SOI witnessed an historic event today!
Before our day even began, two ships quite literally crossed in the night yesterday – our home, The Ocean Endeavour, and our very own Canada C3 Icebreaker! When we first dreamed up the C3 expedition, we considered how incredible (but unlikely) it would be to have SOI and C3 meet somewhere in the north. To have that dream realized was so special for all of us. Our C3 participants and staff joined us first thing in the morning to share an energetic briefing and introduction, before we headed to beautiful Pond Inlet for the next historic announcement!
Both SOI and C3 participants headed to shore, for the first community landing we’ve had since Resolute Bay. It was an exciting time for two of our SOI students, who are from Pond Inlet. They did a fantastic job representing their community, guiding students, and visiting with friends and family from the community. Once we gathered in the community hall, we were welcomed by an inspiring performance by a variety of artists from Iqaluit. Their moving music and poetry was followed by an incredibly important moment in Canadian history – the newest national marine conservation area in Canada! After years in the making, SOI participant , the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada worked collaboratively with President of the QIA P.J. Akeeagok and the Honourable Hunter Tootoo along with artist and Master of Ceremony Laakkuluk Williamson-Bahory and community members to present this accomplishment.
“It is a historic day! The new marine conservation area in Tallurutiup Imanga (Lancaster Sound) is an exciting step in a new era of cooperation. Together we will ensure the cooperative management of the National Marine Conservation Area, confirm the continuation of Inuit harvesting rights, and provide Inuit employment and economic benefits. Today is about more than protecting biodiversity in Tallurutiup Imanga (Lancaster Sound), it is about ensuring that Inuit culture and traditional ways of are protected for future generations.”
–The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
“The designation of this protected area is an important achievement for Nunavummiut, and one we should all celebrate. Inuit have always been guided by our societal value of Avatittinnik Kamatsiarniq, to respect and care for the land, animals, and the environment. As the stewards of our resources, it is up to us to find the balance between responsibly developing our resources and protecting and sustaining the land and the life it supports. I’m honoured to be part of this important step forward together.”
-The Honourable Joe Savikataaq, Nunavut Minister of Environment
We learned that his waterway, home to countless species of marine and plant life, is ten times the size of any other protected water systems in Canada. That’s 110,000 sq2 to be exact, or twice the size of Nova Scotia! This announcement means that the beautiful waters that have been our home for the past few days will be protected indefinitely, without compromising the existing marine ecosystem or Inuit Culture.
It was so moving to be present for this announcement in Pond Inlet, one of many communities in the north that rely on Lancaster Sound for food, livelihood, survival, cultural preservation and more. Its protection means it will continue to play this role for generations to come. This water is the cultural heart for much of the North, and, as we’ve been learning, its health affects us all.
After a brief community visit, we went back to our floating home and classroom for an incredible lunch, joined again by the C3 participants as well as elders and community members from Pond Inlet. Unfortunately, Sirmilik National Park evaded us again with heavy rains preventing us from reaching the park for our on-land workshops. Thankfully, the learning continued on board, where we enjoyed a variety of workshops with our Inuit guests and knowledge keepers – from throat singing, drum dancing, seal skinning, Inuit games, and more. Some of us even got to get out on the zodiacs again for a tour of a Canadian Navy Seal ship (HMCS Montreal), also parked in the bay of Pond Inlet!
Needless to say, it was another jam packed and fulfilling day, enriched by our C3 and Pond Inlet guests.
Bon Voyage until tomorrow!
Read what participants thought about the Arctic expedition today!
Renee Angotialuk – Naujaat, NU, Canada
Today we arrived at Pond Inlet, Nunavut and it was so good to be on land again. It was great being in the local Community Hall to learn about the new Lancaster Sound Conservation Area. It was also fun getting to walk through town and go shopping at the local store.
We had the chance to meet the participants of the 9th leg of the Canada C3 expedition today and together we all enjoyed Inuit cultural workshops like story-telling with Deborah Webster and Michael (Arvaarluk) Kusugak, seal skinning, Inuit games and throat singing.
I had the chance to have a conversation with Michael Kusugak and we talked about his stories which really inspired me. In the future, I want my children to know these stories and have a sense of belonging to who we are as Inuit.
I miss home a lot and I can’t wait to tell my friends and family about everything I’ve experienced.
Jayna Brulotte – Community Initiatives Specialist
Greetings from Pond Inlet, Nunavut! We’ve been on our ship, the Ocean Endeavour, for nearly a week now and our heads, hearts and spirits are being filled by the beauty of this place and the culture of the Inuit. Our lessons have spanned from science and technology, to culture and history, to wellness and isuma (to think or ponder) and included an excellent presentation about the qajaq (kayak) and how it was traditionally made and used by the Inuit.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the value of seeing and doing in terms of learning. Not only is that how Inuit have passed on knowledge for thousands of years, but its how we’ve been learning about the north. In a huddle of zodiacs floating in front of Prince Leopold Island, a bird conservation area, we listened to a presentation by a migratory bird and protected areas biologist (many call him ‘the bird guy’). In Croker Bay, we climbed onto a glacier and learned about glaciers from a professor of physical geography in the field of snow and ice (you guessed it – ‘the glacier guy’). He had been to this glacier in the past and explained the differences he saw and also how the health of glaciers is measured. Some of the students remarked how, when they learned about this in a classroom, it didn’t resonate or come together in their minds like it did when you can feel the glacier underfoot and see it with your own wide eyes. We filled our water bottles right from the glacier melt and it was wonderfully crisp and refreshing. I was reminded of our own Vital Youth program, and how it offers students the opportunity to learn about community needs through doing. I am hopeful that the program makes a lasting impression on students about the importance of getting involved in the community and contributing however you can.
While the formal education program of Students on Ice is impressive, some of my greatest lessons have come through conversations with fellow staff and students as well as with people that we’ve met in our two community visits – to Resolute Bay and Pond Inlet. I’ve learned, through amazing conversations with elders, about how Inuit are given their names and what an honour it can be for a family when the name of a loved one is passed along to someone else, allowing their loved one to return. I’ve learned from students from Micronesia about the effects that they are seeing at home due to climate change and rising sea levels, and how that is connected to melting ice in the north. I’ve even written a song with the help of the legendary Ian Tamblyn, who put my lyrics to music and sang alongside me.
I’ve also been able to connect with the other members of the group that are here through Community Foundations of Canada. It’s been great to learn more about the work of their foundations and to discuss the role of community foundations with our fellow staff and students.
In terms of wildlife, I’ve seen a few polar bears, a couple of seals, and lots of birds, but I’m still keeping my binoculars ready in case a whale decides to swim by. No complaints though – this is a majestic place.
Karen Ehmes – Kolonia, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia
Kaselel and Kajilel family and friends near and far! I miss you all!
I’m writing this from a ship called the Ocean Endeavour. I have been on the ship for a few days with a program called Students on Ice. Life on the ship is pretty great, although I’ve felt a little seasick from time to time.
This trip has given me a huge opportunity to learn about both the Inuit culture and climate change. Over the past few days I’ve had the chance to stand on top of a glacier and examine water from the Arctic Ocean, saw a polar bear and many seals. All these experiences have been so awesome!
Today, we arrived in Pond Inlet and witnessed the official announcement of the Lancaster Sound Marine Conservation Area. It was incredible to be part of a great moment in Canada’s history!
Special Shoutout to all the SOI team, iREi, The Ocean Endeavour crew, and to everyone who has helped and supported me in making this trip possible. It is indeed lifechanging!
ps: To Nohno, guess pwa da? Ngoah ne witness ice pildi.
Eloise Callaghan – Wolfville, NS, Canada
Friends, family, SOI expedition followers my name is Eloise Callaghan. We are now pretty much at the half way point through this expedition, which is crazy! So far this expedition has been an amazing learning oppertunity and I have meet so many incredible people. Everyone here has such passion for what they do. My favourite moment so far was when we went to Devon Island and went on a zodiac ride around a glacier there, in addition to hiking up and standing on top of the glacier. It was incedible standing on the glacier, and looking back down at the water seeing other students kayaking, paddle boarding and touring around on zodiacs. I also filled my waterbottle up with some of the glacier water, it was so fresh as well as freezing cold. Besides that amazing day, I have just enjoyed meeting new people, the amazing food , getting up early, having the chance to take in where I am and how lucky we all are to be here, as well as all the workshops we have been able to to do.
Amy Johnson – PhD Student
Hello! We’ve been very busy on board the Ocean Endeavour with various workshops on topics such as marine ecosystems, climate policy, and Inuit culture. Two days ago, we went on a zodiac cruise and then a hiked onto a glacier in Croker Bay, where we saw a polar bear and some bearded seals. Yesterday, we attempted to do a shore landing at Sirmilik National Park but the winds were too strong for us to securely anchor the ship so we did activities on aboard instead. Today, we visited Pond Inlet for the official announcement of the new Lancaster Sound National Marine Conservation Area! This is the largest marine conservation area in Canada and protects the habitats of species such as narwhal, bowhead whales, ringed seals, and bearded seals. Tomorrow, we will once again attempt to go on shore at Sirmilik National Park so wish us luck!
Fathen Jusoh – Teacher
Hello from the Arctic,
alhamdulillah, we’ve arrived in Pond Inlet and today the captain managed to drop the anchor and we could take the zodiac and see the village. It’s really good to see the community of Pond Inlet and we went to the community hall for an announcement of a new marine conservation area in Lancaster Sound by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, Catherine McKenna who’s with us onboard!! And guess what? It’s the biggest marine conservation area in Canada’s history. It’s really good and remarkable to be a part of the history to see the Minister and the Inuit sign the memorandum.
I personally feel Canadians take the environment, sustainability, and conservation very seriously and everyone in the community works hand-in-hand to ensure that future generations will have the same opportunity to enjoy what nature can offer! In Malaysia, we do have our national parks and conservation areas. However, there is still illegal logging going on and I wish we had more green areas and everyone cared about the importance of nature conservation.
In the afternoon, the Inuit Community – particularly the elders from the Pond Inlet – joined us on board and they will stay one night with us. How cool is that? They conducted a few workshops and I joined the Inuit clothing workshop to learn about how they scrape seal skins to make clothes, boots, and mittens. Interestingly, they hand-sew almost all of their clothes that were made of skins!! The sewing was really neat and I don’t think I’d have such patience! I tried their traditional costume called “amounti” which the Inuit lady normally wears. It has a big hood and they could put a baby into it – it works like a pouch! I wonder if I could carry a baby on my hood like they did, it would be very heavy. Thanks to the lady who was so kind as to go down to her cabin just to get a well-fitting amounti for me to try on!! Thanks so much!! I really had a great time and the amounti was really warm!
In the evening after the workshop, I hopped onto the zodiac to visit the Canadian Navy! You read it right! We got to go onto a warship from the Canadian Navy!! I saw torpedo, some cool stuff they do (I’m not really happy with war things, though). Anyway, it’s really good to learn how they navigate their ship and how they practice things in the Arctic Ocean. Another good thing was they had the Inuit from Pond Inlet joined them on board! They are very friendly and welcoming to the locals! And again, the entire families of the Inuit from babies to elders got onto the warship to see the cool stuff they had. I just love to see how the Inuit families and communities stay together and live their lives. Their relationship is homey!
We also had crews from Canada C3 join us on board! I followed them on Instagram and to get to see them in person was rewarding! Canada C3 is an icebreaker – it is small in size and it only has 60+ crew. So, the crew could feel the shaking when the ship breaks the ice. I guess I will need more seasickness pills if I were one of the crew. So for today, I would say it’s a SHIP-kinda-day: we have our own ship (Ocean Endeavour), the Canadian Navy warship, Canada C3 ship, and those make us so much like friendSHIP maybe? I’m looking forward to tonight’s workshop and briefings. See you next time!
– mama, papa, kakaks, adek, I miss u!
– my dear students, all the best for your trial!
-ani juariah hafsya, i miss u! there are many cool people like u here!
Caden Peterson – Old Harbor, AK, USA
We’ve arrived in Pond Inlet! I promised Grace from the northern program that I would update her when I got to Pond. I am having the best time on the expedition and I’m so happy to be a part of this journey–to the point that I hope it never ends. I hope everyone in Old Harbor is well and will see you guys soon. See you soon too, Grace!
Rachael Tovar – Cranston, RI, USA
6:32am-Today we are going to a place called Pond Inlet where there will be a celebration held. We will get to see that community and speak with the locals about their life and their hardships here in the Arctic. We will also meet with the C3 ship which is a project SOI is doing for the 150 years of Canada’s government.
2:18pm-We went on land to Pond Inlet which was a really good experience and got to see people from the region and their homes. We went to the ceremony where the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change announced that a portion of ocean here would be protected under the federal government and it would be illegal to conduct seismic tests. We saw Inuit perform their beautiful songs, throat singing is so beautiful and I never knew about it until this trip. It makes me sad how little we are taught in school about the Arctic, how can someone ignore something so beautiful and so important to our environment?
We are scheduled to go on a hike in the Sirmilik National Park, but it is raining hard, we might have the opportunity to take more classes from the wonderful and knowledgable scientists that surround us on this trip.
p.s. I wanted to give a shout out to the SOI staff member Grace who was super helpful in making me feel better about this trip and I hope she likes my watercolour painting. Also, hi to my friends, family, and Libby Pants (my dog), I am doing wonderfully here and thanks to all of you who helped me get here and allowed me to experience this wonderful place that is called the Arctic.
Shuyi Wang – Stouffville, ON, Canada
Despite being woken up by the PA system at 6:30, I was super excited for today since the C3 members were coming on board the Ocean Endeavour to spend a day with us before they head off to the west while we travel to the east reaching Greenland. The morning was full of surprises. We arrived at Pond Inlet, one of the bigger communities up in the North with a population of 1600 people. Minister McKenna was going to make an announcement about establishing the Lancaster Sound marine reserve. The new marine reserve is double the size of Nova Scotia and makes up almost 2% of the entire Canadian ocean area.
When we were getting ready for our zodiac rides, some of the staff explained that it will be a dry landing and rubber boots wouldn’t be necessary. Although there was some rain twenty minutes ago, it should be gone when we arrive at Pond Inlet. Reality was brutally different from the expectations, not only did the rain not stop but instead it got harder. Being the naive person I am, I didn’t put on waterproof pants and got soaked… The community and Students on Ice along with C3 members and some Parks Canada staff gathered in the local community center and enjoyed a few performances by the Inuit artists followed by Minister McKenna’s announcement and local thoughts provided by the MP and Nunavut environment minister. After that ceremony, we went to the local Co-op store to get some souvenirs (I got a sheep plushie ^_^) and that was when I realized how hard the local Inuit’s lives were. Since they were so far up north, a lot of their daily supplies are super expensive. For example, even a bag of chips costs nearly 10 dollars. According to some of the Inuit students, selling a narwal tusk can bring around a thousand dollars but seeing the prices in their supermarkets, the money probably wouldn’t last long.
After boarding the ship, Geoff announced the change of plans since the rain has been pouring so hard. Some of the local elders have offered to come on board and conduct workshops about their Inuit culture. I chose to hear the seal skinning and traditional clothing presentation. Apparently, back in the day, they all used different animals’ skin to keep warm and as insulation. Different ways of preparing the skin results in different functions whether it is for water proofing or aesthetic purposes. The locals brought in some pre-made pieces and we were also able to skin some seal ourselves. When the previous group returned, we went onto a navy cutter, the HMS Montreal, and they have a tour including the different types of stations and showcasing the bridge and different ways of defending the ship. Thanks to Kieran I was able to purchase a toque from the navy boat as a token that I was actually once on a navy boat and might actually consider a career in the navy since they made it look so amazing. Being overwhelmed by all the exciting opportunities, it is starting to take a toll on my body. Hope that I can have a good night’s sleep, wish me luck and this is me signing off.
Megan Harvey – Thornbury, ON, Canada
The past couple of days were spent crossing a vast body of water, rich in marine life, called Tallurutiup Imanga. As a source of life for Inuit living in the Baffin region of Nunavut, locals have advocated for its protection for a long time. It is a place where polar bear roam on the ice flows, seals play hide and seek, thick billed murres dive off massive sheer cliff faces to catch arctic cod that swim among belugas, bowhead whales and narwhal. Inuit people have relied on Tallurutiup Imanga for generations as a food source, as a highway to connect with other communities and as a place to paddle traditional qajaqs, prepare country food, and to teach their children Inuit ways of knowing.
Throughout this trip, the importance of working together, across cultures and geography, has come up often – especially when it comes to combatting climate change and its global effects. That is why it was amazing today to witness first hand a historical announcement outlining the boundaries for Canada’s newest and largest National Marine Conservation Area.
Today in Pond Inlet’s humble community hall where youth from all over the world, Inuit elders, politicians, community members, various organizations and many more stakeholders came together to celebrate the protection of 109,000 square kilometeres of Canada’s coastline for now and forever. Not only will it help ensure the protection of 2% of Canada’s coastal waters and the rich marine life under the surface, on the ice and along the shore but it will also serve to protect the Inuit way of life. This announcement is a huge step towards fulfilling Parks Canada’s mandate to protect, conserve and present Canada’s places of ecological,cultural and historical significance.
The craziness of the morning was perfectly complemented by an afternoon of Inuit workshops onboard facilitated by Parks Canada staff and the people of Pond Inlet. I first had a lesson on Inuit throat-singing which is quite an intimate practice…letting out a deep “uuummmaaa” can make you feel very vulnerable. It also takes a lot of concentration broken only by fits of laughter. It is a very beautiful way of singing and many of the songs reflect the nature surrounding us. There are songs about the mosquito, the wind and the river.
I then was so surprised to be able to try skinning a seal with an ulu (a traditional woman’s knife). It was very different than anything I had ever done before and I struggled to get the right hand positioning and pressure to scrap the fat off the hide but my teacher, Koopa, was very patient. The last workshop I went to was on drum dancing and I loved the contrast of the steady rythmic beating of the drum with the loose, swinging of the body. I learned that drum dancing is different in each region of Nunavut and that some Inuit act out different animals like the polar bear, the caribou and the raven.
It was a surreal experience to learn how to throat sing and hear beautiful voices replicate the sounds of nature, to skin a seal that was probably caught right here in Tallurutiup Imanga and to feel the Inuit heartbeat through drum dancing. I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn more about Inuit culture through these workshops and came away from this afternoon with a stronger appreciation for the connection Inuit have to their homeland. To paraphrase the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, protecting Talurutiup Imanga is about protecting the wildlife AND the culture of the Inuit people because they are intrinsically linked.
Malia Bird – Chelsea, QC, Canada
In the last two days so many amazing things have happened but since I don’t have too much time to blog I’m going to share with you a couple incredible experiences I’ve had.
The first took place yesterday when, unfortunately, because of wind we weren’t able to stop to visit Tay Bay National Park. Instead, panels were organized and I decided to go to the panel about sustainable development. It was a great panel but we didn’t have enough time to answer all questions so I asked a couple to Shari who told me I should really ask Minister McKenna those questions while she is on the ship… so I did. I interviewed her with Emily and managed to film the entire thing for my short film! I was really nervous but I really enjoyed it and it has encouraged me to try to interview as many amazing people on this ship as possible.
The next day I had another inspiring experience when I went to a workshop for drum dancing. At first I just watched but eventually I tried it out and loved it! I wasn’t very good but it was really fun to follow along to the beat and even though I didn’t understand the singing it sounded really beautiful when there was a few of us swaying and hitting the drums. It was just so amazing to do something that I’ve never done but have so much support from both staff and students.
Gerol Fang – Toronto, ON, Canada
1:54pm: Hello again! Sorry for not blogging too frequently. Every day we have so many options for activities, such as panels, workshops, and ventures onto land. Yesterday morning we started in Tay Bay, but were unable to leave the ship due to high winds, and the same occured in the evening at a place called Canada Point.
However, when everyone assembled for breakfast this morning, we could look outside and see the community of Pond Inlet, NU! Within an hour, we were zipping towards the beach of Pond Inlet to visit/explore the community and attend a Parks Canada announcement about the new Lancaster Sound Marine Conservation Area. ! We were joined by the Canada C3 ship and it was incredible to see the two expeditions join together here in Pond Inlet.
9:05pm: If you ask me what the most “different” albeit hilarious point of the day was, it was when a member of the Canadian navy said that she originally joined because she wanted to shoot guns (somewhat jokingly). So yes, although the rain prevented our third attempt at reaching/entering Sirmilik National Park, we had the chance to visit and tour the HMCS Montreal, a city-class frigate of the Canadian Navy. It was interesting to see so many new people today, from the C3 participants, to those of the Pond Inlet community, to members of Navy, especially since we had not seen anyone new for the past few days. As well, I loved being able to interact with those in these Northern communities as their culture is entirely different from what I know. Although my basic Inuktitut phrases are still rusty, I am working hard at them and am determined to remember the ones that my fellow expeditioners have taught me.
I believe we will try to reach Sirmilik once more tomorrow. Anyways, hope all is well with everyone and everything back home. I will try my best to post more blogs as we cross to Greenland!
Lindsay Toscano – Astoria, NY, USA
I am so sorry that I haven’t blogged sooner, I am been very busy enjoying the scenery of Northern Canada. You wouldn’t believe the stunning view from the small windows this ship possesses. On this day I am still in awe of the iceburgs, polar bears, mountains, icecaps, and the unexpectedly sweet amazing people. I am surpised that this expedition picked out the people it did because everyone is so nice to each other.
To recap what I have done so far on this expedition: I stayed in Ottawa for a few days and got to meet 121 students plus the staff. I was overwhelmed with new people however, it was amazing to see how many people, including myself, love, care, and treasure the environment. After waking up at 5:00 am to go to the airport I was filled with excitement, not only because I get to go to a ship but, to see a view a person from New York doesn’t usually get to see. After landing from a five and a half hour flight I was nervous to get out the plane. Walking out of the plane with a heavy jacket, hat and scarf I take a deep breathe as I take my first step on the declining ladder. I was shocked by the cold weather and the welcoming Inuit that clapped for us when we went inside the airport.
So far I have not gotten seasick, but I have gotten dizzy from the rocking anchored boat. To elaborate on that thought, the boat throws it’s anchor overboard so we can get to land to explore. So when people start to board the ship again after exploring we can feel the waves hitting and going under the ship, which makes the boat rock.
To my family and friends I love you guys so much.(Happy early birthday, Mommy :), I hope it was a good one). I have moments when I see or hear something and it reminds me of you. But, please know I am having a great time and I will be your tour guide when I come here again (lol). The view is so overwhelming because my New York heart can only take in tall buildings and small snowflakes not huge glaciers and ice caps.
Well this a goodbye. I love you all and thank you to all the people, even if you are not my family or friends for taking the time to read my blog. I hope it was enough to cover up the fact that I haven’t blogged earlier. Lol
Amelia Trachsel – Civil Engineer
This is my first blog. A bit of radio silence as I’ve been adjusting to our floating home, managing staff duties, and recovering from a sleep deficit. It has been nice to unplug and just attend to the world around me and get into conversations with the fantastic staff and students aboard the ship. I have managed to find some drawing paper (really regretting that I didn’t bring my own) and produce a few drawings that would make great paintings or lino cuts. I don’t think I’ve done this in years. Some students thought I was an artist who was going to teach a workshop but were baffled when I said I was actually an Engineer.
I had a great conversation with one of the northern students in my Pod last night about my drawings, Chernobyl, the Cold War, and Israel & Palestine. He said he wants to travel, and asked how much it would cost to get to Ukraine. I was really happy to have sparked an interest!
We’re stationed in Pond Inlet now. I was hoping to get some caribou dry meat and some berries to bring home, but there was none to be found. We have a day trip to Sirmilik National Park today. I am really looking forward to hiking around.
There is much more to follow in the coming days as the expedition team makes their way across the Davis Strait to Greenland. Stay tuned, everyone!