SOI @ IMPAC4 Blog: Jessica Winters

While Students on Ice participates in the International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC4) in La Serena-Coquimbo, Chile, our delegation of 9 students from coast-to-coast-to-coast in Canada will be sharing their experiences and stories through blogs, photos, and videos.

Below is a blog post from Jessica Winters, an alum of the 2016 Arctic Expedition. Jessica is grateful for sponsorship from the Nunatsiavut Government to participate in IMPAC4.

Coquimbo at sunset. Photo: Jessica Winters

Reflection

Last evening, we had the chance to go on a Bird Watching field trip. We all got bikes and biked 3k to El Culebron Coastal Wetland, which is an Urban Natural Reserve. Caroline was having a chat with one of the educators that was helping us identify birds. He was wearing a National Geographic hat, so she asked him in Spanish, “do you work for National Geographic?”, and he replied with “no, you can buy these at the gas station”. We had a good laugh but after spending the week being surrounded by these amazing scientists and researchers, it was refreshing to see an average person who was simply interested and inspired by conservation.

L-R: Caroline Merner, and an inspired citizen.  Photo: Jessica Winters

It got me thinking about the part that we, as citizens, play in Marine Protected Areas and conservation. We have amazing research that shows us that we need to be more invested into protecting our oceans and our planet, but at the end of the day it is up to us to decide as a population whether we want to change our path or continue on the one we are. We need to get back to the basics.

It is absolutely amazing to be surrounded by this much knowledge, but it is our responsibility to take this knowledge and distribute it to those that do not have access to this knowledge. Being a respectful person, a conservationist, doesn’t necessarily mean you have to attend these congresses or be a scientist and so on. Sometimes it simply means having conversations with your friends about conservation and land and water protection, and changing their views about it. If people don’t know, they can’t care.

Photo: Jessica Winters

Jessica Winters

My name is Jessica Winters, I am from Makkovik, Labrador. I am starting my final year of my undergraduate degree in Biology of Ecology and Conservation at Memorial University of Newfoundland. I was fortunate enough to participate in the 2016 Arctic Expedition with Students on Ice, I got to visit Greenland and the Torngat Mountains National Park. Within the park we got to visit Hebron, one of the two Inuit communities which were relocated in the 1950’s. My grandmother was relocated from Nutak to Makkovik. Visiting the homeland of my grandma’s family was an extremely special experience for me, all thanks to SOI. I am super grateful to be participating in IMPAC4, as the oceans play an important part in my life as a biologist in-the-making, and as an Inuk. I believe that strengthening the relationship between indigenous people and non-indigenous allies will help us better understand the impacts of our changing climate.

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