SOI Arctic 2016: Day 16

Today was the final day of the #SOIArctic2016 Expedition and it was marked by a wonderful celebration of our incredible journey with 200 new friends, mentors, leaders and Arctic ambassadors, fuelled with a deeper understanding and passion for the Arctic.

For some, this was a journey to reconnect with and discover their home, and for others it was a journey to learn and experience an entirely new part of the world.  This was a journey of self discovery, personal growth reconciliation, cultural understanding, and hands-on learning in our world’s greatest classroom – the Arctic.

This morning, the expedition team was welcomed with a breakfast at the Canadian Museum of Nature, generously hosted by the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa. Students and staff were honoured to hear from the U.S. Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman and Mrs. Vicki Heyman. Unfortunately, weather conditions in northern Labrador prohibited flights for Ambassador and Mrs. Heyman to join this year’s expedition.  However, we were thrilled to have this opportunity with them upon our return. Ambassador Heyman inspired students with his presentation on the importance of the Arctic and working together towards a healthy and sustainable future – a message that resonated with all in the audience.

Following breakfast, students and staff continued on to our annual Welcome Home event in the 4th Floor Gallery at the Canadian Museum of Nature. A display focused on highlights of our journey included student paintings, inspired by their journey, an Arctic floor map that charted the journey, and even an opportunity to experience 360 virtual reality footage from expedition. This was a huge hit and an exciting first step into how we can better engage youth (and adults!) back home in a journey through the Arctic. To enjoy some of the expedition’s 360 videos visit the video page of our expedition site.

The mingling moved into the main hall where the CEO of the Canadian Museum of Nature, Meg Beckel, welcomed us and spoke to our wonderful partnership and common goals in educating and inspiring youth to better understand and appreciate the Arctic’s natural world. She then introduced SOI Founder, President and Expedition Leader Geoff Green who spoke to the incredible journey and its impact on not only reaching youth through education, but even more importantly, how it reached each and every person in the heart, creating a passion that will forever fuel their goals and ambitions as Arctic ambassadors.

Geoff welcomed Inuit drummer David Serkoak to the stage and what followed was a beautiful performance with his three granddaughters in a traditional Inuit drum dance.

We were thrilled to have lead singer and songwriter for Newfoundland band Hey Rosetta with us this year!  He not only shared his musical talents throughout the expedition but also mentored budding musicians on-board. Tim performed a wonderful piece that he wrote on expedition.  Indigenous Artist in Residence, Jimmy Blais, was one of two artists who joined the expedition thanks to the support of Canada Council for the Arts, the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, the Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance and the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective.

Canadian Museum of Nature scientists Roger Bull and Noel Alfonso spoke about the rewarding experience of helping to connect youth to nature in Arctic and help guide their appreciation of this special place through science.

Arctic historian Whitney Lackenbauer spoke to the important role we have to make the most of this powerful experience and six students representing a cross-section of Canadians, Americans and international youth spoke passionately about the personal impact of the journey on them. One of the more powerful presentations was by Nunavut student Andrea Phillips, a high school student who has spent her life overcoming a physical handicap. She inspired everyone on expedition and all in the room today with her strength, passion and fortitude to overcome even the most difficult of obstacles to achieve her goals. She recently learned that she received funding for university in the fall and we are thrilled to see Andrea embark on her next chapter and continue to leave her mark.

On many expeditions, Students on Ice has been fortunate to include the very talented Canadian musician Ian Tamblyn.  Through song-writing workshops he reaches into the hearts and minds of even the quietest of expedition students to help them translate their experiences into music. The results are extraordinary. At the Welcome Home event, guests were treated to a very special song, co-written by Nain, Labrador student Shawna Dicker and Ian and supported with vocals and guitar by Ian and Tim.

Although the the 2016 Students on Ice Expedition has come to a close, this is just the beginning of a lifelong journey. To quote expedition student Allison Dyson, “With all the people I have met here I think the future is going to be in good hands. We all really care about this. We are passionate people.” Lots of tearful goodbyes followed.  And then it was time for most of the students and staff to head off to the airport.

Our 2016 SOI Arctic Expedition has been a great success!!  It had its twists and turns, we had to adapt, improvise, take some risks, be patient, explore, and be flexible. The result was an experience we will never forget.  And the long terms outcomes and impacts on these youth will be seen and heard in the short and long term in many, many positive ways.

Thank you to everyone for helping to make this all possible.  All our incredible Partners and Sponsors are absolutely integral to SOI’s existence.  THANK YOU!  MERCI!!  QUJANNAMIIK!!!

Geoff

 

Cultural attaché Dick Custin with the @usembassyottawa welcomes #SOIArctic2016

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SOI Founder and Expedition Leader Geoff Green thanks @USEmbassyOttawa for hosting Welcome Back breakfast for #SOIArctic2016

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U.S Ambassador to Canada @bruceheyman welcomes back the #SOIArctic2016 Expedition team

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