So this adventure ends…another begins.
Saying goodbye was the hardest part of the trip along with being away from my one year old son. So I was full of mixed emotions during our last couple of days. Happy to be going home to Emma, my partner, and my son Nipi yet simultaneously struggling to accept that the trip is ending and farewells were in order. Usually, I tend to sneak away quietly to avoid saying goodbye, that’s how much I don’t like it. Especially after meeting so many great people whom I truly feel I didn’t get to know well enough! Furthermore, after the talent show !! What?! I lost my voice I was yelling and laughing so much!
As the Indigenous Artist in Residence during the 2017 Arctic expedition I had a blast collaborating with the youth! I was able to provide numerous workshops working with caribou antler, teaching drum dancing, Inuit games and some logo design basics and Inuit culture. I was honoured to do what I love and to do it with such enthusiastic and awesome youth! We created relationships that I hope will last. I have learned so much from the staff and students and I hope to work with some of them in the future. I learned so much as well from Moosa and Pitseolak’s Q is for Qajaq (love that name by the way) presentation, which was so informative and well done. Arvaarluk Kusugak is such an amazing storyteller. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I felt like a child again while listening to him speak of Kiviuq. This was really important to me, because I have heard of Kiviuq the great traveler but have never actually heard the stories before. It is crucial that we as Inuit keep these stories alive, and what stories they are to tell! We had a strong Inuit presence on this expedition, and very receptive and eager students and staff who were happy to learn from us and embrace Inuit culture.
After over two weeks on the Ocean Endeavour, we are home. Now we can use what we learned on this ship in our daily lives as well as looking at the bigger picture. I am excited to see what initiatives the youth and staff come up with!
This expedition took us through such breath taking landscapes filled with beautiful wildlife. But one thing we Inuit wanted to make sure everyone understood is that the Arctic is also filled with people. People have been shaped by this land and sea and weather. People have not just survived but thrived in this harsh environment. People are being affected by the changing climate, unethical development and extremist animal rights organizations. People are affected because of our harmonious lifestyle with our environment. If Inuit did not live the way we do, hunting, fishing and gathering, then these effects could be brushed off. Nobody would worry about the rapidly changing unstable ice conditions, because nobody would be hunting seals on the ice. No body would be worried about the extinction of caribou because of mining and road development on calving grounds, because everyone would be buying all of their meat from stores. Inuit would not care that the weather changes faster and more unpredictably because there is no need to travel out of the community.
But we do care. I do not want to live in a time where Inuit do not care about these impacts, because that would be a time where we are no longer Inuit. Our culture is nonexistent without the environment that shaped it. Now is the time to start making changes, so our future generations can live with the land like we do.
As we transition back into life at home, we embark on the next step in this journey. The expedition enabled us to not only learn more about the Arctic, but about ourselves. Reflecting on our experiences and what we want to do with what we learned may take weeks or months. I had the opportunity to connect with many of you through our art workshops and I hope you will continue to practice art as a way to express yourself and bring the Arctic and all we have learned to life. And if you need any guidance with your artwork, feel free to reach out and I would be happy to help!
May the enthusiasm and inspiration of the Arctic remain with you forever.