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2017 Arctic Expedition: Day 16

The final day of our expedition finished where it all began 15 days ago – at the Canadian Museum of Nature. We woke up this morning at the University of Ottawa residence full of excitement to attend the Welcome Home celebrations at the museum. After breakfast, we loaded onto buses and headed to the event for a morning of speeches, music, inspiration, and ultimately, goodbyes.

We arrived at 10 a.m. to a room filled with infectious positive energy – a welcome experience after a long day of travelling the day before. While snacking on fruit and mini muffins and sipping coffee and tea, we toured around different stations set up for the event. These included a photo booth, a Students on Ice alumni table, an expedition art display, a giant floor map, and a multimedia corner! We listened to sounds recorded by students on expedition, experienced virtual reality from our Zodiac cruise at Appait (Inuktitut for “where there are thick billed murres”) also known as Prince Leopold Island, and checked out some amazing drone footage!

Shortly after, we took our seats and enjoyed the slideshow of expedition photos captured throughout the journey by photographers Martin Lipman and Mike Sudoma. Music by Juno award winning singer/songwriter Ian Tamblyn, a long-time educator onboard SOI expeditions played in the background, bringing us right back to the sights, sounds, and memories of the Arctic.

Meg Beckel, CEO of the Canadian Museum of Nature delivers opening address at the closing ceremony of the 2017 Arctic Expedition. Photo (c) Martin Lipman/SOI Foundation

Geoff Green, Founder, President & Expedition Leader for the SOI Foundation reflects on journey at closing ceremony of the 2017 Arctic Expedition. Photo (c) Martin Lipman/SOI Foundation

Meg Beckel, CEO of the Museum of Nature welcomed back the 2017 Arctic Expedition team and invited our President and Expedition Leader, Geoff Green, to the stage to reflect on the journey and to thank our incredible partners who have made this journey possible! Following Geoff’s speech, Melissa and D’Ari of Darkspark, who held songwriting workshops on the ship, performed two songs. The second song featured expedition participant Cassie, who blew us all away with her stunning voice! We then heard from Roger and Kieran, two Museum of Nature scientists and longtime friends of SOI. We also heard from Jessica Bolduc, executive director of the 4Rs movement as well as storyteller and author Aarvaluk Kusugak.

Award-winning author and storyteller Arvaarluk (Michael) Kusugak reflects on his experience as an educator onboard SOI’s 2017 Arctic Expedition during the closing ceremony. Photo (c) Martin Lipman/SOI Foundation.

The speeches and music helped to bring the impact of the Arctic 2017 expedition to life. This was enhanced by a highlight of the event –  the Arctic 2017 recap video, shot, edited, and produced by the outstanding Students on Ice videographers Sira Chayer, Gabriel Bergeron, and Trevor Gill. The 15-minute video left not a dry-eye in the audience.

Arctic 2017 educator and Inuk throat boxer Nelson Tagoona shares his incredible talent alongside expedition youth participant Sasha Latchaev at the closing ceremony. Photo (c) Martin Lipman/SOI Foundation

Following the video, we enjoyed a throat boxing performance from expedition musician Nelson Tagoona. Several students then spoke about their expedition experiences, including Caroline, Sarah Ève, Emily, Tristan, William, Dillon, and Nangmalik. After a beautiful morning of reflecting and remembering, it was time to leave. We had already bid many of our friends who left in Iqaluit goodbye, and we said many more goodbyes this afternoon.

SOI provides a powerful platform for students to not only connect to nature, but to themselves, and our songwriting workshops are one of many mediums through which students express themselves and their journey. Here, artist Melissa Larkin of Darkspark introduces student participant Jasmine Keogak and the powerful song they created together onboard the expedition. Photo (c) Martin Lipman/SOI Foundation

Stay tuned for more expedition photos and reflective blogs in the coming days!

Arctic 2017 Educator and Executive Director of the 4Rs Youth Movement, Jessica Bolduc, shares some humour and perspectives on the power of SOI’s experiential education program at the closing ceremony. Photo (c) Martin Lipman/SOI Foundation

Arctic 2017 youth participants Caroline Merner of Vancouver and Sarah-Ève Perreault of Richelieu, QC share their reflections and impact of the journey at the closing ceremony. Photo (c) Martin Lipman/SOI Foundation

Arctic 2017 student participant Dylan Tellei of Palau speaks about the opportunity to learn first-hand about the impact of climate change in the Arctic and connecting to Inuit youth about their shared future. What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic as students learned during expedition. The melting of ice in the Arctic impacts both the livelihood of Inuit as well as many island nations including Dylan’s homeland in Micronesia. Photo (c) Martin Lipman/SOI Foundation

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