By the end of every SOI expedition, each participant will have come to love the time-old mantra that “flexibility is the key.” This saying was no less important for Day 6 of the 2017 Arctic Expedition, as weather circumstances led to a reinvention of the day’s plans.
On the morning of Day 6, we reached the beautiful Tay Bay on the western shore of Bylot Island, Nunavut.
Bylot is located to the north of Baffin Island, with Eclipse Sound to the northeast, Parry Channel to the northwest, and Navy Board Inlet to the southwest. The English name of Bylot traces back to the Arctic explorer Robert Bylot, who, in 1616, was the first noted European to identify the island. For the local Inuit who were traveling on hunting excursions to Bylot Island for years prior to Robert Bylot’s arrival, the island can be described with the Inuktitut names “Sannirutialuk” or “Akia.”
Tay Bay was given its name some centuries ago by Scottish whalers who recalled the Tay Island of their home country. In 1946, the area of Tay Bay was bustling with teams from the American Military, who occupied the nearby waters and land with more than five ships and two floatplanes. As we experienced firsthand, entering the shelter of Tay Bay is like stumbling upon a hidden world of its own right: all around the magnificent expanse of the bay, sloping mountains of rock caverned against a huge sky.
As we soon learned, it was too windy to anchor or to go ashore in Tay Bay. Flexibility IS the key! With the decision to sail ahead, we opened the day up to many vast opportunities for learning from our diverse educators. Students participated in a variety of reflective workshops, like a music workshop held by Melissa and D’Ari of the organization Darkspark. Other students made traditional art and crafts with several of our Inuit and non-Inuit artists. Cathy led a practice in mindful meditation. One of our expedition musicians, Nelson Tagoona, led a beginner’s beatboxing workshop. Even more workshops included a journaling session with James Raffan – lovingly known to students and staff alike as “JR” – and a circle talk around shared experiences regarding reconciliation with Indigenous counsellors Moosa and Pitsiulaaq.
After lunch, we sailed towards Canada Point with hopes that our second attempt at a landing would be successful. Although the shore landing was still impeded by winds, our mantra of staying flexible meant that the time was spent just as valuably; the expedition team instead enjoyed connecting with each other out on the deck and looking around at the majestic landscape of Bylot Island.
This jam-packed day of education and engagement continued into the afternoon, which was divided into three separate panel discussions. The first panel explored the topic of Inuit identity, and was led by Jess Bolduc of the 4R’s Youth Movement, legislative advisor Brandon Pardy, and Greenlandic activist and statistics researcher Ivalu Rosing. Equally as interesting was the panel on Northern development that brought together scientist Shari Fox Gearheard, Baffinland CEO Tom Paddon, and Becky Mearns, the Manager of the QIA’s Impact Benefit Agreement. Last but not least, a panel was held on the themes of science and traditional knowledge regarding climate change, which featured the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change; Bronwyn Keatley, a Science Advisor for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans; and our Indigenous Artist in Residence, Keenan “Nooks” Lindell.
That evening, we gathered in the Hub – the main meeting room of our expedition team – for a debrief on the exciting visit to Pond Inlet the next day that would include an important Ministerial announcement by Minister McKenna and Becky Mearns of the QIA. Following this debrief, students and educators watched a recap video from the pre-departure program hosted in Ottawa.
Although the day did not go entirely as planned with regards to landings, it turned out to be a wonderful day of learning and bonding over both our personal stories and the stories of the incredible natural world around us!
Read about how our participants are feeling about their experiences today:
Chloe Arnold – Weno, Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia
I come all the way from the Federate States of Micronesia. I am from the beautiful island of Chuuk. The temperature there is quite warmer than the Arctic (alot warmer actually). Not once in my life did I imagine myself standing on a glacier. I set foot on a Glacier for the first time yesterday afternoon. It was unbelievable. I was overwhelmed by the fact that an Islander was standing on ice. I was an Islander on ice. I had a sip of glacier water meaning I had drank water that was millions of years old. It is just amazing to think about. As I stood on this Glacier, I thought about how my islands depend on this glacier staying as healthy as possible. The more unhealthy glaciers the higher the sea level goes. It is sad to say that I stood on an unhealthy glacier. I saw the edge of the ice fall off (Mom do not worry I was standing in the middle). It is not everyday you get to see something like this.
This expedition has taught me to go outside of my comfort zone. I have learned so many things in the last few days about the Inuit culture, the wildlife in the Arctic and the health of glaciers. Everyday this expedition teaches new unbelievable things and I am so happy to be here.
Rananim Ngeni meinisin aikewe famini back at home, osapw takiri ai ei chuukese pwun ese kon good. Uwa men fokun sani ei trip. Esapw ew cruise pwun ew expedition. uwa men positi ami meinisin. Ai tong negni kemi meinisin. mom me dad ngang mi okay. ngang mi fokun ajojo. ngang mi sinei pwun owa pene uti aipwe mak nge uwa keran tongeni ikenai. osapw osukosuka kemi ngang mi pojokujok. Ai tong me pos.
Nicole Baines – Iqaluit, NU, Canada
I haven’t been blogging for the past couple of days because of how much I am enjoying the nature and other people’s company. On the first day at sea after we left Resolute Bay we visted Leopold Island, it smelled like birds and fish in the area. I wasn’t expecting the island to look like that, very steep on the edges. Then we went to visit Beechey Island and visted the graves of the men from the Franklin Expedition. It was foggy outside but it made everything 10x more beautiful. I have been meeting the most astonishing people with the most beautiful souls. I have signed up to go and kayak or stand up paddle boarding and I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited before. We have the funnest Zodiac rides and no matter who I get surrounded with I have such an amazing time. Everyone here seems to have the most interesting stories about where they’re from. I just love to be out on deck to see my surroundings which is the most beautiful views that I can’t even describe. On our second day after we stood on a glacier we went for a zodiac cruise and we saw two seals, and I’ve never seen them so close. It reminded me of hunting. Which reminded me of home, in a good way. It’s only day 3 and I already have learned so much, and I’m yet to learn more. I am happy I will be able to bring this knowledge with me back home. We also have seen 2 polar bears so far and someone claimed they have seen a narwhal. I want to see walruses. I am looking forward for the days to come.
Ps. Mother I am okay I have just been busy, I also have not been sea sick once. Love you.
Jack Brown – St. John’s, NL, Canada
Yesterday was probably one of the best days I have ever had. I got up early to go to the top of the ship with some friends and, soon after that, we went to the galley for some food. It was absolutely amazing. After that we had our usual morning briefing and a few presentations and lectures. My favorite lecture was from Moosa. He talked about how the the Inuit used kayaks for hunting and exploring. In the middle of a lecture, Geoff announced on the PA system that there was a polar bear out on the ice, so everyone rushed out to the front deck and I snapped some good pictures of it. When that was finished with we all had lunch… again it was delicious. Shortly after that we all got ready to go out in the zodiacs and go the Croker’s Bay glacier. This was just mind blowing for me because, before I applied for Students on Ice, I was just scrolling through their website and I saw a picture of this glacier and it was one of the pieces of natural beauty that made me really want to join the expedition and fundraise my way here. I also drank glacier water when I was there and filled up my bottle for the rest of the day. When we got back to the zodiacs, we took a cruise around the glacier and we picked up some sea ice and we also had a close up look at a few seals. When we got back on board, I took off my gear, went to my room and soon went to the hub and played guitar with Emily, Eloise, Tristan and Nelson. When that was done, we had dinner and then I soon went to bed because it was a very busy but fantastic day and I knew that tomorrow would be just as exciting or more.
Ellen Chin – Hong Kong, Hong Kong
How amazing is it to find some polar bears in the Arctic!! I have seen so many polar bears these few days! Even though they are really far away, I could still see their faces. Unfortunately, the polar bears that we have met are not really friendly while they were running away from us. My favorite polar bear is the first one that we have met, because that polar bear has lots of adorable swimming poses and it is the nearest one. I hope that we can find more polar bears in the coming week! There is also a gigantic population of birds among the Arctic area, as we can find them on the cliffs, the ice caps, and all the places that you can imagine of. Yesterday, we saw lots of birds covering the sea ice and we discovered that it was actually deceased wildlife there.
Zodiac is the main transportation for us to leave the ship and go for our adventures, and it is also the best transportation that I have taken. I enjoyed the time on the Zodiac together with the wind blown from the sea and the song of our amazing zodiac driver. When we were having the Zodiac cruise around the glacier yesterday, a seal jumped out from the water suddenly and it seems lost in front of the enormous “ice cap” moving extremely fast on the water surface. Moreover, we recorded and listened to the sound of the melting ice from the glacier, and the sound remind me again of the issue of climate change.
After the Zodiac cruise around the glacier, we were having a hike to the glacier. I jumped off from the Zodiac into the water with lots of mud and then we walk along the side of the glacier. There were lots of stones and flowing mud among the whole area and my leg fell into one of the flowing mud. That’s actually amazing because my rubber boot was enjoying a fresh glacier mud spa on top of the glacier! Then, we climbed onto the glacier and finally we can serve our tiredness with the sweet glacier water flowing down from the glacier.
Kiersten Williams – Iqaluit, NU, Canada
Hi everyone! It is now the third day on the expedition. I have experienced so many things in these three days. We’ve gone on zodiac rides, hikes, and have done some incredible workshops. Today, we started with some Isuma workshops. Isuma is a program here on the ship where some of the students and staff get a chance to express themselves. All of this is done in its own unique way. These workshops have really helped me step out of my comfort zone. Over the past few days, I have made so many amazing friends with the help of the Isuma instructors. I am excited to see what else this trip has to offer.
Veronica Flowers – Hopedale, NL, Canada
Yesterday was so much fun! It started off with workshops and presentations. Then we went out to Croker Bay in the afternoon in Zodiacs and explored. It was so beautiful and not too cold, thankfully. Then we went for a short walk up to the glacier and got to stand on top of it! We drank some water from the glacier, the best water I ever drank. The we went out in zodiacs again and drove near the glacier and got pics of some pretty cool icebergs. We even sang some songs with our Zodiac driver haha, and we had some good laughs. We also got amazing pictures and I made so many new friends. Then we came back to eat and we had some more presentations. We also shared our highlights of the day and Nelson, Mel, and D’ari performed a song for us. Then we went out on deck to see some old shacks in Dundas Harbour and I couldn’t get over how bright it was at 10:30pm. I’m sorry that I don’t write blogs everyday but we are always so busy! It’s great. We had some more workshops this morning and I made caribou antler earrings and a necklace with Nooks, it was awesome. This afternoon sometime, we are going out in Zodiacs if the wind dies down, can’t wait!
John Gertler – Montreal, QC, Canada
I’m here, in the Arctic! I couldn’t stop smiling as I stepped off the plane in Resolute Bay. I felt as if I’d just stepped foot on another planet. It boggles my mind that not only is this “other planet” a part of my country but that it’s such a big part of it as well. In just a couple hours I learnt and felt a lot in Resolute. On one hand I was shocked by this small community with rundown houses of just a couple hundred people; on the other hand, as I stood in the town hall, everywhere I looked people were smiling and laughing seemingly full of spirit. I also got the opportunity to play a pick up game of basketball and connect with two of the local teens in the town hall. I could never have guessed I’d be playing basketball in the high Arctic. This was super special for me and definitely the highlight of my trip so far.
Today is our third full day at sea and we have have reached Bylot Island at the eastern end of Lancaster Sound. Each day brings new unexpected experiences and adventures. So far I have stood on a glacier that’s thousands of years old, seen three polar bears, seen my first iceberg and so much more. There is an endless supply of warmth, music, knowledge and experience on this ship, making it an easy and comfortable environment to learn in. Great food helps as well. I’m not quite sure how the kitchen staff is doing what they’re doing but regardless, it’s scrumptious!
Thanks for reading!
Hannah Groenewegen – London, ON, Canada
It is our third full expedition day on the ship! So many exciting things have happened over the past few days and it would be impossible to name them all. Instead I’ll just tell you about some of my favourite moments.
Yesterday we went on Zodiac islands around and a for hike on Devon Island. Before we made it to the island we were told that it is very similar to Mars. Once we arrived on the island I understood what was meant by that. I obviously have never been to Mars but the island is almost exactly how I would have pictured it. There is so much rock everywhere and the way to cliffs and hills have been formed over time is amazing! After walking around for a few minutes we arrived at the glacier. This was definitely one of the highlights of my day. Standing on the glacier makes you feel so small compared to everything around you. After a while of exploring the glacier we all were trying to drink some of the water that we found. The water was very clear and tasted amazing. It was hard to believe we were on top of something so big and amazing the entire time!
My favourite part of yesterday would have had to been the Zodiac ride after the hike. The group of people I was with were awesome and we were all feeding off of each others energy. As we were moving around more of the glacier it was so cool to see the different contours and how the water had affected it over time. Someone in the Zodiac reached into the ocean and grabbed a chunk of ice that had broken off. We all passed it around and took turns breaking off pieces to eat. Not long after that we got to witness something super amazing. All of a sudden a massive piece of ice cavved off of the glacier. It was really cool getting to see it happen and hear it breaking off!!
Besides those two highlights lots of other super cool things have happened. We’ve seen a lots of wildlife like polar bears and seals. I can’t wait for everything else to come!!
Jack Hilditch – St. Catharines, ON, Canada
This amazing expedition has been filled with amazing opportunities as well as relationships. There was specific person I have had the privilege of talking to that has shared some amazing stories and has been very inspiring. I first met Arvaarluk Kusugak at dinner on Thursday where he shared his amazing life story. Arvaarluk was born in Cape Fullerton in the West Coast of Hudson Bay in 1948. He shared stories about his childhood attending three residential schools as well as the various summer jobs he had such as a cleaner at a mine operation. Arvaarluk taught me the importance of trying and experiencing new opportunities, as they may just lead you to a new passion or interest. He also shared stories about becoming a helicopter pilot, and then worked in pottery following that. I could listen to Arvaarluk for hours. He is truly an amazing story teller. The vivid pictures he is able to paint in my head are insightful and beautiful. All of his collective experiences had led up to him becoming a writer. He told me stories about him telling stories to his children and how they encouraged him to do something with his amazing gift! He was then contacted by Robert Munch where they collaborated and wrote A Promise is a Promise. Thankfully, I have had a number of opportunities to sit down and listen to the experiences he has had as well as the knowledge he has received from his mother. I look forward to meeting with Arvaarluk and many other inspiring people while on this trip as there is so much to learn!
Erica Jacque – Postville, NL, Canada
The last couple of days have been a blur of new experiences, workshops, Zodiac cruises and meeting new people. Yesterday we landed on Crokers Bay by zodiac and had an amazing experience climbing onto the glacier; we even drank from a stream of water coming from the glacier. There were kids lined by the stream with heads in the stream and water bottles in hand. Whitney gave a lecture on glacier formation, erosion, healthy and unhealthy glaciers. That talk really stuck in my mind because actually seeing a glacier and standing on one as the lecture happened brought a new kind of knowledge that I feel you have to experience to get to that certain kind of understanding. After our glacier walk some of us students had a rock skipping competition, while others talked and laughed and just enjoyed each other’s company. We then went on a Zodiac cruise to get a better look at the glacier and along the way we spotted maybe 6 seals and picked up some iceberg ice to snack on. That would have to be my favourite land excursion so far because the glacier’s height and structure was a magical thing to witness.
Today we are sailing in Tay Bay where we were supposed to land for some workshops and kayaking, but since “flexibility is key” we did our workshops on the ship. I went to Ian’s songwriting workshop again and was given the phrase “The grass is always greener” to write a song about. I started one and Ian gave me some really insightful hints which allowed me to write 3 songs today. A staff member wrote a very beautiful song about home and Ian made a riff to go along with it. They wrote it in about 20 minutes and it was inspiring because most of us had never even wrote a song before. With Ian’s genius musical knowledge and passion for teaching us I feel like I can also make a song . Ian always has a special twinkle in his eye when he talks to us and I really love it.
I have already made many friends and learned so much. I’m so thankful to be here. Although I don’t remember all the detail of the days, I know I will always remeber these people and all the knowledge I have gained so far about myself and about my culture.
ps. the food here is amazing (and hi mom and dad)
Fathen Jusoh – Teacher
Hello and Salam from the ocean which sun has not yet set (in summer).
Today we didn’t get the chance to land ashore due to weather condition. The anchor should be down at Tay Bay, so we could hike and explore Sirmilk National Park, but the weather didnt really cooperate and for safety reasons, we spent all the time on ship. For plan B, Geoff suggested us to land in another place – that was Canada Point – one of the National Park which was not yet explored by the Students on Ice. How cool is that? So, I went to my cabin to put on extra layers and we’re all set for the Zodiac cruise.
Suddenly, we had another announcement.
“Hello students on Ice, sorry that we couldnt land at Canada Point as the weather didnt tolerate, BUT we have more fun activities await,” – somehow like this, I couldnt really recall every word though, heee.
SO, my life for today was like – I had GREAT MEAL, from breakfast, lunch and dinner, but I didnt burn any calory, oh no! FLEXIBILITY IS THE KEY, though, we still had great discussions on board. When I said GREAT discussion, I really mean a great discussion. It’s like you dont want to miss anything and you’re kinda afraid if you’ve missed anything.
One of my highlights for today was a workshop by Danko and Brendan on Reading the Sky. Danko is a scientist who works in tropical Pacific Island – Micronesia to be specific and Brendan is a research scientist in the field of Environmental Arctic Change. I really like how two different people came out with a collaborative incredible presentation to compare on the impacts of climate change in two different regions – Polar region and Tropical region.
In the presentation, Brendan listed some salient impacts of Climate change in the Arctic which are; the ice is melting fast, the Arctic ocean is now even warmer and coastal erosion which leads to relocation to higher ground and it’s really costly. We know how important the sea ice is for Polar regions. In fact, life here in Arctic depends on sea ice; either for hunting of seals and walruses and even the polar bears need ice for their habitat.
Danko on the other hand pointed out how the temperature in Tropical region is getting higher and warmer due to climate change. It affects the plantation and fishing industry in Micronesia. The sea level is increasing and some areas are flooded. Furthermore, as the sea water rises to higher ground and floods the plantation, the water will be absorbed by the soil and it will indirectly affect the plantation. There will be possibility of drought in future if this keeps on happening!
Personally, I feel their presentation connects to my homecountry, Malaysia. Whatever happens in Acrtic, affects the Tropical Area and vice versa. We live in a same planet and our lives are like symbiosis. We do wish for a better future and better environment for the coming generation. How much can I help? What can I do? What have I contirbuted? Those are the questions I have in mind for myself. And, how I wish all of us – regardless where we live are all selfless and share the same dreams for our planet!
Bronwyn Keatley – Senior Science Advisor, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Another incredible day full of amazing landscapes, having plans follow the weather, and interesting discussions. A few highlights included: seeing Sirmilik National Park from Tay Bay (it was too windy to attempt a Zodiac landing); checking out an amazing plankton video that one of the students shot with her phone through the eyepiece of the light microscope (who knew you could do that?); being part of a panel discussion on science, policy and the environment with Nooks Lindell, Garry Donaldson, and Minister McKenna; and listening to Pitsula’s views on science, Inuit and her hopes for the future. Looking forward to my first visit to Pond Inlet tomorrow!
Shelly Leighton – Ocean Mapping Instructor, Marine Institute
Hi Matthew, Calista, Avery and everyone!
Today was a bit of a windy day, which kept us from going ashore. Not for lack of trying though! We were in Tay Bay early this morning and were hoping to go for a hike but it was too windy to launch the zodiacs. It was so beautiful though. Tay Bay is on Bylot Island. The ship sailed on south and we tried once again to go to shore on Canada Point, but again the winds did not co-operate.
So today was spent doing workshops and panel discussions along with some well deserved quiet time. We also had a chance to get together with our pods, which was nice getting to know everyone just a little bit better.
Tomorrow is a big day in Pond Inlet. I’ve also had a pretty long day myself so I’m off to bed. I love you guys and miss you all very much!
Janet Li – Shenzhen, GD, China
The biking on our first day in Ottawa was very cool and astonishing. Our guide told us that we rode almost 18 kilometers. I have never ridden that far, and I was happy to exercise. It is my first time to be so far away from home without my parents. I missed my parents but I knew I had to get rid of my homesickness and enjoyed this journey. With these thoughts, I made friends with people and talked with them. I felt a friendly atmosphere created here. Everyone was new to me but they were keen to talk with each other and made friends. This was why this expedition made me feel strange and familiar. It is also my first time blogging and I was enjoying it. I mean, wriiting and recording my feelings would make me recall my memories with the experiences very quickly which really helped me with my poor memories. Before I started writing, I was thinking about writing things about the experiences, but I was writing about the great feelings I got from these days. I didn’t start blogging at first because I wished I could experience and then write; the day was really full so I was always experiencing new things and meeting different people which were totally great. Yesterday, we visited the glacier in Croker Bay and it was spectacular. My pictures may express the beauty of the glacier but seeing it with my own eyes is really different. The glacier was not healthy because of global warming and it made me realize the importance of protecting the environment. In the next few days, I will be joining different workshops in the Sirmilik parks of Canada and start my first kayaking experience. Everything was new but exciting! I really loved the expedition so far!
Sarah-Ève Perreault – Richelieu, QC, Canada
Les gens qui me connaissent s’attendent sûrement à lire les merveilles que j’ai vues dans les derniers jours ou encore, mes impressions sur l’Arctique. Cependant, je ne parlerai pas de ces moments que nous avons eu la chance de vivre en expédition, mais plutôt de mon processus de réflexion. Grâce à Students on Ice, j’ai la chance de côtoyer des étudiants qui viennent de partout dans le monde.
Hier, j’ai reçu un cadeau d’une étudiante qui est ma colocataire de chambre sur le bateau. Il ne s’agit pas d’un cadeau tangible, mais il est tout aussi précieux ! Elle m’a partagé son histoire, son vécu. En faisant cela, elle m’a bouleversée, choquée, attristée, mais surtout fait nettoyer mes yeux de l’innocence par laquelle ils étaient aveuglés.
Aveuglés par quoi, vous direz-vous ? Aveuglés par la pensée que les événements du passés n’avaient plus aucun impact sur les gens d’aujourd’hui. Aveuglés par la connaissance objective plutôt que par l’empathie, puisqu’il manquait cette partie à l’histoire. Cette jeune femme qui a mon âge a passé au travers des épreuves difficiles, elle a trouvé comment vivre avec ses émotions et comment voir sa propre vie d’un autre point de vue.
C’est là que j’ai compris qu’un superhéro n’est pas une personne qui sauve les autres, mais une personne qui est capable de se sauver elle-même malgré les difficultés et les obstacles. Présentement, je tente d’être reconnaissante de ce cadeau et je cherche comment je pourrais utiliser cette nouvelle vision dans ma carrière et surtout, dans ma vie.
Pour une étudiante brave et courageuse que j’appelerai bientôt une amie, MERCI.
Narayan Subramoniam – Toronto, ON, Canada
I think it’s been a while since my last blog so there might be too much to recap. I’d like to focus on two events that have changed me so far on the trip. The first one was a trip to Devon Island, which is located just above Lancaster Sound. You might know the island as the one famous for being the site that NASA uses to imitate Mars-like conditions. We disembarked from the ship and Zodiac-ed (a very nice and safe rubber boat) our way to a glacier on the island. Specifically, the area was called Croker’s Bay, although the glacier itself was unnamed. We hiked onto the glacier, heard an amazing lecture on glaciers by glaciologist Eric Mattson… WHILE ON TOP OF A GLACIER! However, what really stuck with me happened on the walk down. The view made me stop in my tracks. The cold, and wise Arctic ocean lapping its dream-blue waves onto rocks, pebbles, and stones of different colours. The subtle tinges of wispy colours in the clouds that stretch until the ends of the horizon. And the brown-black rocky crags sandwiched between those two along with its distant cousin, the glaciers. I liked seeing that scene for a very long time.
The second event was an Isuma workshop onboard the ship. Isuma is an Inuktitut word, when translated to English roughly means “to reflect”. The workshops are centred around the concept of absorbing the information that we’re receiving. And we’re receiving a lot of information and stimuli every minute. So, in order to avoid overwhelming our feeble minds we do some Isuma. Today’s Isuma workshop was Mindful Meditation. It took place in the Studio which is on the highest deck in the ship with many, many glass windows. Meditating there with a small group of people with that beautiful scene when you opened your eyes was unforgettable.
I could talk much more about the big things we do at SOI, but it’s the little places between the moments that stick.
Sara Ahlich – Oakland, CA, USA
Today marks the third full day of our time on the ship, although it seems as if much more time has passed due to the amount of activities. Yesterday was a day that I will remember for the rest of my life – not only did we do some amazing outdoor activities, but I also learned from workshops as well as those around me. In the early afternoon, I attended a workshop about Arctic currents and marine life. We learned about how the currents work its way around the world and contribute to the climate of the Arctic, and how in turn, the climate affects the varying plant and animal life. Further, we learned about the characteristics and habits of many different marine animals, such as beluga whales and walruses. Later, we took the Zodiac boats to the shore and took a hike up to a glacier. Walking through the rocks and snow to get to the glacier was breathtaking, but being able to walk on it was an incredible experience. Thousands upon thousands of years of history were beneath our feet! A highlight from the glacier was crouching next to a small stream and drinking some of the water, which tasted very fresh and felt very cold. We then boarded another Zodiac, where we took a cruise skirting the glacier and circling an iceberg. Another highlight (there are many!) was being able to witness a sheet of ice fall off of the iceberg. The sheet broke off into the water, causing a series of waves which we have to quickly drive away from.
After our cruise, we came back to the ship and listened to a few different lectures and presentations. One that stood out to me had shown old pictures, which were related by an oral history of the subject and their life. Hearing these stories reminds me that every single person, whether on this ship or at home or already passed, has their own narrative that may never be told. While it isn’t necessarily a bad thing, hearing of the day-to-day life of someone in such an interesting and foreign environment helped me to imagine the lives of others on a more ‘real’ level. It also inspires me to find out more about the people in my own life.
Yesterday was a great day, but I’m sure it will only get better from here as I learn more about the Arctic, its local communities, and the people around me.
Taegan Steinfort – Colorado Springs, CO, USA
So far this journey has been mind-blowing! Everyday I learn something that is so different then what I expected I have to outwardly “gasp”. Yes, it sounds dramatic but it’s true. For example, yesterday during a workshop over the Arctics’s environment and ecosystem I learned that Bowhead whales can live over 200 years. For some reason I had the impression that humans were the longest living mammals, so when I learned this it really got me thinking. Why in my mind do I give people such a superior image? Why do I automatically think we as people are so much stronger, healthier and smarter then other animals? That’s some food for thought I’ve been chewing on for awhile. Anyways, I love being here, meeting people and hearing their stories. It’s truly an experience of a lifetime!
Chelsea Zhang – Richmond Hill, ON, Canada
Fun fact for everyone who has never been on a SOI expedition: the one thing you’ll hear all the time on the expedition is “flexibility is key”, said by SOI founder Geoff Green. It’s actually become his catchphrase, and a bit of a running joke for the students. That saying in particular was tested today, as the Arctic weather delayed some of our previous plans. But I have to give credit to SOI staff; they really know how to come up with last-minute backup plans that are just as good as what was originally planned.
As per my previous blog promise, I was able to attend the Early Morning Energizer today. I was actually a few minutes late, because I didn’t know the location had been changed until I met Lindsay and she told me about the switch. As always, the Early Morning Energizers are intense workouts to say the least. We did a variety of difficult exercises: squats, lunges, pushups (which was the easiest thing), burpies (which was the worst), toe touches, etc…I came out of it fully awake, but also slightly sore (mostly because I didn’t stretch). I went down for breakfast, where my pod had actually reserved 4 tables for a “get to know you” meeting. It was quite fun because we came up with a lot of ideas for decorations, our introduction, and for future meetings. It was also kind of sad in a way, because we had to tell a lot of our friends that they wouldn’t be able to sit with us because of our reserved tables.
After breakfast, I went back to my room to change out of my fitness clothes, and then I went to the Hub for a briefing. We ended up listening to a lot of interesting presentations (specifically about Parks Canada) and an amazing concert by Ian! However, we were told after that we wouldn’t be able to stay in Tay Bay (our site for the day) due to the difficult weather conditions. Instead of having outdoor workshops and zodiac tours, we ended up staying inside to participate in some Isuma workshops. During that time, I finished my caribou antler earrings, which I have to say turned out even better than I expected.
After lunch, we were given free time to just relax, especially since the weather was not cooperating. It was really nice, mostly because we haven’t had a proper moment to really relax; everyday was action-packed. We’re still waiting for the weather to calm down, so I think our plans for today will be scheduled at some point. But even though the weather wasn’t cooperating, today was still pretty great!
Shuyi Wang – Stouffville, ON, Canada
By the time I hit the bed, I passed out all the way until the PA system woke me up. The morning briefing consisted of Parks Canada employees explaining the Dos and Don’ts when visitors go to National Parks. The ship tried to drop the anchor multiple times during the morning trying to allow us to have the chance to go onshore and conduct some land workshops; unfortunately with the wind being very strong, none of the attempts were successful. But since “Flexibility is the key”, the morning became Isuma (“reflection”) workshops on ship. A lot of the options such as journaling and song writing seemed appealing but I opted for Caribou antler jewellery making.
Since I don’t have my ears pierced, instead of making earrings and studs, I tried to make a necklace. While making the piece of jewellery, I understood the significance behind all the traditional Inuit jewellery and the amount of work and effort they put into making the pieces are extraordinary. Not only does the caribou need to be hunted and harvested, but also sanded, beaded, and tons of other preparations before it can be worn. After that workshop, despite not being completely done, I can now say I have a piece of caribou jewellery of my own.
After lunch, the ship was still having a hard time to drop the anchor so we were given free time until the briefing at three. As I finished yesterday’s blog post, someone invited me to join the hide and seek game going on. With the limitations being on the sixth and seventh floor, I hid out onto the front deck enjoying the view while still participating in the game. Unfortunately, I was too concentrated on the view and talking to others, that William snuck up behind on me and found me in a middle of a conversation.
At three, there were different panel discussions going on and I stayed for the climate change policy discussion. Minister McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, among other respected scientists and Inuit researchers, told some of their personal stories and how climate change is affecting the daily lives of people, leading on to what policies and actions are being taken. After the panel discussions, everyone went back to their pods and discussed about what they’ve heard and their thoughts while waiting for the captain to show and eventually heading towards dinner.
After dinner, a girl successfully named everybody on the ship including the staff members. I personally found it very impressive since it is only day 6, and the entire group has over 200 people. Michael Arvaarluk told one of his bedtime stories about kuvinuk, everyone’s attention in the room was drawn onto his story. It was one of the best stories ever told to me.
During the briefing, tommorrow’s itinerary was conveyed. We will be meeting with the local community at Pond Inlet and the CanadaC3 boat that travels from coast to coast to coast. I am very much looking forward to meeting the staff on board C3 and hope to go onto their ship and see a bit into their research. Wish me luck and this is me signing off.
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