Friday— South East Coast of Baffin Island
The sea is calm and easy and the visibility for most of the day has been foggy!
We sailed overnight northward bound across Hudson Strait to the edge of the massive pack of this winter’s ice that has yet to melt or drift southward to warmer waters. We used the opportunity to explore the leads and open areas around the ice in search of wildlife. Carefully the Captain steered us though the large pans of first year pack ice until we reached the edge of the densest ice we’ve encountered so far on the expedition. The fog and calm seas created a very peaceful and ethereal mood as we all gathered on the outer decks to soak it in.
We saw scattering of sea birds today including Northern Fulmars, and in the mid afternoon, we spotted six ringed seals on a single ice floe directly in front of us. They slipped silently back into the deep waters as we emerged from the fog closer to them. In the early evening the fog lifted unveiling an array of magnificent icebergs, small rocky islands, and magnificent evening light.
Today was also the first day of our annual Bottle Drop. This is an annual program we began back in 2002, in partnership with the Institute of Ocean Sciences and Dr. Eddy Carmack to help track changes in Arctic Ocean currents. The outcomes, both scientific and educational, have been extraordinary.
Our education program was in full swing throughout the day with the second session of our Arctic Hours series, “The Arctic in the 21st Century”. The session was divided into three segments each exploring aspects of the broader themes of People, Ecosystems and Development.
Ed Struzik is a journalist who has specialized in Arctic issues for 35 years, and moderated a discussion that reported on critical environmental issues. The discussion included a report by research scientist Shari Fox Gearheard (who lives in Clyde River) on that Community’s legal challenge to stop seismic testing in the Davis Strait. Shari was joined by Rachel Theoret-Gosselin from the Iqaluit office of the World Wildlife Fund. David Serkoak, an Inuk elder and teacher provided a cultural context for the discussions.
Author James Raffan chaired the second session focusing on Arctic Sovereignty, with historian Whitney Lackenbauer titled “What Does Arctic Sovereignty Mean?“Miguel Rodrigues, a diplomat with the US Embassy in Ottawa, spoke of understanding sovereignty in the circumpolar world and Caitlyn Baikie from SOI added the Canadian Inuit perspective on who owns the Arctic.
The Third Panel, chaired by the Mayor Jamie Snook of Goose Bay, Labrador, looked at social issues from the perspective of healthy Arctic communities. Ashlee Cunsolo, who works as a researcher with the Labrador Institute and discussed mental health issues and the social indicators of health.
Lucy Qvist who is from Greenland, spoke passionately about the mental health issue in Greenland and how it compares to the situation in Canada’s North, including high rates of suicide and social trauma. It was an emotional discussion leaving all participants looking for answers and ways to bring about positive change.
Our workshops took on a new theme today, some of them impromptu and a bit out of the ordinary. Justin Manyfingers from the First Nations Blackfoot Reserve in Southern Alberta, got a taste of Labrador bannock yesterday and with help from the ship’s galley staff he ran a workshop on how to bake the centuries old northern staple. More than 20 people crowded around the mixing bowls, some wanting to learn from scratch, other perhaps itching to demonstrate their own skill and recipes.
We continue to be amazed at the growing popularity of the arts workshops. About one third of the ship’s dining area has been turned into a studio. It’s even busy when students are on their free time working on paintings under the guidance of visual artist Linda Lang, or printmaker Jolly Atagooyuk from Pangnirtung, Nunavut. Annie Petaulassie of Iqaluit also has a very active class in sewing and needle crafts, working with fabric or fur, especially sealskin. Multimedia artist Mikki Jacobsen is teaching water colours and other forms of visual arts. And still at other tables, JF Carrey who is a guide and zodiac driver (and was the youngest Canadian to climb Mount Everest) provides instruction on Lino graph art. At one point yesterday more than half the student body was active in the art classes.
Tonight after dinner the musical hits just kept on coming. James Raffan preformed a song he wrote in Greenland on last year’s SOI expedition. Lead singer/songwriter for Hey Rosetta, Tim Baker, teamed up with Inuk student and drummer, Jonathan Pitseolak of Pond Inlet, and Greenland performer Mikki Jacobsen sang and played the guitar. What great songs and wonderful messages! Legendary and award-winning polar scientist, Dr. Fred Roots, shared stories about his 1967 and 1969 scientific expeditions to the North Pole. Our friends and partners from the Community Foundations of Canada (Erin, Melody, Catherine and Jennifer) shared what the role and meaning of Philanthropy is and how we are all Philanthropists in our own ways. Also tonight we viewed two new SOI videos that show the beauty we experienced at Hebron in Labrador a few days ago. Check them out here on the website.
Tonight we begin sailing towards Greenland. A day at sea is always a great opportunity to reflect on our past experiences, and recharge for the days ahead. We have a full program planned for tomorrow, including a 90’s Dance Party!!
Abhayjeet Sachal – Surrey, BC, Canada
Today was our first full day at sea. We travelled through a sea of ice and had several workshops. The highlight of today for me was talking to Caitlin and Miki. As we crossed the Davis Strait, I asked them how climate change is impacting their lives, as they both live in the Arctic. Their responses were very shocking. Because of changing weather, entire ecosystems and livelihoods are being completely shifted. The people of the North are paying for our mistakes. Throughout the remaining days of the expedition, I will definitely keep talking to individuals such as Caitlin and Miki with knowledge about these issues, so I can bring these ideas and possible solutions back to my community.
Aiden Cyr- Ottawa, On, Canada
Okay folks well Students on Ice is really going to be students on ice as we move upwards into Davis Strait and into the ice! Exciting! We’re actually allowed to go out and play on the sea ice later today. I am stoked. I had a one-on-one session with a therapist by chance of sitting with one of the most respected therapists in the world. My entire life was dissected and I guess I am not as invincible as I thought! No worries though, in fact the dinner conversations are so profound and invigorating I find myself waiting for what new awesome conversation may emerge throughout the day even when on a beautiful Zoadiac cruise. Funny note that people keep calling me Mumford cause of my shirt. What a funny place. Today we even did this really cool bottle drift project where you throw a bottle with a personal note attached and we use where it is found for tracking changing currents of climate change. So excited. There is a 12% sucess rate and the stories of people being connected from these bottles and eventually joining SOI are extraordinarily unique and cool. Despite some of the cool things here I do miss home, listening to music and my own room. My own room, goodness my own room! I may write later but for now it’s lunch and the time is crunched. Lots of fun stuff ahead and icebergs oohlalala. For now bye. I’ll be sure to write tomorrow. Sorry no bolded code really today!
Far Away, Near IN Spirit.
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Allison Dyson – Makkovik, NL, Canada
Today is a day at sea for us! This experience is exhausting, but it is still wonderful. My roommate Katya is so amazing, I’m very fortunate to have her sleeping in the bed next to me. The food on this ship is crazy good as well. We have buffet style breakfast and dinner, but supper is like a restaurant. That being said, I wouldn’t mind a home cooked meal that doesn’t have a leaf on top, especially KD (hint hint wink wink nudge nudge cough please Mum cough). Some time today we will be going on a zodiac cruise through the ice if the weather clears up. Fingers crossed!
Amy Johnson – PhD Student
Hello again! Today was pretty relaxing because it was a day at sea. The weather was foggy and cold as we cruised farther north and our ship travelled along the edge of the pack ice between Baffin Island and Monument Island.
We saw 8 ringed seals today and lots of birds following our ship. We also did our first round of our bottle drop where we wrote messages and will hopefully hear from someone who finds our bottle, which was cool.
There were lots of massive icebergs which were beautiful to see and we will see more in the next few days. The activities today were interesting, with lots of talks, workshops, music, and crafts. Tonight we begin our journey across the Davis Strait toward Greenland and we will have another day at sea tomorrow before we arrive!
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Claire Sutherland – Castlegar, BC, Canada
Hello Everyone! I hope you are all are enjoying reading about our expedition! I know that I say that every time I start a blog post, but it’s true. If I could, I’d bring you all along with me so you could experience how amazing this trip has been.
Today is day nine of our voyage, which means there is only six more days left till we join everyone back in Ottawa. Right now we are heading up past the coast of Labardor and are close to Baffin Island. We will most likely cross Davis Strait tomorrow. I haven’t got really sea sick yet, I have felt a bit nauseous, but crossing Davis Strait is the worst time for sea sickness so I’m a bit worried.
It’s strange how fast our days have been going. I’ve always felt that most days really drag on and are very slow, but on the ship the days go much faster. Maybe it’s because we do so much in a day. Like today for instance, it’s about 2 o’clock in the afternoon but it feels as though I just got up 2 hours ago.
As well we’ve already done so much today. This morning we’ve already done our Arctic hour (this is where we get a pick of 3 different panels/debates to go listen to) and started our drift bottle project. The Drift Bottle Project is when were going to throw glass bottles off the ship and into the ocean. We’ve also included messasges for when people find the bottles, so they can contact SOI and we can see where the ocean currents took the bottles. I found that this was a really cool idea and it’s so exciting to think that one of my bottles could end up anywhere in the world. We haven’t thrown any yet but I think the first batch might be done tonight.
Well I think that’s it for now, hopefully you are all still enjoying following our journey and I’ll see all you back home soon!
Darrell Wells – Instructor Marine Institute of Memorial University
Well we are still heading north towards the edge of the ice pack so we can get some students onto the ice!! The seas are calm, lots of fog but we are having a great time.
The ice seems to be problematic further north on the Baffin Island side so to avoid the heavy stuff we will probabaly be heading towards Greenland later today or tonight as it seems the seas are clear on that side. Once we get there we will continue North above the Arctic Circle. That will be a good experience.
So it looks like a couple days at sea for us but there are numerous workshops and presentations to keep everyone busy and engaged.
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Edouard Toma – Gatineau, QC, Canada
Aujourd’hui, j’ai eu le plaisir de me lever 30 minutes plus tard qu’à l’habitude parce que nous passerons les 2 prochains jours en mer pour nous rendre au Groenland. Dans la matinée, j’ai écouté une présentation sur les enjeux des communautés nordiques qui sont parfois affectées négativement par des projets de dévelopement économique. La présentation était un peu longue, mais elle était très intéressante. Ian, un des musiciens à bord, m’a appris comment composer du blues sur le piano. La leçon était simple, mais efficace! Nous avons aussi participé à un projet où on devait écrire un message et le mettre dans une bouteille qu’on devra lancer dans la mer. Le but est d’espérer que quelqu’un la retrouve pour avoir de l’information sur les courants marins. Nous avons par la suite mangé le dîner avant d’avoir un temps de repos pendant lequel nous avons eu l’occasion de voir de la glace et des glaciers. J’ai finalement pu les voir pour quelques instants avant de devoir me diriger vers les ateliers de l’après-midi. J’ai pris l’atelier où l’on devait faire une scène devant le groupe, c’était très amusant malgré le fait que je devais crier très fort pour faire les effets sonores. J’ai par la suite lancé ma bouteille dans l’océan. Nous avons eu le temps d’admirer les glaciers et le paysage avant le souper. Nous avons soupé et avons assisté aux messages du soir, ce qui a mis fin à la journée
Emma Lim – London, ON, Canada
After visiting the Torngat Mountains, I attended a talk on climate change and carbon emissions. I was inspired to eat locally and cut beef out of my diet (or at least reduce my intake). At dinner I also signed up to be interviewed for research for Students on Ice. I answered questions about my experience and how I would make change in my own life.
This morning I also went to a talk that encompassed the struggles faced by the Arctic people. A panel of four people shared their experiences. One man talked about growing up with the Canadian government, another mentioned the relationship between Green Peace and the Inuit, relating to seal hunting. A third panelist talked about environmentally significant areas in the Arctic and narwhal migration patterns. The final panelist talked about how a company wanted to use a technology (I can’t rememer the name of it) to map the sea floor near her hometown, that would be extremely disruptive and harmful to the local sea life. She also mentioned a similar project near London, Ontario, regarding a pipeline that would disrupt the community of Chipewa First Nation. I was really shocked to hear this because it was so close to my hometown and I wasn’t aware. I felt extremely inspired to take action and want to help raise awareness for this issue. When I get home to London I want to do my utmost to make sure more people understand the hardships faced by these peoples and how they are constantly undermined by legal loopholes and the government. These two cases are going to the supreme court in November and I am praying that they will be resolved favourably to the communities the projects are affecting.
After the talk, Students on Ice hosted a bottle drop project to try and map the ocean currents. Pieces of paper were placed in bottles with information about the experiment and what to do if you received one. I wrote a letter on the back of the paper and included my personal contact information. Hopefully I will get a response. Before lunch I also looked at some plankton in the lab area and saw some cool red creatures! Much love to everyone back home! I am headed to the bow deck to look at the landscapes, although it is very foggy, and will try and write tomorrow!
Erin Kasungu – Manager at Community Foundations of Canada
With the release of the Inuit Sucide Prevention Strategy launch this week, we have had the opportunity to reflect together on the ship about what this means for the commuities and people of the north. Yesterday I sat in on a session about the social determinents of health in the north that brought out the complexity and frustration around the difficult issues that have started to define the people in this area of the country. It really hit on a ‘light bulb’ moment I had the other night as I watched an Inuit youth interact with two Inuit women who are elders from northern communities. I watched the beauty of how they spoke with each other and the comfort of this inter-generational conversation. That is when I was reminded about how much there is to learn from northern communities that rarely makes it into southern education curriculum or media.
In the session, we talked about the narrative told by statistics in the news about the poverty, suicide, school drop out rates, etc. This narrative becomes what many people in the south know of the north that then gets reflected back to the north by the ‘help’ and ‘support’ that is offered by people who think they know better. We definitely can’t ignore these staggering statistics but two big questions emerged to frame the dialouge. One, how can it be in a country like Canada that any of these indicator levels are so poor and for so long in the north? And two, do these social indicators reflect how Indeginous people would measure their quality of life? For example, there are no social indicators for how people feel about language, their country, their personal and family connections, or their time on the land.
This disconnect between these competing narratives can lead to a confusing sense of self and one student even commented how “I had to travel south in order to learn who I was in order to regain my sense identity and learn who I am truly am”. Why did she have to leave her community to learn how amazing and special she was? Why can’t we tell the story and learn from what makes our northern communities strong and vibrant?
What we heard yesterday was that it will take strong leadership to take hold of what matters to them and change the narrative. Many people suggested that this starts with the education system, one that is Inuit centred and creates strong leaders who are connected to what builds and supports their knowledge. It is also on those of us who live in the south to educate ourselves and to seek knowledge and personal connections from those in the north. To me this is reconciliation. And when we all do our part, I’m confident we will all discover our own connection to our northern culture and communities that will help create a new narrative of hope, resilence and equality.
Florin Najera-Uresti – Pharr, TX, USA
Aluu! (or Hello! In Greenlandic). As we sail north towards Greenland, I’ve been trying to learn some basic Greenlandic with the help of my roomate, Pilu. It’s a very difficult language, but I’ll continue trying for the duration of the trip.
Today, we’re spending the day sailing up north towards the Davis Strait, but not before we make a quick stop somewhere near the ice edge at the southeastern coast of Baffin Island so we can “play in the ice” for a bit.
Today was full of new knowledge and discovery. In the morning, right after breakfast, we had another session of “Arctic Hours,” where experts in all kinds of different topics relating to the Arctic create presentations where they teach us about different things. Today, Ed, Shari, Rachel, and David gathered for a presentation about a couple of different topics encompassing the People, Culture, and Environment of the Arctic. Shari spoke about one challenge that her community, Clyde River, on Baffin Island, is facing, which brings me to…
~Historical Story No.2~ – Seismic Testing in Clyde River, Baffin Island, Nunavut.
This story begins in 2011, when the approximately 900 citizens of Clyde River learned about a proposed plan by a consortium of companies to conduct seismic testing along the eastern coast of Baffin Island. It’s important to mention that this area includes a bowhead whale sanctuary and key ocean habitat for marine mammals. For those of you who might not be familiar with seismic testing, it involves using air guns to blast extremely loud sound waves towards the bottom of the ocean floor and recording the outputs in order to map out potential oil deposits that might be found below. This process may seem harmless at first, but in reality, it can cause a variety of harmful effects – specifically on marine mammal populations. Some of these adverse effects include hearing damage in marine mammals, to whom seismic testing can also be a severe stressor, which can in turn cause these animals to eat less, and reproduce less (and less successfuly). The species affected by this process are incredibly important, not only to the biodiversity of the area, but also to the food chain, and ultimately the livelihoods and culture of Inuit communities along the eastern coast of Baffin Island who depend upon these animals for their food.
When the citizens of Baffin Island, and more specifically, Clyde River, learned about the potential plans to conduct seismic testing every summer for 5 years, blasting sound every ten seconds, twenty-four hours a day, they immediately started their protest. Although the permit to conduct these tests was granted by the National Energy Board (NEB) of Canada, the citizens of Clyde River decided to fight against it. They challenged the NEB decision through the Federal Court of Appeals. The citizens of Clyde River felt that the NEB had not only failed to accurately understand the potential impacts to the environment and Inuit livelihoods, but also failed to appropriately and meaningfully consult with the community. To move their lawsuit forward, Clyde River partnered with Greenpeace – a controversial action given the bad reputation the organization had earned in the past for their part in banning and stigmatizing the hunt of seals when Inuit communities relied on seals for food and selling seal skins for income. Some members of the community embraced their help, while others remained skeptical about Greenpeace’s agenda. In any case, Greenpeace helped with economic support and raising awareness of the issue by sending out the message worldwide through a large-scale communications campaign.
In 2014, Clyde River lost their case in the Federal Court of Appeals, which ruled that the National Energy Board had consulted adequately with the communities. This news was a blow to Clyde River who had fought against corporate giants. But not all hope was lost. By this time, news of the case had become of national – even international – interest. Inuit organizations and others were coming together and providing support to Clyde River. So, the citizens of Clyde River decided to fight once more for what they thought was right. They took the case to the 9 member Supreme Court of Canada and, although it looked unlikely, the Court has agreed to review the case this year in November.
I definitely hope that last section was informative to all of you who haven’t heard of this case before. It was definitely a surprise when I heard of it, and it was super interesting to learn about.
Tomorrow, we’ll start making our way to Greenland, it’ll be a full day aboard, but hopefully be just as fun as all the others.
Inuulluarit! (or goodbye in Greenlandic)
Haleh Zabihi – St. John’s, NL, Canada
We have had a relaxing day at sea today which, although unintentional, was very much appreciated. Our original plan to do an iceberg Zodiac cruise along the coast of Monumental Island was derailed by fog and so we have had to improvise by observing and taking pictures from the deck of the ship.
We started the day with an “Arctic Hour” during which I listened to a panel discuss Northern communities and the problems they are facing. What truly made the statistics come alive for me was when the people attending the discussion joined in with their own personal stories and even my roommate and I discussed the issues in her community and if there was any way to fix them. This thought-provoking subject is definitely one I’ll bring back home and discuss with others. Following lunch, we enaged in another set of workshops in which I joined the bannock making class! We even got the chance to add our own toppings and customize our bannock and we’ll get to see (and taste!) our finished product tonight at dinner.
One of the most exciting activites we did today was the bottle drop. We wrote our own customized message and put it in a well-sealed bottle along with instructions on how to report the bottle if found! Students on Ice has about a 6%-12% discovery rate compared to the average of 1%, so I think my chances are pretty good!
Hannah Wiltzen – Fort Smith, NT, Canada
For everyone who is following, we are heading north along the Baffin Coast after a few spectacular days in the Torngat Mountains.
It is said that the Inuit spirits of the Torngats will bless those who praise them and wreak havoc on those who don’t. True or not, the energy in the mountains was incredible. Here is a journal entry I wrote after our first day in the mountains:
“The Torngats were everything and more that I hoped for. Large, dramatic cliffs, dwarfed plant life, rocks and rocky ledges. We were able to zodiac right to where the river met the ocean and then further up the river to the bottom of a waterfall. I am in awe of everything around me and am so excited and blessed to be here right now.”
To give you some perspective, I don’t remember writing that entry but distinctly remember the taste, emotions, and feeling of each experience I touched upon in my writing. Nunatsiavut territory lives up to it’s name, “Our Beautiful Land.” It is breathtakingly beautiful, untouched except for the remnants of Inuit settlements, and overflowing with history and culture.
Another area we landed was Hebron, Labrador. If you’ve never heard of this area before (like myself), I challenge you to do some research. I guarantee you will gain a new appreciation for what a resilient people the Inuit are.
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Jamie Snook – Executive Director
Atlantic Salmon and Arctic Char
There are not too many species more important to Inuit life than Atlantic Salmon and Arctic Char. Throughout the Students on Ice (SoI) expedition so far there are few activities that brought more smiles to faces than those lucky enough to experience reeling a char to shore. Those smiles in places like Ramah Bay were symbolic of the mental health benefits Inuit enjoy through the traditional practice of fishing these species, as well as the physical health benefits from consuming high quality protein and omega oils.
As the expedition makes its way to Greenland, we are following the migration route of Atlantic Salmon. They can travel from as far south as the eastern seaboard of the United States to as far north as Greenland. And while we are sailing through these waters, we are also continuing to learn more about Inuit culture, livelihoods, and management approaches to key food species, such as salmon. Salmon is an essential component to Inuit food sources but, more than that, they are an important emotional and spiritual part of Inuit culture and have sustained communities for centuries. As a Labradorimmiut, I have also enjoyed salmon as part of my diet, and salmon has been an important part of my upbringing and my culture. Currently, Inuit in the region are allowed to harvest 7 salmon per household, per year.
The salmon fisheries in Labrador and Greenland are highly regulated, with strict quotas placed on this fishery, including for Inuit harvesters. While these quotas are important for ensuring a healthy and thriving salmon population, they also have very real-world cultural and food security impacts for Inuit populations. As a co-management board, we recognize the importance of understanding salmon beyond biology to include a holistic understanding of all facets of the ways in which salmon and people are connected in decision-making. As part of our commitment to this, the Torngat Secretariat was one of the host stakeholders of the 2015 North American Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO) meeting in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, bringing together international delegates to discuss salmon, and to ensure that these delegates understood, from an Inuit context, the ways in which salmon are deeply integrated into culture and life.
In the years ahead, if we are going to have a sustainable salmon fishery, and cultural continuity around salmon fishing and consuming, we need to think about multiple, and sometimes competing, interests and continue dialogue between and among Inuit, scientists, researchers, decision-makers, and governments. We also need strong research to answer many important questions. For example: what sort of adaptations will be needed as a result of climatic changes and impacts to salmon from warming waters? Where are salmon most vulnerable during their migrations? How do we integrate Indigenous and scientific knowledge for stronger management decisions? How can we work together across border and country jurisdictions to coordinate salmon management decisions?
Recently, the Torngat Secretariat produced a video highlighting voices from Nunatsiavut and Upper Lake Melville in Labrador to share the importance of salmon to the area, and why we need holistic and strong management decisions. To view this video, please visit our YouTube channel.
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.
Jamie Snook, MA, P. Mgr
Torngat Wildlife, Plants and Fisheries Secretariat
Janine Machmer – Pangnirtung, NU, Canada
Our days here on the ship are pretty busy and I don’t ever really feel like blogging as I never know what to say or whenever I want to say something I never know how to put it in words. Also when we are finally done at the end of the day I just don’t have any energy to type. I just like to go straight to my cabin and go to bed, so I’m sorry if anyone looks at the website and expects something written from me. In other words, I am doing alright, been counting down the days till I get home like a little kid, only a week left. Right now we are currently sailing away to start our journey to Greenland, getting close to Baffin Island and I’m thinking of everyone back home.
Yesterday we got to visit base camp in the Torngat Mountains as our last day in Nunatsiavut and met so many awesome Parks Canada workers there. I can’t get over how Parks Canada is such an awesome job to have! We have 13 summer students onboard who are working at a park near or in their hometown and it’s great how we all can get along and connect. I’ve said it quite a lot now but, I am so ever thankful for Parks Canada to have sponsored all 13 of us. This trip is such an incredible experience for all of us and we will never forget it.
Also for today, we got to write a little letter that we will be dropping into the Ocean to study how the ocean water currents are changing, to see if they’re still accurate, to see if global warming is strongly changing the currents. I like this idea, its great. I hope that my bottle will be found someday and that it will bring a smile to whoever may find it. Now to change the topic, I am not much of a writer so I’m going to get going and let someone else blog. Mum, I’m doing alright, could be better, but I’ll be home soon and till then I just got to be patient. Also I’m not too sure if Cole has seen any of my blogs, but I hope that you have. I miss you and can’t wait to see you.
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Jimmy Blais – Actor/Teacher/Director/Producer
What a creative overload the last 24 hours have been! A bit of context: The last time I touched based with you all I was still shook up by the day’s events at Hebron. I still am, but I’m reassured a little in knowing that some of my peeps felt the same. I managed to sit down and talk about it with some other aboriginal members of the staff and the feeling that I felt in my stomach was shared my many others. It was talking about that feeling that sparked a brain storming session between myself and Justin Manyfingers on how we can take full advantage of this residency and the resources on this ship. We are meeting everyday to flesh out a performance piece that we will perform together towards the end of our expedition. On top of that, I was fortunate enough today to have 25 people participate in the next stage of my storytelling workshop. We were up on our feet putting together mini-performances based from simple stories shared by the participants within their groups. Although simplistic in nature the performances were fun and energizing. The next step is to apply what we learned and reattempt story telling through an Arctic perspective. As we sail due course for Greenland, I will leave you with my favorite quote, one that JR (a deep, talented knowledge bank of a staff member) based a song and performance on. It is more than fitting for the state of affairs for me right here, right now.
“My people will be asleep for 100 years but then awake it will be the artisits that give them their spirit back” -Louis Riel
Julia Richardson – Kingston, PEI, Canada
Today was spend aboard the Ocean Endeavour adrift on the waves between Newfoundland and Greenland. A thick layer of fog accompanied us as we made our way and encapsulated the ship until the only thing you could see out of the window was split into two options; either an opaque white wall or a few meters of dark water.
The weather also made it so that a zodiac cruise was non-negociablely out of the question so the morning was spent attending Arctic Hour seminars. There was one that gave a general overview of the history of some Arctic peoples as well as a problem with seismic testing off the coast of Clyde River, Nunavut.
I have never heard this story before but apparently there is an oil company wishing to test the seabed below Baffin Bay to check for pockets of oil. To do this they are planning to use seismic testing, which for those of you who do not know, is done by blasting sound waves into the ocean to penetrate into the ground and then using the reflected echo to map the seafloor. It doesn’t sound too bad until you realize that the sound goes off every 15 seconds for 24hrs every day for the many months it will take to complete the mapping and louder in decibels than a jet engine. That coupled with the fact that this area of the Baffin Bay holds roughly 80%-90% of the narwal population (and many other stuggling marine life) makes for a disasterous combination. Especially since siesmic testing has been shown to cause a great deal of stress and even deafness in marine species.
The people of Clyde River were given an ‘information session’ but were not really given a choice. Fortunately the people who live there began protesting which sparked more attention from the world as well as Greenpeace who eventually joined forces with the community. This controversy was soon brought to the supreme court and is currently being evaluated. If the oil company is given the green light to begin their testing there is no way of telling the consequenses that will fall onto the already troubled Arctic environment.
Another highlight of my day, which I can’t fail to mention, is that we SOI members wrote messages, stuck them in glass bottles and then cast them into the ocean behind the Ocean Endeavour. It was done to aid in a study meant to map out the ocean’s currents by recording where the bottles are sent to sea and where they are picked up. About 1 in every 25 bottles will be found so I hope mine survives its voyage!
Linda Kristiansen – Nuuk, Greenland
Ulluni makkunani misigisarpassuarnik tikitarpassuarnillu ulikkaarpugut, kisianni eqqaamasakka oqaluttuarissavakka.
Ippassaani Hebronimiippugut. Hebroni nunaqarfikuuvoq matusaanikoq, soorlu taamani Kalaallit Nunaanni Qullissat matusaallarmat. Taamani Hebronimi najugallit Inuit nutsertitaallarmata piniagassanik piniaqqusaasimanngillat, nereqqusaasimanngillat illup iluaneeqqusaasimanatillu. Nuutsitaareernermi kingorna amerlasoorpassuit imerajuttunngorlutillu inuunerluttunngorsimapput.
Hebronimiinnerput imaannaanngeqaaq, tamatta attortisimaaqaagut. Oqaluffimmukaratta oqalugiartoqarpoq imaannaanngitsunik Hebron pillugu, aamma nipilersortoqarpoq, qilaatersortut torlorsortullu.
Oqaluffimmeereernerup kingorna illuaqqamut iserpunga, iserama soorlu tassa nunatsinni illuaqqamiilluni. Inuit inuktitut oqaluttut aalisakkat panertitanik nerisut, nagguteerartortut, iffiorsimallutillu tikinnissatsinnut. Ilai kalaarraarissut tuluttut oqaluttut inuktitut akullattaarlugit. Ataqqinaqaat.
Hebron oqaluffiani oqalugiartut ilaat National Inuit Youth Council Maatalii Ukaliq oqarnera puigukkiunnaqaaq.
“Yes, we are Inuit, and we are very much alive”.
Oqarnera taama imartoqaaq.
Ullaaq aamma Arctic Inuillu pillugit saqqummiisoqarami paasisama ilaat tassaavoq qanga Inuit nunasiaataagallarmata puulukinik nerisittarsimavaat, puulukillu puisiinnarnik nerisittarsimallugit. Soorunamigooq puulukersuaq puisisunnerinnanngorsimavoq. Aamma qanga Inuit aqqi nalunarpallaartaqimmatagooq normulersortarsimavaat aqqisigut taanagit, normuisigut taasarlugit. Soorlu nersussuit immaqaluunniit uumasut nerisassat aamma normulersortaraat. Inuk oqaluttuartoq qanga normorisimasani eqqaamallugu oqaluttuarpoq.
Usi! Aamma ippassaani Zodiac cruiserluta angalaaratta siallersumi qaasertuinnaalluta aammalu immamit tammissarnitsinni serpartissuaaqattaaratta, nuannisarsuataarluta nipitoorujussuarmik erinarsoqattaarluta aqqutaa tamaat, qaqqarsuarnillu portusuunik avatangiiseqarluta kusanartorujussuarnik. Mobilera kaasarfinniitikkakku isumaqarlunga ajornavianngitsoq atisakka imermut anorimullu illersuutitaqarmata. Assiliisaqattaarpunga mobilinnit. Initsinnut iseratta mobilera qamissimasoq ikeriaraluarakku ikissinnaanngitsoq. Unnuk naallugu orserpara, ullaakkut iterama ikeriaraluarakku qisuariaranilu. Suli tamassa atorsinnaanngilaq.
Kisianni ajortissimasoq paasigakku ugguanngilangaluunniit, pissutigalugu paasigakku mobili inuunerunngitsoq. Inuuninnut pingaaruteqanngilaq, naak ullut tamaasa tiimialussuit paarisaraluarlugu. Eqqarsaatigilerpara aamma oqaraangama mobilera ajortissimasoq tamaavimmik oqartarput nutaamik iphonetaartariaqassasunga. Soormi Iphonetaanngikkaluaruma? Ullutsinni inuit amerlanerit mobilitik silarsuaraat, inuunerivaat. Uanga inuunera naallugu atortukasimmut mikisumut silarsuaqarusunngilanga. Mobiiliaraannannguaq suna tamaat tiguartarpaa allaat piffissaq. Taamaammat massakkoqqissaaq eqqarsaatigaara ilumut silarsuarmut taamaattumut uteqqissanerlunga. Kisianni soorunami sianersinnaallungalu allaffigisaqarsinnaaniassagama mobilitaartariaqassaanga.. haha!
Soorlu assersuutigalugu sap.ak marluk sinnerlugit mobilinngilanga, aamma mobileqqusaanngilagut. We are all in this moment. Iluaqaaq sumiikkaluaraanniluunniit mobilertunik takussanani. Aamma mobilera maqaasinngeqaara. Tassuunartaatigut paasivara social media allalluunniit atorfissaqartinngisakka soqutaarpianngitsut pisariaqartinnagit. Neriuppunga aamma ilissi eqqarsaatigilluartarumaarissi tamanna. Ilumut kinguaatsinnut tamakku ingerlateqqissavagut? Meerannguit inuunermik ulikkaartut tamakkuninnga ilinniartileriissavagut? Soorunami iluaqutaasinnaaqaaq, kisianni aamma aappaatigut itinerusumik eqqarsaatigilluartariaqarparput.
Qujanarujussuaq atuaravit, neriuppungalu ullorsiorluarumaartutit.
Lucasi Kiataniaq – Kangiqsujuaq, QC, Canada
Hello my name is Lucasi Kiatainaq. My experience here has been amazing. I wish I could come here again in the Students On Ice expedition. I am learning alot about my own culture. I live in Canada, northern Quebec (the province) in Kangirsujuaq. It is a Inuk village also called “Wakehambay”.
I miss my family, hopefully they’ll see this. I miss my little brother the most becuase why not? Hahaha. I like the food here but I miss having country food. I also really miss having my mom’s cooking, there’s nothing like it. I’ll see you in 15 days.
Thank you so much KRG for sponsoring me to be here. I always wanted to travel the world and I’m starting off on Students on Ice. I get to see amazing landscapes and meet new people every day (even though we probably see each other every day but never fully met). I’m very thankful to be here and trying to make every minute count. I started off very shy until I got comfortable with having these people around. Not only am I learning new stuff about my culture, I’m also learning how to make new friends. All of this wouldn’t be possible if I wasn’t sponsored by KRG.
We have seen 11 Polar Bears so far, minke whale, gulls and other animals too. On the first day we saw 10 polar bears and another one after that. I don’t encounter the animals we’ve seen that much, so it’s really good to see them again. This will probably be the only blog I write because I don’t really like typing. I will be interviewed in the meantime.
Overall the trip has been amazing.
Luciano Martin AyalaValani – Sherbrooke, QC, Canada
Tout bonne chose a une fin et hier nous avons quitté le parc national des Monts-Torngat pour reprendre la mer. Ce matin, en regardant par la fenêtre, je ne voyais que l’eau et le brouillard, le navire semblait naviguer vers l’inconnu. À ce moment, je me suis senti perdu et isolé comme si je marchais dans le noir le plus total. Puis, je me suis rendu compte que nous étions tout de même chanceux de nos jours, en comparaison avec les marins d’autrefois qui n’avaient pas l’équipement que nous possèdons maintenant. Après le déjeuner, chacun de nous a préparé un message personnalisé pour mettre dans une bouteille que nous jeterons ensuite à la mer dans l’espoir qu’elle soit retrouvée un jour. Lorsque les bouteilles sont retrouvées, les scientifiques peuvent observer la dynamique des courants marins. Plus tard, j’ai assisté à une dicussion sur la souveraineté arctique. Parmi les points que j’ai retenus, j’ai appris une partie des règles internationales concernant la répartition des eaux à chaque pays et que tous les différents entre les pays du nord ne sont pas encore réglés. En après-midi, il y avait beaucoup de brouillard, mais nous avons pu voir des glaciers énormes qui faisaient facilement la taille d’une maison. Puis, j’ai participé à un atelier où nous jouions le rôle du comité chargé de définir le quota d’ours polaires qui seraient chassés cette année au Nunatsiavut (le nord du Labrador). Après des dicussions, nous avions convenu de faire passer le nombre d’ours polaire qui seraient chassé de 12 à 16. L’éducateur nous a expliqué que finalement la décision réelle du comité avait été de 13. Lors du débriefing avant d’aller dormir, nous avons pu entendre trois chansons par différents groupes (composé de staff et d’élève). À présent, je vais aller dormir. Comme nous nous dirigeons vers le Groenland nous allons avancer l’heure et perdu une heure de sommeil.
Meera Chopra – Richmond Hill, ON, Canada
Remember those “message in a bottle” scenes in movies where the cast gets shipwrecked? Today, we did that (but not because our boat got shipwrecked). To study the currents of the ocean, we dropped glass bottles with messages inside, telling the finder to send us the time and location that the bottle was found. I was super excited to launch my two bottles into the ocean! It would be cool if someone from halfway across the world would find it!
Later, for a workshop, I learned how to make bannock. It’s a traditional universal Inuit bread made of flour, water, baking powder, and salt. After we kneaded the dough together, we put it in the oven so we could eat it at dinnertime. Mine had poppy seeds on top; it was the first time I had tried bannock, and it tasted great! While the bread was cooking, we sang fun Inuit songs (accompanied by a hand drum) and the workshop leader regaled us with legends of a trickster and why animals look the way they do.
After dinner, we got the chance to launch our messages in bottles into the ocean. Now, the bottles started their journey, which might even total in distance to a thousand of kilometres or more! Since we were on the deck, we got to see a huge and uniquely shaped iceberg float past our ship. Some seals passed by as well.
As we make our way to Greenland, I am having a blast trying new things (like cooking bannock!). Smooth sailing for the future.
Melissa Snedden – High School Teacher
As per the last few days, we woke up this morning with severe fog, probably the foggiest day yet. We had panel discussions this morning about Healthy Communities, which was extremely engaging and interesting. After panel discussions we had some free time on the ship and my roommate and I decided to catch a few Z’s as the days are fantastic but jam packed and it’s difficult to get all the sleep that you really need.
My roommate Rachel is from Quebec but currently resides in Iqaluit with her husband and two young children. She is a biologist for WWF and has been with the company for the past year. We have been getting along great but we often don’t see each other much unless we’re in the same workshops or it’s time to go to bed. Sometimes that can lead to late night chats.
Following our nap we broke off into workshops and I did the printmaking one with Jolly from Pangnirtung. I’m not completely done but I’m hoping it will turn out. Jolly is extremely talented and his printmaking pictures are so creative.
By far the most exciting part of the day was writing a message in a bottle. This afternoon, students and staff with bottles numbered 1 to 60 had the opportunity to throw their bottles off the back of the ship. I was number 37 so mine is floating in the ocean just off of Lady Franklin Island! Directly after our bottles were tossed we noticed an absolutely gorgeous and also HUGE iceberg on port side. It was over 300 m long!
Our captain has been fantastic at navigating through the ice and he took us all around the iceberg so we were able to take some really great photos. I was able to take some photos by myself and with some staff with the iceberg in the background. You won’t believe how big it is until you see the pictures. The air was so fresh and crisp today but since we were moving at a fair clip I had to come inside since my hands were getting a little cold from taking pictures.
I haven’t mentioned sea sickness yet because so far I have been really fortunate and haven’t been ill. It seems like the sea sickness bands that I’ve had on since Day 1 are working. Tomorrow is our second day at sea and then the following day we will be above the Arctic Circle and in Greenland! It’s hard to believe that we’re half way done!
Grace, Journey, Blessing.
A photo posted by Students On Ice (@studentsonice) on
Michael Powell – Hanwell, NB, Canada
Greetings from the Davis Strait!
To start I’d like to apologize to those at home; I’ve been so excited, engaged, and busy that I haven’t had an opportunity that would be best used to blog. There has always been another activity, presentation, or conversation that I wouldn’t want to miss out on. At the moment we are simply steaming northward on the open ocean in a shroud of fog while waiting on lunch to be ready, so it is the best opportunity that has presented itself for blogging.
As the expedition course has changed dramatically from the original plan, I’ll try to give a written explanation of all of the amazing places we have explored.
After landing in Iqaluit from Ottawa, we boarded the Ocean Endeavour via Zodiac. Once aboard we immediately began cruising for the Labrador coast through Frobisher Bay. We visited many beautiful locations along the coast, particularly the Eclipse Channel on July 25; Nachvak Fjord, Talek Arm, and Ramah Bay on July 26; Saglek Fiord, North Arm, and Hebron on July 27; and finally the Torngat Basecamp on July 28. Today (July 29) we are steadily traveling North towards sea ice that we are hoping to explore in Zodiacs.
Outside of exploration, the expedition has been jam-packed with workshops on a wide variety of topics. I have attended some art/drawing workshops, biological workshops including dissections of sculpin, psychological workshops about relationships and attachment forming, storytelling workshops, and environmental workshops focusing on the effects of climate change in the Arctic. Additonally, we have had “Arctic Hours” which are panels of staff (educators, journalists, elders, youth leaders, etc.) presenting and discussing an issue, usually having each staff member tackle the issue at hand from their own unique perspective and displaying how their story/research/adventure intertwines with that of the others. These panels are followed up by a Q&A session with the audience.
Seeing how the experiences of others intertwine with my own experiences, and how broad fieds such as science, Inuit culture, and history meld to form a single yet diverse narrative has been the most rewarding experience for myself so far. I entered into this expedition thinking that I would almost entirely be surrounding myself with science-oriented activities and with like-minded students interested in the sciences. This outlook quickly fell apart as I was introduced to the other areas of interest that are available on this expedition.
One of the most emotional experiences for me was our visit to Hebron. Given the difficult past of the settlement it would have been an emotional day for anyone, but the atmosphere was amplified by an overlooming theme and discussion around suicide. This brought about a reflection with my own experiences with suicide in my community.
On a more positive note, my readers at home would probably like to know that I took part in an interview today with the CBC in Mocton. I was asked to take part by Gary Donaldson, as I am one of the few students from New Brunswick on the expedition. We communicated with the CBC via satellite phone. I am not sure when it will be posted, but I am told that it will be available to listen to online.
While there are many more stories to tell, I will leave my blog post here. If my parents are reading, please find a way to let Ricki-Lee know that I have finally blogged! I am looking forward to the adventures ahead, and will hopefully find some more time to use for blogging. However, I will not be using valuable time for blogging should there be an opportunity presented which will benefit me more for the time it requires.
Noha Shehata – St. John’s, NL, Canada
We finally get to have a day of relaxation, or as Geoff said, “A day to rejuvenate.” Though I’ve been getting eight hours of sleep, I’m still finding myself to be constantly tired. Whether that’s from the fog, the rain, the activities, that’s still to be determined. It’s interesting, because we have a coffee station that is open 24/7, so I could have four cups of coffee and I’d still be tired.
Now that the complaining is out of the way, I’m going to talk about the highlight of my trip so far. Two days ago was a rough day. We went to Hebron, so it was inexplicably emotional for most of the people there. If you don’t know what happened in Hebron, it is basically a resettled community. In 1959, the church called in all the people that lived in Hebron, around 200 people, and told them that they were all going to have to move. They didn’t tell the chief Elder, and at that time, it was almost unholy to speak out in church. So in seconds, these families, children, parents, grandparents, they all had to wrap their heads around the fact that their community was going to be gone, and there was nothing that they could do about it.
As I said earlier, it was an extremely emotional day. We sat in the same church where the people were told that they were going to have to leave behind their homes. Which is why I think it was perfect to end the day with a zodiac cruise through Nachvak Fjord. Being on the open waters, even though it was cold, was a life changing experience. Everyone was dripping wet when we got off, even though we were all wearing ‘waterproof’ suits. I think there was something calming about being out in the waters for an hour, saltwater splashing in all our faces. It was, without a doubt, the best thing we’ve done on this trip.
A photo posted by Students On Ice (@studentsonice) on
Nurul Ain – Teacher
Hola! It’s another wonderful day. We had extra minutes of sleep and it’s super cool. I know right?! We had a Bottle Drop introduction session today where we all had to fill out a specific form each and write a message or draw something, etc on it. The form was later rolled to be put inside a bottle (each person one bottle) and it’s then sealed and covered tightly and well. The bottles are then thrown into the ocean and they will travel around the world and whoever finds any of those bottles is hoped to contact SOI staff as written in the form or letter I would say. Basically, the purpose of having the project is to identify the flow of the sea current. Someone in Scotland and Spain have found an SOI bottle each. The discovery of the bottle is not only for the research purpose but also may lead to life-changing events . Hopefully my bottle can reach somewhere and someone far, though I’m pretty sure that it won’t reach anywhere close to my country. At least, it would help researchers and some people for something good. Today, we had 60 bottles thrown into the sea and mine might be tomorrow. Well, well, well, another less than 40 hours to reach Greenland yeahhh!! Can’t wait for it.
Perrigo Patrick – Staten Island, NY, USA.
Today so far has been a calm, but an insightful and memorable day. We didn’t get off the ship and go on any zodiac excursions or cruising because of thick fog throughout most of the day. Right now, we are at the Southeast end of Baffin Island, sailing our way through the Davis Strait to Greenland. Todays original plan was to get near some of the dense ice formations near Baffin Island and go zodiac cruising around the icebergs. The thick fog prevented this from happening however, because it would have been too dangerous. Instead we did many different activities that increased our insight and knowledge.
We had Arctic Hour again, so I went to a special presentation about Arctic Souverity. Arctic Souverity is essentially the thinking and decision-making of how much land, and which areas of land, certain governments and people have the right to control. Whittney gave a fifteen minute segment of the political aspect of Arctic land disputes. He discussed how Russia, Denmark, Canada, the United States, and many other countries fight for certain areas with the goal of controlling trading routes and resources such as oil. Whittney is a very funny Canadian guy. Then an Inuit woman, |Caitkin Baikie, discussed how important it is for Inuit to control the land. Lastly, our American diplomat Miguel was about to speak when I was pulled out of the room. I was asked to do my very first video interview on Students on Ice! |I was hooked me up to a microphone, and we went out on deck to film the interview. I looked into the camera and stated my name, where I come from, and I thanked my sponsor for allowing me to be a part of this experience. I also talked about what I have learned, and anything I wanted to say about this journey. We did two takes, and then I went back into to the Artic Hours room right when the legendary Fred Roots was finishing a story.
Before I move on, I want to talk about Fred. He is in his 90’s, and has many medals, awards, and titles from governments all over the world. He is a remarkable explorer from the 1950’s and 1960’s. He has the record for the longest unsupported dog sled trip in Antarctica for a total of six straight months. When his lead dog died after the journey, he made a belt out of her harness. He has been touched and praised by many presidents and royalty, including the Queen of England. Last night, he showed his special belt to everyone, and I got to hold a remarkable piece of history.
After Arctic Hour, we had free time for us to catch up on our journals, laundry, blogging, or just relax. Later, we started to see some of the thick ice we saw on the satellite images. On one of the ice pans, we saw four seals relaxing. They slowly wobbled into the water as we approached. Then we had workshops, so I attended a workshop titled “Arctic Goo.” The workshop was about different types of glaciers, and what variables affect the speed at which they move. We created little experiments with our specially made “goo”, and tested to see what type of variables, such as slope or temperature, affect glaciers’ movement. It was very interesting, and I am starting to develop a passion for the Cryosphere.
Early in the day, we wrote or drew pictures on the back of a piece of paper, rolled it into a bottle, capped it, and waxed it. Then we threw 66 of the 200 bottles into the ocean, as part of The Drifting Bottle Project that SOI takes part in. The purpose is to have people find them on the shore, pick them up, and report the information asked on the paper to a certain website. The ultimate goal is to see where the bottles land, and the status of different currents in the ocean. It is an inexpensive process, that has given back positive scientific results. My bottle is number 88, so next time we throw them off the ship, I will have my chance to go. My letter was about who I am, my email contact, and a personal message for whoever finds it.
It is time for dinner now, so let me wrap up. Tomorrow will be another day at sea, and we will try zodiac ice cruising again, if the weather permits. On Sunday, we should be in Greenlandic waters. So we will see how things go. I already said that I can’t upload my pictures or videos directly, so everyone will have to wait.
I want to give a big shout-out and thank-you from the bottom of everyone’s heart at SOI to the US Candian Ambassador and his wife. They tried very hard and flew all over Northern Canada in hopes to meet us at The Torngats Basecamp yesterday. Bad weather finally forced them to go home. I hope we will see you both in Ottawa on August 5 at the breakfast that the US Embrassy is sponsoring.
One more thing, Prince Albert II couldn’t join us as planned yesterday either, and I don’t know if he ever will. The reason is that the Solar Impulse 2 finished its very long journey around the whole using just solar energy. As a big sponsor of this flight, he had to go to Dubai to greet the pilots of this amazing mission. we were all excited to learn about this historical aviation achievement. I have to go now, so stay tuned for more!
#SOIArctic2016 students engage with Aboriginal Artist in Residence Jimmy Blais on the deck of the MS Ocean Endeavour. #FloatingClassroom #CanadaCouncilfortheArts #CCUNESCO Photo (c) @lipmanstillpics / Students on Ice
A photo posted by Students On Ice (@studentsonice) on
A photo posted by Students On Ice (@studentsonice) on
A photo posted by Students On Ice (@studentsonice) on
First day of #SOIArctic2016 bottle drop onboard @adventurecanada ‘s MS Ocean Endeavour. This is part of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Drift Bottle Project to monitor changing ocean currents. #FloatingClassroom Photo (c) @lipmanstillpics / Students on Ice
A photo posted by Students On Ice (@studentsonice) on
A photo posted by Students On Ice (@studentsonice) on