2017 Arctic Expedition: Day 2

It’s the final day of our Ottawa programming before the expedition departs for Resolute Bay, NU tomorrow morning! But we’re not packing our bags just yet – today was a busy day full of activities all over Ottawa. 

In the morning, participants went through education stations at our home base, the University of Ottawa. Stations facilitated conversation and sparked interest in several different themes, including history, politics, and development, science and nature, reconciliation, music, and health and wellness. Each station was led by SOI educators.

After grabbing lunches, students headed out into Ottawa in pod groups to rotate through activities all over Ottawa. Students attended tours on Parliament Hill, ziplined and navigated tree-top courses at Camp Fortune, and toured Rideau Hall.

After a jam-packed day, it was time for our final dinner and briefing from expedition leader Geoff Green before an early morning rise to catch our flights north!

Student maneuvering the high ropes course at Camp Fortune.

Matthew Linehan 

Yesterday was an expedition preparation day, when I arrived, there were only about 6 students sitting there. Naturally I assumed I was one of the first to arrive. We then went and looked around Ottawa while bonding as a team, it felt kind of strange to be a tourist in my own city. When getting back it turned out about all of the other 100 students had arrived prior and gone on seperate activities for the morning and we were apparently the stragglers. (I can thank the line at the bank to get Danish money for Greenland for this).

I bonded with a lot of people yesterday, as everybody on this expedition, both staff and students is so easy to talk to. It turns out Roger Bull, the expedition’s resident Arctic plant expert from the Museum of Nature is an alum from my current high school in Ottawa. Last night it was announced that Minister Catherine Mckenna would be joining us for the Canadian portion of the expedition which is super exciting. I really hope I get a chance to talk to her and let her know that it was because of her youth climate Action conference last November that I decided to apply to Students on Ice. I hope I can get a chance to let her know what an inspiration her and her work have been.

I am really looking forward to today, we have an full day of activities planned to prepare us for our departure tomorrow morning. You can sense how for everybody here, the flight out tomorrow morning cannot come soon enough. We have all learned so much about the Arctic already and cannot wait to begin learning hands-on, and exploring the great outdoors.  

Nicole and Veronica take in the detail inside the Library of Parliament.

John Gertler

Hi everybody!

I am here, in Ottawa and I can already say I love Students on Ice. The moment I stepped into the SOI office I was welcomed with smiles and enthusiasm and the smiles and the enthusiasm still hasn’t stopped! Everyone here wants to know who you are and what your story is. This interest is contagious because before I knew it, I was walking up to people from all over the planet asking them about their story. I have already met people I could have never imagined I would, and my mind has already been blown several times by all that I have learnt and I haven’t even step foot in the Arctic! I am truly thankful to everyone who have helped me get here. I am so happy to be with so many positive and inspiring people in the same place. We wake up tomorrow at 5:15 to fly to Resolute Bay, Nunavut. Although we are not there yet, through stories and what I’ve learnt so far, I’m already in love with the Arctic.

Students Selina, Lucy, Anushka and Alexia excited to be ziplining!

Sasha Latchaev

Today is the end of my second day in the Students on Ice program, and it has been truly EXTRAORDINARY! We aren’t even in the Arctic yet (or on ice), but I already feel the adrenaline
pumping. Today was a day like no other. We got to enjoy a great buffet during our breakfast and dinner (yay) and learned about Canadian parliament, culture, and historical figures. My pod (the group I will be with throughout this whole adventure) got to go Tree top Trekking. We went zip lining, climbed trees, and experienced the adventurous obstacle course at Camp Fortune and even got to enjoy a great lunch. Then we bused out to Parliament Hill. There we got a tour of our Canadian Parliament. Individuals learned about the Government of Canada as we toured the House of Commons, Senate, Library and the magnificent halls of the Parliament building. When we got back, we ate dinner and learned even more about the Inuit culture, way of life and the impact of urbanization. Now it’s 21:21 (what a coincidence!) and I am really looking forward to some beauty sleep because our good morning call tomorrow is at 5:15! I am absolutely ecstatic and we aren’t even north yet, so to all you kids back home:

Buckle your seat belts and get ready to follow along as we go to the Arctic tomorrow!

Student Jamie giving a presentation to the entire participant group during the pre-expedition briefing at the University of Ottawa.

Shuyi Wang

My first official full day at Students on Ice has been such an amazing experience. I came onto this expedition excited to be challenged and taken out of my comfort zone, and so far it has done so much more than my expectations. Despite being to Ottawa multiple times before, the first stop we’ve visited in the morning has already been a new experience. For all my previous attempts to visit inside the Parliament Hill, it has all been declined for conflicting schedules and other reasons. Finally being able to go inside and learn its complicated history and meanings behind the architecture has been a dream come true. With us, a former MP, Lucy also added other interesting details about her life as a MP and details
regarding Aboriginals and the Parliament building. According to our guide Andrew, the center block which we visited, is going under construction within the next year for at least ten years or so.

It has been a pleasure to witness the oldest part of the Parliament, the library, and how its style differs from the other parts of the building since its from different eras. After the tour, a simple lunch was provided and we went on a small walk down the Rideau Canal towards the Ottawa river. Half an hour later, the bus came and drove us to our next destination Camp Fortune. At the camp site, the camp staffs led us deep into the woods and after a brief introduction about the safety equipment, we headed off to the official course.Since I been to this exact camp site and did the zip line course before, I was confident enough to chose the advance version, I hoped that I would be fine as long as I stuck to my previous experience. Clearly I was proven wrong by the obstacles presented. At the end of the course, my hands were completely numb by gripping onto the “lifeline” too hard since it was my ACTUAL lifeline.

By the time we returned to the university dorm rooms, I was completely burnt out and didn’t want to move a single strand of my muscle. At six I was dragged out of my dorm and headed towards dinner. After a satisfying dinner, and interesting conversations (which I am impressed that I had enough energy left in me to still follow), we were given a briefing of the tomorrow’s itinerary. The most dreadful thing I remembered from the briefing was the fact that we needed to wake up at 5:15 to catch a 6 hour long flight… Wish me luck and this is me signing off.

Staff member Becky Mearns gives a presentation during the pre-expedition briefing.

The next time you hear from us, the 2017 Arctic Expedition will have set sail! Stay tuned for our next blog post from the Canadian High Arctic and be sure to check back here for updates!

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