Arctic Expedition 2013

Follow the journey : July 23 - August 7

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Daily Journey Updates

Expedition Update

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


Today students spent the day in beautiful Gatineau Park! We visited the Mackenzie King Estate, the former summer home of Canada’s 10th Prime Minister. The Estate features gardens, trails, and historic buildings. 

We were also at Camp Fortune, trying the Aerial Experience: climbing rope bridges, in tree-forts, and zip-lining in the trees of Gatineau Park!

After that invigorating day, the team returned to Carleton for dinner. But the fun still wasn’t done—students had a few moments to explore personal journal writing and learning, lead by James Raffan, our lead educator.

Then musician Ian Tamblyn sent us off to bed with a concert! The expedition team will have sweet dreams before our big flight to Greenland the next day!


Please check out the previous days' entries for more stories, photos and journal entries.

You can follow us on Twitter or Facebook too!






Joseph makes his way across the rope bridge at Camp Fortune.


 Sarah walking across the log bridge.

In the treetops of Gatineau Park!


Spencer on the zipline.


Wheeee!  Vaniita makes her way across.


Crossing together.

Norman in the treetops.



 Rosie on the zipline.


Student Journals - July 16



Dia 3 de l'expedicio. Ultim dia a Ottawa, dema ja marxem cap al nord!!!

Ahir visita del Museu d'Historia Natural pero al darrere de l'exposicio, on els cientifics treballen.

Tambe moltes presentacions i anar coneixent els estudiants, aquests nois i noies son IMPRESIONANTS!!!!!


Day 3 of our expedition. Last day in Ottawa, tomorrow leaving for Greenland!!!

Yesterday we where in behind the scenes for de Natural History Museum, seeing the collections and where the scientists do their research.

Also time to get to know each other, adults and students. These Kids are AMAZING!!!! There is hope for the planet, economically, politically, environmentally!!!

Molts petons a tots, lots of love, liebe Gruesse.




Hello friends and strangers! I first need to acknowledge Earth Rangers for funding my scholarship to participate on this expedition. As well as my scholarship references the incredible Tracy Beck and Matthew Coleman. Lastly is the support of my friends and family whom seem to have run the cycles of excitment with me preparing for this journey

Last night at the beginning of the lecture we were given an introduction to Inuit and Nunavut history. As a history student this of course was fascinating, however what excited me the most was hearing about Inuit Youth banning together and launching the Coppermine Conference, and the Land Claims era that followed. As a southerner, I feel there is this distorted perception of absolute negativity in the northern communities, but there are those who break out of poverty cycles and turn away from substance abuse. Earlier this summer I found my self on the west coast and had a similar feeling walking the neighbourhoods and streets of  Berkeley, home to the Free Speech Movement. I look forward to learning more specifically about that group of Inuit youth in the 1970's who banded together for change. As a young person this strikes a chord within me; it makes me optimistic for the future.

Another presenter last evening was Mary Simon herself! I found it most interesting her advice to us that climate change wil not be obvious to us on the expedition. She emphasized, and I completely agree, that the Inuit perspective is crucial. Only after seasons of change is catastrophe obvious, this highlights the importance of oral histories and the necessary interactions with elder groups. 

As students trickle in from around the world, the last few days here have been a journey all their own. Meeting new faces, young and old, exotic and familiar, there already seems to be a camaraderie between the expeditioners, perhaps built purely through the excitement we all share. For myself after months of anticipation through the scholarship process, stressful examination sessions and the building excitement to this point, it is hard to believe tomorrow night my head will rest in Greenland. 

Students here seem to share the excitement of simply experiencing the arctic in all its facets. The wildlife, flora/fauna, culture and landscapes. For Canadians, myself included, I feel coming from the border regions we have a massive disconnect with the land and people who inhabit the rest of our shared space. I think Canadians in general could perhaps benefit from a cultural and environmental education, creating a connection and "social sovereignty" if you will, before jumping into political or military show of occupation. I too, am excited to experience the arctic on all the sensory levels. I hope some one reading this (perhaps a young Earth Ranger?) catches the same bug I felt three years ago upon first hearing about SOI. 

I leave with a send off from my idol, Bjork, whom I had the pleasure of seeing for the first time before joining SOI on Sunday. 

"This is an alarm call, so wake up, wake up now"

"The journey itself is home"



Humbling.  It is so inspiring to see so many youth care so much about their world and sense just how badly they want to help it.  Last night I listened to each of these incredible young people share theirs hopes for the expedition and it moved me.  Hopes and dreams tied to politics, conservation, culture, sustainability, and above all discovery.  I am so fortunate to be a part of this team and help shape the experience these young heroes will have.

Family.  It's very difficult as a new father to be out of contact with my incredibly loving family for 2 weeks (Benjamin and Stephanie: LOVE!), but I find so much comfort in the company of this expedition team - staff and students.  Every single individual here is facing challenges in one form or another and it really hasn't taken long to sense the connections growing.  The SOI experience has been incredible and after 2 days, it its very clear how well designed this expedition is.  I'm excited to share more in the days/weeks to come!

Very best wishes,

Justin Dearing :)



Well hello. Today is Tuesday the 16th of July and it is a nice hot day here in Ottawa...and I packed warm clothes... you can guess the issue there. I have just eaten breakfast which consisted of scrambled eggs, a blueberry muffin, some orange juice, cantaloupe and some cereal. By the way I have invented a new cereal. I have yet to name it so I will get back to you guys on that one but I mixed together Fruitloops and Frosted Flakes. An ingenious invention, I know. Please hold your applause and fan mail.

Yesterday we went to Parliament Hill, which was cool to see how all that works and goes down. I thought that it was cool how much European influence was present in the architecture of the various buildings and rooms. We saw the library which if I might say looked like a ginger bread house and all the books appeared to be made out of candy...that made me hungry. We also saw the Senate, House of Commons, and all the meeting rooms. After Parliament Hill we drove across a river and then we were in Quebec!! That just blew my mind for some reason. It was cool seeing all the signs and buildings in French. Our next stop was the Canadian Nature Museums off exhibit collection which was AMAZING!! I loved it. It was probably the best thing we have done so far in my opinion. First my group saw where all the skeletons were stored of various animals. There were so many cool things in there and I only got to see a quarter of the room. That was a bummer but I was just so excited to see what I was privileged to see. Next my group went to a research looking lab where we learned about different fishes and we saw some really cool specimens. I just wanted to spend all day in just what we had seen so far but we were only allowed 10 minutes in each room. Next we went to the Paleo storage room. We saw various dinosaur bones, learned about casting and much more.

Next we went into where they stored various plant species including moss and lichen. It was super cool because they had some plants that were collected over a hundred years ago! They stored all these plants in folders which were then kept in cabinets. Lastly we went to the DNA research lab and saw how they can tell which animals are related to others and there percentage of similarities and much more.

Today we are boarding the buses at 9:15am to travel to some place where we will hike and go on a rope course. I am very nervous but also I'm really excited to prove that the One Arm Wonder will triumph again!! I did a rope course two summer ago and I feel that I did somewhat well on that so hopefully this experience will be somewhat as victorious. Well that is all I have to say today so... See yah.



It has been and will be an odd couple of days, so I'm doing an info dump for July 15, 16, and 17.

July 15: Yesterday, we went on a tour of the Museum of Nature's archives, and saw several impressive specimens. Fish, fossils, plants, genetics, and mammals are all catalogued and hidden in the museum. They were all great specimens. We also took a tour within the Parliament building. For the most part, it was random paintings and carvings. However, the library and house of assembly were both interesting to behold.

July 16: Today, we went on a ropes course, a combination of ziplining and aerial obstacles. For the most part, it was fun, but some of the obstacles were psychotically designed to be as unstable as possible. Also, it ruined my Dodo bird shirt. We took a nature walk on the MacKenzie King Estate, which was much more pleasant.

July 17: Tomorrow, we wake at 4:30 to catch the plane to Greenland, then board the ship. Everyone is super excited, myself included. We're all happy to escape the furnace that is our nation's capital.

Aside from the aforementioned events, lectures and group meetings are held daily. These were introductions (at which we all had a laugh) and informative lectures from the variety of experts on the team. The topics are varied and engaging.

I will write again soon, hopefully with deeper insight. Goodbye for now. And I promise to take pics!



Hello everyone, it's the third day and we're still in Ottawa. We're leaving bright and early for the Kangerlussuaq tomorrow and I can't wait!! There are so many interesting people here and everyone has a different story. Yesterday we went to Parliament and visited a behind the scenes section of the Nature Museum. The lovely museum guide let me touch the Polar bear display ... I almost cried. Just wait until I see a real polar bear! Today were going on a hike and doing a high ropes course. The days are jam packed and I cant wait for what's ahead. Arctic Circle here I come!



I can't believe how much we have done in only two days! The first day we were here felt so long as I arrived early and got to go to the museum of civilization which was so cool. I thought so many of the exhibits were interesting especially the voodou exhibit and the indoor French town. It was also cool to notice that I actually recognized a few of the exhibits from when I lived here as a little kid which I was not expecting. 

I was also surprised at how many people I got to meet on just the first day, I even met a few at the Toronto airport on the way here! I can already tell that were are going to have so much fun here together.

We also had our first briefing on the first night where we got to learn lots of cool things about the staff who are coming on the trip with us and I'm so excited to learn even more about what they do and what we are going to learn through them. 

Yesterday was equally amazing as we got to visit parliament hill and see where the MP's meet which I thought was cool as my Poppy was a Member of Parliament and I felt like I got to see what he would have done while he was there. All the rooms there were amazing and so well thought out with all the different meanings behind various things. I thought that the library was beautiful although I had to wonder if the people who work there are really that quiet all the time.

After Parliament Hill we got to go "behind the scenes" of the Museum of Nature and got to see the science behind all the exhibits that we have been looking at since we were kids. I got to pet a polar bear! A dead one but that was still amazing! The fossils and the palaeontology were my favourites but the botany and DNA were really cool too.

We had two other meeting yesterday as well one in the morning and one in the afternoon. In the morning we learned about the early Arctic expeditions that actually has its 100th anniversary this year. It allowed me to appreciate this amazing opportunity that I've been given even more as only 100 years ago people were dying trying to get to the arctic. At the second meeting we introduced ourselves and also learned a little about the history of the Inuit people which made me really excited to get the opportunity to actually visit them and see how they live in the Arctic. And of course we leaned about climate change and how we are speeding up the natural up and town of the average temperatures.

I also have to wish my friend Bendzsa a Happy Belated birthday as I promised him I would.

I really can't believe all the things we have done and all the things we are going to do! I can't wait to leave for Greenland tomorrow and then head up to the Arctic Circle!!!



Well, I waited a long time to come on this trip, and now that I am here it is happening so fast!

I went for an 5 km run with a great bunch of kids this morning, and it was an incredible 29 degrees at 7:30 in the morning.

We have seen many things in Ottawa so far, with one more day of field trips then tomorrow morning, we leave for Greenland!  

I would like to thank my wonderful sponsor, OSUM for this opportunity, without whom I wouldn't be here!



Hello Family and Friends, 

Thank you for following our updates, it's always nice to know that we've got so many people interested in what the SOI team is up to. Today has been and extremely active day. For me it started at 6am, because I was joining the early bird running crew who took a jog up and down the Rideau Canal. Exercised and refreshed from my run and cool down shower, I went and joined our expeditioners for breakfast. We enjoyed a great meal, laughing talking and getting to know yet more new people. There are more than 80 students to meet and on top of that, the staff! 

After breakfast half of the team went to do a ropes course and zipline while the other half did a tour and a hike. All of us were extremely excited to do ropes and many people had never done it before. The zipline staff were wonderful and got us well prepared. It was loads of fun and a great bonding experience. Tor, Edmund and I finished the ropes course first and went ahead to eat our lunch. Soon everyone else began to trickle in as they too, finished.

Our lovely bus driver then took us to our next stop, the William Lyon Mackenzie King Museum. Those of us who were interested took a nature tour and the rest went on a more historical tour of the buildings. 

Everyone was very hungry once we got back to the cafeteria at Carleton University and thoroughly enjoyed their dinner. Right now most people are packing and preparing for our departure for Greenland early tomorrow morning. We are all very excited to be starting the second leg of our journey in Kangerlussuaq. The vast majority of us have never been to the Arctic before and all are very excited to be on board our Arctic vessel. 

I've been so overjoyed to be surrounded with such and enthusiastic, optimistic and compassionate group of people and I am so happy that I will be spending the next 12 days with them. Yesterday we discussed together what our hopes and expectations are for when we go up north and many people want to become more aware of this wonderful culture and landscape that we have the privilege of going to. But most of all we want to see narwals and I personally would be ecstatic to see a whale of any kind. More specifically, an orca!

Thank you again for reading!

Much love




The first day of the whole adventure a great day of meeting new people. There are people from absolutely everywhere. Norwegians, Chinese, from Newfoundland to British Columbia, from Texas to New York. Everyone is friendly and wanting to meet new people. It was great being from Ottawa and being a tourist here. I was able to give my own small tours while we waited for the official tour to start. I have met so many people from so many different cultures. It is amazing the differences between the cultures. I am already in love with this trip. Today we are going to Camp Fortune to do the ropes course. I have already been inducted to help out because of my experience. Looking forward to it! Tomorrow we are off to Kangerlussaq! Hope everyone is having a great time. A shout out to Ontario Pioneer Camp I miss you guys! You guys are changing the lives of the campers. Keep it up. My next post will be from Greenland!!!!!! Talk to you from there!



Although this trip is called "Students on Ice", the last few days in Ottawa have been far from that, since the temperature has reached heights of around 35 Celsius, or 102 fahrenheit (for those back in America). But that hasn't stopped us from travelling all around Ontario and Quebec as well as getting to know each other before we board a ship for 11 days. On the first day, after I landed and set up my room, we explored the Museum of Civilization. I had thirty minutes for the museum, so I only really got to explore the native peoples exhibit, which had some very interesting artifacts and displays. The next day started with breakfast and a lecture, and that afternoon we visited Canada's parliament, looking through the House of Commons as well as the Senate Room. We also had a back stage tour of the Museum of Nature, and it was amazing to see what all the experts were working on. After all the touring, we finished up the day with dinner and a meeting, where we introduced ourselves and experienced our first "Arctic Hour". In Arctic Hour, usually around four of the experts on our journey will talk about something they specialize or are interested in. Last night's Arctic Hour was just an introduction to the Arctic. 

This leads us to today. Not only did we visit the estate of the former Prime Minister, but we also took part in a ropes course that included zip-lining. The course was difficult at times, and I admit I fell once. But overall, it was a great time.  

Now, at 7:06 PM, we are about to have our final meeting in Ottawa. Then we leave for Greenland on a five hour flight at 4:30 AM, Although it's an early wake up call, I am so excited to board the boat after the flight and leave the heat of Ottawa (even if it's a great city). 

The past few days have felt like two weeks, but I'm told the rest of the trip goes much faster than you think, so I am so excited to experience it.  

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