We are sailing northward, re-crossing the Hudson Strait, with a plan to explore the outer edge of that huge body of ice that remains pressed against the east coast of Baffin Island. Depending on weather conditions and visibility we hope to do some ice-cruising with the ship and/or Zodiacs! Later in the evening on Friday, we will then make our way east along the ice-edge sailing for Greenland. This afternoon we left one of Canada’s true National treasures, the Torngat Mountains National Park. For four days we experienced the wonders of this park from its incredible natural beauty to the generosity and resilience of its staff, all Inuit who have made this a remarkably successful Students on Ice expedition. Gary Baikie and his staff at Parks Canada worked miracles to bring us here.
As we recounted in earlier posts, the Park and Nunatsiavut was not on our initial agenda. We had to change our schedule just days before departure from Ottawa because of heavy ice in Cumberland Sound keeping us out of Pangnirtung and Qikiktarjuaq.
This morning was our last day in the park at the main base camp in St Johns Harbour, which in fact is just outside the park boundary. The base camp is on land leased from the Nunatsiavut Government that was recognized in the 2005 Nunatsiavut Land Claim agreement with the Province and the Government of Canada.
The camp is also a research station offering an array of support services including food, lodging and support for people conducting scientific research in the region. Similarly, it provides lodging for Parks Canada staff and the tour guides for tourists who want to visit the park.
A persistent morning fog did not deter our proposed activities! We had a great visit of the basecamp, touring all the buildings and facilities. Fresh baked muffins and bannock were generously served up to all 200 of us! Some hikes around the basecamp were shortened due to reduced visibility making it hard to see either polar bears or black bears that are ever present in the area. After a great 4 hour visit we headed back to the ship for lunch. A hungry, wet and happy group!
After lunch with some of our Parks Canada and Basecamp friends, and taking on board 100 pounds of freshly caught Arctic Char, we bid farewell and began our journey north towards the ice.
Unfortunately, some of our 2016 Students on Ice participants that were going to join us here in the Torngats (Inuit Leader Mary Simon, The United States Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman and his wife Vicki Heyman, the Honorary Chair of the SOI Foundation HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, and the Minister of Education for Nunavut Paul Quassa) could not join us due to the weather conditions preventing planes from landing for the past few days. In fact our SOI group was the first group to visit the Torngats this season due to many cancelled flights in recent weeks. We greatly appreciate the efforts they all went through trying to meet up with us, and we hope they can join us next year!!
Also, HSH Prince Albert had committed many years ago to support the first around the world solar power flight “Solar Impulse” which successfully concluded this week. The Prince sent all of the students a nice letter explaining that he needed to be in Abu Dhabi to meet the solar plane to celebrate this great achievement that has consequences for the whole world and the Arctic especially where the impacts of fossil fuels are having a present and devastating impact.
This afternoon back on ship, we returned to our education program, with simultaneous presentations on the natural and man made effects of climate change with Maureen Raymo, a member of the US Academy of Sciences. Eric Mattson who is now a regular SOI educator, presented on impacts of snow ice and glaciers on the environment and the changes that have been happening in the past century.
Garry Donaldson, frequently gives lectures on nesting birds and waterfowl from the base of massive cliffs, but today he used visual aids to identify some of the species that appear adaptable to climate change and other species that will be in danger because they cannot adapt.
Whit Fraser, a former Journalist who specialized in the North provided a reporter’s perspective on the political development in the North among indigenous people, from colonialism to constitutional protection and changing the map of Canada.
This evening, we were all inspired by a vocal performance by student Andrea Philips. Despite a physical handicap that affects her mobility, Andrea completed a vigorous hike a few days ago at Eclipse Channel. At the end she remarked it was a personal highlight: “I climbed a hill but came down a mountain.”
Everyone on the expedition shared her victory and determination. Songwriters Ian Tamblyn and Tim Baker were especially moved and worked with her to write “Standing on My Own Two Feet”. The performance tonight was a mixture of rhythm and rap with Andrea rapping out the lyrics and inspiring everyone all over again.
The seas remain calm and the icy coast of Baffin Island awaits us. Our expedition has been such an enormous success so far!! Stay tuned.
Letter from HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco to the Arctic 2016 Expedition
Ice Chart of Davis Strait – July 28th
Abhayjeet Sachal – Surrey, BC, Canada
Today, we stopped at St. John’s Harbour in northern Labrador to see the Torngat Mountains National Park base camp. It was beautiful, just like the rest of the park. When we returned to the ship, I began working on writing a song with Lisa and Robert. I also went to a climate change presentation as we were sailing past the Hudson Strait to Baffin Island. The days have just become so busy, and the nights are full of fun group presentations and pranks. I can’t wait to get to Greenland in a few days!
Aiden Cyr – Ottawa, ON, Canada
At this point I am not sure if all of you can keep up with my stories! So I’ll keep this one fairly short. Fairly. So it’s day 6 I think, I have no idea. So far of the workshops I’ve done a lot of social studies, history, climate change and international affairs workshops. That’s kind of my comfort zone, and while I have conversed with more than half of the SOI students and staff, the one’s I haven’t met seem to be in the science or arts fields. I’ll have to go to some. The music one is awesome so no worries there. In fact the leaders of the music team, Tim Baker (Lead singer of Hey Rosetta) and the well-known musician Ian Tamblyn find me “entertaining” and appreciative of music. In fact Ian gave me a copy of his Labrador album saying that he only had a copy or two and thought I was a “sensible guy” and gifted me a copy of it! Which is really cool. The music performances are amazing and the duet by Tim Baker and Natasha called “Summer Love” could no doubt be a hit single around the world and I mean it. Today we visited the Torngats base/research camp and it was really cool.
The foggy weathered hindreed the extent of our activities today but we had some great informative lectures about the Torngats. The fog is a problem for many reasons especially because you can never know if a Polar Bear or massive Black Bear is lurking in the bushes and covered by the mist. You really can’t take chances up here. We’re leaving the Torngats and this beautiful park will for eternity be remembered as truly one of the greatest places on Earth. We’re heading North and I am getting ready for the Chills. Time to go look for some more Minke Whales as we leave these amazing fiords and turn towards Icebergs. Things are going to get rocky in these new waters but Captain Raja and his crew are excellent and we’re all very safe.
Far Away, Near In Spirit
Alassua Hanson – Iqaluit, NU, Canada
Places I’ve been so far: Ottawa, Iqaluit, Torngats, Saglek Fjord, Eclipse Channel, Ramah Bay, Nachvak Fjord, Hebron. Hello, so it’s my 5th day on the ship 🙂 I am having a lot of fun. (this is my first blog ever!). So yesterday, I performed a song. A song that I wrote with my new friend Saviluk. It’s about leaving home, finding myself, saying that I’m okay, and meeting new friends, I love it! It’s a very cool song, I had help from Tim Blake and Ian Tamlin that helped my write my song. That’s something that I look forward to telling people back home, that I actually wrote a song, and performed a song that I wrote. I’m very proud of that! I’m meeting a lot of people, and I’m having a lot of fun. Mom, if you are reading this, I’d just like to say hello, I miss you, I’m okay, and I love you! The thing that I am most excited about is the polar dipping, so that I can say that I have jumped in the cold cold ocean water.
So while we were in Ottawa, we went white water rafting, it was fun! We swam in the rapids, I also got to jump a cliff! An 18 foot cliff! I was also the first person to jump the cliff!! I’ve seen so many new animals (Animals that I’ve never seen before)! I’ve seen 11 polar bears, a lot of seals, and a whale! In Ramah Bay, we got to go fishing. So, I asked someone to use a rod, and on my first cast, I caught a fish! It was small, but I still caught it hahah. A few minutes later I caught a BIG fish, it was so big.
I will try and blog again tomorrow! Nakurmik, Thank you, Merci. 🙂
Alexis Rousseau – Baie-Comeau, QC, Canada
Dans les derniers jours, nous avons énormément voyagé au coeur du Parc National des Monts Torngat. Aujourd’hui est notre dernier jour dans cet endroit à couper le souffle. Je suis persuadé que je n’oublierai jamais tous ces moments passés dans ce parc.
En premier lieu, depuis mon dernier blog, nous avons été à Hebron. C’est un vieux village avec un lourd passé historique. L’atmosphère était pesante lors de notre passage. En effet, nous sommes allés dans l’église de l’île pour assister à plusieurs performances, dont du drum-dancing,du chant de gorge et bien d’autres, célébrant les excuses du gouvernement de Terre-Neuve par rapport à ce qui c’est passé à Hebron il y a plusieurs années. En bref, les habitants du village, des Inuit, ont été déportés et cela a causé un trauma. En effet, cela a entraîné plusieurs cas de suicide. Nous étions donc là aussi pour célébrer la mise en place d’une stratégie nationale de prévention du suicide auprès des Inuit. C’était très touchant.
Durant la soirée de cette journée, nous sommes allés faire une croisière de zodiac. Nous étions entourés de montagnes plus grandes que nature. Il y avait même un zodiac où un duo guitare-violoncelle performait quelques chansons, c’était sans aucun doute un moment magique. En revenant vers le bateau, il y avait énormément de vagues, nous sommes arrivés tous trempés!
Aujourd’hui, nous avons été au camp de base des Torngats. Nous avons mangé de la bannock, une sorte de pain frit traditionnel. Nous avons aussi été faire une randonnée, afin de comprendre l’effet des changements climatiques sur le paysage et la biosphère. Par exemple, les plantes poussent plus qu’avant, ce qui entraîne l’arrivée de nouvelles espèces animales venant du Sud. Comme vous pouvez voir, dans cette expédition, chaque journée est remplie à souhait et nous n’avons donc pas le temps de s’ennuyer!
Expedition physician Andrew Bresnahan plays his cello as part of the Torngat Philharmonic Orchestra during an evening Zodiac excursion. #SOIArctic2016 Photo (c) @leenarrawayphotography /Students on Ice
A photo posted by Students On Ice (@studentsonice) on
Amy Johnson – PhD Student
Hello! Today we went to Base Camp which is where many people start their journey in the Torngat Mountains. We went on tours of the camp and got to see the living areas, research building, store, and hike around the surrounding hills. My hike took us to one of the experiments that researchers have been conducting in the area for around 8 years where they are looking at the effects of a warming climate on plant growth in the tundra. Even though the day was cloudy, it was interesting to meet the people who live and work in this remote, beautiful place for many months at a time. When we got back on the ship, we did workshops this afternoon where I learned more about the effects of climate change on the environment and on the people/communities that depend on the land. This was our last day in the Torngat Mountains and I really enjoyed our visit – I feel very lucky to experience such an amazing place that few people get to travel to. We are now heading further north and we will be entering areas with more sea ice and icebergs in the coming days (hopefully with some zodiac tours in the ice!). We will soon be crossing the Davis Strait to head to Greenland which I am really looking forward to!
Ashlee Cunsolo – Professor & Canada Research Chair
The Launch of ITK’s National Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy
Yesterday was an emotional and inspiring day, both personally and professionally. Students on Ice had the incredible opportunity to visit Hebron in the Torngat Mountains National Park, a place of very deep significance for Nunatsiavut Inuit people, a site of relocation, and a National Historic Site. To visit a place that so many people with whom I have worked over the years, and that is so pivotal to how we understand the connections among place, culture, environment, and health, was incredibly powerful.
Our visit coincided with the national launch of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami’s (ITK) National Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy (NISPS). As Canada’s National Inuit organization, and as the national body representing all of Inuit Nunangat, ITK understands better than any the devastating impacts of suicide in the North, and the complexities involved in understanding the risks and implementing the responses.
As the ITK NISPS report states, “The four Inuit regions in Canada have rates of suicide that range from five to 25 times the rate of suicide for Canada as a whole.” There are many risk factors for suicide identified in the report, stemming from historical trauma linked to colonization, residential schools, and relocation; ongoing community distress from social inequities, food insecurity, and lack of access to health-sustaining resources; intergenerational trauma and family violence; early adversity in childhood; already-present chronic and acute mental health challenges; and acute stress or traumatic events.
Despite the challenges, suicide is a preventable, public health crisis throughout Inuit Nunangat, which demands a collective, cohesive response that combines community experience, Inuit knowledge, leading edge research, and mental health strategies. There are known factors that support overall wellness and resilience, including strengthening cultural continuity; social equity in economic, education, and health resources; healthy and safe environments for children to support their development; access to culturally-appropriate and locally-relevant mental health supports and needed health supports.
ITK’s NISPS marks a landmark in suicide prevention strategies in the North, and is an inspiring and informative document that outlines six priority areas for action:
1. Creating social equity
2. Creating cultural continuity
3. Nurturing healthy Inuit children from birth
4. Ensuring access to a continuum of mental wellness services for Inuit
5. Healing unresolved trauma and grief
6. Mobilizing Inuit knowledge for resilience and suicide prevention
To be in Hebron on the day of the NISPS launch, celebrating this historic day with music, song, and powerful talks, and connecting all Students on Ice students and staff with this important issues, was incredibly powerful and emotional. Hebron is alive with the history, ancestry, and spirits of all that has come before. And now, it has welcomed a group of 200 people from 10 different countries to come together to learn, share, grow, understand, and act.
As the NISPS report states, “It is time for Canada to give suicide prevention in Inuit Nunangat the action and attention it deserves. Preventing suicide is entirely possible, but our success depends on our willingness to confront the social and economic inequities that place stress on many families and create environments where risk for suicide multiplies. …The bright light of resilience that characterizes our people will burn through this difficult chapter in our long history.”
My sincerest congratulations to Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and National President Natan Obed for their leadership in creating a comprehensive and landmark report in the National Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy. This is an important document that provides an achievable road map for reducing and eliminating suicide in Inuit Nunangat while creating healthier more resilient communities for a flourishing North.
Ashlee Cunsolo, PhD
Associate Professor & Canada Research Chair in Determinants of Healthy Communities
Cape Breton University
Claire Sutherland – Castlegar, BC, Canada
Hello everyone! I hope all of you are enjoying following our journey! As of today we are about half way through our expedition. It’s kinda hard to believe that after today we only have eight more days left.
On a brighter note, this morning we visited Torngat National Park’s basecamp. This is where most of the staff for the park live, and as well where some of the visitors would stay during their time at the park. The staff at the park were all so nice and everyone was smiling and having a good time. Halfway through our visit, I made the courageous desicion to try and go into the gift store. This, looking back on it, was a bad desicion. Right when I entered I could not move at all because there was so many people in there. As well when I got in, there was nothing left. To all the people I said I was going to buy souvenirs for, we’ll see what happens in Greenland, but it’s looking questionable at the moment. After that we split into two groups to go hiking. The hike was nice, though it was quite foggy so we could’nt see too much.
Right now while I’m writing this we are just starting to leave the Torngats. We’ve been in the Torngats for the past three days. I’ve really enjoyed being here! I absolutely loved all the moutains and the views have been amazing! But as much as I am sad that we are leaving, I am also excited to see more amazing views and different types of landscape. At this moment I honestly do not know where are heading but I’m excited anyway. I really feel like where ever we go in the Arctic has it’s own charms and unique sights.
Well that’s pretty much it for now, but I hope that you all are still enjoying following our journey and are as excited as I am to see where we go next!
Darrell Wells – Instructor Marine Institute of Memorial University
We arrived at the Base Camp for the Torngat Mountains. The staff there were very welcoming and informative. The camp is set up to accomodate visitors who want to experience the northern environment but, as the manager indicated, it is more like glamour camping than roughing it. The site is set up with various structures and Labrador Tents, which are equipped with bunk beds, and double beds with all the conveniences of home. The furniture in each tent is IKEA made, so one can imagine the setup. The camp has both diesel generation and solar power for electricity, but the big item is the electric fence that surrounds the enclosure. As you may guess it’s to keep the bears out during the nights.
During the days, the bear guard personnel are stationed around the site to monitor the surrounding landscape and the workers The camp is equipped with showers, a gift shop, and meeting tents. I met a guy named Brian from Postville who is also new to the camp. He usually works in the Uranium mines in Postville, but there is some downtime at the moment so he is working here in the interim. The workers sleep in regular tents while the glamour tents are rented by tourists. We were the first group of visitrs for this season, but the site is usually full from July to September.
The site has a gift shop which was quickly sold out of the souvenirs and I did add a couple to my luggage. We had some freshly made bannock topped with fresh bakeapple jam. Mmmmmmmmm! My mother-in-law would be jealous of that!!
Anyway, we are now finished in the Torngat Mountains. Our last highlight yesterday (Wednesday) was a zodiac trip up one of the many fiords and I can tell you its quite impressive to see these fiords from the perspective of a tiny zodiac. We are now travelling North again and heading for the east coast of Baffin Island. The seas are pretty good with some fog and drizzle but the fantastic adventures, workshops and unbelievable food is keeping all hands happy.
Talk again tomorrow.
A photo posted by Students On Ice (@studentsonice) on
Emma Lim – London, ON, Canada
Yesterday after dinner, we all went on Zodiac cruises to look at the fantastic fjords that we were passing through. The mountains were incredibly tall and full of fantastic waterfalls. Fog and clouds covered the mountain tops. The weather was also very windy and wavy and as a result, huge waves crashed into our boat. My rainpants were, predictably, unsuitable to the task and as a result, everything I was wearing was soaked through! It’s all drying in my cabin right now but the only dry pants I have from that night are… the k-way rainpants! Oh well… I had a lot of fun so I didn’t mind being wet. My group also won for the cheer at the nightime briefing which was awesome. This morning, after breakfast, we all went to the Torngat Mountains base camp. In base camp there were lots of interesting experiments taking place. An archeologist there gave a lesson on the history of the region, including the people who had lived there historically and what artefacts had been found. In another tent, there was a large piece of wood in it that we got to paint and colour our names on to show that we had been here. We were the first visitors of the year to the park and everyone working at base camp was very welcoming. There was a small gift shop selling a few clothes and some assorted baubles, but sadly no rainpants as I had hoped 🙂 I bought a sweatshirt from the giftshop in size medium, which was quite a find because on the rack there were only size large and extra large. I was actually able to get one from where it was thrown behind the counter! It is still a little large but super awesome! Back on the ship we had a few hours to ourselves so I played some Heads Up and then headed to blog! I love you Mom, Dad, Marcus, Anna and Obi! It is a little stressful not knowing how things are going but I hope everything is okay back home!
Eric Gauthier – Ottawa, ON, Canada
Yesterday we went to Hebron where a Moravian mission was established in the 1800’s. The people of Hebron were relocated in 1959 and moved from their traditional land. They experienced suffering: from ostracization to starvation. Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) was supposed to have an event there and launch an initive, a National Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy. They held the event in Kuujjuaq instead because of unfavourable weather conditions. We held our own momentous event at Hebron, in the same church where those people were gathered to be told that the government was evicting them from their homes, only to be relocated. It was a celebration where songs were sung, stories were told, and we all remembered what happened; thinking to the future and truth and reconciliation. We had the honour of having people born in Hebron with us to celebrate Inuit culture and address the topic of high rates of suicide among Inuit (especially in youth) and observed a moment of silence for those who suffer at the plight of suicide in Inuit communities.
We went to Saglek Fjord where we were surrounded by the beautiful Torngat mountains. I spotted two Minke whales as they came up for water using my binoculars. We went on a zodiac cruise in the fjord to end the day.
Today we went to the base camp of the Torngat Moutains, just outside the Torngat Mountains National Park. There is a Parks Canada research station there where scientists perform a variety of experiments such as studying the effects of a warming climate on flora, simulated using greenhouses. We also saw ptarmigan eggs in their nest. It was interesting to hear how tourists come to the basecamp and stay in tents. There is a perimeter set up around the camp in the form of an electric fence to keep out polar bears, supplemented by bear guards armed with rifles. We had a very interesting hike where scientists explained flora and fauna. It was foggy and wet but well worth it.
A photo posted by Students On Ice (@studentsonice) on
Erin Kasungu – Manager at Community Foundations of Canada
Yesterday, surrounded by mountains in the Saglek Fjord, we entered the North Arm by Zodiac in the evening to explore this remote place. The rocky mountain tops with their scattered green bottoms greeted us with their beauty. We puttered around to take in their tall glances and at the end were surprised to see 2 red Park Canada chairs waiting for visitors, one which had been blown away down the beach. There was a concert on one of the boats and some pulled out their fishing rods to catch the day’s last fish before bed. On the ride back, it got a little bumpy and we all got soaked. One student remarked that “if I’m going to get wet, I might as well enjoy it”. I enjoyed their ‘live in the moment’ attitude!
Florin Najera-Uresti – Pharr, TX, USA
Day 6 aboard the Ocean Endeavor!
This morning we woke up anchored at the Torngat Mountains National Park. But before this, I have some updates from last night. After visiting Hebron in the morning, we came back on the ship for a late lunch and another round of workshops. This time, I decided to join Shari, who lives in Clyde River, where she dog teams with her 14 Inuit sled dogs. Shari led a workshop about the history of the Inuit sled dog and then showed us how to make sledding harnesses. I attempted to make a harness for my own beagle, but unfortunately, my sizing guesswork created a chihuahua-sized harness. No luck for you, Pirulais 🙁
After workshops, we were able to go out one last time on the zodiacs. We took an hour ride around the northern arm of the Saglek Fjord in a very intense, very wet zodiac ride. After the long day we had, I have to say, this was definitely a fantastic way to end the day.
Today, we disembarked once again on the Torngat Mountains National Park base camp, where we got to see the site of developing research. We took a short hike around the area, but unfortunately, it was too foggy to appreciate the views.
Tonight, we sail back North where we will slowly make our way to Greenland. I think we might stop somewhere in the Baffin islands briefly (or to “play in the ice” as I’ve been told), but our next destination is finally the west coast of Greenland!
Until next time!
Gia Lundblad – Sisimiut, Greenland
Ullumikkut Torngat base campimiippugut. Sila qulisimavoq, sakkortunngitsumik siallillattaarluni, pinngortitarlu masaasariarami tipigilluni.
Ullaaq pisarnertut 07:30 itersartippugut, nereriarlutalu gummibådimik nunamut ikaarluta. Base camp ungasianiik takullugu toqqiinnaangajaasutullusooq ippoq. Qanilligatsiguli takusinnaavara sissa sioraannaasup qaavanut ujarassuit puttasulerneqarsimasut takusinnaavara. Aammattaaq takusinnaavara toqqit ungalunik avatangerneqarsimasut imminut illersorniarnertik pinerullugu.
Maani Canadami malunnarpoq nannut sillimaffigineqarnerujussuusut. Aallartikkattali nannunik paarsisunik ilaqaannaavippugut. Siulliullugit nunamut niujartorneqartarput, aatsaallu qajannaareeraangamikku nanoqanngitsoq ilinniartuusugut sulisullu niujartorneqartarluta.
Base campimiinnitsinni toqqit ilaannut isertinneqarpugut, nerisassamininnguanillu sassaallerfigineqarluta. Palaannguinut assingusumik tunineqarpunga bannockimik atilimmik. Bannock boor’lup naqittagassiaa oliemut kinillugit suliaapput, naammassineranilu sioraasanik kanelilinnik qalligaalluni.
Tupermi isersimaariarluta pisunnialerpugut. Pisunnerput akunnermik ataatsimik sivisussuseqarpoq, tassanilu naasut silaannaap kissatsikkiartornerani qanoq eqqugaasimanerat eqqartorlutigu. Pisunnitsinni Lindalu (Kalaaleqatimma ilaat) malugaarput nuna paarnaquteqarpianngivissoq. Paasinngilarpulli sooq.
Uteratta sammisassat assigiinngitsut saqqummiunneqarput, uangalu silaannaap kissatsikkiartornera pillugu saqqummiisumiippunga. Ilinniartuugallarama samminikuusagut pinerummagit tupaallappallaanngilanga, kisiannili soorunami suli eqqarsarnarpoq nunarsuatta silaanna aaqqinniassagutsigu inuttut qanoq iliorsinnaanerluta.
Ullormi uani nuannarinerpaavara base campimiit umiarsuarmut ingerlanerput. Sila qulisimasoq, mallilaannguartoq, pinngortitarlu Kalaallit Nunaannut eqqaanartoq isiginnaarujoorlugu.
Massakkut Baffini sinerlugu avannamut ingerlaarujoorpugut, sumorpiaq ingerlanersugut aqagu nalunaarutigiumaarpara. Angerlarsinngikkaluarlunga ilaquttakka, ikinngutikka, il. il maqaaseqaakka, neriuppunga allatakka atuartarumaaraat.
Naggataatigullu Kalaaleqatikka apererusuppakka: Kalaaliunerit tulluusimaarutigisarpiuk? Angeruit, sooruna? Aqagumut eqqarsaatiginiariuk. Aqagu tusass’!
Haleh Zabihi – St. John’s, NL, Canada
Hello from the Torngat Mountains National Park Base Camp! The M/V Ocean Endeavour arrived early this morning and, following breakfast and a morning briefing, we were off to explore the camp. The weather was quite foggy and drizzly so we were very glad to go into one of the warm tents and sit down. They even had fresh bannock, muffins, and juice for us! Following a brief introduction and welcome to the camp, we got the opportunity to paint on and sign our name on a large wooden board as their first visitors of the season! My group and I then moved on to another tent in which scientists at the camp conduct research. One of the scientists on the site (who was also from Newfoundland!) explained to us his work and other research that is done at the camp, along with interesting facts about birds, spiders, and the process of shrubification. A short hike allowed us to check out the local area and the biospheres that scientists have created for climate change research. Unfortunately, the drizzle and fog cancelled our plans for a beach BBQ but the lunch waiting for us back at the ship made up for it!
The weather at Base Camp definitely made me feel at home during the Zodiac ride back to the ship. We’re currently sailing back up north towards Baffin Island before we set sail for Greenland. We’re also in the middle of “quiet ship time” where we relax and journal between activites- my favourite time!
P.S. I forgot to mention this in yesterday’s blog but one of my favourite activities yet on this ship was a Zodiac cruise along Nachvak Fjord last evening! After dinner, we set out on Zodiacs in groups of 12 and sailed for an hour through a section of the fjord called North Arm. The weather was perfect and one of the Zodiacs had a guitar and a cello player on them so we had a small, private concert in the middle of a fjord in the Arctic. What an experience! For the latter half of the cruise, we were singing karaoke and laughing hysterically at how wet we all were!
Until next time,
Jamie Snook – Executive Director
You are this place when I hear the big drum.
When Raven calls and throat songs thrum.
You are the wind – you are the sky.
You are the land.
You are this place.
These are the Ian Tamblyn lyrics sung in Hebron yesterday, in a Moravian Church while Inuit elder David Serkoak accompanied him with Inuit drum dancing. Flipping through Ian’s other lyrics you can learn why there is such deep emotion associated with Hebron. Ian writes and sings:
The summer – it was good here.
The berries were thick on the hills.
And the caribou came in September.
And the men came back with the kill.
It is easy to understand why Inuit were at home and sustained in Hebron. It is from Hebron that I would like to congratulate Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami on the release of their first national strategy on suicide prevention. My hat is tipped to National President Natan Obed for his leadership and commitment to producing such a comprehensive strategy and key priorities.
From one Inuit organization to another, we look forward to finding our appropriate role and helping to implement this important strategy. Congratulations and nakummek.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Torngat Secretariat, please visit our website at www.torngatsecretariat.ca. Our organization is also on Facebook and Twitter, and we’re always happy to field more questions and inquiries.
Jamie Snook, MA, P. Mgr
Torngat Wildlife, Plants and Fisheries Secretariat
Jimmy Blais – Actor/Teacher/Director/Producer
We are leaving the Torngats after what was an emotional day yesterday at Hebron and wet and cold day here at the Torngats National Park Basecamp.
When we first landed at Hebron I wasn’t sure what to expect. Up to that point Hebron was the most anticipated landing of our expedition. When speaking of Hebron, people would mention the word spiritual and although I’m quite familiar with the word, the context was what was eluding me. Well it didn’t take long for me to put things together. From the moment I stepped into the mission house, my stomach was in knots. Hebron was one of many Inuit villages that were re-located in the 1900’s. In my opinion that term does not fully describe the events that took place. Hebron was uprooted, forcibly, tragically and that is palpable in the air. The church that turned my stomach into knots was originally erected by the Moravians in the 1830’s and was where we sat for most of the morning. I have a hard time in churches these days and yesterday was no exception; especially considering that one of the last times it was used as it was intended, it was to let the Inuit people know that they are being forced to move. Things in my stomach got a little better once we began with our program which included some heart felt and emotional statements and readings by some of the Inuit leaders on board. My stomach and my heart made a full 180 after incredible perfomances by some of our talented musicians and singers. It was a special moment that can’t really be described. There were links and connections that I couldn’t help but make. I couldn’t help but think of my family and what things would have been like if Colonial practices were less successful. There were a lot of layers that went into yesterday that I can’t fully share with you today…maybe over a coffee when I get home?
Julia Richardson – Kingston, PEI, Canada
My father has always said that the best time of the day is in the early morning before the world is awake and the hustle of daily life begins, when you have the house (or ship!) all to yourself. When you share one ship with 120+ students, it makes waking up early and sitting in the quiet library all the more rewarding. Today I woke up at around 6:30am and spent the time before wakeup call reading in the library with Meera.
After breakfast we embarked onto the zodiacs and made our way through the all-too-familiar fog towards the awaiting tents of the Torngat Mountains National Park Basecamp. There we recieved a brief welcome, signed a visitor sheet, ate some muffins, and were even able to paint or draw on a huge sign that would later be on display. On the wooden board I jotted down my name and painted a fox laying down beside it. There was even a giftshop at the basecamp so I purchased a traditional pair of slippers lined in rabbit fur as well as a sweater with the park’s name emblazoned on the front.
Hiking came next, which was not very bad if you don’t mind a light drizzle of rain, an ocean breeze, and walking in wet hiking boots! It doesn’t sound very pleasant but honestly I found myself enjoying every last minute of our soggy tour of the tundra. How could one not be happy when they are surrounded by such a facinating landscape! I walked past dwarf trees, squished moss beneath my feet and clamored over the gently sloped hills.
The tundra was a lot more green than I had thought it would be, which I assumed would be caused by summer (obviously!) but one of the SOI staff, Olle, told me more about it. Apparently the hilly areas shouldn’t be as green as they are now and that the increasing temperatures caused by global warming is alowing the shrubs to slowly creep up the ridges. Additionally, species of animals from the boreal environments are also moving northwards and are becoming a threat to the tundra animals. The increased competition with invasive species along with the shrinking and changing habitat is never a good combination. This has been going on for only a few years but the effects occur alarmingly fast. Global warming, it would seem, affects not just the Arctic ecosystem but the entirety of Canada’s biosphere.
Luciano Martin Ayala Valani – Sherbrooke, QC, Canada
À mon réveil, nous étions déjà arrivé au camp de base du parc national des Monts-Torngat. Après le déjeuner nous nous y sommes rendus et avons fait le tour des lieux. Sur place, nous avons appris qu’ils oeuvrent dans les domaines scientifiques et archéologique. De plus, une présentation retraçant l’histoire des différentes populations qui ont vécu sur le parc nous a été présentée. Par la suite, j’ai fait la randonné sur une montagne (miniature). Il faut savoir, qu’initialement, quatre différents parcours nous avaient été proposées. Cependant, l’intense brouillard ne s’est pas dissipé comme les jours précédents lorsque nous étions à d’autres endroits. Lors de cette randonné le sol mouillé a fini par avoir raison de mes chaussures de marche. Donc, pour la deuxième fois en deux jour, une grand partie de mes vêtements sont mouillés. Cette fois-ci par contre, je les ai accroché dans ma salle de bain. Puis lors de l’atelier, nous avons dissequer des poisson pêchés plus tôt dans la journée et nous avons ensuite observer certains micro-organismes au microscope. Tout ça pour dire que ce que j’ai retenu c’est que les poissons (que nous avons observé) ont de minuscule cerveau. À présent, je vais aller reprendre des forces en allant faire dodo.
P.S. Felis cumpleaños abuelo Felo.
Meera Chopra – Richmond Hill, ON, Canada
The fog this morning was beautifully draped over the mountains and the ocean. The fog still hanging over our heads, we landed (for the last time!) at the Torngat Mountains basecamp which is operational for only six weeks every year. After learning about the history of the region and the research that goes on here (and buying some Arctic tea leaves), I went on a science hike where I saw firsthand the effect of climate change on Arctic plants. Also, there was a study being performed (that has been going on for eight years) which is examining the difference in growth of Arctic plant species in warmer temperatures. It was drizzling slightly, which was nice, and the ground was covered in small bushes. Apparently, there has been a decrease in caribou populations over the past ten years, and no one knows its actual cause. Also, the wildlife has changed very much since the 1990s; birds that typically live in the south are moving to the north due to climate change and the usual small bushes are growing larger.
Later in the day, I attended an art workshop and I got the chance to sew a headband with a design of a polar bear, ironically cut from seal skin. Unfortunately, I haven’t finished the beading pattern yet. We also had plenty of opportunities to go outside on the deck and see whales and gigantic icebergs floating past us. The scenery in the Arctic is so unique and amazing!
Smooth sailing for the future.
Mehta Ushpreet – Toronto, ON, Canada
After breakfast, we visited the Base Camp of Torngat Mountains with Parks Canada members. The Nunatsiavut government has funded this camp, which allows researchers and experts in different fields to facilitate studies in the North. The purpose is to understand the effects of climate change in regards to microorganisms, vegetation, and the wildlife.
My favourite lesson was the history of how various explorers visited and spent their time in the Torgat Mountains. As well, it was fascinating to learn their hunting methods and survival tactics in the harsh climate.
The foggy and rainy weather didn’t interfere with my attempt at exploration or cheesy pictures with friends. Upon returning to the ship, I had a delicious and engaging conversation with SOI staff, Eric, who crafted 7 kayak’s for our expedition and toured the North with those same kayak’s!
Later, we said our farewells to the Torgat Mountains and the Parks Canada members who welcomed us, which then led to a two hour competitive card game with the Inuit students.
My favourite part of the day was a workshop that discussed the direct affects that climate change has on mental health on individuals in the north!! I hope to brainstorm and have more discussions with Inuit students on how we can break the stigma!
A photo posted by Students On Ice (@studentsonice) on
Melissa Snedden – High School Teacher
We woke up to really foggy conditions today, anchored at Base Camp. Unfortunately, the weather conditions meant that we weren’t able to take part in everything that was planned. We exited the ship and landed on a floating dock (instead of the shore) and started our day touring around Base Camp. Base Camp is a spot where researchers can camp and then travel to their site specific areas. It also has tents for the general public. The base camp tents are outfitted the way that I would like to camp: Glamping. They actually have Ikea furtinature, so it makes it a much more enjoyable stay for guests.
Upon our arrival we were welcomed with bannock, which was absolutely delicious! We toured around in the labs and chatted with some biologists. Before we were done our visit at Base Camp we went for a wet hike. The fog was so thick today that I was unable to take any pictures because I didn’t want to take out my camera with all the moisture in the air. Unfortunately by the time I was able to make it to the gift shop it was pretty much cleaned out of items. We headed back to the ship for lunch, the weather conditions forcing us to cancel our plans for a BBQ on the beach, which was a total bummer but out of our control.
For the afternoon we went to presentations, workshops and had some free time to relax and reflect. We have now started to head North as it will take us 2-3 days to get to Greenland. Hopefully on our way we will be able to “play in sea ice,” as Geoff says. “Playing in sea ice” is a mystery to all of us, yet very intriguing!
I’m really excited for our landing in Greenland in a few days as I have been told that the Inuit communities there are quite different than Canadian ones.
Hope everyone is staying cool at home, as I’m sure it’s extremely hot!
Grace, Journey, Blessing.
Mohd Rofiq Hanifah – Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia
Hey peeps! It’s my second time writing my blog. I was supposed to blog yesterday but due to my cold that has not resolved yet, I couldn’t write one. So today I’m gonna talk about our visit to Hebron yesterday.
Upon reaching the shore, we were amazed seeing the old houses from 1800-1950s. In Malaysia we can only see artefacts in museums, but here I’m given so many chances not only to see but also to touch the artefacts. Most of the time I’m not interested in history but when I understand the real story regarding the reconciliation, and I see how some of my Canadian friends were affected by it, I can immerse myself in the pain that the Inuits were having. In Canadian National Parks, artefacts are everywhere. However we are not allowed to take out anything from there to keep everything as how they were. After we wandered for some time, we hiked to the higher part of the land heading to the Moravian Church.
Once we reached the the main door of the church, we were required to get inside of the main hall and take a seat. I swear that was my first time being inside a church. And what’s even amazing about it is it’s a Moravian Church which aged more that a century! If you’re not a Canadian I suggest you to Google about it. A lot of painful history happened there.
In the church, Caitlyn read the apology letter by the Newfoundland Government and she also read the acceptance of apology letter written by the Inuit’s Organization. Tim, Mikki and some other guys performed their songs. David, an Inuit Elder who participates in our expedition also performed the Drum Dance inside the church. Although the past was painful, I’m grateful to know that everything is much better now.
In the afternoon, I had my lunch and I went straight to my cabin. Once again, I was feeling unwell and I had to skip the afternoon session. At the same time I was also missing home, missing Mom, my family (my cats are included), missing my school, my teachers, my friends and let’s not forget my daily academic stress. But I joined the evening session and the night re-cap session.
To my loved ones in Malaysia, I’m hoping you guys are doing fine there. And to the ones who never stop praying and worrying for me, I want you guys to know that I’m doing fine except for some cold. I took my meds and I hope soon I will get better. My roommate, Katrina, has no problem with me doing my prayers. And I’m totally fine with the temperature here. It’s not as cold as I expected it to be actually.
I guess that’s all for today. Hopefully I can write another tomorrow. Farewell guys!
Nora Boone – St. John’s, NL, Canada
AteliKai! Meaning welcome or hello in the Nunatsiavut dialect. This is just one of the many new things I have already learned during this amazing expedition.
We’ve been very busy both on and off the ship! I love the diversity of the workshops, presentations and conversations, and have learned about Inuit culture, climate change and the Arctic wildlife, just to name a few subjects.
I’ve seen so many new faces, among them some white furry ones. We spotted 9 polar bears on the very first day of the expedition! They were just sitting on the ice flows.
Since then, we have sailed through the Hudson Strait to the Torngat Mountains. We stopped in Eclipse Channel and Ramah Bay. While in Ramah Bay I learned about the relationship between the Moravians and Inuit during a workshop: Truth and Reconciliation. I also enjoyed a musical performance from a cave! We’ve also been hiking,exploring the various species of flora and drinking from the fresh water falls.
We cruised through two fjords, Nachvak Fjord and Saglek Fjord. Last night we set out on an evening zodiac cruise through the Northern Arm of Saglek Fjord. During our cruise we soaked up the beauty of the mountains (and much of the salty sea!).
Today we dropped anchor in St. John’s Harbour (the one a little farther from home!), and explored the base camp of the Torngat Mountains National Park. It felt like a typical Newfoundland day (foggy and misty), but I was very glad to be there.
Hope all is well at Home.
Until next time,
Patrick Perrigo – Staten Island, NY, USA
Today we went to the Torngat Mountians National Park Base Camp. After we had our breakfast, we had our morning briefing — but with saddness. This morning we decided to say goodbye to all the local Parks Canada Torngat staff on the trip, as they will not be joining us on our way to Baffin Island and Greenland. The weather today was not as cooperative as it has been the past few days. Today there was dense fog, mist, harsh winds, rough waves, and it was bone-chillingly cold outside. We arrived at the base camp by zodiac at 9:45 AM, and we guided to a tent for a fifteen minute presentation on how the Torngats were formed and the different groups of people who have inhabited the area since the beginning of time. After that, we went to another tent with lemonade and snacks, and we were greeted by the person in charge of the operations at the camp. He gave us the history of the base camp, as well as the layout and purpose of the different facilities. We were allowed to walk around after, so I took the time to take in the pictures of the small base camp full of a lot of tents, loghouses, portables, and small shacks. I went to the giftshop there, and brought three souvenirs. We were also suppose to have a late lunch at the beach in front of base camp in the form of a barbeque and later a bonfire, but both were cancelled owing to the weather.
We were originally going to have four different hikes of different intensity, but we only had two options owing to the fog. I chose to do the hike leading us to an area full of research pods mimicing the effects that climate change will have on the plants in the area. The pods were essentially tiny greenhouses without a roof. The surrounding wall raised the heat by one or two degrees Celsuis, and we saw a huge increased in the growth of the plants. Then we hiked bake to the zodiacs and were back on the ship by 1:15 PM. After lunch, we had a two hour free period to do whatever we wanted. I took that time to do the chore of laundry in the sink and then I wrote in my journal. After we had four different special presentations to choose from. I chose The State of the Cryosphere in which we talked about the damaging effects of climate change on forms of frozen water throughout the world. After the very interesting presentation, I went to a workshop about Inuit mental health and the correlation between it and climate change. I liked learning about what the land of Nunatsiavut means to the Inuit people. We had dinner afterwards, and now I have to go to our final evening briefing. Before I go, I just want to mention that I cannot post my photos to the SOI website so you all will have to wait for me to come back home to see the pictures. Stick around for more, everyone!
Rachel Theoret-Gosselin – Eastern Arctic Specialist for WWF-Canada
Today we were anchored in the bay where the entrance of the Torngat Mountains National Park is located. It is actually what they call “base camp.” Composed of several huts and tents, and one bigger building for the lab and the kitchen, the infrastructure is intended to accomodate the park’s workers, scientists, and tourists. The small community probably forms strong bonds by the end of the short field season. The habitations for tourists were pretty cute and neat, creating a comfortable feel even this far from a big centre. Definitely a unique experience in impressive nature. And interestingly enough, a sail boat with a flag from United States was also anchored in the harbour. So even though the Park can seem unaccessible, since the only transportation to it is either a charter flight from Goose Bay or from the sea, it still manages to attract foreing tourists.
The other interesting fact I’ve learned is the behaviour of polar bears. The camp manager explained that they have gradually seen a change in the feeding habits of bears and they have observed polar bears displacing black bears from the rivers and starting to feed on char. We were planning a beach BBQ, but the drizzle pushed us back on board for a late lunch and then we started our northern cruise.
Ce matin, nous étions ancrés dans la baie nous donnant un accès à une des entrées du Parc National des Monts-Torngat. Composé de plusieurs tentes et huttes ainsi que d’un bâtiment principal servant de laboratoire et de cuisine, le campement est destiné à héberger les travailleurs du parc, des scientifiques et des touristes. Il est fort à parier qu’un sens de commune doit se développer rapidement durant la saison de terrain. Le campement, la brume et la toundra m’ont rappelé de bons souvenirs de mes saisons de terrain! L’hébergement touristique est rustique, mais très confortable. C’est définitvement une destination unique à explorer! Il y avait même un voilier affichant le drapeau américain qui était également ancré dans la baie. Comme quoi que malgré la distance et la difficulté d’accès (qui ne se fait que par vol nolisé ou par la mer), le parc attire tout de même des visiteurs étrangers. Une autre chose intéressante que j’ai apprise ici nous a été expliquée par le gérant du campement. Les ours polaires de la région semblent changer de comportement d’alimentation. Les gens du parc ont observé des ours blancs déplacer des ours noirs de la rivière pour se nourrir de l’omble de l’Arctique qui remonte vers son habitat d’hiver. Intéressant, non? Nous avions planifié un BBQ sur la plage pour dîner, mais la bruine fine nous a poussé à remonter manger au chaud sur notre bateau. Nous avons commencé notre voyage vers le Nord en après-midi avant de traverser le Détroit de Davis vers le Groenland.
Ronald Borda – Flushing, NY, USA
Today we went to Basecamp in the zodiacs at 08.30 in the morning. When we arrived, they gave us a presentation on the Inuit people, about where they came from before they settled in Nunavut and how their life was when they arrived. Also they told us all the different types of bears that can be found in Basecamp and that we need to be together with a Bear Guard at all times if we leave the area. Later that day at 12.00 in the afternoon we made two different hiking groups, depending on the difficulty you chose. Then at 01.00 to 01.30 in the afternon we made our way back to the ship (M/V Ocean Endeavour) to eat lunch.
Sarah Gutzmann – Vancouver, BC, Canada
So, we are about half way through our expedition now, and I am already short on adjectives that are strong enough, descriptive enough to convey all that this experience has been already, but I will do my best to share with you all a snippet of my time here with the following:
Yesterday evening we sailed through Saglek Fjord. We had just finished workshop time when I took a moment to visit the decks on the bow of the Ocean Endeavor. Pushing open the heavy steel door, I left the busy noise of the ship behind. Somehow, in the midst of 200 staff and students, plus the amazing crew on board, I had managed to find a place that was completly silent save for the rumbling engine and the churning waves it created. Up ahead were mountains carved out by glaciers an unimaginably long time ago. These stone giants were wrapped in shawls of charcoal cloads that flowed like rivers through round-bottomed valleys, as if to protect the mountains from the icy wind. Streaks of rusty red were highlighted in the waning sun, starkly contrasting the bursts of emerald vegetation that clung to the slopes. As the ship forged ahead through the swelling water, rivers could be seen that have been cutting through the ancient rock for centuries, silently crashing down into the sea.
One of my shipmates said something to me the other day, that became exceptionally clear to me then as I stood at the bow of the ship. This impossibly beautiful place removes the sense of time as it has been designed by humanity. Out here, seconds, minutes, and hours are all but a moment that is far too short, but feels almost infinite.