The morning began with a series of workshops as well as a panel discussion on Tallurutiup Imanga, the newly announced National Marine Conservation Area! Tallurutiup Imanga (also known as Lancaster Sound) is a vast area located in the Canadian High Arctic and one of the most ecologically significant areas in the world.
Following two years of community consultation as part of the Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement, the Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA) along with the Government of Canada today officially announcement protection of Tallurutiup Imanga! At 110,000km it is Canada’s largest protected body of water.
Students learned about the importance of this for the people and ecosystem in the area. In the afternoon, we had a very special opportunity to join the community of Arctic Bay in celebrating this announcement! It was wonderful to connect with community members, explore the community AND we even met the Prime Minister!
In addition to the Prime Minister, special guests included the head of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, P.J. Akeeagok, President of Canada’s national Inuit organization, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) Natan Obed, Minister of Enviornment and Climate Change for Canada Catherine McKenna, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Coast Guard for Canada Jonathan Wilkinson and the president of Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI) Aluki Kotierk.
We are grateful to the community of Arctic Bay for welcoming us to their celebration and sharing their community with us.
Tomorrow we will explore Cape Graham Moore on the southeastern tip of Bylot Island. Here we will take in the magnificent, towering bird cliffs and the thousands of birds from our Zodiacs including the black-legged kittiwake and thick-billed murre. Stay tuned for updates!
- Arvaaluk: When Shelton asked the Inuit people in the room to stand up and told everybody who was sitting that they should be learning from these people. If I got attacked by a polar today I would be happy knowing our world is in good hands.
- Nicholas Flowers: Hearing stories from SOI alumni in Arctic Bay, it makes me want to go back and share my stories when this is over.
- Riley: Meeting someone in Arctic Bay who was a 2015 alum so I asked her is she knew my mother, Jamie Morse, and she did! We both expressed how much we miss her.
- Jennel: Finding out we were going to Arctic Bay I was so happy! I hadn’t seen my family from there since 2014. I am very close to my grandma but flights are too expensive so this moment was very important to me.
- Birthday boy Jim Narraway performed a fun song to share his birthday with everyone.
Anna Kelly, student
Oxford, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom
The past couple of days in Sirmilik National Park have been very remote but incredibly exciting and I have learned so much about the people, wildlife and landscape.
On Tuesday afternoon a large group hiked right up to the snout of a huge outlet glacier. It was completely breathtaking to approach the glacier from below and get a real sense of the massive scale. We were also able to drink some water from the outwash stream, which as a member of staff pointed out “hasn’t been water in 12,000 years”! However, according to educators who had visited Sirmilik before there have been a number of significant changes in the landscape over the past few decades. For instance, 40 years ago the glacier flowed as far as the sea, whereas today it takes a 2.6km hike to reach the snout. There is also evidence of ice thinning (about 3m) on the slopes of the valley where a lack of vegetation clearly shows the former position of ice. It is very rare to see such dramatic changes in nature over such a short timescale and exploring first-hand really helped me to understand just how significant the impacts of climate change have become in the Arctic. Referring back to the Sami panel discussion on reindeer herding a few days ago, this can affect daily lives in ways that I certainly have never considered before. For example, as temperatures in northern Sweden, Finland and Norway increasingly fluctuate around 0 degrees centigrade, snow melts and then refreezes as ice meaning that reindeer are unable to bury down and find lichens to eat. I am very keen to spread awareness of this and other alternative impacts of warming when I return to home and school, as they represent key differences that are already being felt very significantly by real people in the Arctic North.
Yesterday we were lucky enough to have another zodiac landing at Coutts Inlet on Baffin Island in some truly unbelievable conditions… It was pretty comfortable out on deck in just a T-shirt! Something that I was completely oblivious to prior to the landing is the rich history of the inlet as a former temporary settlement for nomadic Inuit. The various archeological sites on the slopes above the beach are thought to be as many as 4000 years old and I felt deeply privileged to be able to explore them in detail with experts from Parks Canada, some of whom had lived there themselves before being forced into permanent settlements by military colonizers during World War 2. Despite this more painful connection underlying the beauty of the landscape, it was so special to witness the joy of the Parks Canada Inuit as they returned to their former homeland, and I learned so much about their resilience and resourcefulness in living off the land – I am so grateful that they were happy to share this.
Hope everyone is well and will blog again soon 🙂
Claire Fu, student
We’re in Canada! I honestly wish we’d spent more time in Greenland since it is such a beautiful place. Even on sea day, where we spent all day on the ship through the Davis Strait crossing, the staff made sure our day was packed with fun activities.
The Amazing Race, a 1-year-old SOI tradition, was nothing like I had ever experienced before. It was a pod vs. pod competition, all of us using what few resources we had on the ship to make matching costumes. As Tuktu, the caribou pod, we decided to borrow forks from the dining hall and tape them to our toques to make antlers!
That was not the best part, and nor were the numerous exciting activities we had to do like the bottle drop, throat singing, or even writing our name in Inuktitut. What really had me all sappy and emotional was the sheer amount of team spirit we had as a pod. Through every station transition, we chanted “S-O-I, S-O-I” and we made a cheer, “Who are we? Tuk-tu! What are we? Caribou!” repeated twice. After every station, we would gather in a circle and scream our cheer, and then continue marching along towards wherever we were going next. That wasn’t all, either. At the last station, knowing we wouldn’t win, an empowering speech was given by my peers. At the end of the race, though we didn’t get first, we did receive the Most Team Spirit award!
All this may seem unnecessary, annoying even, but I had never been in a group that was so mutually understanding and encouraging. Through the Amazing Race, we bonded and became family, and we learned how to push each other back up and stick together. I normally love working alone for the very reason that extra people usually means more weight for me to carry, but tirelessly doing everything myself had never given me so much joy and amusement so I’m incredibly grateful to be a part of such a wonderful pod like Tuktu. Despite the rocking of the ship and the discomfort caused by it, we all pushed through and had so much fun.
The past two days, after arriving in Canada, were a blur of activities and workshops that left me drained to the bone. Pond Inlet, the first Canadian community we visited, was less colourful compared to Uummannaq or Ilulissat but still wonderful. We received such a delightful welcome by the community with traditional Inuit performances such as drum dancing and throat singing, but my favourite part was when all of us got up to dance to guitar music. SOI and Pond Inlet members merged together, students holding hands with the children of the town and dancing, smiles on our faces, and it was such a wonderful moment to witness the happiness radiating from the children’s faces.
Sirmilik National Park was another exciting place we had the opportunity to visit. It was a beautiful national park filled with glaciers, and the ice sheet, which forty years ago went right up to the edge of the beach where it meets water, is now an hour’s hike away. The ice on the flow edge is also melting a lot earlier, which drastically alters many hunting patterns of arctic animals, most notably the polar bear. Speaking of polar bears, I haven’t actually seen one yet, which is really disappointing! There was a sighting of one but it happened way early in the morning, while I was still snoozing away. The two whale sightings that happened the other day I somehow missed as well. I was practically straining my eyes staring at the vast ocean, but while people screamed in excitement at the occasional blowhole, I could see nothing! There are people who saw seals too, and even a select few who saw an iceberg flip. All I’ve got going for me is an arctic hare that I briefly glimpsed running up a hill. Is a polar bear or whale sighting too much to ask for, or am I just that unobservant?
One very fun expedition moment happened yesterday. We were hiking up a mountain next to a river, and the view was magnificent. From high up, we could see so far away! One problem was how sweaty I was. I assumed hiking in the Arctic wouldn’t be hot at all, but as one layer came off after another, I was left clambering up rocks in a T-shirt. At the top, we all dunked our heads into the water, hair and all, which cooled me down so much that I became cold again. It was such a nice sensation! I wish the Polar Dip (swimming in the Arctic Ocean) happened today because of how warm it was.
Last night, after a fantastic barbecue dinner out on deck, an impromptu dance party happened. It may have been an SOI first! All the staff were gawking, recording, or laughing at how insane it was. Who just casually hosts dance parties in the Arctic?
This morning, I was so exhausted from a late night of handwashing dirty laundry that I could barely stay awake for the panels on Tallurutiup Imanga. It was a historic event, resulting in a visit to Arctic Bay, where we met Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada. He’s like, the first famous person I’ve met, which is pretty exciting.
I’m hungry now, so I’lll sign off here. See you all soon!
Danielle Crowley, student
Staten Island, NY, USA
Hello hello hello! I am more than halfway through this expedition and am missing you all so very much!
After lunch we were given a variety of on board workshops to choose from. At first, I chose the sewing workshop, but as soon as they started passing around the seal skin and having us chew on it I switched workshops. Sorry, but you won’t catch me chewing on a seal. At this point I chose to wander up to the top deck and join the wildlife watch workshop. This workshop is pretty self explanatory, we were looking for wildlife that could be seen from the boat. Guess what? We saw a whale! At first, all we could see was it blowing because it was so far away, but then it dove under and we were able to see its tail flip up! I saw a whale whoop whoop! After workshops we had an outdoor BBQ dinner and then a dance party before bed. By dance party I mean a full on dance party. It was so much fun to goof off and connect more with everyone on the ship.
This morning we had a short briefing about our landing today in Arctic Bay. Then we were given short introductions and the option to pick between two different panels which were both so interesting and educational. This is going to be a short blog because I want to get some more reading in before the next briefing, but I will write again tomorrow.
I love and miss you all! I’ll be home so very soon, I can’t wait to share all of my stories, photos, and videos with all of you. 419 I love you. Talk to you soon!
Linda McDonald, staff
Watson Lake, Yukon
Two days ago, we were in Sirmilik National Park across from Pond Inlet. A startling example of climate change was the glacial retreat on the beach we were at. The local Inuit we picked up in Pond Inlet said that the glacier was down to the beach 40 years ago. We walked 2.5 km to where the glacier is now. It was a very nice walk over boulders and ice. I filled up my water bottle from the water flowing over the ice. The water was cold and delicious. Rachel, the glaciologist, gave a short talk about the glacial retreat. That night we sailed towards Coutts Inlet, where we were for the morning. We had special guests with us on board from Pond Inlet. There was a family with us, who had not been back to Coutts Inlet in approximately 60 years. They were going back to where they lived before everyone was moved to Pond Inlet. ‘
It was a very emotional time for them, and for all of us as well. To witness the homecoming, after such a long period of time. It is too difficult to get to in the winter and in summer it would be a long and rough boat ride.
We landed on the beach, after the elders had time to say a blessing and to be alone before the rest of us joined them. The beach and area are stunningly beautiful. High mountains and glaciers meeting a beautiful sheltered bay. One can easily see why people would live in this spot.
We had our workshops as well a hike and a special presentation from Leslie Howse, David Gray, and Andrew Bresnahan, about the archaeology of the sod houses left there. I tried as much as possible to be silent to take in the energy and peace of this place. In my silence, I was hoping I would be showing my respect for the ancestors and the living people of Coutts Inlet.
The sun was shining, and it was very warm and the students were laughing and talking as they walked up to the waterfall. We picked a few blue berries along the way and soaked up the peace and beauty of this magical place, which was home to elders we had along with us. They were deeply touched to be able to visit their home and we were grateful to be brought here on the ship. They said that they would not in the past have been given a ride on a ship to their home.
Coutts Bay will stand out as a special place for me, on this extraordinary expedition.
Pierre-Luc Hurtubise, student
Alexandria, ON, Canada
It has been a very eventful couple days. From the zodiac tour of the gallery of icebergs in the Jakobshaven Icefjord, where we saw a humpback whale, to the workshops in Coutts Inlet, a lot has happened.
We started off our day in llulissat with a zodiac tour of the icebergs that came from the Jakobshaven Glacier, where we also saw three humpback whales. In the afternoon, we had a shore landing in Ilulissat, where we walked through the colourful town to get to the UNESCO World Heritage site. There we saw the beginning of icebergs and an amazing view. On our way back to board our zodiacs, we had the chance to search for some souvenirs, but alas it was Sunday so most shops were closed.
Our time in Uummannaq was incredible, and the heart-shaped mountain was beautiful. We started off by exploring the town then we entered a church for a little music concert by kids from the children’s home, Ian and David. We then hiked up the hilly town to go visit the children’s home. After visiting the children’s home we had free time, which i used to find souvenirs. However, after talking to some locals, most of the shops were closed, so I decided to hike up as far as I could to get an amazing picture of the ship, the town, and the mountain. On my way up, I noticed some seal-skins hanging outside a house, so I went and knocked on the door because I was curious to see if he had bone carvings for sale. The man told me he didn’t, so I started heading down the hill. However, that was when I heard a whistle calling me back into the house, where I got some bone carvings.
Then came our day crossing the Davis Straight. We got to sleep in, before participating in many workshops throughout the day. I got a lot of material to base my presentations on for when I get back home.
I thought I would be able to blog every day, but they’ve just been so eventful that I had trouble leaving what I was doing to come blog .
Mon coup de coeur de cette durée est lorsque j’ai acheté mon premier souvenir a Uummannaq. J’ai vue les peaux de phoque a l’extérieur d’une maison alors j’ai décidé de frapper a la porte pour voir si ils avait de ”Carvings”. L’homme ma dit non, lorsque je fessait mon chemain pour retourner au navire l’homme a sifflé pour avoir mon attention et il ma invité dans sa maison pour me présenter 6 colier fait d’os.
Never let go,
Pirita Näkkäläjärvi, staff
Media & Communications Professional
Today we met Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau in Ippiaqjuk or Arctic Bay! He was there to announce a new marine conservation area called Tallurutiup Imanga. We were invited to join the celebrations with the prime minister and the community in Ippiaqjuk!
Tallurutiup Imanga is the largest marine protected area in Canada. It is co-managed by the Inuits and comes with a budget to improve roads, build ports and create jobs eg. as guardians or stewards of the marine area. The stewardship is important for the Inuits because it gives protection to their land, enforces their identity, conserves their language and also conserves their hunting practices.
Today was a day for celebration but in the coming days I want to understand whether Tallurutiup Imanga really is a great as it sounds like. I’m sure the Inuit youth at Students on Ice will help me understand the sentiments and discussions around its establishment. There must be critical voices too and I want to understand it all.
Odne mii deaivvaimet Kanada stáhtaministtara Justin Trudeau! Son galledii gilážis, man namma lea Ippiaqjuk nappo Arctic Bay. Trudeau almmuhii odne, ahte stuorra mearraguovlu dáppe Kanada davveoasis suodjaluvvo ja danin son girddii Ippiaqjukii deaivat olbmuid.
Min ekspedišuvnna jođiheaddji Geoff Green dieđusge diđii almmustahtima birra jo máŋga beaivve dassái ja danin mii máhtiimet stellet dohko Ippaqjukii justa odne!
Suodjalanguovllu namma lea Tallurutiup Imanga ja dat lea Kanada stuorámus suodjaluvvon mearraguovlu. Mii vel buoret, nu inuihtat besset leat mielde hálddašeamen dan guovllu. Suodjalanguvlui gullá maid ruhtadeapmi, mainna galget buoridit geainnuid, hukset hámmaniid ja lasihit bargosajiid. Okta Tallurutiup Imanga -fidnu lea jo álgán ja dan olis inuihtat leat ožžon barggu čuovvut ja suodjalit sin mearraguovllu.
Odne lei ávvubeaivi, muhto čuovvovaš beivviid áigge hálidan áddet, ahte leago Tallurutiup Imanga duođaid nu buorre ášši go navdojuvvo. Lean sihkkar, ahte inuihtat dáppe ekspedišuvnnas sáhttet muitalit munnje duogážiid ja buktit ovdan maid krihtalaš jienaid, daningo dakkáratge sihkkarit gávdnojit.