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2018 Arctic Expedition: Day 10

A short entry after a packed day!

Our morning began with breakfast and another polar bear sighting as we sailed down the shore of Sirmilik National Park. We also pulled up along side the Qaiqsut historical site but couldn’t land because there was too much ice. Later that morning, we had more fantastic “Arctic Hours” programming featuring a panel discussion on women in science. The conversation expanded over time, eventually becoming  a discussion about being a woman in a variety of fields and the importance of finding mentors and allies.


A magnificent polar bear is spotted off the coast of northeastern Baffin Island. (c) Natta Summerky/SOI Foundation


Students gather for one of the many panel discussions that take place onboard SOI’s Arctic expeditions. Here, a group of Arctic 2018 staff lead a discussion about women in leadership roles, and the importance of finding mentors and allies. (c) Robert Kautuk/SOI Foundation


We were happy to make it to the vibrant community of Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet) after lunch. It took us a while to get to shore because there was so much sea ice moving between the ship and the land. It was really interesting to watch the Zodiac divers scooting around the floe, trying to find a way through the open pathways in the water. In some Zodiacs, staff members like Jaaji Okpik (a member of the award-winning Indigenous musical duo Twin Flames)  leaned over the bow with a paddle, pushing ice out of the way.

Zodiacs ferry participants to and from the MV Ocean Endeavour

First stops in Mittimatalik were the Parks Canada office, the visitor’s centre, and the Co-op. Most people walked around the community, but some also went for a hike down the beach. Later we all convened at the community centre, where we were warmly received by community members (including some SOI alumni!) who performed drum dances, throat singing, and Inuit games. The audience also welcomed a performance by Twin Flames. Heading back to the ship, we were filled with gratitude for Mittimatalik’s hospitality and their willingness to share their energy and talent.


Inuit throat singers perform at the Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet, Nunavut) community celebration, welcoming the 2018 Arctic Expedition. Throat singing in its traditional form was a friendly game between girls or women while the men were hunting and consists of singing face-to-face, often linking arms until one loses her breath, laughs, or breaks concentration. Throat-singing involves taking deep, heavy breaths, which creates a very unique sound that imitates sounds of the Arctic. Recently there has been a resurgence of throat singing among young Inuit women, strengthening Inuit culture. (c) Martin Lipman/SOI Foundation


SOI’s Expedition Leader Geoff Green addresses the group of Arctic 2018 participants and Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet) community members during the community centre celebration. (c) Robert Kautuk/SOI Foundation


Student & Staff Blogs:

Andrea Goulais

Garden Village, ON, Canada

So far I haven’t had much time to blog throughout my journey because of the incredible adventures I’ve been on, the many workshops I’ve been in, and the many memories I’m making. I feel like I’ve been on a mystical journey for months now, only to look back and realize that it’s only day ten of our journey with Students on Ice. I wanted to write in my blog about how beautiful the arctic is, but it’s impossible. It’s something that I can’t put into words. Even a photo can’t capture my journey so far. My favorite moment so far, is when I fell off the path during a hike. I was walking back from seeing “Santa’s house” and the people in front and behind were a great distance away. So, me with my wondering eyes got too carried away and wandered off the path. For a moment, I wasn’t sure what to do, then I remembered a pond up ahead that would bring me back on the path. I would say that so far, that has been my greatest moment. It was the feeling of guiding myself through a challenge that made it very memorable. For others it might seem a little weird to think a feeling could be the greatest thing, but it was for me! I have only a couple of days left and I’ll keep trying to make the most of it. I would like to take the time to thank Leacross Foundation, for giving me this great opportunity! I feel very lost for words at the moment because I can’t explain the arctic in words, you really have to live it! So thank you Ladies at Leacross Foundation for allowing me to really live this amazing opportunity!

Inuit high kick performed during the Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet) community celebration, welcoming the 2018 Arctic Expedition. The Inuit high kick is an incredible display of athleticism that has been practiced by Inuit for centuries. (c) Martin Lipman/SOI Foundation


Aurora Eide

Sandane, Norway

The first day of August has arrived, and time is passing too fast! There is so much to see, learn and experience, so many people I have yet to talk too. My biggest goal right now is to live in the moment and seize every opportunity while I have them. This is a quick update because soon we have our morning briefing — and right now an announcement came in saying the have spotted a polar bear! Another important update: I SAW MY FIRST POLAR BEAR YESTERDAY, but I only saw the head. But it was awesome!! I have to run now to spot the other polar bear! Will update again soon!

Pressing plants collected during the 2018 Arctic Expedition. (c) Robert Kautuk/SOI Foundation


Ethan MacLeod

Mistissini, QC, Canada

Yesterday was nice, I saw Gaba play Inuit games and I was very impressed! Also amazed that some people are pros at it, I found it really cool. It looked like it required a lot of strength so I didn’t bother but watching them was fun! Sadly, the ROV I made with Wayne and Jesse, didn’t work out well but it was fun. Dinner yesterday was really good though, the berry cobbler was amazing. Today is going well so far, it was the first time I have ever seen a Polar Bear and it was so cool! Waking up out of bed was difficult though, eyes didn’t want to open! My favourite moment out of todaY is definitely when I saw that Polar Bear, it looked so cool! Anyways, that’s all I have to write about for now!

A student creates and colours an illustration using a stencil during one of the onboard Isuma workshops of the Students on Ice 2018 Arctic Expedition. (c) Robert Kautuk/SOI Foundation

Julianne Jager

Stittsville, ON, Canada

J’ai vu un ours polaire pour la deuxième fois ce matin! C’était beaucoup plus proche que le premier et j’ai pu prendre plusieurs photos que j’anticipe énormément à vous montrer! De plus, j’ai quasiment terminé un harnès du style “chien de traineau” que j’ai créé pour mon chien (j’espère que ce sera la bonne grandeur! Cet avant-midi, j’ai participé à une discussion au sujet des parcs nationaux (en particulier le parc national Sirmilik). Les lois sur la protection de la biodiversié et les habitats naturels sont plus complexes que je ne le croyais. Nous n’avons pas pu visiter le parc à cause de la glace qui nous a barré le chemin, mais nous nous sommes rendu à Pond Inlet! C’est une belle communauté qui a un esprit et une culture forte. J’ai extrêmement apprécié partager quelques heures avec ces personnes qui sont tellement fière de leur village.

Louis-Philippe St-Arnaud

Ottawa, ON, Canada


Pond Inlet, Nunavut

Wow. Quelle journée! C’est incroyable, comment tant de choses se passent dans les mêmes 24 heures.

Ce matin, j’ai vu un ours polaire! Ça fait deux. Je voudrais en voir de plus près, toutefois. Mais je me contenterai de ça. Cependant, je n’ai pas encore vu de baleines, de phoques, ou rien d’autres! Soit il faut que je sorte plus dehors (ce que je fais déjà), ou la chance ne nous sourit pas.

Bon, tant pis. En tout cas, même s’il était très petit à travers mes jumelles, je me sentais très privilégié d’en voir un. Et le fait qu’on en a vu deux en deux jours rappelle que les ours polaires sont seulement à risque, et non en voie d’extinction. Il reste de l’espoir pour restaurer la biodiversité…

Ce matin, nous avons fait des ateliers “Isuma”, qui nous permettent de réfléchir et de nous exprimer. J’ai continué une petite “oeuvre” que j’ai commencée dans un autre atelier. Cette oeuvre démontre comment nous sommes tous connectés à la nature et que nous dépendons d’elle. Nous buvons l’eau qui a été bue par d’autres animaux et qui nous est revenue par le cycle de l’eau. Nous respirons l’air qui sort des plantes. De ce fait, tout ce qu’on fait à la nature va, tôt ou tard, avoir un impact sur nous. Je vais m’arrêter là, car je crois que j’en ai déjà parlé dans un autre article.

The Students on Ice 2018 Arctic Expedition team taking a walk through the community of Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet), Nunavut. Mittimatalik is a picturesque community, population 1,300, located on the northern tip of Baffin Island near the eastern entrance to the Northwest Passage.

Ce matin, il y a aussi eu un autre “Arctic hour” sur le développement des Inuits dans l’Arctique. Le problème principal, c’est de donner davantage de bienfaits aux Inuits. Les compagnies promettent des emplois, mais plusieurs emplois requièrent trop de qualifications (par exemple: ingénieur) pour des Inuits qui ont très peu d’éducation. Plusieurs emplois sont donc occupés par des gens du Sud. Il y a aussi que la compagnie, qui vient aussi du Sud, tire une grande partie de l’argent. Les Inuits devraient être propriétaires de compagnies. Souvent, il y a donc plus d’impacts environnementaux et sociaux sur les Inuits que de bienfaits (et il devrait avoir aucun inconvénient). C’est eux qui ont besoin d’argent, avec du papier de toilette qui coûte 40$ (je ne vous niaise pas!!!) Il faut donner plus de bienfaits aux Inuits.

Parlant de ça, cet après-midi, on est allé dans la communauté de Pond Inlet. J’ai fait une randonnée, et la vue était… époustouflante. Je ne sais pas comment la décrire. Ça te donne le goût de protéger l’Arctique et de le garder au froid, pour ne pas perdre cette richesse de plantes, de glaces, d’air frais et oxygéné.

Par la suite, il y a eu un spectacle INCROYABLE dans l’hôtel de ville. Les gens ont partagé plusieurs sports et jeux qu’ils font. Ça m’a fait réaliser que, un peu comme nos sports, un jeu très simple peut être très amusant. Les twin-flames ont encore présenté, et tout le monde dansait! C’était une des meilleures expériences de ma vie, et je la garderai longtemps. La musique, ça unis les gens. C’est puissant.

Bon, je dois aller me coucher. À demain!


A student creates art through a lino print making workshop onboard SOI’s 2018 Arctic Expedition. (c) Robert Kautuk/SOI Foundation


Madeline Mumford

Hope, RI, USA

Not many people can say that they were greeted by a polar bear on the first day of August; the bear standing on his hind legs waving hello. But that’s what this trip is all about: firsts. SOI has taught me so many things and has given me the experience of many ‘firsts’ in my life. For example, my first aerial rope and zip-lining course has led me to get over my fear of heights (I mean, I still don’t particularly like them, but I won’t let fear paralyse me into missing out on an experience).  I also went paddleboarding and kayaking for the first time, which taught me to not be afraid of falling in during the first time you try something new. I’ve also hiked for the longest time, meeting new people (with the help of Aurora’s awesome translation skills), and visiting new places (like Santa’s house!!!) along the way. And now, I can add “Seeing a Polar Bear” to my list of firsts.

I miss writing, although it’s nice to unplug and disconnect from the rest of the U.S. This ship feels like a utopia, separated from the rest of the world, currently staying afloat. But as the days draw closer to the end of our expedition, you can feel the slight dread in the air of the anticipation of the retrivial of our phones, ready to flood our minds with streaming and social media. But the memories from this trip will not be drowned out of the mind by social media. Instead, our memories with be shared this way, using the tools that had once numbed our brains to our advantage by spreading information that we have learned on this trip onto others.

I am so excited for what this day will hold, and for what else is to come!


Students on Ice 2018 Arctic Expeditioners engage in wildlife observations off the deck of the ship. Wildlife spotted include polar bears, narwhal and beluga and a diversity of migratory birds such as thick billed murres! (c) Natta Summerky/SOI Foundation


Arctic 2018 students and staff practice yoga on the deck of the MV Ocean Endeavour, SOI’s floating classroom. (c) Natta Summerky/SOI Foundation


Award-winning Indigenous folk duo Twin Flames are the guest artists onboard SOI’s 2018 Arctic Expedition, Here they engage a room of students and staff in a songwriting workshop. (c) Robert Kautuk/SOI Foundation


Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet, Nunavut) drum dancer performing during the SOIArctic2018 community visit. The drum, called a qilaut was traditionally made from caribou skin with seal or walrus skin around the handle. The Inuit drum dance has been an integral part of Inuit culture for centuries.


Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet, Nunavut) community members enjoy the performances (c) Martin Lipman/SOI Foundation

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