Today, breakfast was pushed to 8:30 so participants could enjoy an extra half hour of sleep. It doesn’t seem like much but when your days are packed with activity, what a difference it makes!
As we woke this morning, our ship sailed into Kangiqtualuk Uqquqti (Sam Ford Fiord). We were struck by the absolute beauty of the place. There were glaciers, a few icebergs, mountains and greenery on the hills. Words do not do it justice.
However, before we went ashore, we participated in a full morning of Isuma workshops. With so many options, it is difficult to choose! Today’s Isuma workshops included Arctic Dance, String Games, Twin Flames song-writing rehearsal (they are sounding great already), Journaling and Writing, and Mindfulness and Meditation. In the K zone (the space dedicated to art-making) we had students painting, printmaking, sewing, beading with Vivi, and storybook workshopping with Sarain.
And as if that wasn’t enough, the crew on the ship had a luncheon BBQ for us on the back deck. We had hamburgers, hotdogs, and they roasted two pigs! We also had a buffet with ribs, chicken and so many choices of salads. It was a warmer day today so some ate outside. The BBQ was a real treat for everyone.
After lunch, it was time to go to shore. First on the agenda was a check-in with our Pods to see how everyone was doing. With so many activity-packed days full of learning and deep conversations, we are each impacted and transformed by these experiences. It is important to set aside time to talk about the thoughts and feelings that have emerged. The backdrop of Sam Ford Fiord gave us a beautiful space to check in with each other in a deeper way than normal.
Because the fiord is an archeological site, Students on Ice had to receive special permission from Clyde River to enter. Historian David Gray and archaeologist Lisa Hodgetts did a scouting expedition before everyone came ashore. They put up bright orange flags to signal where it was okay to walk so as not to disturb archaeological sites.
After pod time, students had the opportunity to take a hike to a lake on the mountain, go kayaking or water boarding, or fish. Participants who hiked to the lake were fascinated by the hidden water they could hear running under the rocks they walked on.
Later, there was a fire on the beach and staff member Val and helpers cooked bannock for everyone on slim, flat rocks. The fish that were caught were cleaned by some of the Inuit students and cooked in a pot of boiling sea water. They were then laid out on a clean rock so that everyone could come and pick a piece of fish. With hot chocolate and tea to accompany the food, a guitar and accordion were eventually brought out and soon the smoky cooking air was filled with music as well.
Geoff and Diz’s children, Fletcher and Nellie, were the brave two who led the Arctic swim. Many of the students and staff followed, stripping down to the bathing suits that they were told to wear under their layers of clothing. There were shrieks of shock when the students hit the very cold water. The screams were soon replaced with squeals of delight as people shared their pride in taking part. Dry towels were handed out while some brave souls went in for another dip. Coming out of the water, one could hear students yell “So cold! I can’t walk!” but later “oh, it wasn’t that bad.” Liars! One things for sure- the ship’s hot water supply disappeared pretty quickly when everyone wanted warm showers later…
It was a great day and many did not want to leave shore. A large number of students reported that the visit to the site was their best expedition experience by far. Even Expedition Leader Geoff Green felt it was the best landing in Students on Ice history.
The day ended with the usual Evening Recap and highlights shared by students and staff. Here are some of their comments:
- Swimming in the Arctic ocean was the main highlight for most.
- Lisa’s highlight – ” It was an honour and a privilege to record all the artefacts, but the news that Josh (a student participant) may potentially do a Master’s Degree in my field and the thought of an Inuk recording all these sites is my highlight”
- “The whole day was absolutely mind boggling”
- “Qajaqing in the arctic”
- “Hike to the lake and realizing where I was…a once in a lifetime opportunity”
- “Pod time enjoying silence and listening to the waves”
- “Fishing- I got 5 fish!”
- “Sitting on the beach protecting the food rock”
- “Paddle boarding and in the process walked on an iceberg”
- “Helping Valerie make bannock.”
- “Drum dancing, Western style.”
- “I woke up on a ship and then went kayaking with an Olympic athlete and then went swimming in the Arctic ocean. So my hero of the day is myself.”
Tonight, Geoff informed us that we are going back to Greenland to catch the flights from there because of ice in Resolute Bay. A truly Arctic experience! We now set sail across the Davis Strait to heads towards our final destination, Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. What an incredible journey is has been!
Student & Staff Blogs:
Vaughan, Ontario, Canada
Just over thirty minutes ago I was “swimming” at Sam Ford Fjord. Since the water was only three degrees celcius, my swim was just running in the water, diving in, and running out. Even though it was too cold for an actual swim, the experiance was amazing! The water was very clear, and the view was astonishing. There were vast valleys and mountains sitting in the fjord like stone giants, and the glaciers snaked around the rocks, sitting like kings on a throne. The ground was covered in a blanket of moss, and was kissed by tiny, colorfull flowers. After a little hike across the valley, there was a clear blue lake reflecting the foggy sky, and the vast mountains. Over on the other side of the beach, some people where cooking Arctic Char and bannock on a rock. It was amazing to see how much everybody on this ship trusted mother earth so much, letting the fire sanitize the rocks naturally, eating the delicious raw fish, and drinking straght out of streams. Back home in Toronto, all fish have to be cooked, and water has to be filtered. Also, we were surrounded by lots of old archaelogical sites that belonged to the Inuit, and were protected so delicately. There were lots of bear guards on all corners of this fjord, even in the water, so that was a sign that wildlife, particularly polar bears, regularly frequent this area. Overall, today had been an incredible day, with many amazing views.
It’s the third of August and time is passing by way faster than it should! I wish I could freeze time. Many things are frozen up here north, but time is not one of them. We are all tossed forwards, riding the waves into our own future. I can look back at our beautiful days together at sea and treasure every single memory, but I can never go back. So instead I choose to grow. If there is one thing I would like to emphasize about the Arctic, it has to be the life. Most people’s perception of the Arctic is the North Pole, a winter storm, and scaresity of life – almost like a white desert. I have seen the opposite. I have seen a world where life has adapted to all conditions and found its way. The biodiversity here is rich and blossoming. The nature is crawling with life, and the communities have welcomed us with open arms. In the beginning of our expedition when we first landed in Greenland, it felt like stepping onto a new planet, a new world. But throughout the course of our journey I have felt the Arctic, and now more than ever I realize that it is one of the most precious ecosystems we have. It is not alien nor as far away our remote as you think. It’s a part of our planet, mother earth, and it is interconnected to all life. I have seen its beauty, but I have also seen its struggles. Climate change is affecting the Arctic. It’s affecting the nature, the animals, and the people who call it home. On top of that, the Inuit who live here are still struggling with their dark past. The effects of colonization are visible and present, and throughout the course of this expedition TRUTH and reconciliation have been important topics. I have heard personal stories that have made me cry. I have seen a room full of rised hands when the question was asked: who here is related to or knows someone who went to residential school? These have been heavy topics of sharing and discussion, but for each time the truth is spoken and processed I hope it can help lift a little weight of someone’s shoulder. But as a family on a ship we have also had so much fun together. The Inuit onboard taught the rest of us from around the world how to do the Inuit square dance, and the dance lifted the roof! These memories, the heavy and sad as well as the happy and energizing, are memories I will keep with me forever. I have grown so much in my heart and head throughout the course of this expedition, and I hope these memories will help continue my growth into the future. This expedition is making me a better world citizen, and it is helping me focus on the person I want to be.
Also, a quick update on our expedition. We are on our way to Sam Ford Fjord (?), but there is a question of whether or not we will make it to Resolute Bay to catch our flight – simply because the Resolute Bay harbour is trapped by solid sea ice. Two options were presented to us last night: either sail to Resolute Bay and spend our last day trying to get through the ice, or sail back across the Davis Strait to Greenland and fly out from the same place we arrived (Kangerlussuaq). Personally I wish that we could all just miss our flights and stay on the Ocean Endeavour for another 2 weeks, but sadly I have to accept that the journey is soon reaching its end. And like that quote goes: I will not cry because it’s over, I will smile and be grateful because it happened! (However I might still cry when we have to leave because this is such an amazing trip and I’ve only just gotten to know people and I want to spend more time with them to learn even more!!)
Will update again tomorrow on how our plans are folding out.
Corner Brook, NL, Canada
Hello hello hello! We are currently sailing down Sam Ford Fjord on the east coast of Baffin Island after a long day enjoying the unbelivable sheer cliffs and hanging glaciers that surrounded us. As has been par for the course on this expedition so far, plan A seems to be more of a distant idea than what actually ends up happening. The sea ice around Resolute Bay (our point of departure on Monday) is currently too thick and abundant to attempt to manouver our ship through, so while we wait to see if the conditions clear up, the ship sailed south along the coast of Baffin Island. While plan A doesn’t always seem to work out, I must say that plan B or C or D never disappoint. Starting with a BBQ-style lunch outside with a view that can’t be beat, today was mostly spent out in the fresh air. After lunch we suited up (in more way than one) and headed ashore where we got to see some archaeological sites and hike up to a lake that was dwarfed by towering peaks all around.
When I say that we suited up in more than one way, its because we got the chance to join the SOI swim team and don our bathing suits under our thick layers. Just before hopping in a zodiac back to the ship, we jumped into the frigid waters of the northern Atlantic Ocean (confirmed by one of the scientists on board that the water was a balmy 2.3 degrees celcius). With cups of hot chocolate and homemade bannock cooked over a fire on the beach, it wasn’t long before our bodies started to warm up and we headed back to the ship.
The last few days have been incredible as we got to visit/see Pond Inlet and Sirmilik National Park (a huge highlight for me). The people at Mitimatalik (the traditional Inuktitut name for Pond Inlet) welcomed us with open arms with an amazing performance at the community centre. As for the next couple of days, that is very much up in the air (or out at sea?). With the sea ice conditions in Resolute Bay not getting any better, it may come down to retracing our steps across the Davis Strait back to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland in order to meet our charter flights back to Ottawa on Monday. Or maybe we could just stay up above the Arctic circle for a little while longer?
Quick shout out to Parks Canada for allowing me to be here and to learn more about the Canadian Arctic, and a special thank you to the Parks staff at Sirmilik National Park, you guys rock!
Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada
Happy Birthday to my brother Cameron!
I havn’t blogged because I’d rather be riding polar bears, hope everyone understands.
P.S We can’t get to resolute and may have to return to greenland, hope we get stuck.
Heute begann der Tag für mich mit einer Yoga-Stunde und während dessen fuhren wir an den steilen Bergen vorbei, die direkt ins Meer abfielen. Nach dem Frühstück ging es dann an Land. Wir befanden uns mittlerweile in einem ausladen Fjord am Coutts Inlet und zwischen den hohen, schneebedeckten Bergen wälzten sich mehrere Gletscher hinab, die das Wasser aber nicht ganz erreichten. Die Zodiacs brachten uns zum Strand, der zu einem steinigen Tal anstieg.
Wir betrachteten zunächst einige archiologische Stätten, an denen sich noch vor 60 Jahren die traditionellen Häuser der Inuit befunden hatten. Anschließend teilten wir uns in Workshop-Gruppen auf.
Ich besuchte Vivis Workshop zum Thema “Story-Telling”. Sie erzählte uns die alten Überlieferungen aus Grönland, in denen Tiere zu Menschen und Menschen zu Tieren werden können. Ihre einnehmende Art zu erzählen machte die Worte lebendig und ließ uns gleichzeitig ein wenig von der Vergangenheit spüren. Die Inunit aus Inuit Nunangaat kannten die gleichen oder ähnliche Geschichten und bewiesen so erneut, dass es sich um ein Volk handelt. Wir sprachen anschließend über die Moral und die Botschaften in den Erzählungen und lernten ein Inuit-Spiel, um uns wieder aufzuwärmen.
Danach schloss ich mich einer Gruppe an, die eine kleine Wanderung antrat. Ich lief über dicke Moosschichten, die wie Kissen unter meinen Füßen nachgaben und bewunderte mal wieder die Vielfältigkeit der Tundra. Dann öffneten sich auf einmal die Felsen und offenbarten einen reißenden Strom, der sich über mehrere Abstufungen als Wasserfall ins Tal ergoß. Ich ließ mich auf einem großen Stein nieder und betrachtete das schäumende, türkisblaue Wasser. Während ich dort saß, versuchte ich den Augenblick wirklich zu begreifen und mir klar zu machen, wo ich war. Auf einem Stein. An einem Wasserfall. In der Arktis. Ein Ort, der früher einmal Heimat war und jetzt verlassen ist.
Auf dem Rückweg kletterte ich entlang des Wasserfalls hinab und der Strom verwandelte sich langsam in ein ruhig fließendes Gewässer, das sich schließlich in kleine Bäche aufteilte, die ihren Weg bis ins Meer fanden.
Als wir in dem Zodiac zurück zum Schiff fuhren, fragte ich mich, ob ich je an diesen einzigartigen Ort zurückkehren würde.
former VP Operations for Parks Canada
On Tuesday, we welcomed on-board elders and other members of the community of Pond Inlet. And on Wednesday we went ashore where the community put on an amazing show for us with beautiful throat-singing and Inuit games demonstrating some pretty impressive athleticism. The real personal highlight of the Pond Inlet visit was seeing Jassie Simonee again. Last year Jassie was an SOI student and we had the change to exchange accordion tunes. Over the winter, Jassie learned some new tunes and on Tuesday evening we got the chance to play together for a square dance. What a treat to play with Jassie. Can’t wait to get together with him again and play. Jassie, if you read this THANKS!!
Executive Director of the 4Rs Youth Movement
Family! Dad you’re probably the only one checking the blogs so please pass this message along – say hello to Mom, Cliff and Ryder, Grandma and the Aunts, Jaz and the gang in Garden River for me. Kristen, if you’re reading this, your shampoo has arrived. It’s been a good couple of days cruising around Nunavut. Passed by a mountain in Sam Ford Fjord and it looked like a butt crack. Made me think of our canoe trips past buttcrack mountain on the Mississaugi river.
Today we caught fish and ate it three ways (raw, boiled in sea water, and fried) on the beach with some bannock. Lots has been happening, lots to process and lots of stories to tell. Hope I can remember them. You might have seen my feet in a video they did called ‘Isuma’. Mom you’ll recognize my moccs. We might have to double back to Greenland because the ice in Resolute bay is too thick to get our ship through. No cell service anywhere until Ottawa probably so you might not hear from me until the 6th. Hope everything is good at home, that you’re eating the vegetables growing in my garden and that the cats are being good. Miss you, –Love JB
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Fjord Sam Ford, Nunavut
Bonjour à tous! Comme toujours, cette journée a été très mémorable. Ce matin, au déjeuner, j’ai parlé à Travis, qui habite au Nunavut. J’ai été surpris d’entendre que le fait de perdre le soleil en hiver ne le dérangeait pas trop. Il pouvait encore chasser, et il ne faisait pas complètement noir. Aussi, comme la nourriture est si coûteuse, les gens partagent lorsqu’ils attrappent quelque chose. Ceux qui n’ont pas d’emploi vivent avec les bourses mensuelles du gouvernement, mais ce n’est pas suffisant, alors on partage! Quel esprit de communauté! Je me demande si on pourrait faire ça dans les endroits plus développés avec ceux qui vivent en difficultés. Mais encore là, il faut leur donner de la nourriture, et non de l’argent, parce qu’ils pourraient dépenser l’argent de la mauvaise façon. Bref, je veux être un meilleur voisin en revenant à la maison.
Au dîner, nous avons eu droit à… un BBQ à l’extérieur! Le fjord Sam Ford que nous avons eu la chance d’admirer est l’endroit le plus spectaculaire où j’ai été de ma vie. Les montagnes sont si hautes et ont des… textures spectaculaires! (je n’ai pas trouvé de meilleur mot…). Il y a de la neige, des glaciers, de l’air frais, des plantes, tout! Par la suite, nous avons fait une excursion au sol de ce fjord, et joué un peu dans nos “Pods” (des petits groupes plus proches dans la grande famille SOI). J’ai eu la chance de réfléchir un peu à mon expérience. En revenant, il est certain que je tenterai d’être plus connecté à la nature, et de participer à une multitude de conférences pour savoir qui est impliqué dans les changements climatiques. Grâce à Dominique, qui est impliquée dans les Nations Unies, j’ai de meilleurs outils pour mener des projets à l’école, comme une “Gratuiterie”, un nettoyage communautaire WWF, encourager le recyclage, et plein d’autres idées. Je crois aussi promouvoir la campagne #BeatPlasticPollution lancée par les Nations Unies.
Bon, revenons à l’excursion. Je suis allé faire une randonnée, et je me suis assis sur un rocher. J’ai eu un moment de silence, oû j’entendais seulement les sons de l’océan, du vent. C’est un rappel du pouvoir que ça peut avoir, un moment pour revenir au calme quand on est stressé. Mais, ce qui a été le plus exceptionel, c’est de… se baigner. Dans l’océan Arctique. Alors qu’on porte habituellement 4 couches de vêtements.
C’était un peu particulier. Tu rentres dans l’eau, et tu as l’impression que tous tes membres font juste abandonner. J’ai plongé mes cheveux, puis je suis sorti à toute vitesse. Je pouvais à peine respirer. Alors, quand vous vous plaidrez que l’air climatisé est trop intense dans le cinéma, rappelez-vous qu’il y a des choses bien pires… mais plus amusantes!
Pendant les repas, j’ai aussi discuté avec plusieurs personnes sur les façons d’impliquer ma communauté dans l’initiative “TRUTH and Reconciliation” . Comme nous sommes sur du territoire Algonquin non cédé, je vais en apprendre plus sur les réserves à proximité et les projets qui les touchent, ainsi qu’éduquer mes pairs. Jess, une membre du personnel, gère aussi le mouvement “4R’s”, alors je vais tenter de rester connecté avec leurs événements à Ottawa. Le site web de la commission “TRUTH and Reconciliation” du Canada a également 94 recommandations pour résoudre les problèmes d’inégalités avec les indigènes.
Pour votre info, on retourne au Groenland! La glace bloque Resolute Bay, donc… c’est ça. J’espère qu’aucun autre imprévu va se produire (mais un peu, en même temps, car je veux rester en Arctique)!
Dormez bien ce soir, tout le monde.
St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada
Today was amazing! We started the morning sailing into Sam Ford Fjord, and I saw the most incredible mountains, glaciers, and cliffs in the world. One of the cliffs had lichen growing in the shape of a huge polar bear paw print! We had creative workshops in the morning and I learned different ways to express my ideas and daily life in a journal. For lunch, we had a fantastic outdoor barbeque on the back deck of the ship, because everything tastes better outside. We then landed on the shore of the fjord on a sandy beach, and I felt so small compared to the beautiful valleys and mountains. We spent some time with our pod groups and meditated on the shore, and then I went on a hike up into the hills and up to a hidden lake, where we saw some snow geese, and laid on some surprisingly comfortable boulders. I felt so priviledged to be able to access this landscape that the vast majority of the world could never imagine in their wildest dreams. I am so grateful that I was able to attend this expedition. After the hike was our arctic dip – it was awesome! I ran into the freezing Arctic ocean with my camera, dunked my head, and ran back out screaming! It was so fun! I then immediately went over to put warmer clothes on, and the fishing crew set up a kitchen on the beach were they were boiling and smoking fish they caught, as well as making bannock. There was also a hot chocolate station set up by the crew, which I was so grateful for in the moment! Right after I ate, Geoff started telling people to start heading back to the ship, but I didn’t want to go back at all! This is going to be a memory I will cherish forever.
See you soon!
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
When plans go awry, forge ahead to Sam Ford Fjord.
The majestic peaks on either side of the water of Sam Ford Fjord served as our backdrop today as we meandered towards the shoreline of our classroom du jour. Though the morning was a bit grey as we came in off the Davis Strait, the fog lifted by lunchtime, and the mild weather was perfect for a BBQ picnic on the stern decks. Well, we might have been bundled up a bit, but it certainly didn’t stop anyone from heading back for their scoop of ice cream (and if you’ve ever had pistachio ice cream, you would have gone back for it too).
Collectively, we’re still unsure of our route for the last couple days of this journey, and so the shore time we were able to have this afternoon was particularly special – this may be our last bit of quality time with the Nunavut tundra. There were no workshops scheduled, and so really, instead of becoming our classroom, the land became a playground. Echoes of laughter and chatter bounced through the fjord as students, both of schools and of life, gathered in groups along the hillside to just be a little silly. Some would later go on a hike, navigating the maze of spongy ground, crevasses, puddles, and rock gardens, while others would stay to explore the beach, through fishing, kayaking, sketching, journaling, breathing.
Towards the end of the outing, the scent of heather fires and grilled fish came up into the air – small fires had been kindled under clever rock ovens, and we were all treated to fresh bannick with butter and jam, freshly-caught arctic char boiled in salty fjord water, and the ever traditional hot chocolate.
Perhaps what was most special of all, was that this whole journey, we’ve seen only two polar bears. Today, we saw a hundred.
That is to say, a hundred fools (myself included) stripped down to their bathing suits and picked their way across the rocks into the 2.4 degree celsius water: a polar bear dip for the books.
For a few brief hours, we became a part of the land, touching, smelling, tasting, listening, obeserving, creating perhaps the most complete mental snapshot of the whole expedition. This place has more life and history to it than Google could ever tell us, and we’re pretty darn lucky that the fjord welcomed us to be a part of that today.
Nakurmiik, and talk soon.
– Sarah MacNeil
Teacher, Saskatoon, SK, Canada
True to its reputation, the arctic ice has been difficult to predict during our expedition. At times, we likely resemble mice in a maze as we scrabble about in our zodiacs trying to get to and from shore. The problem is that the ocean ice in summer is never stationary, so the best pathway is constantly changing. In moments, a direction that looked clear will be closed off by colossal pieces of ice weighing hundreds of pounds, our zodiac drivers do not have the luxury of error, and their ability to maneuver us safely through this frozen mosaic is highly regarded by all expedition members.
Ocean ice charts are updated daily, for those flatlanders like myself who may be unaware, they look like a paint-by-numbers page that children use to create art. Numbered sections of the page correspond to different colors, each color symbolizes how much ice is in the water in that area. Uncolored sections depict open water, and a green/yellow/red system is used to depict increasing ice coverage. Green sections mean the water is relatively clear, 1-3/10ths ice, and the ice becomes progressively denser along the spectrum until it gets to red: 9 or 10/10ths ice. It should be noted that Donovan, our ice specialist, would scoff at the oversimplification, but Paw Patrol makes it simple: “Green means go!”
When our team consulted our ice charts to plan for the end of our trip, we saw that Resolute Bay, our original endpoint, was encircled in red on the map. For us, red means that landing in the port and catching our flights would home be impossible, thus, we were left with two options: head South to Iqaluit or East to cross the Davis Strait again and earn another Greenlandic stamp on our passport. As it turns out, it is surprisingly closer to head back to Greenland than it would be to continue our journey along the Canadian coast, so we shall return for whence we came.
Although we may finish our expedition where we started, we will not finish how we started. Our experiences onboard the ship, and along the shores we have visited have brought us together in ways that are difficult to articulate. Suffice to say, the arctic has a way of weaving into your soul, we have all become appropriately cold-hearted.