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Stephen R. Branfman
First Air
Earth Rangers
Canadian Geographic
The Royal Canadian Geographic Society

Arctic “Floe Edge” Expedition 2004



Canada's Arctic encompasses approximately 40 percent of the nation's total land mass and has about 85,000 residents. This broadly defined region has two-thirds of Canada's marine coastline and a sea which extends from Alaska to the strait of Belle Isle.

Floe-edge is the name given to the area in the spring where the frozen Arctic Ocean meets the open Arctic Ocean. Trips to the floe-edge take place in late May and June.
Students on Ice would like to thank Noetix Research for providing
us with these images of the floe edge!
Related Story:
Traditional Inuit ice treks guided from space
17 February 2004,
European Space Agency

“Each Arctic spring the waters at the ice edge become rich with life, and for thousands of years the Inuit of northern Canada have been going there for fishing and game. Today's Inuit have space-age tools assisting them with these traditional activities: satellites that precisely map ice type and extent.” ... more >>

Departing from
Ottawa, our team of students and scientists from around the world will fly north across the Arctic Circle to Iqaluit and then on to the tiny community of Pond Inlet on the north coast of Baffin Island in Canada.
The expedition explores the land to the east of the Inuit community of Pond Inlet towards Baffin Bay. Guided by experienced Students on Ice staff and Inuit guides, the ice conditions and weather will determine the exact route we are to follow.

Together with our team of scientists and Inuit team members, we´ll explore the link between Inuit Traditional Knowledge and Sustainable Living. A tailored education program of hands-on activities, lectures and workshops and will take place each day.

From our comfortable established base camp on the ice we will venture out each day to explore, experience, study and photograph the surrounding area.

Community Profiles: Pond Inlet

Early History

The North Baffin area is scattered with archaeological Thule sites (Thule are the ancestors to the present day Inuit have who arrived in the eastern Arctic about 1, 0000 years ago). There are also archaeological sites identified as Dorset, an earlier population known as Tuniit to the Inuit. In any case, it is evident that Inuit people have inhabited the North Baffin for many generations, living in small camps located in good hunting grounds around Eclipse Sound and up Navy Board Inlet.

In those days summer and winter camps differed according to the animals to be hunted each season. The Inuit lived in sealskin tents in the summer and igloo’s and sod huts roofed with sealskin and moss in the winter. Travel by dog team and sled in the winter. Kayak and Umiak with seal skin cover.

European Contact

The name “Ponds Bay” was first given to the land about 5 km east of the present settlement in1818.

John Ross, a British explorer, named the area after John Ponds, at that time the Astronomer Royal. The first white settlers to the community moved the name over to town’s present location but there was no Inuktitut name for this site, the Inuit referred to it as Mittimatalik, meaning “Where Mittima is buried” (referring to a grave that use to be located beside a large rock that is located beside Joshua Katsak’s residence) The Inuit got stuck with the Inuktitut name.

In 1906-07, Captain Joseph Bernier, Leader of the Canadian Government expedition sent to establish sovereignty over the Arctic Islands.

In the summer of 1921 Hudson’s Bay Company established a post at Pond Inlet, about 13 km west of Igarjuar.

Robert Janes was the second mate of Captain Bernier in Bernier’s earlier trips. In 1916 Robert Janes came back to the region and took up residence at Tulukkaan about 25 kilometres west of the present community of Pond Inlet; there he traded in furs, but the story ends unhappily. For three (3) years in a row he had waited in vain for the ship that was to renew his store, but lender had given up on him. It was therefore an embittered and desperate man who decided early in 1920 to return south, planning to take with him the greatest possible number of furs on the journey of thousands of kilometers.

But then, Janes had become violent, and a serious concern to the Inuit living in the area. Fearing for safety of their wives and families while they were away hunting, and as a result of some nasty incidents, the Inuit decided to kill Janes before he killed them. This plan was carried out at Cape Crawford near Arctic Bay and his body was transported back to Pond Inlet.

As a result of the murder, the R.C.M.P. sent Staff Sergent A.H. Joy to investigate the matter in 1921. A court trial was held with the Inuit and the several visiting southern officials present. A local man, Nuqallaq, was found guilty and sentenced to 10 years in Stoney Mountain Penitentiary near Winnipeg, Manitoba. After only few months in jail, Nuqallaq contracted tuberculosis and was returned to Pond Inlet to spend his last days. Robert Janes body was reburied about 1 km west of the settlement. His grave can still be seen today, beside another trader.


The community of Pond Inlet is located in North eastern tip of Baffin Island on the south shore of eclipse Sound, facing the magnificent mountains of Bylot Island. At 72º 41' 81" North and 77º 58' 82" west, Pond Inlet is 644 km (400) miles above the Arctic Circle. The nearest communities are Arctic Bay to the west and Clyde River to the south. Iqaluit, the capital of the new Nunavut territory and the nearest major center, is located 1062 km (600 miles) to the south.


The population in 2001was approximately 1300 people, of whom about 95% are Inuit and more than 60% are school-aged or younger.
The first language of most residents of Pond Inlet is Inuktitut. Many people, however, also speak English. The major employers are the Toonoonik Sahoonik Co-op, the Hamlet, the Housing Association, Northern Stores and the Government of Nunavut.



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