sailed five days through Lancaster Sound with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna, before she officially declared it a national marine conservation area. (A waterway twice the size of Nova Scotia!) This day was incredibly special, but not for the reason I expected.
At the announcement in Pond Inlet, I met Inuit Parks Canada staff working here for decades. They joined us on the ship with elders and shared how to drum dance, to play Inuit games, to skin a seal (which I did as a vegetarian), they shared storytelling and their beautiful folk dance. I was emotional and humbled by their generosity and resiliency after centuries of ongoing oppression. For the first time since working at Parks Canada, this area was not just a waterway on a map, but came to life through connection.
Today, following this wave of excitement, my incredible Parks Canada team and I hosted our workshop on youth engagement on Marine Protected Areas. While unfortunately some students were seasick crossing the Davis Strait, we had inspiring conversation about the role of youth in conservation.
In my Isuma, I find it hard to do justice to all that unfolds during only one week at sea. Hope to return with more!
Harrison Phillips – Vancouver, BC, Canada
Although it is almost halfway through the expedition, I am just writing my first blog now because there has been so much going on. Since we first boarded the ship in Resolute Bay up until now has been a whirlwind of excitement. As I am writing this we are rocking with the waves in the Davis Strait, approaching Greenland, having left Nunavut behind a day ago. Over the past week we have travelled to Beechey Island, where the ill-fated Franklin expedition buried three men during their attempt to escape the closing winter that trapped them in the ice. On our first day on the water we visited a bird sanctuary on Prince Leopold Island that housed thousands of birds rearing their young on the sharp cliffs. Over the week we also filled up our water bottles on a glacier, hiked amongst ancient sod houses and burial grounds, and participated in many ship-based and land-based workshops. These workshops ranged from looking at the microorganisms in the water around us to tasting raw narwhal skin, and were run by the scientists, artists and other staff on board. We also met the fellow expeditioners from the CanadaC3 ship in Pond Inlet, and they came onboard for the evening. In Pond Inlet Minister Catherine Mckenna announced the largest marine sanctuary in Canada, doubling our protected coastline and waterways to 2%. We were also met by the H.M.C.S. Montreal in Pond Inlet and they allowed us to have a guided tour of the navy ship. Later, we travelled to Sirmilik National Park to see some ancient historical sites. The weather has ranged from torrential downpour to sunny blue skies, sometimes both in one day, and it really makes you feel like an explorer as you go out in the zodiacs bundled up in waterproof layers. The food is amazing on the ship, and for dinner every night we even order off of a menu! I cannot wait to get to Greenland and explore and see the country that has one of the biggest ice caps on the planet with all 200 or so amazing people on this ship!
Rachael Tovar – Craston, RI, USA
A brief review of the motion sickness patches: Yikes.
Let me further elaborate, I took the motion sickness patch or in this case I applied the patch in hopes that when we got to open water, I would be prepared and not be preturbed by it. Well it back fired and I got double vision and headache. I only add this in hopes someone out there will not have the same fate as me.
Today we are at sea, we will reach Greenland tomorrow morning. It is said that there will be a lot of whales there. So I really, really hope that I see one, and I’ll be even more ecstatic if its a narwhale.
This journey through the Arctic has been amazing, the best opportunity I have ever received in my 16 years. It has taught me so much: about different cultures I didn’t even know about, animals, the sea, and the effects of climate change. We need to make a change in our actions towards the environment. Students On Ice has reinforced this, because as I stood on a Glacier and heard about how unhealthy it is, and how this magnificent creature was mighty, but dying.
It holds so many organisms, it’s their life blood, and it melted in front of my very eyes. A important fact to know is yes our climate has been fluctuating since the beginning of its birth and its had some colder times and its had some warmer times, but the rate in which we are going doesn’t allow organisms to adapt and the greenhouse gases fill our atmosphere constantly making it warmer. As I heard the Minister speak about how the government needs to make changes in the everyday lives of people so that they can pollute less. She is entirely right in this statement, the governments need to make changes, changes that are long lasting for the benefit of the earth and ALL of its animals. Her statement also scared me, because what can we do in the U.S.? How can we as Americans counter our president’s actions on the environment, when he himself doesn’t listen to the thoughts of all his people but rather the ones that support him. I’m going to try to find out this answer before the end of this trip.
I’ll end my blog on a more positive note: I’ve seen a total of three polar bears in the Canadian Arctic!
Amelia Trachsel – Civil Engineer
Well, we have been crossing the Davis Strait all day today. I am really excited to see Greenland. A lot of people have been sea sick. I am happy I put on the sea sickness patch before we started crossing. It is causing a slight skin irritation, as well as occasional bouts of giggles, but this is much better than nausea and vomiting.
Went to a really interesting workshop on Indigenous Land claims this morning. Throughout the trip, I have been learning about harmful acts that were committed against the Canadian Inuit, such as forced/coercive relocations to remote communities (that did not have enough wild game) as part of Canada’s Arctic sovereignty strategy. I am also seeing Inuit culture in action, and appreciate their culture of quiet observation. I am happy to have made more friends and contacts in the Arctic, as I want to come back. It is so beautiful here.
This afternoon, I took one sketch and started making a lino print. It is going to take a while to carve as there are a lot of fine lines. I hope to do a painting before I go too. There have been so many icebergs in Davis Strait that the sea appears to have a scattering of little white islands. We saw some monster icebergs. We have been throwing bottles with messages into the ocean over the past day and a half in order to map the changes in ocean currents. Some bottles have been found as far afield as Portugal! I hope someone finds mine!
Deborah Webster – Heritage Researcher & Author
We are in Greenlandic waters now and will step foot on land very soon. Can’t wait!
Annie Aningmiuq – Engagement Coordinator at Community Foundations of Canada
I am writing this blog as we cross the Davis Strait, on our way to Uummannaq, Greenland to experience our second week on the 2017 Arctic Expedition with Students On Ice. On the first half of this amazing journey we have had such an impactful time learning from thought provoking educational panels and workshops, listening to inspirational stories that have connected us in many ways, we’ve created art in many forms like music, print making, sewing, journaling and much more.
The delegation team from Community Foundations of Canada is doing well. Yesterday, we had a chance to spend time together to connect and reflect on how everyone was feeling. Every single person expressed gratitude and a sense of feeling fortunate to be on this amazing expedition. Some of our delegates have created songs and one sang in front of 200 people! One student delegate swam in the arctic ocean, another one is a pod leader and one other delegate is almost done with his song and I hear he may be performing for everyone soon!
Personally, I have enjoyed every day and have tried to soak up as much as I can by learning new things and making connections that have become friendships. I have led workshops to teach students and staff Inuktut and have participated in as many workshops that I can. I find it difficult to express the feelings that describe what I feel being here. As we walk on the lands that my ancestors have used for thousands of years and see the historic sod houses and artifacts scattered all around, I feel so much gratitude to them for creating the pathway for us today. Breathing in the fresh arctic air with hints of tundra and sea, I am in a sense of bliss as we take in some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world. Simply put, I feel humbled and grateful that I was able to take part in this experience because of my work with Community Foundations of Canada.
I can’t imagine how this expedition can get any better, but as we sail along to visit our Inuit neighbors in Greenland, I can sense the excitement all around me. In the morning, we will wake up in Greenland and I cannot wait to see what the feelings of being there will bring.
Sarah-Ève Perreault – Richelieu, QC, Canada
Hey hey la famille et les ami(e)s! Cette expédition est toute une aventure, j’irais même jusqu’à dire qu’elle rend tout magique. Plusieurs personnes ne croient pas en la magie et ont besoin de faits scientifiques observables et mesurables afin de croire. À l’inverse, je suis une personne qui aime croire pour donner un sens à ma vie. Je vous dirai ainsi que l’Arctique est magique.
Comment, me direz-vous? Par les émotions et les sentiments qu’il nous fait vivre, et si vous pensez que je mens je vous invite à tenter l’expérience par vous-même. Tout d’abord, je vis présentement une connexion forte et spéciale avec ma colocataire de chambre qui n’était pas supposée être avec moi initialement. Ensuite, j’ai développé une amitié sincère et teintée de franchise avec l’une de mes collègues de Parcs Canada qui se trouvait à Vancouver cet été.
Puis, j’ai mis les pieds sur Sirmilik et sur l’île de Baffin. J’ai pleuré. J’ai ris. J’ai souri, mais j’ai surtout réfléchi. Réfléchi à ce que serait l’Arctique sans l’Arctique. Comment faire ressentir cet environnement teinté de nature sauvage s’il n’existe plus. J’ai peur…Peur de devoir dire à mes enfants et à mes futurs élèves que c’est du passé, que cette vie sauvage et naturelle n’est plus possible, plus visible.
C’est pourquoi hier, le 15 août 2017, je me suis levée pour partager mes réflexions avec les 204 participants…et j’ai été bloquée par cette boule de sentiments! Maman, Papa et Carol-Ann, je pense que vous savez à quel point je cache mes émotions parce que je crois qu’elles me rendent vulnérable. Cette fois-ci, mon corps a décidé de se lancer à l’eau et de vivre ce moment personnel avec tous. Sur ce navire, j’apprends réellement à vivre avec moi entièrement et à m’exprimer. Puis, par moments, je me surprends moi-même. Par exemple, aujourd’hui je me suis ennuyée de toi Maman! J’ai commencé à avoir le mal de mer et je souhaitait tant que tu sois là pour prendre soi de moi comme tu as toujours su si bien le faire. Alors, je réalise à 23 ans qu’il n’y a pas d’âge pour s’ennuyer de sa famille, mais surtout que sans vous je ne serais rien. Je vous aime ma gang de fous ! xxx
Shuyi Wang – Stouffville, ON, Canada
Today is a sea day, where we spend the entire day on ship enjoying the view and learning in different workshops, while the ship carries us across the Davis Strait out of Canada and into Greenland. During the morning briefing, we continued the bottle throwing tradition and dropped bottles into the Davis Strait. The morning workshop is about seismic testing in Clyde River and how the little community united together and fought the National Energy Board against seismic testing. Many of the arguments consisted of Indigenous rights, how seismic testing would affect their right to access food, and the minimal consultation meetings that occurred. Shari and Scott did an amazing job of covering all the content, but even with the Supreme Court’s statement there still weren’t many clues of future actions.
During lunch, I was fortunate enough to join John and Danko, and heard a bunch of really interesting stories about the culture of Micronesia. There was an island that used stone coins as currency, but because they were so big, they couldn’t bring them around with them all the time. When every transaction was made, they transferred ownership of the stone coin and the entire community would know about it. The coin itself could never move since it’s way too heavy and massive in size for everyday purposes. The larger the coin and the more effort going into making the coin, the more value they would allocate to the coin.
For the afternoon workshop, I did some oil painting in the K-Zone. It was great having the chance to do some art. I used a waterfall photo on my phone as a reference for my painting, unfortunately the battery died halfway through it, so I had to improvise with my imagination filling in the blanks. I feel pretty good about the painting and hope that I have time to finish it eventually. I stayed behind to clean up the paints and brushes, so I got to dinner pretty late. I sat at a dinner table with Gen, who had some amazing stories to tell. After the last briefing of the day, with the help of Amy I finally met Amelia, the civil engineer I’ve always wanted to talk to. Looking forward to seeing whales in Greenland! Wish me luck and this is me signing off.
Be sure to check back for more participant blogs, photos and videos coming soon!