Today was the first full day at sea as we sailed across the Davis Strait, headed for the Canadian High Arctic.
Students started off their day with workshops. They had the choice between meditation with Cathy Nolan, Lacing deer hide and beads with Vicky Grant, a sharing circle with Inuit elders Moosa and Pitsiulaaq, sketching and painting with Becky Okatsiak and Jolly Atagooyuk, headband making with Annie Petalaussie, Lino-cutting with JF Carrey, journaling with James Raffan, and songwriting with Ian Tamblyn and George Woodhouse.
Students also prepared their drift bottles with personalized notes to track the changing ocean currents. Fun fact, over the past SOI expeditions, 6% of bottles have been found! After lunch, students participated in “Arctic Hour” which included panel discussions on reindeer herding from our Sami friends (Jon-Erik, Nils, Martina and Pirita), a discussion on indigeneity, as well as climate science. More to come!
In the afternoon, students and staff participated in SOI’s “Amazing Race” where they collected points for completing stations such as the bottle drop, throat singing, setting dinning tables, Inuit High Kick, naming natural history items, etc.
The day ended in the Hub (main gathering room on the ship) where SOI’s media team treated participants to four new videos produced over the last couple of days in Greenland! After seeing Greenlandic student Illuna Sorensen leading the recent “Things you (probably) did not know about Greenland” video, many students are volunteering themselves to narrate the next one!
Our crossing of the Davis Strait continues to go smoothly and we are on schedule to arrive in Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet), Nunavut in the morning. More to come from the Canadian Arctic!
Iluuna Sorensen, student
Nuussuaq, Greenland, Denmark
So It’s been some amazing days (writing in Enligsh due to no danish letters). If I should put some few highlights – as we do at every evening briefing – I could put them into days at the time.
First day of the program, I arrived with my fellow Greenlander Nuiana to Nunavut Sivuniksavut. The others had been there from the night before so they were doing a game as we entered the room. We were very shy at first, but as soon as we got the opportunity to speak up I took it. We were supposed to introduce ourselves, and tell where we were from. I was the first one to go. We started the program and I learned a lot about Inuit Nunagaat and how the timeline with Inuit history was from the early 1900-hundreds until now. I found it very bonding to see everyone in the room had the same roots, the fact that we were all Inuit, which was empowering and made me proud of my culture and my roots. We had Suaasat for lunch so it didn’t feel so far away from home. We played Inuit games and had a good time. We also learned some songs in Inuktitut. Later that evening we even got some mattak and also throat singing which is something I find so fascinating.
Feels – people were shy, we were tired because of all the experiences, happy to finally arrive and begin the adventure, open to new people.
We went to Nunavut Sivuniksavut again after breakfast and we started beading. I made a necklace and 2 pair of earrings. It was so nice crafting while we were learning on how to deal with trauma and how to handle it. The beading was glass beading. We went to the park to have a picnic and got to talk to an Inuk named Siku, goes by the pronouns They-Them and they taught me a little about the LGBTQ community. Back at Nunavut Sivuniksavut we learned about stereotypes as well how our Utopia would be. I was so exhausted even though it was just the second day, I think it was because I have some allergies. We went back and started seeing the NEW PEOPLE, which made me very excited once again.
(I’ll continue, feeling a little seasick)
India Tory, student
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Yesterday was insane. In the morning, we were sailing so we did activities on the ship. I built an ROV, a remote operated veichle, which is basically an underwater drone. In a few days we will fill the pool up and try driving them around. It was cool to see how robotics is used in the real world, and I was shook when Shawn said some of the ROVs are the size of transport trucks. In the afternoon we went to a town called Uummannaq. It looked like something out of a movie. There was this huge heart-shaped mountain at the back, and then a bunch of small and colourful houses all around. It was unlike any place I had ever visited. The best thing about Uummannaq was that I got to go kayaking and paddle boarding on the ocean and through the icebergs. It was crazy. We wore these huge dry suits so we could swim (I still got soaked though). While we were swimming, an iceberg split and then one half flipped!!! It was soo cool watching something so big just roll over.That was probably the best part of my day. I am excited to paddle again when I get to Whistler. I also finished my book which I know my mum would be happy about. We’re going across the Davis Strait right now so will be at sea all day. All we can see is open ocean. The ride has gotten way rockier, but my bracelet and patches seem to be working because I am not sick yet…knock on wood…
Jenell Ogruk, student
Taloyoak, NU, Canada
If I could share one thing about my expedition it would be to encourage all youth to apply for this initiative. You’ll learn a lot of different things and get to meet a lot of people. Maybe even people that you’ve never met before and that are your distant family. That’s what happened to me. 🙂 You’ll learn about the countries and different cultures. You’ll get to see a lot of things that you’ve never seen before. I hope a lot of you young people apply next year.
One of the things I wish is that my parents and baby could be here with me but I have my cousin here to support me. Home will always be home. Have a good day y’all :).
Joni Karoo, student
Taloyoak, NU, Canada
This has been an amazing and incredible expedition so far. There were times when I missed family, but I haven’t got homesick yet because my community will always be there.
Besides missing my family, I am having a great time and experiencing different things everyday.
My highlight of today so far was being able to have my soul food which is country meat. The country meat came from a community in Greenland, big thanks to them! 😀 I now feel so satisfied after being able to have country meat, and feel sooo super happy.
The staff for SOI have been so incredible and good to us students, and I thank them for that. <3
Linda McDonald, staff
Watson Lake, YK
This is my first time blogging since we left Ottawa, as it is difficult to find the time as we are staff and students are kept very busy from the moment we get up until we go to bed. Currently we are crossing the Davis Strait. The grey of the sky meeting the deep blues of the waves was what greeted me when I looked out the porthole of my cabin this morning. No more massive icebergs, which I miss already. The icebergs! They are a whole blog in of themselves!
This morning the waves are gentle (the ship is rocking a bit but not too bad.)
Yesterday, we were in Uummannaq. A fishing village, with no road access (the roads in Greenland are around the settlements, but don’t connect the towns and villages) set in the rocky outcrops which defines Greenland. Uummannaq is known for the heart shaped mountain which backdrops the village. It greeted us as we sailed into the harbour and it said good-bye to us as we sailed away. The houses here are very colourful and most built on the rocky ground which is not flat! It makes one appreciate the tough living which the people here have mastered. We were taken to a 300-year-old church in the middle of the town, where a small children’s ensemble played for us. Ian Tamblyn from our staff sang a song he wrote a few years ago about Uummannaq. A beautiful song about friendship and love!
We were taken to the children’s house for orphans and were offered delicious cakes and goodies, tea and coffee. We walked to another house where the children from the orphanage performed for us and offered both traditional Greenlandic songs as well as classical music. It was very touching to be in that small intimate setting and the music was superb! The generosity of Ann, the lady who runs the orphanage and the children left me in awe.
I have to write about the icebergs! Since arriving in Ilulissat two days ago, we have been surrounded by icebergs of every shape and size. Going out in the zodiac two days ago to cruise amongst them has been one of my highlights, although it is challenging to give an event or place the tag of “highlight”, as this trip is one highlight to the next, from the students, staff, fantastic workshops to the synergy of our adventure! I was on the 2nd round of zodiacs to leave and in the midst of icebergs, all our zodiacs (approximately 10) gathered around and George Woodhouse on guitar and Andrew Breshanan gave a performance. George played the guitar and sang a song he wrote, accompanied by Andrew on a small portable cello. We sat there in the bright sun, bobbing gently amongst massive blocks of ice (not too close to the big bergs as that is dangerous as you don’t know when they might cave) and taking in that beautiful performance. I cried as did many others. Thank you George and Andrew! This small vignette, will be my go to, when I am feeling down, feeling hopeless or frustrated. My heart will forever feel the love of that moment and this incredible expedition! Thank you Students on Ice for picking me, for allowing me to be part of this indescribable expedition. I run out of superlatives to describe what is happening here. We are all well, and I am positive, all of us will forever be changed as a result of being part of this amazing experience! Off to another wonderful breakfast! PS. The food on this ship is second to none!
Love from Linda McDonald
Luana Moar, student
Winniped, MB, Canada
Boozhoo/ Aluu/ Hello all,
Today, Sunday July 29th I share my first blog after being so busy with such amazing experiences thus far. We started the expedition in Ottawa, which gave everyone a chance to connect and meet the amazing group that we would be learning alongside with through Students on Ice. Showing up, of course, I represented wearing a traditional ribbon skirt, medallion, medicine bag, and earrings as an Anishinaabe Ikwe just to let family back home know!
In the beginning, July 23rd, we started visiting the city of Ottawa with a short walk, and later on headed over to the Museum of Nature. The following day, July 24th, we visited a park where we were able to do zip lining obstacle courses, and met some of the educators and staff that we would get to know. We were organized in what would be called our pod-groups, which had names of different words in Inuktitut, which I thought was really awesome to have that language represented for all to learn. My group is Tuktu, back home known as Atik, or more commonly known as Caribou in English.
Early in the morning, the next day on July 25th, we set out on a plane to Greenland making a quick stop in Iqaluit, Nunavut, which was my first time in one of the Canadian territories. Once arriving in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, every view has been breath-taking since that first moment. Being surrounded by huge mountains and new plant life was absolutely mesmerizing.
I went on a zodiac for the first time, which was more firm and stable than expected once hopping on. Everyone gathered on the beautiful and huge ship called the Ocean Endeavour, which was another first experience for myself being on a ship.We sorted rooms, oriented ourselves, and got introductions to the next steps we would take. We completed this day with an Elder sharing a story that reminded me of the creation-stories back home, and after on the deck I smoked traditional pipe surrounded by mountains and ocean waters, which was just perfect.
So much has happened throughout these days that I will be more short and brief, but don’t worry as I have been doing tons of journaling and taking lots of photos that I will be sharing once returned. July 26th, we got up nice and early to have our first on-shore exploration experience. Right in the middle of a space in the Itilleq Fjord everyone had the chance to spend the morning in a range of workshops.
If you know me, I adore learning about the land and spending time harvesting and learning about traditional medicines. I had to choose the workshop about plants, as the environment that surrounded us was absolutely beautiful and unique, with spongy grounds and diverse plants on the earth that I was seeking to connect to.
Once on-shore, I saw huge pieces of seaweed, fresh mussels, and a beautiful environment. Being surrounded by the ocean, with fresh air that had a hint of a fishy smell, was something quite foreign to me and I loved it. There were huge, textured mountains that surrounded me, and it was a bit of a change from the flat prairies I’m so used to.
The workshop gave me the chance to harvest some plants for tea, that I will take once arriving back home, as well as pressing some of the flowers and plants for art. I was able to eat some of these plants fresh. This included a root that was nice and nutty, a plant called something that sounded like ‘sorrow’ (although I probably spelt that wrong) that tasted sour like a green apple, and I saw a familiar plant in a tinier version called labrador tea, or back home also known as muskeg.
I saw an arctic hare, and although it was quick, it was bigger than expected, fluffy and white, and really a sight to see. I got to climb up the mountain and look around the Fjord. The fog came lightly over the sky, and I could see endless beauty with everyone’s new experiences around. After a good time spent there, we returned on the ship for lunch.
I am grateful to have been able to start making a seal-skin headband once back on the ship. This was taught by an Inuk elder, which really is an honour. Getting to utilize the traditional and local animal is something I consider sacred and I’m excited to start wearing it once it is done.
Martina Fjällberg, student
Offerdal, Jamtland, Sweden
Yesterday I did not find any time to blog so I am doing it now instead.
So yesterday we went to Uummannaq. But before we went we had some workshops and I went to one were I got to learn some Inuktitut. So now I can write my name in Inuktitut. After lunch we went with our zodiacs to go and explore Uummannaq. It was really wonderful and I got to go on a hike with one of my new friends Devon. We had a great time wandering about and we sat on top of one of the small mountains close to the heart shaped one which Uummannaq is named after. We also went to the church and listened to some great performances and afterwards we got to go have a snack at the children’s home. Overall it was a lovely day and I had a really great day and I got to taste some dried seal as well which was interesting.
So today we are crossing the Davis Strait and a lot of people got seasick, but I did not so that was great. We did some relaxing workshops and I continued on my headband that I am making. After that me and the other Sámi held a panel where we talked about reindeer-herding, and the struggles we face, and the key role that reindeer-herding plays in the Sámi culture. It was really fun hearing everyone’s questions and it seemed like it was appreciated.
To top the day off we had a competition were we got to do challenges in our small groups and because my group is named Uppik (snow owl) we dressed up as white owls. We did not win but I had fun anyways and we actually got the nomination for being overall awesome. It really has been a wonderful day as always and today I got to taste some mink whale which also was very interesting.
Message to family
Hej allihopa igen! Jag hoppas ni känner er träffade av alla slängkyssar jag skickar. Jag har det jättebra här och jag har fått en riktig god vän som heter Devon. Han är jävligt cool faktiskt. Han har dödat 3 isbjörnar och han är inuit från Resolute Bay. Sen så är han jätte roligt också. Men jag hoppas ni har det bra där hemma så får ni ha de så bra!
Have a great day everybody and maybe you will hear from me again!
Warm greetings, Martina!
Nicholas Flowers, student
Hopedale, NL, Canada
Wow, this has definitely been an experience of a lifetime so far. When we arrived in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland four days ago, I realized that the upcoming week would be incredible. The first zodiac landing was in Itilleq Fjord, where I got to take part in an edible arctic plants workshop on the land. We also cooked Greenlandic cod on the open fire while making Labrador Tea. The day after that, we arrived in Ilulissat where we got to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site and the local town.
Olivier Ménard, student
Ottawa, ON, Canada
Ce matin en me levant, il m’est apparut la conviction que la vie fait vraiment bien les choses. Depuis longtemps j’entendais mes parents dire cela de temps en temps mais avant aujourd’hui, je n’avais jamais réellement pensé à ce que cela signifiait. En effet, je savais que je voulais trouver du temps pour écrire cette petite entrée, mais je ne savais pas vraiment quand j’en aurais l’occasion, puisque le temps sur le navire file si rapidement qu’avant même de le savoir, la journée est déjà terminée. Bref, avant de me coucher j’ai mis mon alarme pour 7:45, puisqu’un quart d’heure plus tard, il y aurais une activité matinale d’organisée, soit du kickboxing. Par contre, je n’étais pas au courant qu’en traversant la mer vers le Nunavut, que nous allions reculer d’une heure, ce qui fait que je me retrouve avec une heure de plus sur les mains.
Lors de ma dernière apparition dans le blog (27 juillet), j’ai beaucoup parlé des gens qui se trouvent avec moi sur cette maison volante…oups, flottante (pardonnez moi, je viens de me réveiller). Cette fois-ci, je vais vous rendre jaloux en parlant des expériences que nous avons la chances incroyable de vivre sur le Ocean Endeavour. Tout d’abord, vendredi passé nous avons jeté l’ancre sur la côte ouest du Groenland, avant de nous rendre en zodiacs sur une petite île appelée Itilleq où plusieurs activités nous attendaient. Alors que certains tentaient de partir un feu avec les éléments que la toundra avait à offrir, d’autres pêchaient, exploraient, récoltaient des échantillons ou faisaient du kayak sur cette mer d’une incroyable couleur émeraude. Pour ma part j’ai eu la chance d’explorer la toundra en compagnie d’un spécialiste qui m’a fait découvrir les secrets qui se cachent derrière les multiples formes de vie présentes. Le lendemain, soit samedi, je me suis réveillé et en sortant dehors, j’ai été époustouflé par la présence des icebergs qui défilaient de part et d’autre du navire. Pour ceux qui ne le savent peut-être pas, étant quelqu’un qui vit à Ottawa, ce n’est pas quelque chose que l’on a la chance de voir à tous les jours. Je ne croyais pas que cela était possible mais, encore une fois, le Groenland a haussé la barre en nous offrant un après-midi réellement magique, durant lequel nous avons été en mesure de visiter le fjord Ilulissat, un site protégé ayant reçu la mention de patrimoine historique par l’UNESCO. Du haut du fjord, nous avons observés les icebergs rendus étincelants par le soleil éternel et admirés les remontées d’une baleine dans une petite baie adjacente, tout en apprenant un paquet de choses à propos des peuples qui ont vécus dans cette région du monde, des roches qui le composent, et de l’importance des glaciers qui s’y trouvent pour le climat mondial. Maintenant, veuillez m’excuser, mon heure est expirée et il y a une classe de kickboxing qui m’attend. À la prochaine!
Pirita Näkkäläjärvi, staff
Media & Communications Professor
Today our Sámi group consisting of myself, Jon-Erik Näkkäläjärvi, Nils Ánda Baer and Martina Fjällberg were invited to talk at the Arctic Hour of the Students on Ice Expedition. There are several students and staff on board who belong to caribou peoples and they requested a session on reindeer-herding.
Our Arctic Hour talk was coordinated by Valerie Courtois, the director of the indigenous leadership initiative at Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada. She herself comes from a caribou people.
We all come from reindeer-herding families so we of course welcomed the opportunity to talk about a topic so important to us and the Sámi culture. Wearing our traditional gákti clothing, we introduced reindeer-herding and its significance as a culture bearer for the Sámi languages, culture and traditions. I think that the audience could sense how passionate we feel about reindeer and reindeer-herding, because we were almost fighting for the microphone and a chance to have our say in such a short timeframe!
We also talked about challenges to reindeer-herding: for example how reindeer-herders can see the impact of climate change in their every day life including the unpredictability of nature signs or winter rains which cause the land to freeze over and make it really hard for the reindeer to find food.
It was an honour to start the Sámi workshops with a topic that was requested by the other participants on the Students on Ice Expedition! Next we will have a similar panel discussion on Inuit caribou-hunting. I am really looking forward to learning about the Inuits’ relationship with caribou, what challenges they are facing and how they see the future.
Today we have spent all day at sea crossing the Davis Strait to go back to the Canadian side of the Inuit nunaat that includes all the Inuit areas in Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland), Canada, Alaska and Russia).
Odne Studeanttat jieŋa alde -ekspedišuvnna lágideaddjit bivde min sámi joavku (mun, Jon-Erik Näkkäläjärvi, Nils Ánda Baer ja Martina Fjällberg) doallat Árktalaš diibmu -nammasaš panelaságastallama. Sivvan lei dat, ahte dáppe ekspedišuvnnas leat mielde dievva inuihtat, geat bivdet karibuid. Sii ledje beroštuvvan oahppat boazodoalus.
Min Árktalaš diimmu koordinerii Valerie Courtois, guhte iešge boahtá karibuálbmogis. Son jođiha dál Eamiálbmotjođihanfidnu Happy Valley-Goose Bays, Labrador-guovllus, Kanadas.
Min joavkkus buohkat bohtet boazosámi sogain ja danin illudeimmet go beasaimet hállat áššis mii lea hui dehalaš midjiide ja olles sámi kultuvrii. Čiŋadeimmet gávttiide jo iđđes. Ságastallama álggus muitaleimmet áibbas vuođđoáššiid sámiid ja boazodoalu birra, ja čilgiimet man dehalaš sámi boazodoallu lea sámegielaide, kultuvrii ja árbevieruid seailumii. Geahččit sihkkarit oidne man dehalaš boazu lea midjiide, go mii measta doaruimet mikrofovnna alde vai beassat muitalit visot maid hálidit dan oanehis áiggis, mii midjiide lei addojuvvon!
Mii hálaimet maid iešguđetlágan hástalusain. Ovdamearkan das, ahte boazodoallit dovdet ja oidnet jo dál dálkkadatrievdama váikkuhusaid, go ovdamearkka dihtii árbevirolaš luonddumearkkaide ii šat álo sáhte luohtit ja dálvearvvit jiekŋudit eatnamiid ja bohccuide lea váttis gávdnat biepmu.
Lei stuorra gudni álggahit sámi bargobájiid dákkár fáttáin, man eará oassalastit ledje sávvan! Čuovvovaččat mis lea seammalágan panelaságastallan inuihtaid karibubivddu birra. illudan oahppat sin oktavuođas karibui, makkár hástalusat sis leat ja mo sii oidnet boahtteáiggi.
Lohppii máinnašan vel, ahte odne mii leat leamašan olles beaivve meara alde. Mii leat rastildeamen meara ja máhccamin ruovttoluotta Kanada beale inuihttaguvlui (inuit nunaat), masa gullet nappo inuihtat Kalaallit Nunaatas (Ruonáeanan), Kanadas, Alaskas ja Ruoššas.
Rosemary Zurowski & Jeff Rohrer, staff
Senior Service Desk Analyst / Director, Strategic Communications at the Insurance Bureau of Canada
Mississauga, ON, Canada / Toronto, ON, Canada
At sea all day on Davis Strait.
Our days are so packed with stuff to do and enjoy. Geoff Green or a student will give the ship a wake up announcement over the ship’s intercom. The students then have a half hour to get ready for the buffet breakfast. Breakfast has an hour time limit. We meet for a briefing by Geoff and SOI staff, and are given an outline the day’s events. We find out what types of workshops are available for the day, usually about 6-8. At noon or so we meet for a buffet lunch which is followed by a briefing to inform the SOI of what is on tap with a presentation or two. All this is keeping SOI busy. The workshops or outing take us to a sit down dinner. Great food by the way. We are then gathered in the hub to give the SOI the opportunity to tell everyone their “Highlight of the day”. The students are entertained by the extremely talented staff, solo singers, story tellers, dancers and finishing off with video clips about SOI events and interviews done by the media staff which ends the night around 10ish.
The weather has been fairly warm where hoodies are only required except when going out on the zodiac. Yesterday we stopped in colorful Uummannaq (you see why in the photos)which means ‘heart-shaped’ in Greenlandic, it’s name is from a nearby mountain that resembles a heart. We gathered in a small quaint church where we were entertained by singer Nivi who lives in Uummannaq, a group of kids from the children’s home as well as throat singers of SOI staff.
We visited the Children’s Home which was started 90 years ago taking neglected children. When they are taken in they are required to embrace music. We were fortunate to be invited to a performance of the children which was phenomenal beyond words. Going back to the docks a couple of icebergs flipped in the water. What a spectacular sight to see. We also witnessed chunks fall off the icebergs which are announced by what sounds like a gun or cannon firing off. They say depending on the depth of the water determines the amount of wave to follow. The deeper it is the lesser the wave but if it is shallow the higher they can be, a zodiac driver’s worst fear, hence they tend to not get too close.
Meeting lots of amazing, interesting, inspiring people. I am learning so much just having a meal with them. Only saw a few whales from a distance but there are still several says to go.
It has been such a phenomenal trip. The more I learn the more I need to learn.
Shawna Normore, student
L’Anse-au-Loup, NL, Canada
I missed blogging time yesterday, but I had an amazing day. Yesterday morning we had a choice of workshops again and I chose the one about dog sledding. We had a presentation from Shari, a lady who owns her own dog team and she also competes in races. We started to make a dog harness that ill hopefully have finished by the end of the expedition. After lunch we landed in Uummannaq, Greenland’s love city. It has a heart shaped mountain as you come in the bay and that’s where it gets its name. We visited the church there and enjoyed a few performances by locals as well as some of our crew. After the service we went to the childrens’ house. The childrens’ house is for youth who have been taken from bad living conditions and placed into this house with hopes of a better life. This really pulled on my heart strings, seeing the kids and also seeing how amazing it is that this place exists. We had the opportunity to walk around the city and just explore. We saw a lot of dogs that are now resting up for the winter before being put back to work as a sled dog. There was a tiny puppy too and it was so cute. Uummannaq is a beautiful city full of beautiful people who made us feel so welcomed.
This morning we started to head back to Canada! The boat was rolling a little and a lot of people were seasick. (I never got sick but you would have Aunt Van lol). We had workshops this morning and I chose to make a little pouch out of deer hide with a beading pattern on the front. I only drew blood twice, doing good. This afternoon we did a little amazing race SOI version and it was super cool. Our pod, Aput, won!
It was another perfect day sailing and I can’t wait to get to Pond Inlet tomorrow!
Stacey Challinor, student
Cape Broyle, NL, Canada
Today, us students were given the generosity of an extra hour of sleep after our long day yesterday and contrary to belief, an extra hour makes a huge difference when exploring and adventuring a new place. We began our morning once again with our daily briefing and then had the option to participate in workshops of our choice. I selected to do the ROV (remotely operated vehicles) workshop hosted by the Marine Institute’s, Shawn Pendergast. It was great to learn how to assemble a ROV, as this is a different field from my current studies at the Marine Institute, and I think it will give me a further advantage in my education or future marine-related career. Myself and some peers, Soukey and Stephanie, completed assembling the ROV, which was very interesting, as we had multiple failed attempts and trials of error while constructing this together. This made the workshop even funnier, as we got to all work collaboratively as a team and it helped us all develop team building skills, communication skills and problem solving skills.
After our morning a fun day awaited for us at Uummannaq, the small heart-shaped island. We boarded the zodiacs after lunch and headed towards this community where we were greeted with welcoming arms by a community representative Anne. Anne is an employee of the children’s home in Uummannaq; however, she is a mother to these children and treats them like they are her very own. As soon as I stepped foot onto the land of this community, I immediately felt welcome and proud to be here. The houses had bright colors that were eye-catching and vibrant, and every local I walked past greeted me with an inviting smile and nod. The hospitality and kindness I had received in just a short period of time in being in Uummannaq reminded me of home (Newfoundland) and I was grateful to see a sense of community here.
All SOI staff and students were brought to the community church where we got to hear multiple different performances, such as a small orchestra from the children of the orphanage (violins, cellos, etc), drum dancing, throat singing and a guitar performance. After this small ceremony and welcoming, as a group or individually we were given the trust and responsibility to adventure around the community. I first headed with the group to the children’s house and was given a small tour by Anne. During this tour at some points, tears were brought to my eyes by the generosity and hard work that has been put into this children’s home. It was beautiful, well maintained and overall, a very healthy environment for the children to grow in. This orphanage has a central focus on music and teaching its children the concepts of music and how to perform as a group together with musical instruments. The devotion shown to helping children grow into strong adults was motivational and something I have not seen before. The facility that the children live in was beyond amazing, there was so many resources to learn basic skills, to learn how to cook, how to properly be a member of society; furthermore, this is their home to comfortably live in and that could be sensed as soon as you entered it.
The orphanage was so honoured to host us that they had taken the time to make baked goods, desserts and offerings of fruit and snacks were laid around everywhere for us. The amount of art, artifacts, paintings, literature, real polar bear fur, real fox fur, real seal skin, musical instruments, relaxation rooms, and bedrooms also amazed me. It truly is a place of comfort for these children to celebrate who they are, where they come from and where the future will take them. After viewing the orphanage, we then were given the opportunity to visit Anne’s home, with her complete trust as she just left her door open for us. This is something we commonly see in Newfoundland, and that is always welcoming new-comers to our province and/or communities with an inviting smile and trust.
As we viewed her home at our own pace and speed, the amount of art, paintings, narwhal tusks, all types of fur, artifacts, indigenous masks, hand-made objects and/or art, etc. was again, amazing. Multicultural respect is something I have always had; however, I have gained even more cultural respect for the indigenous communities in our world heavily since I started this expedition. As I am from a small community in a small province I have not seen much diversification regarding cultures and how they celebrate who they are. Greenland and its people have shown me the importance of multicultural awareness and knowledge by simply having the kind and respectful mentality that I expected.
Myself and a peer, Isabella, went for a walk around Uummannaq and took some beautiful photos of the community, the icebergs in the harbour, the docks, the local Greenlandic dogs and pretty much everything in sight. After finishing our walk around and observing all we could take in, we headed towards the community’s music building where the children of the orphanage were performing for us (again!). Once we entered the small building, I was completely touched, as each of the children took the time to make home-made jewellery of seal skin, whale bone, reindeer antler, etc. We all were able to pick what we liked the most as a gift and it was a very hard decision, as each hand-made piece of jewellery obviously took a lot of time, patience and effort. So much thought and preparation occurred before we even came to Uummannaq that I was so proud to be able to represent SOI, the Marine Institute and my community, Cape Broyle, Newfoundland. The generosity, again, touched my heart and made me realize that there is as much good in this world as there is bad.
After we listened to a final performance by the children, we boarded the zodiacs to head back to the Ocean Endeavour for supper. Once we completed another meal, we had another briefing and moment of highlights at the Hub. The moments of highlights is a chance that Geoff gives to any student a chance to pass around the microphone and tell everyone in the room what was the highlight or best part of their day. This is a moment that I would consider to be advantageous, as it gives us students an opportunity to collect our thoughts and then speak them to a large group of 150+ people, which is something that at first made me nervous; however, not anymore. Speaking in front of a large group of people is often a struggle for myself, but I was able to do it and with pride and discuss my own highlight to everybody in the Hub. SOI has helped me develop so many soft, interpersonal, team building, problem solving, leadership and communicative skills so far, that I cannot wait to use them in my personal and educational experiences in the future.
The heart shaped island,
The island of love and peace,
A place to embrace.