August 5, 2010

Expedition Update

Good morning, and welcome to Day Two of the Students on Ice Arctic Youth Expedition 2010!

Yesterday was a busy day with students arriving from across Canada, the United States and Europe by planes, trains and automobiles. The usual hiccups occurred with delayed flights, but overall, our participant's travel day went extremely well. The last of the travelling students will trickle in today.

We have a very busy day scheduled for our students - on this, our first full day of activities. This morning the students will visit the beautiful Canadian Museum of Nature - newly opened with some spectacular new galleries. Here, they will have an opportunity to meet the Education Team! And, at noon today, the students will be the guests of honour during the Arctic Expedition Launch at the Museum. We have much planned for the event, including drumming and singing by Inuit Elder (and SOI Educator!) David Serkoak and his granddaughter Briana Kilibuk! Other speakers include Maureen Dougan, Interim President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Nature; Patrick Borbey, Assistant Deputy Minister, Northern Development, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada; Mary Simon, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami; and Peter Mansbridge, Chief Correspondent of CBC News, and also an Educator on this summer's voyage! This will give the students many opportunities to meet important people from a diverse variety of backgrounds including professionals, the expedition team staff and of course, each other.


The newly re-opened Canadian Museum of Nature

After the launch and a big luncheon, students will walk to Canada's Parliament Hill for a special tour and some activities on the grounds.

Tonight, the staff and students will meet as one big group to discuss important details about tomorrow's First Air charter flight to Kuujjuaq and about our expedition ship - The Polar Ambassador!

*Photos by Lee Narraway, Students on Ice*

Journal Entries:

Marine Riponi, Student

    Ce matin, bus direction musee canadien de la nature pour faire le “Staff / Student Speed Dating” ou nous avons rencontrer chaque membre du staff pour mieux les connaitre et reciproquement. Il y a aussi eu les discours, puis on a visite de l'exterieur certains batiments de Ottawa, notament le parlement.

    Jusque la, il faisait tres chaud, et tout a coup il s'est mis a pleuvoir des trombes d'eau. Heureusement, par un timing parfait, on etait deja dans le bus pour rentrer!     Le soir, on nous a appele dans la cafeteria pour une activite: on nous a propose une facon differente d' ecrire un journal intime. Apres nous avons joue au basket ou au volley. La soiree a finie par une presentation de l'arctique et du programme de demain.


Andrew Wong, Student

We are only one day from deparing to teh Arctic with such an incredible journey awaiting to happen, its hard to not devote your mind to teh thoughts of shining white ice floes and iceboergs! However, I think I'm starting to get a feel for the unpredictable eventfulness each day brings as a memeber of the studentso n ice arctic ecpedition.  a great example of unpredicatable eventfulness was today.  My day started off at an alarmingly early 5:45am, ironically without an alaaarm.  The reason why thi is so surprising for me, waking up early at 5:45 am, is because I ually need two alarms to wake up at home! Anyways, we spent the morning at teh Cadadian Museum of Nature engaging in what Geoff (the Expedition leader) calls "Staff-student speed dating".  This activity entailed students in groups listening to the staff tell us a little about their highly accomplioshed and intersting lives.  I learned many facsinating stories of life experiences that gor them to where they are today, adn constantly made me think of what Geoff Green had said in his presentation the previous day: You turn left instead of right and your entire life coule be different.  One particular indvidial who really had this happen to him (I do think this happens to everyone at soem poniot during their life) was Peter Mansbridge.  At teh official launch ceremony, we (everyone on the expedition team, joinded by media including, CBC, CTV, Global and others, and many sponsors) listened to Peter's relationship with the Arctic adn how one turn left instead of right changed his life and career forever.  In fewer words, this is how it went: Meandsridge was at a an airoprt and an employee asked to page flight information on the PA system.  Meanwhile a news authority head Mansbridges amazing voice in the airport and hired him the enxt day to work, broadcasting news!  He just happened to be in teh right place at the right itme! I'm thinking, I will make many left turns instead of right turns during this expedition.  What if I pause to venture towards the water isntead of constantly down the shoreline? I may discover soemthing intersting! These kinds of things are fascinating to think about, and in the coming days and weeks, I am sure I will be reflecting alot on my thoughts, feelings and experiences! I'm closing this entry for now. Tomorrow, again, willl be a magnificanly big day.  We leave for a flight to Kuujjuaq, Nunanik. The final briefign before we depart begins now!


Bryn Dhir, Expedition Staff

There is so much karma, energy and high spirits to today as the students wind down to the final hours before bed.  We fly, board our zodiac, wait for high tide and set out into the Arctic waters tomorrow!  Both staff and students have high energies, a silent anticipation, and a very positive aura around them. It's funny how much our perspectives can change within days, and how within the hour how much you can learn within minutes just from listening and observing.  This morning at the staff student speed dating sessions, I started off with indicating how much youth are important in preserving the Arctic and polar regions and how much they are the future. Given the tools, understanding of the Arctic and its importance with having the skills to relate this knowledge into everyday practicle knowledge to apply back home through leadership skills, communication, team work, professionalism, positive risk taking and goal setting, they are incredibly a special group.  They are untouchable if they want to take on a project or focus and set their mind on something.  No one can take it away this powerful knowledge, and the students are untouchable to make their goals and dreams a strong reality.  As Mr. Mansbridge indicated, these students are the generation who are left to clean up some of the messes that older generations have unfortunatly left.  Then... Through out the day, among the small pockets of time, I began to realize that it is not just the youth on this expedition that are making the difference.  It is everyone on the trip and everyone involved in the happening of this trip who is making a difference, who wants to make a difference and who has the power to make the difference. Things like generations, ages and genders don't matter.  Everyone here is passionate about the Arctic, about the Arctic's sustainability and climage change, about learning what they can do to help and educate others back in their home cities.  From 11 year olds, 16 year olds, 30 years and even 81 years old.  We are in this together. And we are all working together for the future generations.


Zoë Caron

The excitement was palpable in Ottawa’s beautifully restored Museum of Nature. Eighty university and high school students from 5 countries grinned through a “speed dating” session with the 35 authors, artists, elders, media celebrities, polar scientists, educators and researchers accompanying them on an adventure of a lifetime.

The group was launching Students on Ice’s 2010 Arctic Youth Expedition, a ship-based circumpolar adventure aimed at raising awareness about global warming – and inspiring the next generation of polar scientists, researchers and environmentalists. Comprised of students from all three Canadian territories (a quarter of the total), eight Canadian provinces and four other countries, the group flew to Kuujjuaq in Nunavik on Friday to board the Polar Ambassador.

This year’s trip coincides with several environmental and northern initiatives: the Year of the Inuit, International Year of Biodiversity and International Polar Year.

The ship will take the students to several arctic sites including Pagnirtung, Diana Island, Digges and Walrus Islands, Cape Dorset and North shore Hudson Strait. It also drops anchor at one of Canada’s most spectacular parks, Auyuittuq National Park, and the breathtaking Kingnait Fjord.

Founder of Students on Ice, Geoff Green, proudly noted that the award-winning program has attracted wide support since its inaugural voyage ten years ago, resulting in full funding for 85% of these students. The trip costs $9,750 for participants.

The teens, between 14 and 19, see first-hand the effects of climate change on arctic habitats through wildlife encounters and visits to remote communities and archaeological sites. Workshops, discussions and lectures are designed to educate and encourage the students to be effective agents of change when they return home.

Many of the students have never been to the Arctic but the two dozen students who call it home will be gaining new perspectives by sharing the experiences with others.

CBC’s anchor and chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge, who is taking part in the expedition with his son, lamented that so few Canadians knew anything about the Arctic.

Zoë Caron, climate change policy and advocacy specialist for WWF-Canada, is on board the ship. “Being within metres of a polar bear, seeing a proposed oil drilling site, or spending time in northern communities – these are all transformative experiences,” she said.


Mike Jensen

Today was the official launch day for the SOI Arctic 2010 expedition and everyone was kept hopping from activity to activity. First off was a trip to the newly-refurbished Canadian Museum of Nature, which for a museum geek like me was almost like a form of Valhalla. Sadly, in depth touring of the new galleries was not to be, as we were hustled up 4 (FOUR!) flights of stairs to a large conference room.

There we conducted Staff Speed Dating, which (creepiness aside) consisted of all the students rotating amongst the staff, who introduced themselves each time. In theory, this is a great way for the students to get to know the expedition staff. However, after the 9th or 10th time of hearing each other’s life stories, the staff started to get a little punchy. Myself and two other educators, Jeff Baxter (who teaches up in Paulatuk, NWT) and Jacqui Phillips (Grade 5 teacher in Ontario) were able to recite what we say almost word for word, and by the end, we were starting to make up stories about each other (Jeff, for example, worked in a cheese factory before throwing knives in a circus).

All that aside, the media launch event was a huge success with drum dancing, speeches and an appearance by the “star” himself, Peter Mansbridge. And yes, he sounds EXACTLY like he does on TV. When you talk to him, it’s like you are being interviewed.

Then it was a VERY hot walk to the Parliament Buildings where we had just enough time to walk around the buildings before having to get back on board the busses. This was second year in a row where we had little time to tour Parliament, so it was a bit disappointing. But it was still a good visit.

Back at Encounters With Canada, the students were treated to some seminars on journal writing and provided with their “polar fundamentals” – including the basics of The Arctic region and a bit of the history and politics behind it.

While all that was going on, we spent some time with a student who had a touch of homesickness. Well, it actually turned out to be a full-blown case of it. For many of the Northern students, coming to Ottawa and getting thrown into the Students On Ice experience can be overwhelming – lots of strange, loud people in a different, uncomfortable climate with unfamiliar foods and customs. It’s surprising more students don’t feel it like this student did.

When this happened last year with another student, we convinced him just to keep going hour by hour, day by day, until we got up to the Arctic and on the ship. Once there, he felt more at home and weathered the rest of the expedition with ease. This time around, it’s been a bit tougher, but fingers crossed, he’ll get on the plane tomorrow and get back to a more familiar environment.

But, it was a sobering reminder of the emotions that can get stirred up when one leaves home and the effects it can have not only on the person who’s traveling, but the ones he leaves behind. Even though he’ll make new friends and eventually consider this to be a fantastic experience, home will always be home and when he gets back to the people he loves, he’ll be a better person for having experienced it.

I’ve attached a couple of pictures of my travels so far, including me in front of the Canadian Museum of Nature, and one of some of the students I’m going with. In this picture, there are four countries represented – Canada, U.S., Norway and Monaco. Would you believe that none of these young people knew each other 24 hours ago?!
OK, that’s it for me tonight. It’s late, and there’s an early wake-up tomorrow as we prepare to leave for Kuujuaq at 8am! Back to the Arctic I go! My next report will be from the aboard the Orlova as we set sail into Ungava Bay.



Stay tuned for further updates!


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