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August 12, 2009
Students on Ice First Air Flight from Iqaluit to Ottawa
Photo by Lee Narraway, Students on Ice
How time flies! This morning the team landed in Canada's newest capital: Iqaluit! They had an amazing evening last night sailing into Frobisher Bay. All were treated to a gorgeous sunset and were able to get a good look at the Grinnell Glacier. There were wrap-up activities onboard including a slideshow, open stage performances, music, dancing, contests and many thank yous. Lights out was around 1:00 am before an early rise later this morning!
Today is a special day for the SOI-IPY Arctic Youth Expedition 2009. Participants have a full day of activities in Iqaluit before boarding their First Air charter flight back to Ottawa later this evening. Not only is this the last day that all expedition participants will be together in the Arctic, but today Students on Ice joins the United Nations and young people around the world in celebrating International Youth Day 2009!
The theme of IYD 2009 is "Sustainability: Our Challenge. Our Future." Very befitting of the work our students have done before and during the expedition, and will continue as Polar Ambassadors well into the future, Students on Ice is very pleased to contribute to IYD 2009 by congregating with expedition participants, friends, supporters and members of the Iqaluit community during the 10th anniversary of Nunavut and SOI!
After bidding farewell to our expedition vessel, its Captain, Officers, Crew and Staff, the team started the day with a tour of the Territorial Legislative Assembly, led by Nunavut's Commissioner, the Honourable Ann Meekitjuk Hanson. Commissioner Hanson took the opportunity to congratulate everyone for a great trip and administered a naming ceremony for Expedition Leader Geoff Green! His Inuktitut name is now "Pitsiulak" which means Black Guillemot.
This afternoon the team visited the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum and Unikkaarvik Visitors Center before heading to the beautiful Sylvia Grinnell Park for a celebratory barbecue with friends and valued partners to mark the end of a very successful expedition! Students on Ice was very pleased to hear words of congratulations, thanks and wisdom from former field-staff member and Climate Change Advocate. Sheila Watt-Cloutier. A special thanks goes out to the Government of Nunavut's Department of the Environment for coordinating our visits in Iqaluit. Commissioner Hanson offered expeditioners small gifts of all kinds by throwing many handfuls into the air including many tiny Inusuks!
After saying farewell to Sylvia Grinnell Park and the new friends that we met there, the group headed to the airport. Fond farewells were said between northern participants in transit home and the southern Canadian and international participants traveling home via Ottawa. Already students had plans well in hand as to how they would stay in touch and support each other in the various projects they've taken on when they return home to their communities, continue with school in a new place or start working.
The group aboard the First Air flight arrived back in Ottawa at around 8:00 pm will start making their ways home tomorrow. Many of the students are happy to go home, but sad that the expedition is nearly over. They will bring back with them experiences and memories that they will keep for the rest of their lives.
Sheila Watt-Cloutier speaks to expedition participants at Sylvia Grinnell Park Photo by Lee Narraway, Students on Ice
...From the UN Programme on Youth:
International Youth Day
August 12, 2009
The theme of this year's International Youth Day - "Sustainability: Our Challenge. Our Future" - is a global call to action for young men and women.
Our world faces multiple, interconnected crises with severe and far-reaching impacts that fall disproportionately on the young.
In 2007, for example, youth comprised 25 per cent of the world's working age population yet accounted for 40 per cent of the unemployed. The global economic downturn means that, in the near term, youth unemployment will continue to climb. Unemployment rates tell only part of the story, especially for the vast majority of youth who live in developing countries. For them, informal, insecure and low-wage employment is the norm, not the exception.
Climate change, meanwhile, continues to compromise economies and threaten tremendous upheaval, saddling young people everywhere with an unjust "ecological debt". This is a potentially crushing burden. At the same time, I am encouraged by the contributions that young people have made to the debate on climate change mitigation and adaptation. Their views and proposals can help build the momentum necessary to "seal the deal" in Copenhagen later this year.
Indeed, young people have proven themselves to be key partners in sustainable development. They have gotten involved in international forums such as the Commission on Sustainable Development, and have helped their Governments and communities to formulate poverty reduction strategies, entrepreneurial schemes and many other policies and initiatives.
Young people often lead by example: practicing green and healthy lifestyles, or promoting innovative uses of new technologies, such as mobile devices and on-line social networks. They deserve our full commitment - full access to education, adequate healthcare, employment opportunities, financial services and full participation in public life. On International Youth Day, let us renew our pledge to support young people in their development. Sustainability is the most promising path forward, and youth can lead the way.