Kim Aubut Demers

Montréal, QC

 Il y a une semaine, je voguais sur le Lyubov Orlova. Il y a une semaine, j’étais parmi ma seconde famille. Il y a une semaine, je découvrais un monde merveilleux. Même une semaine après cette grande expédition, je suis encore là-bas, sur cette terre magnifique. J’y ai vécu des moments qui m’ont marquée pour la vie avec des personnes que je n’oublierai jamais. Chaque petite chose que j’ai pu voir, écouter ou ressentir m’aura transformée. De ce voyage, je retire certainement une meilleure compréhension des changements climatiques actuels, que j’ai pu constater de mes propres yeux. Aucune glace dans le passage du Nord-Ouest que nous avons traversé : la banquise est totalement absente pour la première fois en près de vingt ans ; pas de neige et une chaleur parfois étouffante ; la ligne des arbres qui s’élève vers le nord petit à petit… les habitants de Kuujjuaq racontent que l’arrivée de petits conifères dans leur coin de pays ne remonte qu’à quelques années. Tous ces exemples de réchauffement planétaire devraient nous alarmer et nous pousser à agir afin de retrouver un équilibre sur notre Terre!Cette aventure m’aura aussi énormément aidée à choisir ma carrière de rêve parmi toutes celles que j’ai en tête! J’ai appris beaucoup sur qui je suis et sur ce que je veux réaliser, pendant ces deux semaines en Arctique.

Le retour à la vie « normale » est difficile… le tangage du navire, le silence de la nature ainsi que ses majestueux paysages, la passion pour tout ce qui nous entoure qu’avait la « crew » de l’Orlova que nous formions, la mer… tout cela me manque tant! Il est dur de passer d’une nature parfaite à la ville, bruyante, sale, pleine de gens mais vide de sens en même temps. Mais, je pourrais citer ici une grande amie et je sais qu’elle se reconnaitra, « il faut tenir à ses rêves comme on tient à la vie, faire de ses rêves sa raison de vivre », et ainsi, j’ose croire et affirmer que le chemin que j’emprunterai dans la vie me ramènera bien un jour sur les côtes de la terre de Baffin et bien plus loin encore!

 

Julie Berthou,
Lycée Albert Ier de Monaco.


Deux ou trois phrases pour raconter cette expédition : voilà ce que la plupart des personnes en rentrant chez moi m'accordaient. Mais comment en parler alors que cela ne peut que se vivre... Je cherche les mots mais ils m'échappent. Suis-je vraiment partie en Arctique ? J'ai l'impression que c'est une autre personne qui est allée sur cette terre reculée que seuls mes rêves les plus fous auparavant effleuraient...ou alors c'est que quelque chose en moi a changé lors de cette expédition. Mon contact avec la nature s'est raffermi : ce n'est plus des photos que je tente de préserver mais les souvenirs d'un lieu magique et unique. Cependant le plus grand enseignement de ce voyage se situe peut-être à un niveau humain car j'ai appris qu'il fallait s'ouvrir aux autres si l'on voulait qu'ils se tournent vers nous, qu'il fallait risquer de faire confiance car la récompense est au dessus de toutes les larmes que l'on peut verser : un ami. Depuis cette expédition je n'envisage plus l'avenir de la même façon. J'ai goûté à la liberté des grands espaces, l'exaltation face à ces animaux nous apparaissant pour la première fois. Je me suisé levée jusqu'au paradis alors comment revenir sur Terre ?
Je regarde désormais les villes avec un oeil neuf : le bruit, la pollution, cette foule d'inconnus tandis que sur le Lyubov Orlova chacun se connaissait et s'entraidait, les jugements...si je pouvais fuir tout cela de nouveau je n'hésiterais pas ! Je ne veux plus travailler dans des bureaux et rester toute ma vie dans une seule ville, ne connaître que cela du monde...je souhaite faire un métier qui puisse être utile au monde à grande échelle, être utile à la Nature. Auparavant le changement climatique m'avais toujours importé, j'en étais consciente mais ce n'était que quelque chose de lointain et que je ne pouvais saisir. Au milieu des buildings comment réaliser que la nature est menacée si l'on n'en voit qu'un fragment en cage ? J'ai vu de mes yeux le recul des glaciers, les icebergs se fissurer ; j'ai ressenti la chaleur de la terre s'abattre sur nous comme une preuve mais aussi la bonté d'un peuple en équilibre entre leurs coutumes et modes de vie ancestraux et la mondialisation les rattrapant. J'ai rencontré des personnes formidables et uniques qui m'ont presque autant appris sur eux que sur moi même. J'ai partagé avec eux quelque chose d'unique. Raconter cette expédition c'est comme raconter un rêve, c'est tellement flou, décousu, il me semble que personne d'autre à part ceux faisant parti du voyage ne pourraient comprendre... Alors on se parle, on se rappelle des souvenirs comme si on se connaissait depuis un an. Mais deux semaines dans une telle promiscuité resserre les liens bien plus que de se voir tous les jours en allantà l'école. Alors merci à SAS le Prince Albert II de Monaco pour cette expérience, merci à Students On Ice de rendre l'impossible accessible à tous, merci à l'équipe du Lyubov Orlova de nous faire rêver et merci à tous mes amis pour les sourires offerts et ceux qu'ils ont fait naître en moi !!

« Une goutte d'eau enfante l'océan. » avais-je un jour entendu. Peut-être que les larmes que nous avons versés à notre séparation seront ces gouttes qui nous uniront et qui changeront nos vies...

 

Arctica Cunningham,

Telkwa, BC

     I am still having trouble believing that I have actually gone to the Arctic. My whole experience with Students On Ice felt like an incredible dream come true. The fact that it actually happened just seems too good to be true, and I am so grateful to everyone who helped me along the way. I would especially like to thank Youth Science Canada for sponsoring me, everyone who wrote reference letters for me, my parents for helping me get ready to go and giving me the support that I needed, and the whole expedition team for making this trip possible.

     Some of my favourite and most meaningful memories are: seeing the hundreds of walrus sunbathing on Walrus Island, being in the presence of not one but fourteen polar bears, coming across our first ice berg which was so beautiful it made me forget all about my sea sickness, and listening to all the incredible presentations! Other memories that jump to mind include: holding a lemming, learning about the many kinds of lichen, working on the Ice Cap with Emilie, zodiac rides, having Thick-Billed Murres swoop around my head, visiting the Northern communities (and eating raw seal!), being part of the Polar Swim Team, and dropping my bottle overboard during the “SOI 2010 Bottle Drop.” These are just some of the memories that I will take with me for the rest of my life.     

               

    We had a saying on board the ship, "Turn right and your life could change!" When I applied for this expedition, my life changed. From that moment, I have been more aware of the consequences of my every action. I have seen first hand the devastating impacts humans are having on our planet, and I have been given the tools to make a change. I do not yet know what I want to do in the future, but this experience has enforced that I want to make a difference. I will protect the Arctic to the best of my ability, as it would be a crime to let that pure land suffer from our consumer lifestyle. I can truly say that I have "Ice in My Veins!"

 

Kamil Chadirji-Martinez

  

This summer has been my best.

Retuning home from one of the best experiences ever has been a surprisingly happy journey. I have kept busy and the good times kept coming. For awhile electronic entertainment drove me nuts. I did not want to hear electronic music, did not want to play  video games, or watch TV when it did not regard the Arctic; because I have realized such things are so insignificant in the incomprehensibly vast beautiful planet we live on. This trip has made me see how much there is for me to explore and learn. The day we hiked in Auyuittuq Park I achieved a life long dream by reaching the Arctic Circle. That was a powerful moment. I had so many thoughts and revelations that I think I fried my brain. The next day I could hardly think. Also I remembered at the age of 12 my grandma made the bright hat that I wore. I told her when she gave it to me “someday this hat will be in the Arctic” and it happened. Now that summer vacation has finished I feel like one chapter in my life has finished, and a new one has begun. This expedition has given me optimism and inspiration for my near future, and I have so many plans to build on my knowledge.

 

Jessica Magonet, Student

Montréal, QC

As I look through my expedition photos, it’s hard to believe I really went to the Arctic. I feel like the whole expedition might have been nothing but a dream, an incredible blip in time that brought me to paradise and home again.

My friends and family are eager to hear of my Arctic adventures. I tell them of the wonders I saw, the people I met, the world I discovered.

But late at night, I read my expedition journal under the covers and realize that I don’t fully understand what I experienced during my time in the North. There was so much knowledge, magic and mystery packed into the last two weeks, and it is going to take me some time to make sense of it all. To understand the impact of what I witnessed in the Arctic, both on me and on the world.

The only people who would understand what I am going through are the students who traveled with me, but they are gone now. Reduced from their vibrant selves to mere facebook statuses and email addresses. I miss the constant companionship of the Orlova.

I guess it’s always hard to come home.

 

Donovan Taplin, Student

Bell Island, NL

Sailing through the historical Northwest Passage and hiking across the Arctic Tundra for 14 days the possibilities were unlimited and consequently the expectations were high in all of the pre-expedition hype. Nevertheless expectations were washed away by our ten meter swells and the relentless fun aboard our expedition vessel.

That is why I am writing in thanks to all those who helped provide me with what has been, unequivocally, the best and most enriching weeks of my life.

Having returned home to my small community where everyone knows everyone and everyone knows who went to the Arctic Circle, I am often faced with the question of what did you learn? Although I never respond in such a way I cannot help but think that the question posed is a little unfair. To truly give such a question justice my response would require an infinite regurgitation of all of the amazing and intriguing material which myself and fellow students eagerly absorbed throughout what was more than twenty lectures and presentations as well as workshops and on-sight demonstrations. From enthusiastic rants about the importance of phytoplankton (for which I utterly agree upon) to participating in a mock Arctic Council where we discussed and attempted to answer real issues faced in the circumpolar world, I can say that I come home with a wealth of knowledge. Learning from some of the Country’s most renowned authorities and being surrounded by a plethora of motivated youth the consumption of unharnessed skills in a range of disciplines was inevitable.

Where I learned the most however was in the realm of the intangible. I found more about myself in the moments where my hand was outreached to feel the crystals of a ten thousand year old iceberg or as my feet were shocked from the run-off of a glacier with ten kilometers still ahead of me or as my eyes were fixated with those of a Polar Bear as our Zodiac bobbed in the waves and cameras pinched every second. It was then that I found my capacity for things on a global stage and that magic and possibility still exist in a world which seems to get smaller with every click of a mouse.

Responsive to the palpable gratification of reaching the Arctic Circle by foot and overcoming numbing physical challenges made departure all the worse. I long for the days when I stood on the deck of a ship sailing through Arctic waters laughing with my new friends whose homes were a border crossing away; talking about the satire of expedition staff members or the more serious discussion about the critical issues faced by the Polar Regions, our conversations were never tedious.


Surely you know now that our man-made world occasionally dissolves in front of me as I recollect an ecosystem gorgeous within its layers of biodiversity. In my mind I often visit an unscathed field near the edge of cliff where a path has not yet been made as visitors are seldom besides those which dwell in their thick white husk immortalized on the front of nation’s largest coin. As poetic as it may sound and as dramatic as these memories thrive it is still a cold fact that our decisions in the future must be responsible ones so that we do not ruin such a magnificent ideal. And this I believe may be the legacy of our time spent in the Arctic; a legacy which is the offspring of a culture of responsible people making conscious choices for the sustainable livelihood our one and only home, Planet Earth.

 

Eirik Stein-Andersen, Student

Åsa, Norway

I'm Back!

Hey everyone!

I'm back from my unbelievable expedition to the Arctic. It was an incredible learning experience in many different ways.

 

Carly Roome, Student

Manotick, ON

After a couple of days of being home, we stopped at a Taco Bell and was inspired to write this poem. Hope you like it...

The walls that surround me are grungy, unclean.
The colours are worn out and old, they are faded and don’t match anymore.
They make me feel woozy.
I feel closed in and claustrophobic.
Where is the sky? Where is the horizon?
When I look up, all I see are florescent lights and no sun.

Monotonous country music is playing through the dusty speakers.
This doesn’t feel right; the music seems out of place.
NO
I feel out of place.
I feel anxious and lightheaded.
Where is the ancestry, the traditions, the culture?
There is lack of this where I live.

The fake flowers hang in their pots from the ceiling.
Artificial Nature, Simulated Beauty
HA! The ridiculousness of this idea makes me laugh aloud.
It’s too unnatural.
I feel nauseous, sick.
But maybe that’s just the Taco Bell.

Inspired by a true story

Thank you’s to everybody! I had such a wonderful time with everyone. Keep in touch!

 

Moe Qureshi, Student

Mississauga, ON

Uncovering Canada’s Arctic Treasure

Coming back home after this expedition exploring the Arctic has given me the blues. How come?


I got so much done while we were out at sea and, yet, I had a blast all the way. It reminded me of something.

Stories about the sea usually are about two things: finding lost treasure or exploring the unknown.

Exploring the unknown and finding treasure take you to far away places, away from reality, away from your present, away from all that’s happening in your life and the world. This expedition to the Arctic took us far away and paused our world for two weeks.

Out on the open sea, in a far away place like the Arctic, boring stuff like icebergs or geography become real landscapes you can walk and play on. Only eight countries reach above the Arctic Circle. A whole different way of life is lived out here.

What’s the Arctic like? What’s it like being there? What’s so special about it?
• The dark, Arctic sky lets you see hundreds of thousands of stars instead of the fifty I usually see out my window;
• The mysterious Northern Lights with a real Inuit elder instead of yellow streetlights;
• A horizon completely natural untouched by development, high rises, condos and regular construction;
• Real diversity of animals, such as polar bears, caribou, bow head whales, walruses — sometimes in herds and flocks of thousands — in their natural habitat, which make the endless breeds of cats and dogs look plain, and the occasional bit of roadkill look exotic.

This is Canada’s real treasure, and it’s vital to the survival of the entire world. The Arctic is the canary in civilization’s coal mine.


I had a great time, and I have a word for all my shipmates: Remember, always, the spontaneous dance, Peter Mansbridge’s rap, the ideas, the low tide, the view, the swimming, the food, the uncharted territory, the polar bears, the bow head whales, the murres, the Orlova — and above all, the people.

And remember to just get away from reality. Scare your parents. Tell them you’re going to the Arctic on your own to live on a boat with strangers and hang out near polar bears. If I could, I would do this trip again in a heartbeat. I’d only request that I do it with the same people.

Sigh.... Back to life. Do svidaniya.*


Love,

Moe Qureshi

* means good bye in Russian.

 

Trent Powell, Student
Eastport, NL

Back in April when I submitted my application to be a participant on the SOI Arctic Youth Expedition 2010, I could never have imagined how amazing this trip would actually be! From the moment I met the first of the other student participants, educators and SOI expedition team, until the moment I said good-bye at the airport, this trip was unforgettable.

My goal for this trip was to experience the Arctic in every way possible and to see the effects that global warming is having on it. Geoff and the expedition team certainly made sure the first of my goals was met! Every aspect of our trip was astounding, from the Inuit Throat Singers, Drum Dancers, Artists and the food (raw seal, mmmmm!!!) to the picture perfect beauty of the land, sky and sea. The inhabited and uninhabited islands we visited were amazing, each putting forth something new for us to see and discover. The hike to the Arctic Circle and being in the Arctic Swim Club, to the Northern Lights, Workshops, Demonstrations, and even idle chit chat were all small pieces that fit together to make our journey a one that will be remembered for a lifetime!

As for the second part of my goal, well, unfortunately I got to see that global warming is having an affect on the Arctic. I expected there to be ice, ice, ice and cold temperatures, but that was not so. In fact, I have seen more icebergs in the waters surrounding my home then I did in the Arctic waters!!! That should be a wake up call for us - one which we need to take seriously.

Overall my trip was amazing! I am so glad that I was chosen to participate in this wonderful opportunity and would encourage other youth to take advantage of educational programs such as SOI... hopefully I will see many of you again one day, in the Antarctic!!!

 

Garry Donaldson, Expedition Staff

Chelsea, QC

Sometimes the importance or relevance of our experiences only become apparent after a period of reflection and consideration.


Our morning at Walrus Island was clearly an impressive interlude with some of the Arctic’s more iconic wildlife but what wasn’t so clear at the time was the full significance of that collection of animals. I’ve since learned that the inhabitants of Walrus Island are part of a group that occupies northern Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait and Davis Strait – a huge area. One of the more recent estimates for that population range from about 5000 to 6000 out of which we saw a about a thousand. Considering an adult walrus can eat more than 50 kg of clams in a day, the ocean must be remarkably productive there to support all those animals.


Owing to declining numbers and a harvest that is not managed beyond the community level, it was recommended in 2006 that walrus be listed as Species of Special Concern under the Species at Risk Act. Suddenly, I realize that Walrus Island wasn’t only a cool place to see wildlife but that it is also an important summer refuge for a significant proportion of a species that might be heading toward trouble.


But wait, there’s more. As we steamed eastward from Walrus Island a number of us spent time on the deck off the bridge learning to conduct seabird surveys. What we witnessed was a large number of murres, dads and their chicks, that had swum there from the colony on Coat’s Island about 100 kilometres away. Each dad/chick pair was diving and surfacing together. It’s not hard to imagine that this is the spot murre dads bring their chicks to learn to feed in the same rich and relatively shallow water that supports all of those walrus. This collective behaviour has never been observed or documented (as far as I know) and adds to the importance of the ocean around Walrus Island.


Now that I’m back in my office, I can take these observations, experiences and considerations that were gained on the Students on Ice expedition and use them to support conservation in the Arctic. Thanks to all of you for contributing to our numerous numinous experiences and I hope you all are similarly able to reflect and find ways to apply what we learned to benefit your lives and our planet.

 

On August 18, 2010, Students on Ice Arctic Youth Expedition 2010 student participants contributed to a 'Youth Impressions' activity aboard their expedition vessel. Here's what they came up with:

General Student Quotations

“Everything is better in the Arctic… Even being seasick in the Arctic is better!”

“Believe in the fact that you can change the world.”

“Don’t forget what nature really sounds like.”

“Laugh a little louder, love a little stronger, and think a little greener.”

“I know that SOI has changed me. How?? I’m not sure yet… but it’s something that I can certainly feel… not something that words can describe.”

“Two twos to remember: If it is to be, it is up to me!”

“Merci d’avoir changer ma vie… You’re making a difference in our lives, no words can describe what I’ve seen with my eyes and the memories I’ll hold on to.”

“I don’t think even you know how life-changing this experience has been for me. For that, I am grateful.”

“To steal a fantastic quote from a friend and fellow Antarctic 2009/2010 alumni, ‘I have ice in my veins.’ Well put Jenna, I believe that the ice has spread.” – Olivia Rempel

“You have given me the tools to build whatever future I want.”

“Thank you to SOI staff for helping me realize that everyone can make a difference”

“I now have the knowledge, skills and enthusiasm I need to make a difference. I am ready to protect the poles and protect the planet!”

I’m scared of…

“The rate of modern climate change”

“That Arctic ice is melting too fast”

“Feeling discouraged”

“A lack of understanding”

“Unfulfilled people”

“Falling out of touch with so many friends”

“My future. Do I really have what it takes?” – Kamil

“Forgetting one minute of this expedition”

“Not being able to convince people to make a difference before it is too late!”

“Inaction”

“Not being able to use my experience to better my community”

“Losing the Earth’s beauty”

“Forgetting how to practice compassion”

“Not having the same connection with people back home that I have now had with people during this experience”

“The future without change”

I plan to…

“LIVE”

“Fulfill my career as an Arctic scientist” – Kamil

“Live on my bicycle”

“Make a difference”

“Share what I have learned with my community and inspire change”

“Live my dreams!”

“Enjoy life to the fullest!”

“Be the best parent ever and pass my knowledge on!”

“Be a lifelong learner”

“Be meaningful”

“Spread the word”

“Do my best to protect the poles!”

“Move humbly, choose carefully, act wisely”

“Have a memorable life and leave a legacy”

“Take environmental actions to developing nations to build a sustainable future!”

“Spread, organize, initiate”

“Help a new generation”

“Keep exploring”

“Be part of a global movement and act on my beliefs, passion, voice”

“Live, love and save the planet”

“Let my actions speak louder than my words”

“Rock the planet, shock the poles”

The Arctic is…

“My friend”

“Our home”

“Paradise”

“Melting…”

“Beautiful”

“Valuable”

“The most beautiful place on Earth”

“Raw beauty at its finest”

“A reflection of the environmental state of the planet”

“Central to Canada’s future”

“Under threat”

“Fragile”

“Robust”

“Changing”

What do you hope SOI is doing in 2020?

“A global trademark of the power of youth – Generation G!”

“Doing the same thing – inspiring kids to make a difference”

“Still spreading ‘Good Karma’ around the world”

“Sailing a Green Vessel”

“Using an eco-friendly ship to travel to the Arctic and the Antarctic”

“Saving the planet in sustainable ways”

“Continuing to give everyone the opportunity to explore the Polar Regions”

“Giving teens a once in a lifetime experience”

“I hope SOI can be a sounding board as I move forward in life – ideas, advice, support. You guys are great!”

“Getting even more students involved and continuing to make a difference”

“The same thing – I wouldn’t change this experience”

“Educating. Advocating. Acting.”

“Teaching in schools/training teachers!”

I will remember…

“The strength attained by knowledge itself”

“The freedom felt from Arctic air”

“My slightly dysfunctional SOI family”

“All the people I’ve met here as well as the Arctic’s beauty”

“EVERYTHING! I will never forget my new and second family!”

“My friends and the good karma”

“Every wonderful day aboard the ship with such wonderful people”

“Crossing the Arctic Circle – getting there has made me a little stronger, a little wiser”

“SOI catalyzing KARMAFLEX in me, in all of us!”

 “Standing on deck watching the northern lights with the stars twinkling behind them”

“The Arctic swim – being brave!”

“The sound of the wind whistling as I walk down towards the Arctic Circle”

“My ‘Aha!’ moment!”

“How this experience changed my life”

“The taste of blueberries, seal and char. The smell of the Arctic wind. The stench of walrus. The grace of bowheads.”

“The summer in the Arctic when I saw no sea ice”

I am hopeful about…

“My children’s children’s children living in a green world”

“New connections and possibilities”

“Seeing northern lights again”

“Our future”

“The youth”

“Returning with SOI someday soon”

“Tomorrow”

“Change”

“The differences SOI students will make”

“A sustainable future – we can do it!”

 “A future of dedicated, passionate and global citizens who do not see the Earth as an accessory but rather as a lifeline”

“The power of creatures (large and small) to touch others”

« Le future! Pour la terre et tous ses habitants, toutes les créatures vivantes »

I’m looking forward to…

“Making a positive change”

“Sharing my experiences and maintaining the connections I’ve made”

“Learning to live an amazingly sustainable lifestyle”

“Sharing my story with the world”

“Going on another SOI trip!”

“Making the little things count”

“Having a positive impact on the world”

“New adventures and challenges”

“Sharing the knowledge I have gained with others so we can work together”

“Being a part of the change”

“Helping out with my head, heart and hands”

 
Revisit the Students on Ice Arctic Youth Expedition 2010
through the Daily Journey Updates section of this website
 
© 2010 Students on Ice
All Rights Reserved


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