Today we saw again that the future is in great hands with young inspiring and articulate voices.
We came ashore right after breakfast at the old Inuit village and Moravian Mission of Hebron on the east Coast of Labrador.
In part it is a sad reflection of a troubled past but also as we saw, it is a great lesson in resilience and reconciliation.
For centuries, Inuit lived on the grassy banks of this sheltered harbour and in 1831 it was their presence that brought European Missionaries who introduced Christianity and forever changed Inuit life.
More than a century later, in 1959 there were 250 people living here when the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador declared the community economically unviable and forcibly relocated every man, woman and child.
Some were sent to Killiniq at the northern tip of the Labrador and Quebec boundary which within 30 years would also be closed. Others went to Makovik and other settlements and more to Nain further south below the treeline and in country that was unfamiliar for hunting and survival.
The Superintendent of Torngat Park, Gary Baikie whose family was one of those relocated, told our SOI expedition it caused terrible hardship, family disruption hunger and starvation.
In spite of all the hardship and injustice, Inuit now have regional Government in this part of Labrador and with the National Park, they are restoring the mission, which is also now a National Historic site.
Just behind the long white structure that served as a church, school and home for the missionaries are three bronze plaques. One lists the name of every person who was forced to relocate, the second is a formal apology from the government off Newfoundland and Labrador for the suffering and injustices is caused and the third, is from the Inuit of Nunatsiavut accepting that apology and concluding with two simple but powerful words “we forgive “!
There was an amazing irony to our visit here. As mentioned in earlier posts, we changed much of our schedule because of ice conditions around Baffin Island. Our “plan B” brought us to Torngat Mountains National Park which wonderfully coincided with the release of a National Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy released today in Kuujjuaq by the National Inuit Organization, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.
Suicide rates among young Inuit across Arctic Canada are ten times higher than the National average and there are connections with colonialism, cultural destruction and relocations of the past.
We filed into the old church in Moravian tradition boys on one side, girls on the other. What we saw and heard was a new north, with resilience, reconciliation and renewal.
The President of the National Inuit Youth organization Maatali Okalik spoke on behalf of the ITK President Natan Obed committing to develop and fight for new initiatives to combat suicide prevention.
SOI Arctic Youth & Partnerships Program Manager, Caitlyn Baikie offered words of forgiveness, relicense and forward determination to take control and build stronger communities.
In respect to for the Church, at the beginning of a moving program that followed, Inuit elders, and SOI educators Annie Petaullassie and David Serkoaak sang and played How Great thou Art in Inuktitut, Annie singing and David played his accordion.
Then David played the Inuit traditional drum, and students, Natashia Allakarillak and Alassua Hanson both from Iqaluit provided a marvelous throat singing performance. It was both entertainment and a reminder that not long ago these cultural practices were forbidden.
David Serkoak then teamed up with Ian Tamblyn, an award winning Canadian singer who doubles as an SOI educator and zodiac driver preformed a song that inspired Ian right here in Saglak Fiord, Ian said “the Heartbeat of the land” came to him as he listened to an Inuk drum.
Mikki Jacobsen, is a multi media artist and singer from Greenland. His voice and guitar were so pure that two husky dogs actually came into the church and lied down motionless as he sang about injustices past and better and forgiving future ahead.
The entire program was a remarkable collection of northern and southern talent in an impromptu concert that could not be heard anywhere else in the world. And yet it would be at home, on any stage or hall anywhere in Canada or any where else.
Tomorrow we visit the base camp at Torngat Park and tonight we try and grasp what a remarkable day we have had.
Abhayjeet Sachal – Surrey, BC, Canada
Imagine having everything in your life taken away from you. In 1959, the community members of Hebron were forced to leave their land because of the attempts to colonize northern Labrador. This left long-lasting trauma on those forcibly removed from their homes and this trauma was passed down through the generations. The Inuit living in Hebron had a connection to their land and leaving it meant abandoning something that they depended on. Today, we went to the abandoned town. It was very emotional for many students and staff directly affected by this, and I was able to explore the small community after a few presentations. Later on in the day, we went on a Zodiac Cruise through Saglek Fjord. I felt the real power of nature throughout the whole day, and I can’t wait for tomorrow.
PS: Happy Birthday to my amazing older brother, Sukhmeet Singh Sachal, who told me about Students on Ice in the first place!
Aiden Cyr – Ottawa, ON, Canada
Day four on the boat and wow has time ever flown by! Our days are very long and our nights short aboard the Ocean Endeavour yet I can’t help but feel like the experience has flown by in one sense and matured deeply in another. Matured is an interesting word for the day because I find myself post-Hebron as a very reflective person today. I believe that the vibe today has really compelled my peers to engage in rather deep and critical conversations than the previous silly one’s and stepping away from hey, ” Polar bears and Icebergs and woah! ” to invigorating conversations covering a wide range of issues involving social change and what the experience and the relationships actually mean. Well for some reason Jess wants me to sit on one of those panels to generate some discussion with some of the youth in particular about reconciliation and the experience as a whole. I feel super underqualified but I’m always up for new stuff and I guess this is what being on a 4R’s has prepped me for.
Interesting times indoors, my room is tiny and when you feel the boat rock it’s pretty startling but I think I have gotten used to it. However I most definitely haven’t gotten used to my roomates 5:30 alarm that he sleeps through! He is cool but man you can’t set a 5:30 alarm and keep pressing snooze until 7:00. I’m in a pretty calm state mostly but I don’t know if I can handle another morning like today’s.
Hey, things could be a lot worse. Getting served grilled Mahi and food comparable to urban restaurants is definelty a huge plus and did I mention, NO DISHES!
Well someone won the name contest last night. She memorized something like 200 people’s names and almost messed up on one of the last names of the whole crowd because of two bald look alikes. I guess I lost my shot at the prize 😉
So good news and bad news in regards to the Hebron visit today. The bad was the weather which caused cancellations of several ministers and our good friend Ian Kapstick to not be able to announce the ITK suicide prevention strategy at the historic site of Hebron. We have been in contact with the ITK and since we were heading to Hebron anyways we made a ceremony of our own with awesome music, beautiful throat singing and amazing drum dancing.
Gotta go now! We are turning into Saglek Fjord, a beautiful Iceberg bay. Need to snap some more pics! No Code today… oops lol.
Far Away, Near IN Spirit!
Allison Dyson – Makkovik, NL, Canada
We visited Hebron earlier today, and there are no words to describe how it felt. We sat in the church where our Inuit ancestors sat when they were told that they were going to be moved, and talked about the new Suicide Prevention Strategy that ITK’s leader Natan Obed has put in place. I looked at the plaque and saw a few familiar names, but the name which really struck me was one of my neighbour’s names. I often overlook the sources in my community, but if I ever wanted to know more about Hebron or my culture and traditions, I would just have to run across the road to Gram Ford. This whole experience is giving me an insane amount of realizations about where I come from and what it means to be Inuit. I am proud of who I am and where I come from.
Amy Johnson – PhD Student
Hi everyone! Today we were in Hebron, which is a village that the Inuit used to live in before they were relocated in the 50s and it is now a National Historic Site. Today there was an event to celebrate the launch of the suicide prevention strategy and even though the leaders had to have it elsewhere due to bad weather, the SOI expedition participated in a ceremony in the Hebron church with the caretakers and Parks Canada staff from the Torngats. The ceremony was touching and full of hope for the future. We also walked around the ruins of the buildings and explored the beautiful landscape. This afternoon, we had workshops on the ship and I stayed on deck to watch the wildlife (2 humpback whales!) and scenery and talk about polar bears with some students. This park is spectacular and it is amazing to see places so remote. We also went on a wild ride zodiac tour in the North Arm of Saglek Fjord where we all found out just how waterproof our clothing is. As we cruised in the water surrounded by tall peaks, we were awed by the vastness of the landscape. Tomorrow we head to Base Camp for some hiking and tours, and then we will be heading to Greenland in the following days!
Ashlee Cunsolo – Professor & Canada Research Chair
Entering the Land of the Spirits
The last two days have been humbling and awe-inspiring, as we entered into the traditional homelands of the Labrador Inuit and moved into the Torngat Mountains National Park. For almost a decade, I have had the great privilege and honour of working in Nunatsiavut, Labrador, with Inuit throughout the region on community-led research examining the ways in which changes in climate and environment are impacting all aspects of Inuit health and wellbeing. But to set foot in the spiritual home of the Nunatsiavut Land Claims Settlement Region, to see where people speak about with deep respect, was both humbling and deeply emotional.
Currently, there are five communities in Nunatsiavut: Nain, Hopedale, Postville, Makkovik, and Rigolet; representing 4% of Canada’s Inuit population, or approximately 2600 people. Nunatsiavut was formed in 2005, creating the 4th Inuit region of Inuit Nunangat, along with the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Nunavut, and Nunavik. Nunatsiavut Inuit continue to actively hunt, trap, fish, and forage from their homelands, harvesting from the abundant marine, land, and plant life to maintain overall health and wellness.
Nunatsiavut means “Our Beautiful Land”, which is an understatement for the Torngat Mountains. The sheer majesty and beauty of the mountains, waters, and land is intoxicating. But more than that, the land is alive with the history and culture of the Labrador Inuit and their ancestors, who have lived throughout these lands for thousands of years, maintaining a subsistence existence deeply connected to and reliant on the land and sea. The Torngat Mountains is considered the land of spirits and the spiritual homelands of the Labrador Inuit, and this is palpable throughout the park.
Through the collaborative research, Inuit throughout Nunatsiavut have expressed that they are become increasingly concerned by the changes they are witnessing in their homelands. With warming temperatures, the weather has become more unpredictable and there is an increase in the severity and frequency of storms. The sea ice is also changing, freezing up later, breaking up earlier, and not covering as much area. As a result, travel is more dangerous, as the ice is often unstable and conditions are difficult to predict. As Sikumiut (People of the Ice), Inuit rely on the presence of stable and long-lasting ice to support their way of life, feed their families, maintain cultural practices, and travel to other communities or hunting grounds.
These changes are impacting all aspects of life including food security, the ability to participate in land-based activities, and the sharing of knowledge and cultural skills between the generations, with serious implications for physical and mental health and wellness.
We need a paradigm shift in the ways in which we understand and plan for the human aspects of climate change, including health and wellness. Climate change has been identified as the biggest health threat of the 21st Century by major health governing bodies, with the Circumpolar North at the frontlines of these changes. Climate change presents us all with an opportunity to come together to find ways to support factors of resilience and community health and to mitigate human impacts on the climate and environment, not only in the North, but around the world.
Being here, in the homelands of the Labrador Inuit, in the heartland of one of the fastest changing regions in the world, in the traditional territory of the Labrador Inuit who are Canadian and global leaders in sharing their knowledge, wisdom, and lived experiences about the impacts of climate change is an incredible honour. Walking on this land, feeling the sacredness of the area, connecting with the region has changed me, and has added depth and nuance to my understanding of the work I do. And to share these moments with youth from around the world, who are committed to and interested in learning about the North, and working towards positive social change is inspiring, and moments I will always remember and always cherish. Having these moments is reconciliation in action and learning at its best.
If you are interested in learning more about how climate change is impacting people throughout Nunatsiavut, we made a documentary film, Attutauniujuk Nunami/Lament for the Land, which is available free online at www.lamentfortheland.ca/film. Told through the voices of 24 Inuit from throughout the region, this film weaves together culture, traditional knowledge, storytelling and stunning landscape footage to tell a story of change, transition, and resilience.
Ashlee Cunsolo, PhD
Associate Professor & Canada Research Chair
Cape Breton University
Aviaq Johnston – Iqaluit, NU, Canada
Today we were in Hebron, Nunatsiavut. Hebron is an old settlement where 60 families lived. In 1959 the Newfoundland and Labrador Government decided to close the community and relocated the families to various communities such as Nain, Hopedale, Makkovik and Killiniq.
The historical significance of this place is potent. With the spirits of the Torngat Mountains, it’s no wonder that Natan Obed, the president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, wanted to release the Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy here.
As is all too familiar among Arctic communities, the weather had different plans, and the ceremony was moved to Kuujjuaq. However, it’s lucky that SOI was here to celebrate in their place. Our emotions ran high as we spoke of the trauma of relocations and about suicide rates among Inuit. Despite the heavy topic, there was also a lot of joy in the church we were gathered in. Musicians played music and the caretakers of Hebron shared Pitti with us (dried Arctic Char).
It really showed that resilience is woven into our DNA as Inuit and as humans. In memory of Dorothy Angnatuk and many of the friends and loved ones I have lost to suicide, I urge you all to #CreateAGoodDay. Qujannamiik.
Cameron Byers – Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada
Oh swell. It’s usually an exclamation of excitement, but in the case of SOI, its basically the muffed groan of a student feeling the energy of the North Atlantic. For me at least. I’ve lost a good number of hours of sleep from it the past few nights as we’ve crossed the Hudson Strait, and descended the coast of Labrador. Movement on a ship is not particularly something new to me in any respect (I live on a small island, duh), but it’s somewhat different when our place up here, the SOI family home of sorts, is constantly swaying back and forth. It can take a bit of getting used to.
The sensation of when the ship crests over a swell and for a couple of seconds it feels as if the engines of the Space Shuttle have cut off after reaching orbit, and then when the bow plummets down and the foam in your matress compesses around you as if pulling your body down to become one with the ship, is not a particularly nice way to be lulled to sleep.
But by far the nicest place to be in not-so-calm-seas is the bridge. The reassuring professionalism of the officers, along with the joking talk about crossing the Drake Passage (i.e. the roughest seas in the world; AKA never go there ever) is sure to put even the most nervous, or sea-sickest mind at ease.
Catherine Miousse – Executive Director
Fragilité, souffrance, cicatrices. Le coeur bien ouvert, nous avons assisté à une cérémonie pour célébrer le vent de renouveau qui souffle sur la terre de Hebren avec une relève inspirante de jeunes Inuits formée de leaders qui s’efforcent de réparer le passé, mais surtout de bâtir l’avenir. J’ai été extrêmement touchée par les prestations émouvantes et par cet appel à la réconciliation. Hebren est un site historique pour commémorer les habitants qui ont été forcés de quitter leur village. Cette histoire m’a rappelé ce que les gens de Saint-Louis ont vécus à l’époque de la centralisation, dans un village non lointain de chez moi. Ces habitants de l’arrière pays gaspésien ont vécus l’horreur, le feu a été mis à leur maison pour les obliger à abandonner le village.
Regarder vers le passé pour mieux reconstruire l’avenir,prometteur du futur ambitieux qui annonce que la réconciliation est bien entamée.
Takazo Danielle – Deline, NT, Canada
I miss my home, everything and everyone. The 2016 Arctic Expedition is a blast, the countdown to home starts now, I can’t wait, I get excited more and more every day. I am jumping to share my experience. I’ll be home soon Deline, I have a lot of exciting things to share with you and the world as I travel and explore more after this great adventure. I am thankful for a lot of things in my life, Students on Ice is one of them. It’s something I will never forget.
to luke … hi’3
to my family …ilu
to my boss.. mahsi cho
to jeff …mahsi cho
to stafff and crew… mahsi cho
my new friends …. you are all awesome
Mahsi cho (Thank youvery much)
Darrell Wells – Instructor Marine Institute of Memorial University
It’s been a couple busy days. We visited the Torngat Park area called Ramah where we experienced some great char fishing, and celebrated with a outdoor music concert featuring Dr.Andrew on his cello and David on the accordian. I hiked up the hill there for a better view and the view was fantastic. The afternoon was spent touring a beauitful fjord and the landscape was simply amazing. I have never seen such huge rock structures before. Just proves how small we really are in the bigger picture.
Today was very special as we travelled to the resettled community of Hebron. This community was forced to resettle in the days of Joey Smallwood and it was done without any community consultation. Simply put the community, families, and sense of culture and heritage were lost. I have relatives, my grandparents and my mother, who were forced to resettle from their home communities on the south coast of Newfoundland.
Today, I woke to the view of an iceberg grounded near where we were anchored. We participated in a ceremony in the reconstructed Moravian Church in Hebron to outline the apology from the Newfoundland and Labrador provincial government and more importantly the acceptance of that apology by the Labrador Inuit. It was a moving ceremony and it was great to just walk and explore the remaining buildings that are there.
Anyway, things are going great. We are well on track and tomorrow we will be visiting the base camp at the Torngat Mountains. That should be great and perhaps I will get a chance to catch some char.
Derry Li – Victoria, BC, Canada
Edouard Toma – Gatineau, QC, Canada
Aujourd’hui, je me suis levé très tôt, je suis allé déjeuner, mais je n’avais vraiment pas faim alors je n’ai rien mangé. Nous sommes tout de suite allés au salon pour entendre les messages du matin avant qu’on aille sur terre. Il y avait beaucoup de messages car un évènement important devait se passer ce jour là; nous devions assister à l’annonce d’une stratégie contre le suicide dans les communautés inuites. Malheureusement, l’évènement n’a pas eu lieu ici car les conditions météorologiques étaient trop mauvaises pour les personnes qui voulaient prendre l’avion pour venir y assister. C’était un lieu très important à visiter car il y avait une histoire tragique derrière cette communauté. Il y a quelques générations, le gouvernement du Labrador a déporté tous les habitants de cette communauté située à Hebron. Le gouvernement a présenté ses excuses 45 ans plus tard et la communauté a accepté les excuses. Cet évènement coincide bien avec un des sujets discutés sur l’expédition; la réconciliation. Bref, je suis allé sur terre tout de suite après les annonces. On a été accueillis par quelques personnes et deux chiens qui vivaient sur les lieux. Nous avons exploré les alentours en attendant que tout le monde arrive sur terre. Le village était très petit, il y avait seulement 5 maisons. Dès que tout le monde est arrivé, nous sommes allés dans l’église pour commencer les célébrations. On a écouté des discours sur la communauté et son passé douloureux ainsi que d’autres sur différents sujets dont le suicide dans les communautés inuites. Nous avons par la suite assisté à divers performances faites par différentes personnes dont des inuits et des personnes qui faisaient parti de l’expédition. Il y avait du tambour, de la guitare, du chant et du chant de gorge: une tradition inuite. Nous avons par la suite eu le reste du temps libre à se promener dans la communauté avant de retourner sur le bateau. Nous avons eu le diner avant de relaxer jusqu’au début des ateliers. Plus tard dans l’après-midi, j’ai choisi un atelier de psychologie sur les différents types d’attachements aux personnes. J’ai appris beaucoup, mais je ne peux toujours pas déterminer exactement quel type je suis. J’ai par la suite écrit mon blogue jusqu’au souper avant de me diriger vers le souper avant d’aller me coucher.
Ellie Clin – Teacher
Well, I figured that one whole week into this experience was as good a time as any to begin blogging. Although I have not yet written one myself, I have been spending a lot of time in the blogging room with the SOI students helping them with their own blogs. Getting to hang out with these amazing youth every day is even better than I could have imagined!
One of the themes we are examining during this expedition is truth & reconciliation, and I feel that this is really important for my own journey towards t&r. I am learning so much from the Inuit and Indigenous Elders, students, and staff on board by listening to their stories and experiences; this is helping me better understand my own family’s history as early colonizers of this country and the privileges I have been born into as a result. It can be difficult and uncomfortable to think about, but extremely important. Our visit today to Hebron, a community from which Inuit were forcibly relocated, was very emotional and special.
In 3 days it will be my old daddy-o’s 60th birthday. This year I am the age he was when he first learned he was going to be a father, and I am grateful that he helped raise me so well that I could grow up to become a person who goes on an expedition like this. Dad, I am thinking of you and wishing you a very happy birthday!
Emma Lim – London, ON, Canada
Yesterday after blogging we all went on deck and looked at the landscape as we sailed into Nackvak Fjord. The landscape was tall mountains split with narrow waterfalls tumbling down into the ocean. An interesting waterfall disappeared back into the ground before reaching the ocean. Eric, a staff member told us all about how the vegetation was missing for a few feet on the left side because of a rock slide on the ride. He pointed out the scars in the rocks and the ways you could identify the signs.
At the after dinner meeting, we talked about our heroes of the day and the one I had written down was read. Saviluk (a student) also named everyone which was awesome-although I had been pretty close to knowing all the names, but I was still impressed.
Today in the morning, we took zodiacs to Hebron which was a very significant place. Government had forced the residents to move out, which had really impacted the people. I found Hebron very upsetting to be in and did not want to step into the village, which was in ruins. Students On Ice held a ceremony in the church to honour the residents but I was too upset to want to go into the village to the church so I stayed on the shore.
The church was a place where the residents had been told they were being relocated because in the church they had to be silent and could not protest. The whole town felt a bit like Auschwitz in the way that it was memorialised and visited. It reminded me of the experience I had with the Asper Foundation Holocaust Program and the whole visit was very emotional for me, and a lot of people. There were supposed to be workshops but they were cancelled for reflection time (I was planning to do a botany workshop).
Back on the ship we had some free time so I went to go work on my painting, which frustrated me because I ruined all my clouds and overall, it was not turning out the way I wanted. After painting I headed here to blog and I plan to go get my sketchbook and sit on the bow as we turn into a different set of fjords.
Eve Martin Riverin – Pessamit, QC, Canada
Kuei! Bonjour! Déjà 7 jours que l’expérience de Students on ice a débuté et il y a tellement de choses qui se sont passées. Je peux vous dire que même après une semaine, je ne réalise pas encore que je suis réellement en Arctique. Les paysages sont simplement magnifiques et incroyables. De plus, j’ai rencontré plusieurs personnes très intéressantes et inspirantes provenant d’un peu partout dans le monde. J’en ai aussi appris sur la culture inuite qui est très intéressante et dont je connaissais très peu. Donc, je vous fait un petit résumé de chaque journées passées depuis le début de l’expédition.
Vendredi le 22 juillet 2016, c’était une journée d’activités à Ottawa et nous nous sommes levés très tôt. En avant-midi, il y a eu plusieurs rencontres avec tout le personnel concernant leurs domaines d’intérêts et ce sur quoi allait porter leurs ateliers durant l’expédition. En après-midi, nous sommes allés faire de la tyrolienne au Camp Fortune à Gatineau. En soirée, il y a eu une réunion où l’on fait un résumé ainsi que les plans pour le lendemain. D’ailleurs, il y a eu un changement de plan de dernière minute concernant notre itinéraire, nous devions se rendre à Kuujuaq mais la grande surface de glace sur la mer rendait impossible cette option. Donc, le plan B était de se rendre à Iqualuit et de prendre un autre chemin. Cette soirée-là, il fallait faire notre valise car le lendemain était le grand départ pour l’Arctique.
Le 23 juillet 2016, le jour tant attendu … hélas le plus long je dirais. Il fallait se lever à 6h du matin car notre vol était prévu à 7h45 cependant, nous avons attendu toute la matinée dans la hall d’entrée des résidences de l’Université d’Ottawa en raison des mauvaises conditions météorologiques à Iqualuit. Pour faire ça court, nous nous sommes envolés qu’à 17h et nous sommes arrivés aux alentours de 20h à Iqualuit au Nunavut. En arrivant à destination, nous avons pris de petits zodiaques pour se rendre jusqu’au bateau et je peux vous dire que c’était très mouvementé et que la température a changé radicalement si l’on compare avec la température d’Ottawa. Bref, une grosse journée épuisante et fantastique en même temps.
Dimanche le 24 juillet 2016, une journée relaxante avec quelques ateliers sur le bateau. Durant les premiers jours, j’avais un peu de misère à parler anglais car au quotidien je n’ai pas vraiment la chance de le pratiquer cependant, c’est une belle opportunité de m’améliorer même si c’est difficile car je ne peux pas m’exprimer comme je le voudrais. En fin de journée, nous avons eu la chance de voir des ours polaires dans la mer remplie de glaces. C’était fascinant et excitant de voir de tels animaux dans leur habitat naturel et nous avons vu au total neuf ours polaires! Il y avait aussi le paysage splendide et les montagnes immenses dans la Baie Frobisher.
Le 25 juillet 2016, j’avais un peu le mal de mer en me levant et j’étais un peu surprise car normalement je n’ai pas ce problème quoiqu’il faut dire que ce n’est pas la même chose lorsque l’on vit sur le bateau. C’était une très belle journée d’excursions dans le parc national des Monts Torngats au Labrador plus présicément dans les Eclispe Channel. C’est en voyant de tels paysages où les montagnes sont immenses, que l’eau est bleue claire et que l’air est fraîche qu’on réalise à quel point l’immensité de la nature peut être impressionante que nous sommes qu’un petit point à côté de cela.
Mardi le 26 juillet 2016, nous sommes allés à Ramah Bay qui est encore dans les Monts Torngats et nous y avons fait des ateliers. Une chose que j’ai fait cette journée était une entrevue ainsi qu’une séance photo pour notre commanditaire NordMab. C’était amusant et stressant en même temps en plus d’être assez spécial avec le paysages montagneux et les rocheuses autour de nous.
Aujourd’hui, nous sommes allés à Hebron au Labrador, c’est un site très spécial car ce sont d’anciennes terres inuites où un groupe y vivait. Cependant, ils ont été relocalisés sans aucun préavis alors cette terre est très significative pour la nation inuite du Labrador. En arrivant, des gens nous ont accueillis et il y a eu une cérémonie dans l’ancienne église où nous avons célébré et honoré la nation inuite. C’était une journée très émotive et plusieurs prestations musicales ont été présentées par plusieurs participants de l’expédition. Après le souper, nous sommes supposés faire une excursion en zodiaque dans un fjord au Labrador,sur ce je vous quitte et je vous donnerai de mes nouvelles durant les prochains jours.
Une petite pensée pour ma famille et mon entourage, vous me manquez énormément et j’ai très hâte de vous revoir et de vous raconter mon expérience.
Nuikanesh mak nuitemuesh tshi uitematnau tshetshue tshe mueshtatetnau mak nemeshte pekuelten tshetshi uapmitakuet tshe meshte shuelemetnau!
Haleh Zabihi – St. John’s, NL, Canada
Day 5 aboard the Ocean Endeavour has been wonderful so far! Today we stopped in Hebron, a small abandoned community in Northern Labrador. It was really interesting to see what was there now which made it so easy to imagine what it was like before 1959 when it was abandoned. The building that greeted us as we got off the boat was visibly weathered and beaten down. One could observe the toll years of abandonment and neglect has had on this building that we learned was once a whale blubber processing factory. We gathered in the church where we learned about the history of the town and also were treated to traditional drum dancing and throat singing. After this insightful presentation, the group dismantled to explore the rest of the community. I visited the graveyard and went to the very top balcony of the church which provided a beautiful view of the coast. We are now on our way to Saglek Fjord and I’m very excited because we sailed through Nachvak Fjord yesterday which was absolutely beautiful. I spent two hours on the deck just taking pictures and looking at the scenery!
Until next time,
P.S. If you’ve been keeping up with my (awesome) blogs text me an upside down smiley face 😉
Jamie Snook – Executive Director
Torngat Mountains Caribou
The Students on Ice (SoI) expedition students are seeing some amazing coastline and all eyes are trying to focus on the next polar bear sighting. Personally, I am hoping to see an iconic and healthy Torngat Mountains Caribou.
One may imagine these caribou are no different than other caribou in Canada, but these animals are actually a unique type of caribou and a distinct herd. As one Inuk said in a recent traditional knowledge study supported by the Torngat Wildlife, Plants, and Fisheries Secretariat: They’re different animals. You can tell by their size, their fur colour, their habitat, their area where they live, too. Their tracks are different.? Others who have depended on these animals for subsistence will also tell you they even taste differently.
The local Torngat Mountains Park Superintendent, Gary Baikie, was very lucky yesterday. He saw a large stag at the basecamp. He then flew 100 miles to meet us and didn’t see another one and in discussion he reminisced about the hundreds of caribou that were once common to see in large groups in this area.
The trends are not looking good for caribou around the world today. Most populations are currently declining and you could probably quickly guess that the loss of habitat is one of the main contributing factors. At the recent North American Caribou Workshop in Thunder Bay, Ontario, caribou biologist Dr. Isabelle Schmelzer remarked that Labrador caribou did not get this memo.
The habitat in the Torngat Mountains for example has been largely untouched due to development, yet caribou in this area are believed to be still declining. In 2014 our organization led and helped coordinated an aerial survey of these animals and there are an estimated 930 caribou. This was the first scientific survey of these animals and this upcoming spring there is an anticipated follow up count. Over 80% of traditional knowledge holders in Nunatsiavut believe the herd is also decreasing, similar to other herds around the world.
This information is very important to the health of Inuit in this area. I’ll never forget the summer of 2015 when these research results were shared with Inuit at the Torngat Mountains National Park Base Camp. After the science presentation was given, an elder asked the biologist when the caribou were going to return. When the reply was bad news, she was overcome with emotions and broke down in tears. This was a powerful moment for me to witness. In that moment, I realized how deeply interconnected wildlife is with health and wellbeing, and how the management decisions we make directly impact people physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Today, I had the privilege of visiting Ramah, one of the most beautiful, important, and sacred sites in the Torngat Mountains. When sitting on a rock chatting with Gary Baikie while watching fog roll in over the mountains, our conversations shifted to caribou. Gary remarked that back in 2006, when the park was first opened, he had the opportunity to visit Ramah with a photographer. When they arrived, caribou were in the area, wandering on the shoreline, up in the hills, and even under a waterfall. Sitting there, in that moment, I could see the caribou there, in that landscape, as they had been for thousands of years. I only hope that they will continue to inhabit this land for thousands more.
At the North American Caribou Workshop, Paul Kennedy from CBC’s Ideas series spoke about the importance of caribou for people, for the ecosystem, and for Canada. He remarked that more than any other animal, caribou are the true iconic species of this country. They are important for all of us, whether we live in the North or the South, whether we rely on them for food or not, and whether we will ever seen one ourselves or not. It’s just important to know that they are there.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Torngat Secretariat, please visit our website at www.torngatsecretariat.ca. Our organization is also on Facebook and Twitter, and we’re always happy to field more questions and inquiries.
Janine Machmer – Pangnirtung, NU, Canada
Janine here, it has been an amazing past two days here on our ship! I can’t believe the places that we’ve been going to. Yesterday on the 26th we went to visit the Ramah Bay Island, such a beautiful place with gorgeous landscapes, the energy of the land was so great, also the smell of the land made me feel like I was back home which made me a little emotional as I was a bit home sick. Hiking up one of the hills and reaching the top to see such incredible landscape was fascinating. After being in Ramah Bay we sailed out to see the Nachvak Fjord which was so much like Auyuittuq National Park back home in Pangnirtung, Nunavut where I live and was raised. It was so beautiful, I wished that the weather was good enough to get on our zodaics and walk around the land but it was way too windy and so we couldn’t.
And anyways, today this morning, we got to visit Hebron here in Labrador and to me, it was just completly wonderful, I felt just at home! Being with Inuit, having tea and yummy bannock along with some dried arctic char (pitti) in a little cabin where they cook their food and also sleep in too, it was just so great to be there and I did not want to leave anymore. We all took a group photo of all Inuit students and staff with the Nunavut and Labrador flag which hopefully will be posted on the website later on. Hebron is a very special place with such great energy and people, their church is so beautiful with such a sad story in it that makes it so important to the people there and to us. If and when I could I’d totally go back there again and stay a little longer than just couple hours. I will never forget that place and the stories there.
To family and friends back home, I’m doing fine. Just been feeling home sick lately with all these awesome places that we’ve been going to that are so similiar to home, I wish I could just show you all the pictures that I’ve taken so far, but I do know I’ll get to show them when I finally get back home. It is safe to say that even though I get sea sick here and there, I have not puked or have gotten badly sick but I feel like I might on our way to Greenland as I hear that the waters will be even more rough. I just hope to sleep through it! I so can’t wait till I am home with all of you, and to be in my bed and sleep how ever long I want, to eat some yummy country food, having pitti today made me feel a little better and hearing what other people call it in their region was pretty cool too. Only a couple more days till I am home. I greatly miss you all, but this trip is a once and a life time opportunity and for that I am so ever grateful for it and I will enjoy in the best way that I possibly can. Also mum, dad I know you guys will be reading this and I just wanna say thank you for all that you guys do for our family, I wish I could call and hear your voices but I know if I were to call I’d just cry from finally hearing you guys speak and from missing home. I love you two and I miss you. I’ll see you soon. xoxo
Jasveen Brar – Redcliff, AB, Canada
These past couple of days have been filled with adventure, incredible sights and sounds, and many emotions. Yesterday, we landed in Ramah Bay, an absolutely incredible place (on the way there we also saw a seal bobbing in the water!). Ramah Bay is a remote place with an incredible view, with mountains that dipped into the bay and fog everywhere.
We got to go on a little hike, walk to a waterfall and take part in some fantastic workshops. I spent my time with Elder David, in a drum dancing circle! We learnt how the drums where made, and even danced a little bit.
Afterwards, I decided that I wanted to learn how to fish. I’ve never been fishing before, in fact I’ve never even held a fishing rod. So with a quick lesson from Dr. Kate and my fellow Canadian Berkeley, I was good to go. And after many many terrible attempts to cast the line I got the hang of it. The last thing that I expected was to actually catch a fish, but yep, that is exactly what happened. I caught my first fish ever in the Arctic!!! Our day ended with a ship cruise through Nachvak Fjord which was absolutely breathtaking.
Today we visited Hebron, historically a thriving community, the residents were forced out of their homes in 1959. Currently there are abandoned buildings on shore which include a Hudson’s Bay Trading company, a whaling station and the restored church in which the residents were told to leave.
To put it shortly, it was a very emotional day. We learned a lot about what the residents of Hebron went through, the hardships they faced such as alientation and starvation . We had presentations from members of the community, performances by Tim Baker and Ian, and throat singing by a couple of SOI students. My experiences at Hebron and my chats with some of the Inuit elders and youth have really touched my heart. I wish that we talked about this in school, because it is so important for these stories to be told, and for their voices to be heard. I am so happy that Students On Ice brought us all here today, there were so many emotions in the room and I know that it touched us all in some way.
Joseph Thrasher III – Inuvik, NT, Canada
Yesterday morning I went to Ramah Bay and me and my friends, Lucasi and Cade, went to go and hike up the hills. When we got to the top we took a picture of an inukshuk.
After all the hiking and the exploring around Ramah we decided to get into workshops and I was teaching one with Jolly and that workshop was Arctic sports, so me and Jolly started teaching and telling some stories about why and how the Inuit of the north came up with the games. Me and Jolly explained and demonstrated the one foot, two foot, triple jump and leg wrestle.
That was my highlight of yesterday. This morning I loved waking up early, becuse it’s so quiet and you get a sense of thoughtfulness and I decided to show some people how to do some more Arctic sports.
Later this morning we went out to Hebron. Hebron is an abandoned community and we all gathered in the old church, had some little shows put on for us inside like singing, drum dancing and throat singing.
When we were done singing and music playing and a moment of silence, we all got to explore around the church and we went on top the chruch up to bell tower. When we were done doing that we went back to the Ocean Endeavor and had lunch.
So we were all done lunch we had a couple of hours of doing whatever we want, or some people call it ‘quiet time’.
Now here I am writing on the computer and waiting for more of the fun trips to come for the rest of the week, and more to come tonight.
#SOI #FloatingClassroom #SOIArctic2016
Julia Richardson – Kingston, PEI, Canada
Today we went to the abandoned village of Hebron to learn more about its sorrowful past. Just as the history of the place, the surrounding environment embodies a certain mournful stillness, as if silent in rememberance. Even though the day was cloudy and the air had a bit of a nip to it I was quite content to indulge in the stunningly remote landscape and walk among the sodden ruins of the few remaining houses.
All the SOI members gathered at the community church, along with some guests, to file in along the wooden benches and listen to speakers and musicians, all for the awareness and prevention of Inuit suicide. A brief explanation of the significance of this church in particular is that this was the location where the native community of Hebron were told that they were to be relocated for the sake of “their wellbeing”. Being in a church, it was a taboo to speak up about whatever was being said up at the podeum. As a result the Inuit were unable to make their ambitions clear as to how they in fact wanted to stay. The leading member of the community did send a letter to the premier at the time to object to the relocation, but their plea fell onto deaf ears. In the end the community was uprooted and moved elsewhere. The scars left by such a cultural wound are still seen in the decendents of Hebron to this day.
In the past, practicing traditional music, languages, etc. were all banned while in a church. By having our Northern students and teachers perform their traditional dances and songs within it was truly a feeling of closure and reconciliation to all of us gathered at such a historic site.
We had time to wander around Hebron for a good hour after the final presentation was wrapped up. I spent this hour walking throughout the crumbling town, learning about each building and gaining more knowledge on the town’s troubled history from Fred, David and other SOI staff members.
During the workshop period later that day I attempted to make a traditional dog sled harness for my family’s dog but I could not sew for the life of me! After trying to get the needle through the fabric for a good 5+ minutes I decided to surrender my failed harness to another girl who didn’t come in time to receive the materials. Even though I didn’t get to make the harness I was able learn a lot about dog sledding and its history in Inuit culture!
But the best part of the day came just after our evening meal. By this time the sea was churning beneath us and the grey skies above were shedding a light mist of rain down on us. Despite all of this, Dr. Andrew and J.R. put on a show while on their zodiac and played us all a few songs with their guitar and cello. Meanwhile my zodiac, which was captained by Scott, decided to fish and were challenged by another zodiac for a fishing contest. We didn’t catch any fish but Scott put his backpack inside of the plastic bag meant for our fish and held it up to the other zodiac. They took the bait; hook, line, and sinker (pun intended) until Scott ‘accidentally’ spilled his bag. The look on their faces was priceless!
However, the ride back was probably the most memorable part of that zodiac excursion . Never before have I been so thankful for water-proof equipment! With every bump came a downpour of salt water as we sped towards the painfully distant form of the Ocean Endeavor. It would have been a lot worse if we were all not too busy laughing at each other as we were being peppered by the sea’s wrath!
Katrina Anthony – Nain, NL, Canada
Every day I remind myself to “Create A Good Day” and every day during this amazing opportunity has been one. Every day is different from the one before. We have had the chance to meet the prime minister Justin Trudeau. We have had the chance to see 9 polar bears in one day, for many of us it was the very first time encountering a live polar bear. For many of us it was also the first time travelling to the Torngat Mountains National Park. To be able to experience the raw natural beauty of my home land is amazing, it is something that I will never forget. Today we got the chance to go to a place that is a spot that is special to many of our hearts, Hebron. My grandmother was relocated from a place near Hebron called Napattuk Bay in the mid 1900’s. We are on our way to North Arm so we can hopefully go on a zodiac cruise up the Fjord. Sharing my cuture, learning about other Inuit cultures and different cultures around the world has been really interesting. Every day has been a good day, and I am very thankful.
Kirsten Dicker – Nain, NL, Canada
Having an amazing time so far! Just left Hebron a couple of hours ago. Spent the morning there talking about the Suicide Prevention Strategy. It was supposed to happen in Hebron but they didn’t get in because of the weather, but we celebrated it anyway. Had tea along with Panitsiak (bannock). My great great Grandmother grew up in Hebron, and then they had to relocate to Nain, NL in 1957. We had a special gathering at the church in Hebron and it was very emotional for the most of us. During the ceremony we had a moment of silence to remember the people we lost, including Dorothy Angnatok from Nain,NL, my home town.
Jenny Merkuratsuk and her family welcomed us when we arrived in Hebron. It was so good to see people from home. I loved every minute of it. I took it all in. The scenery, the land, the people. I didn’t wanna leave. But there are other places to go yet and we are only on day 5! Going to spend the day in Base Camp tomorrow and I can’t wait to see my sister and other Nainimiut!
Loving my trip so far and the food. Met a lot of amazing people. Going to North Arm later on this evening, and I heard it’s beautiful! Create a good day everyone! I know I have.
#SOI #Createagoodday #floatingclassroom #Arctic2016
Luciano Martin Ayala Valani – Sherbrooke, QC, Canada
En allant m’asseoir pour prendre mon déjeuner, j’ai vu par la fênetre un glacier trônant sur l’eau. C’était comme si un château se retrouvait au milieu d’un lac. Plus tard, nous sommes allés visiter Hebron, un ancien village d’Inuits qui furent déportés en 1959 plus au sud par le gouvernement de Terre-Neuve et Labrador. Le plan initial était de nous joindre à une délégation qui devait annoncer un plan d’action pour le suicide. Malheureusement, les conditions métérologiques ont fait en sorte qu’ils ne pouvaient pas se rendre sur les lieux. Une fois sur place, nous avons été rassemblés dans l’ancienne église (à présent restaurée), pour une présentation où, entre autre, nous avons pu écouter une performance de chants de gorge, entendre la lettre d’excuse officielle écrite en 2005 par le gouvernement de Terre-Neuve et Labrador pour cette déportation et la réponse par les Inuits du Nunatsiavut. Ce qui m’a le plus frappé c’est à quel point les victimes ont été capables de pardonner malgré tout ce qu’ils ont vécu . Par la suite, j’ai fait du qajaq dans la baie où nous étions. Avec les cinq autres, nous sommes allés voir de près le glacier qui ressemblait à un chateau. Une fois proche du glacier, j’ai pris de la glace qui flottait et j’ai décidé de la goûter. Par chance, ma langue n’est pas rester collée, cependant, la glace était salée. Après la glace, j’ai décidé de continuer mon expérience en goutant à l’eau et j’ai été agréablement surpris de voir qu’elle était moins salée que celle d’autres étendus d’eau plus au sud (que j’ai gouté par accident et non de mon plein gré). De retour au quai pour revenir au bateau, nous avons pu plonger à l’eau. J’étais seulement mouillé et extrêmement gelé au visage car je portais une combinaison imperméable allant du cou aux pieds. Puis après le dîner, parmi tous les ateliers proposés j’ai opté pour celui portant sur les styles d’attachements (en d’autres mots, le type d’affection que chacun porte pour les autres). Au début, j’ai regretté mon choix mais au fur et à mesure que le temps passait, j’ai commencé à le trouver intéressant. Puis après le souper, nous sommes allé faire une expédition en zodiac. La nature réussit encore et toujours à m’impressionner! Cependant en revenant, des vagues nous ont détrempés. De retour à ma chambre, je me suis retrouvé confronté face à un problème de taille: comment faire pour sécher tout mes vêtements et mon sac pour qu’ils soient prêts demain matin? C’est alors que j’ai réalisé l’utilité d’un séchoir à cheveux. Ça a marché pour mon sac, mais un peu moins pour mes vêtements.
Marie Sophie Danckaert – Monaco, Monaco.
La matinée a été pleine d’émotions! Nous nous sommes rendus sur l’île de Hebron où devait se dérouler une fête pour la prévention contre le suicide chez les inuits. La célébration a malheureusement été annulée en raison du mauvais temps. Nous avons tout de même célébré l’évènement en nous rendant dans l’église de l’île. Là, nous avons assisté à un concert, à de nombreux numéros inuits traditionnels et avons entendu un discours. Il y avait sur l’île deux superbes chiens appartenants à des gensqui vivaient là. D’abord assez méfiants, ils se sont finalement laissés approcher et l’un des deux s’est endormi la tête dans ma main.
A notre retour sur le bateau, j’ai profité avec mes amis du retour du soleil en allant m’installer sur le pont.
Nous avons fait un tour en zodiac après le dîner. Deux musiciens chantaient et jouaient sur l’un des bateaux. La mer était agitée et ce qui devait être un tranquille concert au milieu du fjord de Nachvak s’est transformé en véritable douche. J’étais placée tout à l’avant du zodiac et, les vagues aidant, j’ai été trempée malgré ma tenue imperméable. Je crois que je n’ai jamais eu aussi froid de ma vie mais, malgré cela, cette sortie a été l’une des activités les plus magiques de cette expédition.
Na lingi, azali kitoko. Na lingi yo mingi.
Meera Chopra – Richmond Hill, ON, Canada
Today we visited Hebron, a sorrowful historic site. During the 1950s, the Inuit population living in Hebron were forced to leave their homes. This had a profound impact on many Inuit people, and they faced challenges such as starvation, alienation, and homelessness. Once we landed at Hebron’s shore, all the expeditioners gathered in the church where the Inuit people were told that they would have to leave their homes. We listened to some excellent drum dancing and throat singing performances and some moving speeches about the displacement.
Once we got back to the ship, it was time for workshops. I went to the art studio to make rubber stamps, by carving designs into a piece of rubber. It was tough and intricate work, yet still very fun! But, my favourite part of the day happened after dinner. We sailed to Saglek Fjord, where we got out of the ship to go on an especially wet zodiac cruise. Once we toured around the fjord, we challenged another zodiac to a fishing competition, to see who could catch the most or the biggest fish. Unfortunately, the stars were not aligned, and even though we had fished for a while, my boat did not catch anything. So, we decided to hide a backpack inside a garbage bag to make it seem like we had caught fish (the other boat didn’t even realize this until we told them!).
At this point, the wind had started to pick up and the waves were getting bigger and bigger, so we decided to head back to the ship. But, the waves still had a bone to pick with our zodiac. Our boat was tossed around by the waves, and salt water splashing into our boat and our mouths (trust me, that does not taste good). Plus, I was not wearing waterproof pants, so I got completely soaked (it was definitely worth it).
Then, our ship sailed gracefully into the sea fog, happily ever after.
Mehta Ushpreet – Toronto, ON, Canada.
Wake up at 7 and breafast at 8! A great morning that started off with another zodiac ride to Hebron. It was an emotional but educational visit, focusing on the launch of the suicide prevention program for the Inuit members. A ceremony in the historic church which involved throat-singing, SOI staff performances and readings of the official apology letter from the Laborador government. A hike up the village, sights of Caitlyn Baikie’s grandmother’s house and enganging conversations with family members. Had a fun lunch with new friends which led to a two hour conversation about the interesting organizations they are apart of and the cool iniatives they’re starting in their communities. The day couldn’t have ended in a better way…we went on another zodiac cruise and I got completely soaked!! A new reminder I learned from Geoff is “make everyday great.” A couple more hours before I see what tomorrow brings.
Melissa Snedden – High School Teacher
Today was a jam packed day with two stops. This morning after a great sleep we woke up to a HUGE iceberg outside of our window. We haven’t seen sea ice for two days, so it was nice to have that view. After breakfast we headed off the ship to the shores of Hebron. Hebron was a community that was relocated without consent in 1959, so the only people living there is the family that are the caretakers of the historical site.
Originally there was supposed to be a ceremony within the church to celebrate the Suicide Prevention Strategy Plan that has just been developed. Unfortunately due to weather conditions (fog) they were not able to fly in. Instead there was a cermony that SOI held on behalf of the Strategy Plan where we learned about the History of Hebron and had David drum dance, Annie sing, two of the girls on the ship throat sing, and lastly Tim singing one of his songs with Andrew on the cello. After the ceremony, we wandered around the area to take pictures and sit down and reflect on our trip so far. It was chillier today than yesterday but the air is so fresh you can’t help but enjoy every moment of it. On our way back to the ship we were able to get closer to the iceberg and it was roughly the same size berg that sunk the Titanic.
This afternoon we had some free time after lunch, which meant it was a great opportunity to catch a snooze. It’s been early mornings and late nights, so it was really nice to catch an hour nap before heading to workshops. I sat in on Shari’s and she was teaching the students about her 14 sled dogs and how to make dog harnesses for dog sledding. The students were able to sew their harnesses together so they could bring it home for their own dog.
Immediately after dinner we were in Saglek Fjord and we went for a zodiac cruise. I’m really thankful I had Mike’s rain jacket and pants because we definitely got soaked. I had to leave my hat, pants, and jacket in my locker in the mudroom to hopefully dry out before tomorrow. When we got out in the zodiac it honestly felt like we were in Jurassic Park the movie with the shape and formation of the mountains. It really didn’t look like they were real. Unfortunately I couldn’t bring the camera out for that cruise because of the waves. On the water, JR played us “This Land is Our Land” with Andrew playing the cello in their zodiac.
Tomorrow we head to Base Camp, where the bugs are supposed to be BRUTAL, so hopefully the bug lotion will work. There are some bug jackets on board so I’m hoping to borrow one for hikes. We are spending majority of the day on land and having a BBQ lunch, hopefully with some Arctic char! On board, the chef marinated some raw Arctic char from yesterday and it was absolutely delicious! Ryan you definitely would have loved it.
Tomorrow is our last day in Labrador before we head North and eventually to Greenland.
Grace, Journey, Blessing.
Miguel Rodrigues – Diplomat
Enjoying getting to know the Labrador Coast — we stopped by Hebron and Ramah Bay in the Torngat Mountains Park. Saw very dramatic landscapes of glaciers and fjords, and excellent workshops were offered on geology, plants, drumming, art, history etc. Due to the icebergs off Baffin Island, the cruise came to Labrador instead. Looking forward to visiting Greenland next. Bye for now!
Mireille Dib – Ottawa, ON, Canada
Now is probably a great time to begin blogging considering all that’s happened. Having the expedition start in Ottawa was a cool transition for me since I was born and raised in Ottawa. I am thankful because it was really easy to get to the expedition unlike many others, and I barely have ever travelled outside of my home town other than Montreal & Toronto, so all of my firsts for travelling and many other things have been with SOI. Flying in a plane, seeing the ocean, cruising in a ship & a zodiac are only some of the firsts I’ve had and will continue to have because of this amazing expedition.
I feel like because the expedition started in my home town, I was able to get a transition unlike many others. For the first three days we all stayed in Ottawa, (which was more than we all expected but keep in mind, “flexibility is key”) and because of this I didn’t feel like I was on an expedition. I felt like I was in the most diverse summer camp ever created. Sitting here now just seconds away from the clear salty waters & the foggy grey sky I still can’t believe we all went through such an amazing journey.
I would go into more detail about what’s happened, but I’m sure you all don’t want to continue to read a novel, and also with this ship rocking back and fourth it’s really hard to keep on track of what I’m typing haha. Its almost like a constant teeter-totter that’s less intense but just as butterfly worthy.
So a couple of my favourite things from this trip would probably beeeeeee:
Zip lining, zodiac rides, fishing (on land & zodiacs), comparing tastes of the salty waters to the sweet river waters, hikes, THE FOOD (man its amazing), finally flying IN A PLANE (I’m not going to lie I cried from the beautiful perspective I’ve been waiting to see my whole life), and of course last but certainly not least, all of the amazing and such interesting things I’ve learned on this expedition. With hopefully a lot more to come.
We just came from Hebron, having a suicide prevention event as well as a lesson on the evacuation of the Hebron community back in 1957. I have no idea where we are travelling to next, or what we will learn but I better go outside before this ship makes me even more seasick than it is right now. I actually threw up a couple of days ago from it. How lovely.
Sending love and positive vibes to my family and friends back at home. 🙂
(613 we repping it styll since 97′ ball is lyfe)
Nicholas Castel – Mono, ON, Canada
ANCIENT LANDS, MODERN STORIES
Like most days on this expedition, this one was filled with incredible sights, sounds and perspectives that I never could have predicted. Today, we celebrated Inuit resilience through art, spoken word and an exploration of the land, on the ancient Nunatsiavut homeland known as Hebron. Historically a thriving community, residents at Hebron were forced to leave as the Canadian government sought sovereignty over the Arctic. Now, there is nothing but abandoned buildings, and ghosts. There is a stillness in the air that is hard to explain. Spirits and stories wisp over the water and through the leaves of the tundra. Echoing the themes of our trip, the visit was guided by stories from elders, as well as by young Inuit leaders looking to define a new story for youth across Canada.
In many ways, our vessel has acted as a microcosm of international relations and culture by placing the minds of international scientists, leaders and young visionaries in unique places and profound situations. At times however, it can be difficult to synthesize our diverse perspectives into a cohesive modern story. This is something US diplomat Miguel Rodrigues knows well, and has been pursuing for more than 19 years working in public service. I caught Miguel over lunch after returning to the ship after our visit to Hebron.
He describes identity as a “layered , like an onion.” Indeed we all have layered identities, ones that stretch far into our pasts and which have been shaped by the decisions of people that had very different views of our world. As a young person becoming more connected with the modern world, I’ll be honest in saying I feel overwhelmed at times by the consequences these historic decisions have brought to the world, and how I can meaningfully fit into this picture. Standing on the grounds at Hebron today, I felt that weight more than ever.
The whole conversation started with a simple question “Where were you born?” He traced the history of his home through storytelling, much like what was done on the land today. Telling tales of ancient families, explorers, exotic foods and spices, mangos and cinamon to be exact. He encouraged us to dig deeper with our questions – to target the makeup of our identity and passions, rather than simple questions about geography. What started out as simple table talk, turned into the best kind of cultural geography lesson.
After lunch I sat down with Miguel again, this time looking for his thoughts on Canadian multiculturalism and reconciliation and how it applies to youth in the Arctic. As a foreign diplomat with a breadth of experience around the world, Miguel had great things to say about Canada’s approach. “Canada has a model of multicultural identity that a works very well, because it seamlessly welcomes all people into a composite sense of Canadian identity, without necessarily losing touch of their roots. It works because Canada has had many founding cultures.”
On how youth are a part of this picture, he stressed that never before have they been more relevant. With northern communities being increasingly composed of the under-30 age bracket, it’s clear this is becoming an important issue. “Youth know well how to combine technological and cultural advances, to create a rich mosaic, or loadstone to guide us in the future. The challenge is first to understand how youth see the world and what they are looking for, and then to determine what more experienced people have to offer. Then we connect the two. Youth are the future of the Arctic.”
More than anything, my experiences at Hebron and my chats with Miguel stressed how important it is to dig deep with our questions of identity and how important it is to have shared goals moving forward. I may never fully comprehend what happened at Hebron and many places across the Arctic, but it’s important that I tell their stories. Hearing the voices of young Inuit leading the charge of reconciliation, and listening to the reassuring words of a foreign diplomat on our progress as a nation, reassured me that my Canadian identity – the land, the people, the place – is as good starting point as any, to start telling this story.
“It’s about speaking the same language. That’s what it’s about.”
Florin Najera-Uresti – Pharr, TX, USA
Hello from Saglek Fjord! On our fifth day aboard the Ocean Endeavor, we have made our second stop in Hebron, an abandoned community in Nunatsiavut, Northern Labrador, just outside the Torngat Mountains National Park we were in yesterday. This community – I learned today- is home to not only some of the most memorable sights, but also to a very rich and bold history of hardship, displacement, and most recently, reconciliation.
~Historical Lesson No.1~
In the first half of the 20th century, the community of Hebron housed about 200 Inuit inhabitants. These people, as is usual of Inuit communities, held strong connections with their land. They were satisfied with their homes, and respected the bond they held with their land and other members of their community. Unfortunately, this peace was not left undisturbed. Moravian missionaries originating from Germany took control of much of the Inuitland, which included not only Hebron, but much of Labrador as well. These missionaries, with the help of the government, tried to strip the Hebron Inuit of their cultural identities by banning traditional customs like drum dancing, throat singing, and even the Inuit mother tongue: Inuktitut. For years, the citizens of Hebron were humiliated and oppressed, and in 1957, the Labrador government gathered the citizens of Hebron in their local church to inform them they would be displaced from their homes. Out of respect for the sanctity of the church, the Hebron Inuit did not protest against the demands of the government. Instead, they wrote a letter to the Premier begging to be left at peace in their community of Hebron. In1959, however, hundreds were displaced to many different areas of Labrador – some, as far south as Central Labrador. Families were separated, and people were removed from the land they once called home. The Hebron peoples faced times of extreme difficulty when trying to find new places to settle. They often weren’t welcome in other long-established tight-knit Inuit communities. It wasn’t until 1997 that the government of Labrador finally sought to right some of the wrongs of the past and began on a path towards reconciliation by issuing an official apology to the inhabitants of Hebron. In the apology, they vowed to erect a National Monument in Hebron where the names of every displaced member of the community would be displaced. Although by this time, many people had died and many more had suffered consequences, it was a step in the right direction. The Hebron people wrote a letter accepting this apology, and forgiving the wrongs done against them in the so that their descendants may stop carrying the burden of the past.
Today, being able to visit Hebron and see the place of its history was a true priviledge. Being able to see the church, the factories, the views, all of this truly made the place come alive.
Over the next few days, I hope to continue finding and experiencing new knowledge. My goal is to make the most of my time here, and to continue sharing my experiences.
Tonight, we sail North towards the Torngat Mountains National Park base camp where we will spend the day tomorrow.
MIssing everyone back home, until next time!
P.S. Fun fact: Because of the Moravian influences of the region, in Inuktitut, the time is told in German.
Patrick Perrigo – Staten Island, NY, USA
Today has been an very peaceful day for my mind, but also a historical one for Inuit people. We got on the zodiacs and landed on shore at the abandoned town of Hebron. Before we landed though, there was a huge iceberg not too far away that my zodiac driver got us right next to, and then all the other zodiac drivers did the same as well. Hebron is a very special place for Inuit people and the government of Canada because of it’s history. Inuit people had been living in Hebron for over one hundred years, until the year 1957. In 1957, the Canadian government ordered the Inuit people to leave the land, and promised to relocate them. The people were in the end mostly relocated, but it took a long time to do it. It took weeks and months for them to be relocated, and the relocation left them in financial stress with most of their items left at Hebron. In 2005, the Canadian government wrote a letter of apology to the people of Hebron for their actions, and promised to give them financial support and invest into the Inuit needs to repay them for their actions. The Inuit accepted the apology and wrote an acceptance letter back to the government. In the town, casted in bronze, is the apology, acceptance letter, and the names of all the people who died due to the relocation on three separate plaques.
The abandoned town is considered a world heritage site, and the refurbished church built there in the year 1830, is a national landmark in Canada. The town had special pathways that we had to follow because stepping on the grass or rocks was considered offense to the spirits of the land. We had a meeting in the church that was around two hours. We heard a speech from Garry from Parks Canada, the caretakers of the town, two Inuit women on our expendition who had family removed from the town, an Inuit drum dance performance by our Inuit elder David, and a guitar performance by Tim Baker who is on this trip as well. Afterwards, we had an hour to walk around the area to see the collapsed or unstable houses left. There is also an old graveyard with old and new tombstones for the Inuit of the town. After walking around the entire town and taking lots of pictures of the land, I sat down on some rocks on the shore and had my boots sit in the ocean water. I could feel the magic in the town, and also the spirits of the Inuit that lived there. It was a shame that the first National Inuit Suicide Prevention Panel couldn’t be held here today as planned due to weather and was relocated, but with the high teen Inuit suicide rates, it is great that Inuit suicide is finally being addressed.
We came back to the boat after and had lunch. Then we had one hour to ourselves, when I took the time to write in my journal. My journal has a lot of notes and pages already filled up. I will probably need a new book before this trip is over, because of how great everything has been. I just finished a history workshop about the Moravians in Labrador. The Moravians were the Christian missionaries I mentioned yesterday. The story of the relationship between the Inuit and Germans is similar to the Europeans and Native Americans in America, but with a lot less violent and bloody ending. They had a great connection, but indirectly destoryed their cultural beliefs. Anyways, I am about to have an early dinner, because we are going to go night time zodiac cruising in the Nachvak Fjord. I will see if I can upload pictures on the ship with my camera, or if I will have to wait until I get home to show everyone. Stay tuned!
Robert Jacque – Rigolet, NL, Canada
Hello everybody! This is my first time blogging on this trip, since these past few days have been packed with exciting things to do. I’m really enjoying my Students On Ice experience so far, even more so now that we’re in Labrador. So far I’ve visited Eclipse Channel, Ramah Bay, Nachvak Fjord and most recently Hebron. These places have been fantastic! I’ve been taking loads of pictures, I believe the number has risen to about 600+ so far. The workshops have been fun, I’ve been trying to explore a wide range of subjects. For example, I painted half a picture using only the colours blue, brown & white a few days ago, also I have just finished sewing a juggling ball made of Caribou skin, and I just recently attended a presentation dealing with the tips & tricks of photography!
The Ocean Endavour is great! I thought it would be a downgrade from the luxury of Ottawa U, but it actually feels like I’m on a cruise ship. The beds are much more comfortable than at the residence, the food is awesome, but all of that doesn’t really matter, because I’m visiting Torngat Mountains National Park! This is only the beginning of the expedition, and it is already an amazing adventure. Also, I’ve been performing my magic tricks to many people over the past couple of days and the reactions have been much larger than I expected, people were even suggesting that I should lead a magic workshop sometime throughout the expedition!
I’m going to try to take the time to blog more often in the next few days, so stay tuned for more details into the life of Robert Jacque! (A.K.A. The Magic Man).
Roger Bull – Senior Research Assistant, Canadian Museum of Nature
Sheepishness has motivated me to write my first blog post of the expedition. I am one of the Blog Team leaders. As such, I have been encouraging students to blog, blog, blog whenever they can. But, I haven’t yet done it myself! Embarassment is a good motivator and I am turning preach into practise.
As we sail through Saglek Fjord in northern Labrador, it’s on-ship workshop time. Intrepid Ellie, my Blog Team co-leader, initiated a blogging workshop and we’ve invited only the blogging-challenged like me to attend. I am sitting here now with nine other people who are working on their first expedition blogs.
Why this word constipation? Cory Fournier, a student from North Bay, Ontario, described the condition this way: “Usually I am an extroverted guy who talks a lot. But, now I don’t have any words. I have experienced so much that the words just aren’t coming.”
Let’s call it Experience-Induced Word Deprivation Syndrome. I have EIWDS and I have it bad.
Exploration and learning are constant with only sleep providing a break. Landscape, sea, history, culture, the biological world: a potent cocktail of stimuli in doses large enough to cause EIWDS in even the most stoic. But add to this the daily exploration of humanity. Every person inhabiting this floating classroom is a walking source of stories, learning, and natural beauty.
No wonder the syndrome is spreading through this population of tundra-weathered faces. We are all doomed.
Samantha McBeth – Montreal, QC, Canada
Aujourd’hui, le gouvernement et les organisations inuites ont lancé le plan d’action pour la prévention du suicide chez les habitants de Nunavut, Nunasiavut et Nunavik. Ce lancement officiel devait avoir lieu à Hebron, Labrador. Comme la météo de l’Arctique est imprévisible, l’évènement a été déplacé à Kuujjuaq. L’expédition SOI était déjà à Hebron. Pas besoin des officiels, nous avons célébré sans eux.
Hebron est un village fantôme, ayant comme habitant quelques chiens et une famille qui s’occupe des vestiges d’une communauté qui jadis fut vibrante. Les ruines sont maintenant un site historique, sous la tutelle de Parcs Canada. Qu’est-il arrivé à Hebron? La même chose qu’ont vécu plus de 700 petits villages à travers la province de Terre-Neuve et Labrador: une relocalisation forcée. Cette histoire est longue et triste, remplie de familles éclatées, d’individus perdus et d’un peuple en deuil. Je ne suis pas la meilleure personne pour décrire cette triste affaire. Ce que je veux vous raconter de la journée, c’est la beauté de la musique, des histoires et des rencontres que nous avons fait à Hebron. Malgré les larmes, ce fut une célébration d’un peuple résilliant, et encore bien vivant. Je ressens encore dans ma poitrine le battement des tambours traditionnels. La musique et la culture inuite ont résonné à travers les vieilles pierres de l’église du village. Comble de l’ironie, cette même musique avait été banis par l’église. Je suis fière et émue d’avoir pu assister à cette journée historique.
Sang Lian Kham Thang Tlong – Ottawa, ON, Canada
Hello everyone, how are you all doing? It has been 8 days on the ship and it is wonderful. For the first couple of days I have been seasick but not too bad, I can attend all the wonderful worshops and activities. This trip has changed me a lot in my life. Most importantly I have learned a lot about climate change and the history of Labrador. These two things are sad but everything is positive. I am hoping to learn more as we go to Greenland. For the past four days we spent our journey in Canada’s Torngat Mountains National Park. Our ship stopped by each place that has a sad story. These are the places we went to so far: Iqaluit, Frobisher Bay, Nunavut, Torngat Mountains, Nunatsiavut, Labrador, Saglek Fjord, Eclipse Channel, Ramah Bay, Nachvak Fjord, and Hebron, all wonderful and historic places. Our ship is called Ocean Endeavour and it is lovely. It’s got everything — beautiful restaurant and a swiming pool and much more! Shout out to STUDENT ON ICE!!!!!!
Sarah Walsh – Mount Pearl, NL, Canada
I was struggling to figure out what I would write about in my blogs. Before I left, I said I would try and write one almost everyday. Well, it is now Thursday and we’ve been on the boat for over five days now, so I clearly didn’t follow through. Nonetheless, I have finally figured out what I want to write about and that is about how moved I have been on this entire expedition so far. There has not been one experience so far that has not moved me in some way, but I’m going to highlight some of most prevalent experiences here with you today.
Right from the start, the students bonded in a way that made me question even more why there is so much hate in this world. Students from all over the world, different ethnicities, different religions, you name it, who had never met one another before, instantly connected. Sure, there were a lot of ice breaker games while we were in Ottawa but even before those, they all seemed to flow with the same vibe and that really moved me. Moreover, being somewhat of an introvert, it allowed me to watch and learn about easily communicating and forming bonds with complete strangers in a way that is way beyond the usual elevator chit chat. I have learned a lot in these past few days about opening up and I believe that I am getting better at letting people in, to which I am deeply thankful.
I have also been very moved by peoples’ ties to their culture. Their love and respect for where they come from and their traditions is something I have never really been exposed to. Yes, I have come across Inuit traditions but it is more than just what you hear from textbooks and television. I don’t think I ever really understood the strong connection that they have to their families, their traditions, their lands, until this expedition. Throughout the past few days, I have seen many examples of that; however, the biggest impact on me so far has been the ceremony in Hebron. It moved in way where I couldn’t hold back the tears. After the ceremony, I found a quiet spot on the shoreline, looking out into the bay where I could see two large icebergs, and just cried. I think I was crying for many reasons. One, I was sad because being a Newfoundlander, I had never known of what happened in Hebron. I felt ashamed that I didn’t know what the Newfoundland and Labrador government had done there those many years ago and I’m ashamed I didn’t take the time to learn it on my own either. I may have learned about it in school but if so, I definitely know that the deep meaning behind it was not there. I was also crying because of their acceptance of the apology our government finally gave in 2009, 50 years after the fact. We moved them from their land, which led to great hardship for those families and it was extremely hard to hear what they went through. So their acceptance of that apology was very moving for me. I was also crying because the landscape reminded me of home. I’ve been missing my family and boyfriend the entire trip but at that moment, it was so strong and I just wanted to see them and hug them. I’ve always had a deep love for the ones close to me but this ceremony, which was also focused on the suicide crisis occurring in Northern communities, brought out something new and gave me a longing to see them. It was a very emotional day.
The landscape so far has also moved me, for being something new, for being absolutely massive, for being amazingly beautiful. The ice within Frobisher Bay, the Torngat Mountains, Ramah Bay, Nachvak Fjord, North Arm of Saglek Fjord, Hebron, Base Camp, just to name a few. I’ve taken so many pictures but I don’t think they’ll actually capture the beauty that I’ve experienced so far. But, to really appreciate where I am, I make sure I put the camera down every now and then and look with my own eyes. I find myself staring sometimes and not really noticing what is going on around me because I am in a trance. That is the power of the landscape so far, it moves you in a way that allows you to forget everything around you and be blissfully engulfed by its beauty. I’m having a strong urge to explore our planet, even more so than before this expedition. I’ve met so many adventurers and explorers on this ship and their stories give you the desire to experience what they experienced. I’ve been in school for so many years now, so I think my time is coming. Hopefully.
There is so much to say but I’m not a writer, so it’s hard to organize my thoughts enough to write them all down. However, after yesterday, I knew I had to write something. So I hope you enjoyed my thoughts. Hopefully I’ll be inspired again soon to write more and to update you all. I’m having a spectacular time but I do miss you all.
Saviluk Thomassie – Kangirsuk, QC, Canada
This is my first blog so no judging. Okay the week has been amazing. I finished writing a song with my friend Alassua and it sounds amazing I think, and yesterday I named all 200 people on SOI. It was awesome, the Torngats are amazing. I’m okay, I am having a bunch of fun with my friends and if my family is reading this I love you.
Shawna Dicker – Nain, NL, Canada
Today I arrived at Hebron at 10:00 this morning. It was my first time visiting Hebron. A family from Nain welcomed us in, Jennie and Buddy Merkuratsuk and their sons Simoenie and Julius.
We all had a small chance to look around before heading to church for a speical ceremony. Today people were supposed to fly in and attend a meeting for the Suicide Prevention project but the weather was down. They rescheduled the meeting to Kuujuuaq. We held our own small meeting and had everyone in our hearts. It was a very beautiful cermony that everyone enjoyed.
After the ceremony we got the chance to hang out with everyone and enjoy the view. The people living in Hebron for the summer handed out pitsik (dried fish) and tea for anyone who wanted it along with panitsiaks (fried bread).
It was a warm welcome to Hebron and I am grateful I had the opportunity to be there.
We are now heading towards North Arm and after supper we willl go out on the Zodicas and drive around.
It is exciting to be in a place that is unfamililar to me and that I am able to go out and see the landscape.
Tracy Duncan – Hall Beach, NU, Canada
Today we visited Hebron, Nunatsiavut. I had this very exciting and emotional feeling at the same time because the view was just beautiful and it’s too bad that people from there were forced to move away in 1959. It made me wonder a lot how Hebron would look like today if the people weren’t evicted from their home. I really wanted to visit Pang and Qikiqtarjuaq but I’m actually really glad that we changed plans and visited here instead. It has been really amazing learning about the land that we’ve been to lately and I can’t wait to learn more about different ones later. This trip has been really awesome and you learn a lot out of it in such a short period of time.