Daily Journey Updates
Thursday, August 2, 2012
***Scroll down to see today's photos and journal entries***
Expedition Update - 7:00 pm EST
New update from Expedition Leader, Geoff Green:
Due to truly exceptional ice conditions, we were not able to reach the ship again today. We are still in Iqaluit and will be spending another night at the Arctic College. Members of the community are saying they have never seen anything like this - particularly this far into summer. Huge blocks of ice, some up to 5 meters high, are blocking our passage to the ship. All vessels are stranded and no one is getting in or out by sea.
The students are anxious to get going of course, yet they are dealing with this unpredictable situation with remarkable understanding and maturity. They are an exceptional group! The Iqaluit community has really rallied around us offering tremendous support. We have fishing vessels standing by, if needed, to help us get to the ship and we are looking at all possible options to get the next phase of our expedition underway.
We've been taking full advantage of our extra time in Iqaluit. This morning, Eric Galbraith gave a presentation on the world's oceans and ocean currents, followed by our first Pod Team meetings, afternoon workshops/games and tours around town. One of the game leaders was the mayor of Iqaluit, Madeleine Redfern! There are not many mayors in the world who would be so quick to be involved in this way! A break for lunch and then into a whole series of activites ranging from soap carving to sampling the local streams.
Throughout the day, we have been investigating every possible option to get us to our ship. These options ranged from barges to helicopters to planes to fishing boats to wind dances on the ridge! We need the wind to change 180 degrees to move the ice out. We had a fantastic evening of performances with a ‘Scobie story’ and a traditional Greenlandic dance performed by Lakkuluk. We finished off the evening by singing happy birthday to Alex and Vladimir in Russian, English, French and Inuktitut!! We are coming together as a team and showing great perseverance!!
Traveling in the Arctic can be unpredictable at times but even by northern standards, we are facing an extremely unusual situation. Spirits remain high however, and our team is handling the situation remarkably well. The weather today was brilliant and now we are just hoping for a brisk northwest wind to help move some of the pack ice out of the harbour. Fingers crossed! We will keep you posted on developments first thing in the morning.
Expedition Update - 10:00 am EST
New update from Expedition Leader, Geoff Green:
"Hello from Iqaluit! All is well. We had a great evening program last night - lots of fun and laughter. We watched videos produced by our videographer, Sira Chayer; there were Inuit throat singing demonstrations, and storytelling by Whit Fraser and Bill Lishman. I briefed the expedition team about the ongoing situation with the ship and the ice and afterwards, students had time to write in their journals, relax and get a good night’s sleep at the Arctic College residence.
"This morning the team is all packed up again and on standby waiting to board the ship when given the signal. I have been to the harbour this morning to assess the ice situation and debrief with the ship captain and the coast guard about the prospect of getting out today. Everyone is aware of the situation and we are working together to expedite our departure but Mother Nature is in control at the moment! The winds are not yet favourable but we are hoping for a change in direction later today. In the meantime, we will take advantage of this extra time in Iqaluit to continue with our education programming. Stay tuned for more details throughout the day as the situation develops.
"For the morning program at Arctic College, Eric Galbraith of McGill University will be giving a presentation about the world’s oceans and ocean currents. Following that presentation, the students and staff will break into their first Pod Team meetings of the expedition then head off to enjoy lunch. Depending on weather conditions, the team will then head off on a hike down along the coast with workshops and presentations on the land.
"Everyone is in good spirits and enjoying the extended time to explore Iqaluit, which is a fascinating place situated amongst beautiful landscape. Hiking in the area is excellent with trails leading past archaeological sites out onto the tundra. Although the team is anxious to get on board and set sail, everyone is understanding of the situation and making the best of it. The team spirit and energy are high! Now let's all hope for some good ice and weather karma!"
Photos from August 2!
Cole teaches in the juggling workshop.
Mattali holds the rope while Brendan attempts to tie multiple knots
before the next player rolls the correct number on the dice.
Whoever ties the most knots wins.
The games are funny!
Students practice environmental portraiture in the photography workshop.
The dancing challenge game.
Ísabella Ólöf Þorsteinsdóttir
Vladimir and Alex celebrate their birthdays.
Geoff Green congratulates Leona who has just correctly identified all 117 students and staff by name.
Students sing Happy Birthday for Vladimir in Russian.
Laakkaluuk performs a Greenlandic legend.
Alex models for the photography workshop on his birthday.
Look at all that ice!
No wonder we're stuck in Iqaluit!
Student Journals - August 2, 2012
We are stuck in Iqaluit for one night… again. Hoping we will go on the ship tomorrow. I feel like I am on a diet here, it is always healthy food. Mom if you see this, please send me some food, it costs like $6 for a little bag of chips. Having a great time so far, the activities are keeping me really busy.
A Perfect Day for Bananafish. Today reminded me of J. D. Salinger's short story of the same name. Perhaps, it is because of how quick our day went, just like the last paragraph of the story (though not as grim or startling). Or perhaps because I can dream that there might be Bananafish in the Arctic, all cramped up in their fictional holes. While I woke up today bright and early at 4:30 (later at 7:00 with the morning call) expecting the Akademic Ioffe to arrive, I must wait yet again to sail. At first, the thought of staying another day off our course was dreaded. But, in perspective, the setback has given us more time to explore Iqaluit and our community. We got into our pods, did workshops (from soap carvings to throat singing), played Mafia, enjoyed birthdays, and had several cups of hot chocolate. Since the morning, I have had 10 cups of hot chocolate, sometimes mixed with coffee and milk. Yes, one could say that the tremendous amount of ice has been a barrier. But, it has also broken down the walls between ourselves and each other. Nature hasn't yet blown away to the North to shift the ice, but it has let us come together.
Hello from Iqaluit ! I wished to write this article from the ship, but it is not possible... Although we were not able to board on the icebreaker, the day was really good. Indeed, in the morning we went running with Isabella, Sam, Ariana, Marine and Holly. Afterwards, we went in the cafeteria, and made groups, and in the afternoon we had super interesting workshops.
I went o the stream right behind the NAC resident to calculate the discharge of water with Sam and Eric and I also made a plant collection with Meg, Madelaine, and Jennifer. Students on Ice is definitely a great experience. The people here are so awesome but also our teachers. I wish that we will be able to board tomorrow. But as Geoff said, it is an expedition, therefore we have to be ready for all kinds of situation. Even though we are not on the ship, we have a lot of fun !
Everyone had high spirits this morning about finally setting sail aboard the Akademik Ioffe. Unfortunately the ice situation did not get significantly better and apparently there was no chance of getting to the ship safely. Luckily, Geoff is trying everything to get us on the ship as fast as possible. Some of the potential solutions included finding substitutes for the zodiacs, so that we could get through the ice more easily. Other options were flying a helicopter, however our ship does not have a helicopter pad. Furthermore we talked about chartering a plane and flying to somewhere, where there is open water so we could get onto the ship. Until then we have to hope for the best and stay our third night in Iqualuit. Everyone is optimistic and there is even a slight chance that we can board the ship tomorrow morning if the wind changes into the right direction, which may result in carrying the ice away from the ship. As always flexibility is the key and our good karma will bring us closer to success.
Steve Sheppard (staff)
So, here we are...back to blogging from Iqaluit. Hello to Hauna, Isaac and Daniel...I love you guys!! We have been here in Iqaluit since Monday, and we will be here for at least one more night. I didn't get a chance to blog yesterday because we had loaded everything to head to the ship, but after a long day of waiting and hanging out in town, we were relegated back to the Arctic College for another night. We came to the Arctic to see what climate chang is doing to the polar regions, and it is having a huge effect here in the north with retreating sea ice. However, we are having a battle with the 'sea ice' that has been here in Frobisher bay for the past while. We now have Canadian Ice breakers in the area and they have agreed to help us out...we just need to get to our ship!! Under the circumstances the youth on this expedition are great, and they are making the most out of this situation with touring around Iqaluit and taking in as much of the culture as they can by learning Inuit games, throat singing and carving. Hopefully, with any luck at all and a change in the wind we will be ice free tomorrow morning so that we can board the Ioffe and 'head out da bay'. Stay tuned for more from the high arctic!
Today we were supposed to board the ship, but we were unable to because of the ice in the harbour. We were all very disappointed but we all knew that Geoff and the other staff members would try their best to get us on the boat. From the moment we realized that we could not get on the boat, Geoff began exploring new options for how to board it. If anyone can get us on the boat I am sure it would be Geoff.
Unfortunately because of the thick sea ice at Frobisher Bay,we were not able to get onto our ship. Its at times like this that we realize that we are really on an expedition and hence must also comply with natures whimsical behaviour . The predicament that we are currently in has led us to finally understand that we can not always have things go our way and that at times we must behave at the bequest of our natural surroundings. Today morning we were split up into our respective pod groups which are meant to be a place where we can share our experiences and ruminations with our fellow pod members as well as spent time asking questions and getting to know each other. The name of my pod group is Siku Siila where siku means ice and siila means every thing. Later on in the day we had workshops. I attended the photography workshop with Lee where we learned about taking better pictures and then we had a photo assignment. The next workshop that i attnded was a workshop on sand stone carving where i carved a little soap turtle. After dinner ,we had a uvaiulnuk performance which was definitely impressive. We are looking forward to getting on the ship tomorrow after spending some time exploring the beautiful town of iqaluit.
We are at the mercy of Mother Nature here in Nunavut; stuck onshore from the ice again, we checked in to Nunavut Arctic College for the third time now. We are all disappointed that we are not on the ship yet, although we are still having fun here in Nunavut.
Today we started our "Pod Groups;" they're groups put together with a good mix of people from around the world with different personalities. We will be doing activities together on board - in fact we already have had some time to get to know each other and talk about our hopes and fears for the days to come. Later in the day we got the news that we will in fact be in Iqaluit again tonight, although the conditions look more promising for tomorrow and there's a good chance we will get to the ship.
Afternoon, workshops were organized for us to participate, and I have to admit that they were great! I did a photography with Lee, and I now have a much better understanding of aperture and the effects of shutter speeds! I also took a workshop with "Big Eric" involving the brook behind the residence we are staying in. We learned how to measure different aspects of the brook, which was very beneficial to me for my science fair study on freshwater ponds back home! Thanks Eric and Lee! So, no clue what's going to happen for the rest of tonight, but hopefully tomorrow we will finally set sail on the Akademik Ioffe.
We met our pod groups, we got to remember our names by saying our names and adding an animal that begins with the same letter as the beginning of our names. Examples: Chelsea Cat, Isabella Iguana, Anna Anaconda, Elizabeth Elephant, Monica Mircat, Branden Beluga, Poasie Polar Bear, Terri Turtle, and Brandon (the third) Bumble Bee. We came up with a name of International Keiko Polar Pods. We still didn't get on the ship Day two of not going on the ship because there was too much ice.
staff at the Arctic college in Iqaluit have been working overtime to keep us
fed - Jay and Dennis have been working heroic 11 and 16 hour days. Still, the
food is not what many of us are used to. Fresh vegetables are in short supply
here, and most of the protien comes from animals and is deep fried. A desperate
run to the quick mart for some hummas, yogart, and produce showed us what the
cooks had to work with. Groceries are quite a bit more expensive here - one
plastic bags worth of hummas, yogart, nuts, cereal, and crackers cost us
$75.Apparently, shipping the food up North cost at least $1/lb, which adds to
the price....and i suspect that a monopoly on the shipping also keeps costs
When one of us got sick after eating our storebought goods, we talked to another of the staff at the college who told us that expiration dates in the grocery store were often past their expiration date. Apparently, there was a protest in front of the Northmart last month protesting the high prices and poor quality. While it seems from my conversations with students that many Inuk supplement their diet with hunting, the Mayor Madeline mentioned that 1 in 7 children in Iqaluit is food insecure. This is no surprise, with an average household income of $20,000, and housing costing nearly that much per year!
Clearly, the Inuit people have endured a lot - from the harsh weather to exploitative resource extraction. it seems from my very limited understanding that the fairly recent creation of Nunavat might offer some more control over goods like food and resources - but also brings new challanges, such as immigrants from the South. Fledgling efforts to increase access to healthy food include a greenhouse at a reseach institute, and a monthly outdoor market to sell meat from the land.