Arctic Expedition 2014

Follow the journey : July 9 - July 24

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Ungava Bay / Button Islands

Expedition Update

Last night students and staff boarded the expedition vessel in Kuujjuaq, reviewed ship safety and set sail!

Today expeditioners awoke early to breakfast followed by a briefing from our Expedition Leader Geoff Green and a presentation on the Torngats by Gary Baikie, Visitor Experience Manager for the Torngat Mountains National Park.

Expeditioners had an exciting day ahead as they learn about the early Arctic explorers from Historian and Arctic Advocate Whitney Lackenbauer followed by a presentation on Zodiac safety, dressing for the Arctic and bear safety. After lunch students broke out into groups for workshops covering journal making, music/songwriting, Inuit sewing, painting, printing and more!

In the late afternoon students experienced their first Zodiac cruise to explore the Button Islands. They were also able to land in Killinniq, a deserted village also known as Port Burwell. 

Then it was back to the ship for workshops on the Art of Visual Storytelling, science lab sampling and oceanography/marine biology workshops with Ray Roche of the School of Ocean Technology and oceanographer Daniele Bianchi, and understanding a changing Arctic landscape with paleoecologist Bianca Perren. Inuit leaders Becky Mearns and Annie Petaulassie introduced students to the rich culture of the Arctic through Inuit throat singing, arts and crafts.

Update from SOI Expedition Leader Geoff Green:

The ship people awoke to a calm, but overcast Ungava Bay. During the morning we enjoyed a series of presentations setting the scene for what is to come.

Our exceedingly comfortable ship has made good speed and over lunch land began to appear on the horizon and she rapidly closed with our projected destination, Port Burwell.

Once anchored a scout boat was launched to look for landing sites and whetter bear were present. It was a positive for the landing and a negative for the bears. The plans was for half the group to land at the abandoned village site and the other half to go on zodiac cruise around the harbours. Once our bear guards had established a safe perimeter the operation started. What a great activity, a pair of rough legged Hawks noisily warned us not to go too close, the weather improved with the sun coming out, and expert staff interpreted what we were looking at in the deserted village, interesting but a sad tale. The zodiacs took folk around the numerous bays and inlets of the port and just after 1700hrs all were back on board, what a great excursion! But more was still to come. An early dinner was taken and the ship re-positioned a few miles to a small group of islands know as The Buttons, The Captain expectedly navigated his vessel up the central channel and anchored in the centre of the island group. Once Dinner was finished all went to the zodiacs for a cruise around the local area. Although misty, this added to the ethereal feel of the whole activity. Back on board, and the end of the long but excellent day, Clock forward tonight as we all enter the Atlantic time zone.




Judy and Helen Issigatok outside on deck - Photo (c) Lee Narraway

Rough-legged Hawk - Photo (c) Lee Narraway

Justin takes a “selfie” during a skit to demonstrate what NOT to wear in the zodiacs - Photo (c) Lee Narraway

Students arrive by zodiacs to Killiniq (Port Burwell), their first shore landing - Photo (c) Lee Narraway

Student practices photography at Killiniq, Nunavut - Photo (c) Lee Narraway

Historian Whitney Lackenbauer and oceanographer Don Walsh - Photo (c) Lee Narraway

Students photograph themselves on the tundra - Photo (c) Lee Narraway

Hiking in Killiniq, Nunavik - Photo (c) Lee Narraway

Zodiacs transport students to the coast of Labrador - Photo (c) Lee Narraway

Red-throated Arctic Loon - Photo (c) Lee Narraway

Corey Esau - Photo (c) Lee Narraway

Journalist Whit Fraser - Photo (c) Martin Lipman

SOI Founder & Expedition Leader Geoff Green - Photo (c) Martin Lipman

SOI expedition vessel the Sea Adventurer - Photo (c) Martin Lipman


Student Journals - July 13, 2014

Repulse Bay, Nunavut

I'm thinking about home. And I don't know what to do. I want to go home!!! I'm done.
I am lazy Brenden.

PS: I will blog again soon.

That's it. But I will keep writing because I am Brenden. Ok? Today, we tried to see polar bears. We saw no polar bears. I like killing polar bears. WAIT I've never killed one!!! I am scared of bugs. What the hell!!
The end is near. Don't worry. Hey. how are you? (To Geoff) Inuktituk (something).... Ok, I won't write what anyone else says. Because I am Brenden.

I think everyone else are pansies. Because they wear boots. Wait for me, I'm not done blogging!
Hi Mom, Hi Dad. I'm doing good. Everything else I said above was a joke. hahahah I loved the zodiacs. It makes me think of home. Because we go BOOM - BOOM, on the water! Like this:


Sisimiut, Greenland

Hi everybody,

It's really tough to make time everyday so you can write the blog, but here I am.


I'm sailing through the fog with the rest of the crew and passengers of the magnificent floating hotel called "Sea Adventurer", and even though it has been a little weird with the waves and the moving floor I'm happy to be on a ship, and not just on any ship - it has a library, a crew that makes your bed 3 times a day, amazing cooks that makes you delicious food and a really comfortable lounge. I feel lucky I'm aboard the "Sea Adventurer".

When we first got going from Ottawa and landed in Kuujjuaq I was really surprised to see trees and houses that looked like back home mixed together. I would almost say it was a mixture of Sweden and Greenland. Sailing with the Zodiacs was amazing - Zodiacs are just inflatable boats that are famous for not being able to sink. I have been on a boat for a while so I had been looking forward to sailing with a boat and living on a ship; it's better than I expected.

We went to a abandoned settlement today, and we are going in the zodiacs again in a minute.

Hope everybody is good and envies me at least just a little bit.

Nain, Labrador

Yesterday was the big day! We had an early rise at 5:30am to start our journey from Ottawa to Kuujjuaq. The plane ride was pretty fascinating, as we were noticing the land changing form. We arrived in Kuujjuaq; the airport was pretty big compared to the Nain one and the people are incredibly friendly. Then we took a tour around town, going to see the Northern store and then had a Students on Ice barbecque.

We took quite a road trip on the bus to get to the zodiacs. It was my first time ever in one and as we made our way to the Sea Adventurer I became more excited because the time has finally come to start our expedition. I was amazed by the beauty of the landscape and the ice as we were passing.

Today we were allowed to sleep in until 7:30, which doesn't seem like much but compared to yesterday it's a great deal. The morning started off with a presentation from Gary about the Torngat Mountains National Park and another from Whitney about The early explorers. The ship has started to rock a bit more and it started making me really tired, even after a good nights sleep.

The afternoon was spent outside on the zodiacs, we went for short rides around the shore and I was able to get a few really great shots of the hills, ice and waterfalls. We went to an old abandoned town that goes by the name of Killinek. We were allowed to go inside all of the buildings and houses since the doors were broken in by the polar bears. I was amazed by the designs and old equipment in the town.


Brampton, Ontario

Day 5

Today was our first official day on the ship (yeah!). I don't have much to say, other than it has gone pretty AWESOME. My day started off with me looking outside my window and seeing ice sheets not to far from the ship. After taking about a billion pictures (or attempts). It was time to start my day. Now here is where I skip to the good part but first the bad.

So I found out today that I kind of get sea-sick. I felt terrible up until we actually stopped the boat to go on to the excursion. I don't want to really focus on the morning part, other than the explanation as to the history and where we are going. First to start it off, I didn't know that Canada had a lot of history on the discovery of it's Arctic region. To sum it up until I get home: it wasn't until Sputnik (first satellite) was put in space that we actually knew what Canada looked like. Considering that humans have only lived on the Earth for about 2% of it's span, we've only known for less than 0.5% of it's life.

Now because it's getting close to dinner I'm going to sum up where we went. We went to an abandon Inuit town and it was both sad and amazing. Amazing because of the view but sad because of the story behind it. From my understanding, the Inuit's were kicked off their land and were forced to live in a place farther south. It is hard to imagine this actually happening and imagining the like of it just being "abandoned".

Thus must go because food calls, so I just want to say to the rest of the world, The food is amazing.

(Also, do you miss me a lot my family back home?)


San Francisco, California

We are finally onboard the Sea Adventurer!

Yesterday, we traveled to Kuujjuaq via a charter flight. Amazingly, First Air, the airline with which SOI is partnered, still serves complimentary meals. The flight - during which we were served eggs on an english muffin, an unidentifiable piece of meat, potatoes, mushrooms, fruit, and a very satisfying muffin- was only a little over two hours. Flying over, the ground was covered in short coniferous trees and small ponds, nothing like I had expected to see in the North.

Upon our arrival, we toured Kuujjuaq and then ate hot dog and veggie burgers outside the town hall that were generously prepared for us. As we walked, we swatted at various bugs (both biting and otherwise) that insisted on swarming around us. The scenery was beautiful, especially at the beach on the edge of town, and there I picked up a beautiful shiny black rock that was lost before it could be identified. We then went to board our ship, but since there was no good docking point, we loaded onto zodiacs to reach the ship. After about an hour, during which our zodiac (initially first) was passed by four zodiacs, had its engine die (while we freaked out and our captain assured us all was fine), and I got quite a lot of splash, we finally reached the ship.

My cabin is an adorable room, with two windows that afford a sea view. The food is definitely too good for an expedition of students, but I will not complain...

Today, we spent the morning going through the safety procedures for zodiacs and landings and also listened to some presentations on the history of exploration in the North and on Torngat Mountains National Park. Time always seems to be short when I am writing (curfew in fifteen minutes) so I will speed throught the events of the day. After lunch, we went on our first true zodiac cruise, during which our group measured the salinity, temperature and pressure of several patches of ocean.

We landed at Killiniq, an Inuit town whose original occupants were forced out during Relocation. The town was in gorgeous disrepair, although its history gave it a melancholy air, I thought. After dinner, we went on a nightime cruise of the Button Islands. The fog, splashing water, and cold surrouding us made the scene so mysterious and fantastic that I had to question whether I was truly there. This whole expedition still seems so unreal. To all my loved ones, I miss you, I love you,and I wish you the best!


Montreal, Quebec

Today marks Day 5 with Students on Ice, and I have yet to write a word here. Yet at the urging of my followers, and the behest of the staff, here are my thoughts from SOI Days 1-5.

I write this on Day 2 at sea. We set sail from Kuujjuaq, Nunavik just last evening, shortly after 6 pm. The ride has been a pleasant and relaxing one thus far, hugging the eastern edge of Ungava Bay. The distant view of the Torngat Mountains to the east keeps my imagination running wild, as I anticipate the bountiful experiences to be had on land.

As many students may have already filled you in on the initial staging experiences in Ottawa, I start my story from "expedition beginnings": boarding the plane in Ottawa. Our flight to Kuujjuaq followed an unconventional route, being a direct charter. For many of us, this was the first charter we had ever boarded, and the first time we flew off without security checks, baggage hassles, and messy boarding passes.

The flight was nothing short of spectacular. Boarding from the back of the plane, my first impression was one of utility. First Air's 737 had the basics: comfortable seats, an in-flight magazine, and nice staff. And also a few surprises: a great warm meal. The plane was nothing fancy, however. It showed its "experience" combating the harsh Arctic winters, it showed its age in the cracking plastic, and it showed its adaptability in its design -- long, powerful engines capable of dealing with harsh winter flying conditions.

Kuujjuaq lay two hours away. A beautiful flying day saw us cross the entirety of Quebec, nearing Ungava Bay. To my shock and surprise, we witnessed a colourful expanse of green upon landing in the Northern Town of Kuujjuaq. The city sits just below the treeline, where the mix of dark evergreens with the pale green tundra made for a stunning sight.

Following a beautiful afternoon in town, we headed for the ship, where we began our journey up and into the bay. In the evening, I was able to witness my first ever sea ice, a truly fantastic sight. Ship life has begun, and is fantastic thus far. Deeper and better blogs to come.


Surrey, British Columbia

Last night I saw my first ice flows. After briefing ended at 10:30 it was a mellow darkness and crisp Arctic winds that brought in the sea ice. It made up the horizon and was beautiful. I woke up to the same thing in brighter light this morning. We couldn't blog until now because it just got set up.

Yesterday though we boarded the plane and took off at 7:25 which is the exact time the harvest moon was full. This was both amazing and problematic as the moon greatly affects the tides. On arrival our first greeting off the plane was flies, or maybe they were mosquitoes. A new trend ran through the group of wearing an extra sweater around your head to protect yourself from the bugs and hide inside buildings. My friends and I found the secret though! You stand apart from the big group and stand still. We looked like we all hated each other but it worked. Eventually you stopped noticing so it wasn't so bad. We checked out the town and had a BBQ before getting on the bus.

Our crew has exploded in numbers! We started out as a few staff and students and now we include a whole ship's crew and many more professionals along with some new comers. This ship is too fancy for us! The dinning is 5 star with salads I can't pronounce and chicken cordon bleu. It is like a really expensive yacht made for the Arctic. The outer decks have lawn chars and places to curl up in the cool air. Right now you can sort of survive outside in just a flannel shirt, but as we are moving I find myself adding more layers. We have been playing apples to apples and asking loads of questions.

I am excited to talk to Don. He has a great personality and his stories are wild and funny. He has dove down to the Marianas Trench and is a part of the ocean elders. He is not the only interesting one, all the professionals have something to give and a spunky way to get you interested.

The library has amazing books on the animals in the arctic and how to tell the different layers of the ice. We saw the ice charts last night and well, flexibility is key. All the winds have blown the ice in our direct route and we are updating constantly trying to navigate.

We have a bear team here to protect us, as polar bears are one of the only bears to eat humans.

I also understand now that most people look at the world maps and see how the ice does come back every year and it looks like it is not shrinking in area too much but it is the volume that worries professionals. They are seeing less and less mutli-season ice (meaning ice that has survived more than one year) than ever before. When you look at these numbers, the Ice volume is plummeting.

Our zodiac ride out to the boat was interesting as well. Something was wrong with our engine and we had to be towed. All went well up until we had a mini scare where they had to cut the line so both zodiac engines didn't collide.

My room mate is nice, her name is Dawn. We get chocolates on our bed every night and have our beds prepared. Again this place is way too nice! Being immersed in the Arctic life is giving me a first hand experience and knowledge about the struggles of this climate.

I really hope to bring my pictures and stories home to share. I love being on a ship and hope this is not my last time. Every day seems to fly by so fast and I really don't want it to end! :)


Surrey, British Columbia

Today we went out in the Zodiac to an abandoned town. It wasn't really abandoned as the people were forced to relocate because getting supplies in was really hard. Alot of the houses were anchored down with metal ties because the wind is so strong they could blow away. We arrived at low tide and you could see a line across the mountains where the high tide ended. A hawks nest was right by where we were landing and the female swooped down as she saw us as a threat. We also caught a jelly fish and some zooplankton. We were allowed to keep them to put in a small aquarium on the boat for this exact purpose.

I also won a bet just tonight because the zodiac tours went on despite the whirl pools forming and the deep mist. I bet they would go on and now I get to chose Allistars dinner tommorrow! Yes! It was probably the coldest thing I have encountered though. I wore every layer I had and borrowed some Inuit student's gloves. I also heard Germany won the Fifa cup. Nobody knows much about it but I was so excited when I heard and everyone cheered. We had a mini celebration on the Arctic waters. Today has been all sorts of weather and dressing up or down has been a guessing game.


Toronto, Ontario

Submitting this blog post the next day because of a one hour shift forward in time overnight!

Today could be considered a legit "expedition day"! We had two zodiac excursions with one shore landing in Killiniq - a community where Inuit were forced to relocate from. Basically, an abandoned town with building structures and artifacts still intact! I have always had an interest in exploring these locations so I am glad we were able to make a stop here.

Following our dinner, zodiacs drove off into the night for an overnight cruise of the Button Islands. This was one of the most enjoyable zodiac rides as we were able to retrieve land-fast sea ice fallen in the sea (which is a mixture of 3 currents!)

Today is truly the day that is the "pivotal moment" of the expedition where my vision of the world has broadened once again after observing the remnants of human settlement and the power the elements of nature have on our land.


Rothesay, New Brunswick

As I write, the ship rolls with the waters of Ungava bay. This morning has brought a small amount of quiet to the bustle of our journey - yesterday, our flight landed in Kuujjuaq, the regional hub of Nunavik. Nunavik, the northernmost partof Quebec, has a very different feel than the rest of the province - the stop signs I noticed, for example, were in Inuktitut and English, rather than the familiar "arret".

Kuujjuaq is a large population center in Nunavik, but much smaller than my home town, or any others that i've become very familiar with. Wandering through the town was almost pastoral -the northern sun shining down, I walked down open streets and paths.Two boys blasted by, eager to show off their scooter and bike, while in a yard, a large husky chewed happily on a large bone. Kuujjuaq was a place distinctly different, surrounded by the wide, open North.

Following our time in the town, we boarded zodiacs to take us to our ship, the Sea adventurer, and begin our voyage north. As I stood on the deck and the brief night began to fall, the cold wind hitting my face and sea ice drifting by, it finally hit home - I'm on the journey of a life time.

Today is not yet finished - this morning, we travelled by zodiac Killinik, a small community evicted and now lying empty. For the first time in our journey, I sat in a place of near total silence. No low drone from the highway permeated the landscape, only our voices, the water, and the arctic wind. The predominant feeling of the place was one of total stillness, enveloping the small party ashore.

Tonight, we'll cruise around the button islands by zodiac. Under the fog and cloud, the rocky islands within Nunavut seem desolate, though this is a land full of both surprises, and beauty.


Grimsby, Ontario

In the past two days I have experienced various new things! Yesterday, we flew to Kuujjuaq in the early morning. After being welcomed by the town's people and exploring the area, we made our way towards the ship! We rode in zodiacs and got onboard the Sea Adventurer. The ship is absolutely amazing from the five star meals, to bringing us all closer together; it is everything I hoped it would be and so much more!

Today, we recieved several presentations about national parks and aboriginal history. All the experts make their presentations extremely interesting. They are all passionate about what they do and show tons of enthusiasm. Then, we set sail on a zodiac excursion! We toured the area and collected and analyzed specimens found in the water. We also visited an abandoned village of the North. Although it was sad to see houses and community places that have been destroyed, the scenery was absolutely outstanding!

My journey so far has been very eye opening and exciting. I know this will continue and I am looking forward to the rest of the trip!


Windsor, Ontario

I drank fresh water from a waterfall while leaning out of a zodiac. Today has definitely been interesting. We took a zodiac ride that I actually enjoyed, which is surprising because yesterday I found the zodiac ride to be a near death experience. We explored an abandoned village and hiked a little. It was beautiful, at one point I could look out and see Nunavut, Nunvik and Nunatsiavut.

On a different note, this ship is amazing and the food is AWESOME.


St. John's, Newfoundland & Labrador

Day 5

First excursion off of the boat!  I finally experienced what I imagined my SOI experience would be like and it was great.  Exploring a now abandoned Killiniq, it was a great first adventure in the North.  The village provided some brilliant views along with some eerie ones with run down houses and a run down fish plant contrasting the beauty of the ice filled narrows.  After an early meal we plan on stopping for another excursion around the Button Islands at the very tip of Labrador.  Last few days have been great, lots of learning and story telling.  


Baker Lake, Nunavut

Hey mom, my time in Ottawa was a blast! Before we went on board we learned many different things about the expedition by visiting some interesting places like the Parliament Hill, Canadian Museum of Nature and Camp Fortune and also having briefings from the Alumni Delegates about their experiences on the Expeditions they've gone on. My experiences at those neat places were very interesting. So now we are on board just passing by Ungava Bay. The first night was alright. I had a goodnight's sleep and learned a lot in the last few days on this trip.


San Francisco, California

Day 5

After leaving Kuujjuaq yesterday on our new floating home, we went out on our first zodiak expedition. We went to an old abandoned village, where we saw an area frozen in time. It was easy to imagine how the cove was once home to a thriving community.

We then went cruising on the zodiacs and saw a pair of rough legged hawks as our first Arctic animals. While we were cruising, we used a CTD to measure the salinity and density of the water to better understand the ocean currents of the region. As we approach the tip of Labrador, I look forward to more great excursions.


Mississauga, Ontario

The ship rocks me to sleep and tips me off my feet.

The cold warms my heart and the people here are never apart.

The more ice I see, the closer it seems,

To the arctic, to Greenland, to my wildest dreams.

I've gotten to know so many people from all over the world. It's so interesting that I've continuously lost track of time. I have no clue what day it is. Yesterday, I met the master chef of the ship who is Jamaican (I am also Jamaican). The staff here on the ship also love that I am Jamaican. Today, I met the captain of the ship. I've never been on a ship for so long in all my life. It's lovely to walk into the lounge. The lounge is always filled with light music from the grand piano. The talented students, including Chris from Newfoundland, play the piano with great skill.

A letter to my mother:

I miss you too. Don't worry I'm fine. I love this ship and everyone on it. <3


Postville, Newfoundland & Labrador

SOI have now boarded the ship!!

Yesterday we all flew from Ottawa to Kuujjuaq on the wonderful airline First Air. When we arrived in Kuujjuaq we took a short tour around the community and later were served an awesome BBQ.

Afterwards, students headed down to the dock, then we drove in zodiacs to our floating home. For me it was an exciting ride as the Sea Adventurer itself was in view!

I was amazed as I stepped onto the vessel, and I still am! It is so beautiful. The crew members are all super happy and welcoming which makes it even more great. We had a very relaxed evening as we hung out in the lounge, enjoyed a delicious dinner, listened in on another fun briefing and then headed to our rooms after viewing the beautiful night sky and surrounding ice.

I awoke at around 6am after having quite a comfortable sleep. I'm anxious to begin the interesting day ahead and to make more unforgettable memories with my Students On Ice family.


Cold Lake, Alberta

Day 5

During this trip we have done a lot of activities that I am very happy to have tried them all. Everyday something exciting happens where I wish I can call my family and tell them all about it. I am feeling homesick a little bit, but I have made so many great friends that make me feel at home. I know at the end of this trip I will not want to leave my friends and the great people who made this experience so amazing for the students. Hopefully I can still keep contact with everyone after this trip.

Today we checked out an old abandoned Inuit community, it was interesting to see their homes and where they had lived for many years. Afterward we went on zodiac cruises around the shores to see if there are any wildlife. I am very appreciative of all the staff that are here just to help us learn more and get a better perspective. I have learned a lot about the culture, tradition, and environment in Kuujjuaq, it is nice to learn about other cultures other than my own. I am having a great time on this trip, I learned so much and am excited to see what is to come on the rest of the trip. I hope my friends and family back home are doing good, I can not wait to share my stories when I come home.


Lawn, Newfoundland & Labrador

Today is day 5, I'm counting down the days because I've been very homesick but I know I'm not the only one and I'm going to get through it. It's been a very different experience being away from home for this long and knowing how much more there is that is left to the expedition. Today was our first full day on the ship. It's such a beautiful ship and we are treated like kings and queens, being served with five course meals! 

The place that we visited today was Killiniq, an abandonded Inuit village.  It was our first zodiac cruise and it was nice to get on land for a little while. It's pretty easy to get sea sick and when we got on land I had sea legs. It's so cold out when in the zodiac because you are directly on the water and sometimes you even get wet. I'm trying my hardest to have fun and to take in every experience that I can! We go on another zodiac expedition after supper to the Button Islands and tomorrow we will be in the Torngat Mountains in Labrador. 

I miss home like crazy and the land that we have explored so far is very similar to home which makes me miss it more but its nice to  be outside and on the water. I miss everyone at home, you know who you are, and I hope you guys are all thinking about me as much as I'm thinking about you, I love you all and I will be home soon. 

PS. Mom, stop worrying about me because I know you are, I'll be fine, I'm with great people and I'm safe even though I'm homesick. I'll be home soon, love you! xoxooxx


Mississauga, Ontario

We finally took our chartered flight yesterday and arrived in Kuujjuaq. Justin, a Parks Canada student, asked me what my first impression was. I said "quaint". The town itself is apparently typical of all northern settlements. I thought it had a peaceful quality to it.

We visited a local convenience store before having lunch. From my perspective, some of the prices of items are astronomical compared to those in Ontario. Watermelons are $10.99 each--and that's considered on sale! Then it was onwards to lunch, which was hosted by the locals and held at the town hall. It was nice of them to welcome us and we were all very grateful. Plus, there was wifi, and it was probably the last time we would have that luxury for quite a while.

Now came the exiting part: boarding the Zodiacs and heading to our ship for the first time. I had the luck of being in the slowest Zodiac. All the others passed us on their way to the Sea Adventurer. On the bright side, we enjoyed what was probably the longest Zodiac ride on the expedition thus far.

The ship is super nice with all its amenities. Besides our cabins, there is the bridge, a dining room, a lounge with a grand piano, several outer decks, and a library from which students can take out books. It was far more than I expected and so I think we're quite lucky.

I also saw sea ice for the first time (well, up close anyway). Where there's ice, there are animals to be found, so hopefully we will see many in the next few days. Towards the end of the evening, the sky exhibited a beautiful streak of orange sunset, making for a very good photo opportunity indeed.

Today will be full of Zodiac rides as we head off to shore to explore an abandoned village near the northern tip of Labrador. Geoff also said we'll cruise around on Zodiacs near the Button Islands later in the evening. I have to go get ready!

Signing off for now,



North Vancouver, British Columbia

The past four days have breezed by so incredibly fast and I cannot believe how much these experiences have already shaped me as an individual.

The first three days were exhilarating, filled with a wonderful tour of Ottawa, Canada. We were not only able to get a deeper understanding of our Canadian history and culture with visits to the Parliament, but we were also able to improve our knowledge of how different aspects of the environment interconnect with visits to the national Nature Museum. My favourite part of the day was when we got the chance to look at the library in the Parliament. The marble statue that greeted us when we entered made the room even more impressive.

One of the most memorable parts of the experience personally for me was on the 11th when we were able to tour the research center of the museum freely. It was my first time seeing the displays of taxidermed tigers, as well as rodents. It was also fulfilling to be able to feel the educators' and scientists' passion as they spoke on their intriguing fields of interest.

Yesterday was a bittersweet day as we departed the beautiful city of Ottawa and and journeyed to our ship - our home for the next 12 days. During our trip, I encountered my first sand flies, which continuously flew into our faces in spite of the bug spray, and my first Zodiac ride. The Zodiac ride was inexplicably exciting. The ride allowed the students to feel the thrill of riding in a Zodiac, as well as allow us to appreciate the plants and wildlife in the marine ecosystem that surrounded us. After a tiring day, we returned to our dorms exhausted, and fell asleep hearing the tranquil drone of the ship's engines.

Today, after a great lunch, we set out for our first excursion to Nunavik. The Zodiac ride was once again very exhilarating and I was able to enjoy the view of the Canadian Shield that created the landscape. After a short ride, we disembarked at a deserted village. I was appalled to discover that the villagers were forced to abandon their homes due to the Canadian government. I couldn't imagine having to leave most of my valuables behind and search for a new home. The town had a melancholy atmosphere: I could reminisce and imagine the children playing in the fields, and their parents greeting them at the door. The old furniture and the peeling walls made the view antique and in a way, beautiful, but the isolation made me feel regretful for these families.

In about half an hour, our ship will be in the Button Islands, where we will all transfer onto our Zodiacs once more today to see the beautiful scenery and wildlife. It's surprising that the days are so long here - ever since we embarked, I have never seen darkness covering the landscape. I cannot wait for another captivating excursion that will be forever etched in my memory.


St. John's, Newfoundland & Labrador

So I'm back here again, blogging. I'm pleased to say that this time around, it's not because I managed to get myself into any sort of room key mishap. (The doors are never locked, and have actual physical keys, thank goodness.) I'm here because I have about an hour of free time before supper, and 4 days into the trip I've only made one entry.

The past few days have been interesting, to say the least. From where we left off, I've attended inspiring talks (Go Donovan!) and have traveled to Kuujjuaq.

Now, about the traveling.

The folks at First Air are super nice and very accommodating, however, the service could literally be lead by a smiling Leonardo DiCaprio accompanied by a Broadway dance number consisting of the cast of Les Miserables and I would still dislike the airplane ride. I mean, me and heights (as you may have read) do not mix well. I’m pretty sure the armrests of my seat are now permanently marked with my hand prints. Suffice to say I would’ve jumped for joy if the roof were higher. (Head injuries are not fun. I would know.)

The town of Kuujjuaq was actually smaller than I thought it would be. It was very quiet, with only (for what I could tell) three small children playing outside. The town hall was impressive with it’s artistic blue, white and yellow design, and the barbecue they had for us was delicious. If only we weren’t being constantly eaten alive by black flies so fierce that even a fine layer of fly dope could not destroy. Nevertheless, it was a good experience.

It was time to head out to our boat by Zodiac, a prospect I was initially excited about. I’ve been in smaller vessels back home and I always found them fun. However, that was always in calm waters, these were not. Our gracious boat driver quite obviously had a lot of experience behind him, as he zoomed us past 2 or 3 other Zodiacs, which had left the dock about 10 minutes before us. The magnificent Lee, photographer extraordinaire was there to lend a comforting anchor grip on my arm. My other arm I could not feel as it was engaged in a white knuckled, vice-like grip with the rope on the boat. When we finally got to the boat (I had relaxed a bit by now, having gotten my sea legs) I removed my hand to find it swollen and red. Guess gloves would have been a good idea.

The boat I have no words for. We do not deserve this boat as it is far too perfect. It has a library, spacious cabins, a dining hall and a lounge! The crew is extremely kind and the food is great!

My night experiences were less than pleasant as we had our first encounter with ice. It was freezing!(Literally) The boat was rocking so hard that at one point all of the closets and our door flew open! My roommates were fast asleep and I was clutching the top bunk with all my might, a little green in my gills. (Now that I think about it, the metal of the bed probably has my indented handprints as well.)

So that takes us to today, which was fun. Starting with amusing presentations in the morning we went for a pleasant Zodiac ride, which was far calmer than the previous ride. We gathered Oceanographic data with Ray, saw a waterfall, and headed to the “Abandoned” Inuit village of Killiniq. It was beautiful, but it was also sad to learn that its occupants were forced to leave their homes due to resettlement. The spot is unique as in ten minutes you can travel from Nunatsiavut, to Labrador, to Nunavut!

That takes us to now. Dinner has just been announced and my stomach seems to agree. Hopefully I’ll find the time to write another entry, and until then, safe journeys!


St. John's, Newfoundland & Labrador

So yesterday we started our day by waking up early to board the buses and head to catch our plane in Kuujjuaq. It wasn't as long as a flight as I thought it would be, honestly. After we arrived in Kuujjuaq we had a small walking tour of the community. The community was larger than I figured it would be, and there were more bugs than even imaginable. But none of that even mattered, all that I cared about at that moment was getting to explore an unknown environment! We also had a BBQ by the town hall, it was absolutely delicious!! Then after all this excitement was over a whole new wave of excitement came; it was time to ride the Zodiacs to the "SEA ADVENTURER" which is the boat we will be exploring in. So today we're going on a Zodiac adventure! We will actually be going into shore and also cruising around.


Chelsea, Quebec

First blog from the arctic! Yesterday was a very busy day. We woke up at 5:30 so we could make an early flight to Kuujjuaq. The flight was about two hours long and we arrived just after 11:00. We walked around the town for a short while before we were treated to a barbecue by the locals. Right after that we head to a small inlet where we got on the Zodiacs. The ride was 40 minutes long before we arrived at the ship. The ship is beautiful, the cabins luxerious and the food is amazing. It was a long day but a fufilling one.

Today was our first full day on the ship. The day started with a couple seminars presented by the educators which were followed by a safety meeting in the lounge. The big event of the day was visiting an abandoned native village in the north of Quebec. It was a pretty cool, if not sinister, expedition. While on the Zodiac's,beforehand, we caught a jelly fish and took plankton samples for later use. I'm taking lot's of pictures and having a great time. Bye!!!!


Churchill, Manitoba

Day 5 of Students on Ice - Day two on the ship since we borded in Kuujjuaq is over and man has it been something wonderful so far.

We went on two zodiac trips today. The first to an abandoned town where we hiked around looking at the various buildings and things left over like an old tractor and two wood boats. It was very sad to think that people used to call that place home, then were forced out. The second trip was around the Button Islands. It was cold and foggy but it made for some great video and pictures. The sillouettes of the rocky hills coming out of the fog and the odd chunk of ice floating around made the entire scene very mysterious. Cant wait for tomorrow as we head to the Torngat mountains.



Nous avons eu une longue nuit de sommeil, car le réveil était fixé à 7h30. Notre premier petit déjeuner en mer était delicieux. Nous avons eu quelques présentations de la part du staff, et Justin, via un petit sketch, nous a pour les sorties en zodiac.

Apres le déjeuner, nous nous sommes préparés pour la sortie, et Loris a joué un peu de guitare, réunissant les voix de plusieurs jeunes du bateau. expliqué comment il fallait s'habiller

Nous n'étions pas sur le meme zodiac pour notre sortie. Sur l'eau, Loris a pu prendre quelques photos d'aigles et de cascades, tandis que de son coté, Élodie a peché une meduse. Nous avons accosté pour visiter un village abandonné, ainsi que des paysages magistraux.

Nous allons a présent manger, et après le repas, nous ferons une sortie en zodiac, en espérant voir d'autres belles choses, voire des ours.


Saint-Félix-de-Kingsey, Quebec

Après une merveilleuse nuit de sommeil à se faire bercer par les vagues, nous avons eu quelques présentations pour commencer la journée. Ce qui m'a le plus marqué, c'est le vidéo présentant le Parc National des Monts-Torngat. Les images étaient à couper le souffle! Nous y serons dans peu de temps, j'ai très hâte de voir ce spectacle de mes propres yeux.

En après-midi, nous avons eu notre première sortie en zodiaque! En plus de pouvoir observer les paysages durant la promenade en zodiaque, nous avons également pu profiter d'une démonstration d'océanographie qui consiste à mesurer la température et la salinité de l'eau. Nous nous sommes rendus jusqu'à un petit village abandonné. Tout a été laissé tel quel. Les vues des vieux bâtiments combinées à celles des montagnes, des cours d'eau et de la neige m'ont laissé sans mot. Des gardes armés étaient présents afin de pouvoir nous protéger des ours, ça rend l'expérience vraiment unique!

Après le souper, nous sommes retournés en zodiaque et avons vu plusieurs glaciers flottés sur l'eau. J'adore la couleur qu'ils ont sous l'eau, ce léger turquoise qui rend si bien hommage au blanc par lequel il est orné.


Ottawa, Ontario

I am having an amazing time of this trip everything we do is just so much fun and always so entertaining and educational. Today was our first real excursion. We went to an old abandoned Inuit community, it came with a very sad story as the people who once called that place home were driven from their homes and forced to move. The town was at a complete stand still as things were all in ordinary places and seemed like if an aging process didn’t take place that town could still be a thriving community. Walking through what used to be roads had a very strange feeling to it, it put you in an extremely somber mood just thinking of all the life and stories this town had and how all of that got taken unfairly from it.

I hope all my friends and family back home are doing O.K. and I just want to wish my baseball team good luck in the provincial tournament qualifier that is going on right now!


Mississauga, Ontario

Today was the second day on board the Sea Adventurer for the SOI team and it is imperative that certain details be provided concerning the current state of our expedition.

Yesterday was an extremely action-packed day which commenced at the unfortunate hour of 5:30 in the morning. The SOI team quickly assembled in front of our Carleton university accommodation before loading our bags and equipment and heading for the Ottawa airport, where we omitted the arduous process of getting past airport security and boarded our First Air charter flight for Kuujjuaq, Quebec.

The flight took a brief two hours and ten minutes and we were soon welcomed by our first community in the North. Following our landing we split up into groups and explored the city, taking the time to stop and appreciate Kuujjuaq's most interesting areas. I received another chance to talk to Lee, one of our incredible trip photographers and picked up some valuable tips regarding the use of polarizers; (the key to a good blog are all the details).

After the tour, we enjoyed a great barbecue and began to board buses for the Kuujjuaq marina, where we took our first zodiac cruises to meet our expedition ship, the Sea Adventurer. I was on the last zodiac to depart from the harbour, but as a result I had the opportunity of talking with Alistair, Ray Roche and Geoff Green.

On board everyone enjoyed a great meal and met several new members of the SOI team including Gary Baikie, from Torngat Mountains National Park and Don Walsh, the famous oceanographer who once visited the Marianas Trench. Then, after the daily briefing had been conducted, both students and staff resorted to our cabins, eagerly awaiting the next days events.

Today we boarded our zodiacs for Killiniq, a small Inuit community at the tip of the Quebec and Labrador border. The views were spectacular and I believe it is natural to assume that our location near the top of the world truly altered our perspectives on a collective level; even though the expedition has barely gotten underway, I already believe that my understanding of what it means to be a responsible and active advocate for the preservation of the Arctic Regions has been broadened. I am on the constant lookout for a polar bear and perhaps I will receive the chance to see one during our exploration of the Button Islands this evening.

All the best to anyone reading this account and I simply hope that one realizes that this is truly the experience of a lifetime.


St. John's Newfoundland & Labrador

Today was a spectacular day filled with fun-filled activities and spectacular views. Overnight yesterday, we traveled up the river into Ungava Bay and today we landed at the tip of Labrador. In the morning, we attended two presentations; the first on the history of exploration in the Arctic region and the second on zodiac safety and briefings.

In the first presentation, what I found the most interesting was the history of European explorers and their failed attempts to map and navigate the Northwest Passage but also their advances towards mapping the Arctic region in general. The presentation on zodiac added humour to the presentations as Justin dressed in a complete opposite manner as to board a zodiac and was used as a comparison to someone who was dressed appropriately. This was all for the numerous zodiac landings in the next 2 weeks and also the one later today.

The fun all began at 2pm as this was our first official zodiac landing to an abandoned Inuit village. The zodiac experience was amazing although cold and windy. We disembarked the zodiac at the abandoned village and hiked around for around an hour until we returned to the zodiac again for a small cruise. In the cruise, we took some samples using an instrument to measure the temperature and salinty of the ocean waters. This was very interesting and educational although the temperature dropped and the winds picked up.

Now I am back in the cozy and warm ship where we all wait for dinner to be served in 20 minutes. Later tonight, we will be conducting another zodiac cruise to the Button Islands and I am looking forward to this next cruise and I am very excited for all the adventures Students on Ice will give me in the next two weeks.


Mississauga, Ontario

Here I am at 6:00am in the morning sitting in the library of the ship of the intriguing Sea Adventurer as we head forward and it swings side to side. Luckily, I still have not felt sea-sick, and I truly (really) hope that it stays like that for as much as possible.

Yesterday was a very occupied day and I had no time to write anything, as we travelled on land (in a bus) to the airport in Ottawa, where after we travelled on air (in a private airplane, where we didn't even need to get checked for what we were carrying and we simply got in it directly!), and then finally getting in the Zodiac afterwards to reach the ship and board it almost in a James Bond fashion. After 45 minutes on the Zodiac, having a bumpy ride due to the tides and singing some songs, we had to "park" in front of some stairs that led to the ship, where we got in and water was just below us. It might be natural to do this, but since I have never done it before it seemed to me a heck of an awesome thing to do.

In the ship, besides the fact that I have never been in one so big, I am truly impressed by how elegant and pleasant it is, both from the construction of it, like the lounge and the dining room, as well as the amiable staff who keep us safe. I even had the opportunity to meet a man, Omar, who was born in Peru, just like me! The lounge has a beautiful piano, where some friends and I played some classical and pop songs on it and gave a great background music for anyone else who listened. Looking at the river (before), and now the ocean as we make our way is mesmerizing and almost mystical; in truth, just a minute of quiet contemplation can make you realize how small we are compared to the vastness of the Earth. We are heading to the (pardon my spelling if anything), "Button Islands" at the moment, and I cannot wait to get there so we can hopefully get on land for a bit and explore. I cannot wait to look at some wildlife and attempt to observe just how delicate our environment is.

We had many presentations and introductions from many new "team members" in the lounge and there are still a few more to go. I can only say that I am almost inspired by many of them, as they do so much for the world while maintaining that modest and tranquil virtue that I always admire. I'm sure to learn a lot from everybody, asking questions and always making the best out of situations, as some people in their presentations said. More than anything, if we ever wish to learn more about ourselves and the role we play in this world we simply have to get out of our comfort levels and look beyond what we can only see...we need to start to connect the dots and understand that things like global warming, animal extinctions or Aboriginal injustice by the government are not just things that occur in books that we learn, they also take place in life, in the present and in the land we share with everyone else. They are the reality and their outcomes are truly up to us. Realizing this can sometimes be a challenge and I hope that with this expedition I can learn a bit more how to turn those situations around for the better.

I hope everything is all right on land! Here it is chilly but our hearts are burning with courage to explore the things we have not seen yet. Once again, don't miss me too much, we'll be back before we all know it (or so they tell us). Enjoy the warm weather, and I'll enjoy the awe-inspiring body of water that I am in.

Here's to more exploration,

Sergio Raez Villanueva


Repulse Bay, Nunavut

Hi Mom

I hope you see this. I'm doing good but i really miss everyone but mostly Malcolm my muffin. Once I get internet connection I'll post some pictures and posts. I'll be in Ottawa for two days after the expedition.

We are now in Labrador i went on a zodiac (boat) ride to the land we were walking around on land to a village where no one lives because they were evicted but still camp there. I saw two houses like Anaanatsiaqs old coffee shop and it just made me think of home. I can't wait to see you guys. I hope Nap or anyone didn't go in my room lol. I put stuff so I know that someone goes in there but if someone did I'll know hahah. I really really miss muffin; tell him "offuu" for me. I miss the sound off "haaai laaf" lol. Got kind of sea sick this afternoon. I fell asleep but not miriaq during the briefing. It's been only four days but it feels like a week; cant wait to reach Greenland. Sounds beautiful and fun. Went to the mall in Ottawa and spent nearly half of my money because of the shoes and waterproof jacket. The kids in the house but mostly Caleb should be expecting something. I hope there's more money in your card cause I'll be getting stuff for people in the house. I dont know if I can bring stuff; I guess I can after the expedition in Ottawa. But that's all i have to say so bye love you all


Mississauga, Ontario

Hello World! My name is Matt (GoPro Guy) and I will try my very best to write a blog every night (starting tonight) while on the SOI Expedition.

After several days of preparations in Ottawa, we finally made it to our Arctic home - "Sea Adventurer." My first impression of the ship can simply be described as jaw dropping amazement. It is the five star hotel of expedition vessels. The ship's crew and staff are extremely friendly, especially my friends Richard and Mark. I am thrilled to be one of the lucky few to be sharing the most population dense cabin; my cabin mates are really cool guys (Ben, Gordon, and James).

It was our first full day on the Sea Adventurer and it was truly a life changing experience. From visiting the abandoned village of Killiniq to exploring the Button Islands in zodiacs; I feel like an Arctic Explorer! I am pleased to announce that my GoPro footage is turning out exceptionally well. I believe that I am capturing the genuine vibe of the expedition.

It is well past my curfew and Mike (room check staff guy) is becoming noticeably agitated... I will have to end this blog post shortly. Shout-out to my mom for suggesting to me to bring my winter mittens, they were very cozy! You'll be hearing from me very soon everyone.

Peace, One love - Matt


Port Coquitlam, British Columbia

On our first full day on the boat on July 13, we learned about the establishment of the new, pristine, Torngat Mountains National Park (TMNP) and its role in portraying the Inuit homeland and culture from one the head staff of Parks Canada in that area, Gary Baike.

Whitney, the ever enthusiastic and charismatic history professor also gave a quick overview of the timeline of exploration, their motives and impact on the expansion of Arctic knowledge before actually setting foot in the park. We first went on our zodiac cruise to see sea ice, little falls and some murrs, before visiting the abandoned village of Killiniq. Being on a boat with Ray, we actually got to use a CTD, an instrument to measure salinity, temperature and depth.

While landing we got to witness two rough-legged hawks before seeing hints of wildlife around the village including the always interesting sight of poop from arctic hares and caribou as well as caribou bones. We were given the tragic backstory by our guide where Inuit were forcibly relocated to places unfamiliar hunting territory and limited resources leaving only remnants of civilisation with caterpillar trucks, ruins, abandoned boats and crabbing cages. In the village we also saw very spongy plants, black lichen and arctic poppies.

While cruising for the second time in the evening around the Button Islands, really cool carved, aqua-tinted icebergs revealed themselves as we caught really cool cocopods, krill among other zooplankton and the feeling was really serene. These past 2 days, I just feel a lot more comfortable just jamming in the lounge, playing with the guitar or just singing "Someone Like You" with a huge group. Those times on the boat were quite ordinary, but they stick out and were really awesome times where I feel we just let our guard down, be ourselves and enjoy each others' company.

Back to the general experience, along the way it's been very enriching to get tidbits of experience or knowledge from people up North. On our first day travelling to the boat, Nava shared about the previous uses of places in Kuujjuaq, such as how the townhall being used as the airport strip. Edmond would tell me about hunting squirrels, wolves, narwhals or how caribou hides would be used to warm his seat of some vehicle. Both Corey and Innunguaq have been teaching me a lot of new words in Iniktituk, while Innunguaq taught me at least a hundred times and even how to play Kantama. Josee and Mariah also demonstrated their smudging, or basically how they heal themselves through sage burning. I feel privileged to be privy to their history and culture, as if I'm now an important bearer of their sacred knowledge and I'm so glad they are open and eager to share it.

Speaking of sharing life stories and experiences, it's been nice to get to know my new roommate Liam, his interests in English and his life in New York. After playing card games or just hanging out in the lounge, it's really nice to see the personalities of everyone shine through. I definitely feel like we are family.


Thornhill, Ontario

Apparently I'm on a boat right now, and I am so tired right now. I could be sleeping in my bed, but if I start sleeping I'll probably never wake up ever again. The bed is just that comfortable.

So yesterday was an extremely long day that I was unable to blog about. It was so long that I had to sit down and write out all the events yesterday just to make sure that I even got it all down. Looking back, it probably felt longer than just one day. I could have easily seen myself doing all those things over a period of two or three days.

We had a super early wake up call at 5:45 AM. I, wanting a head start, decided to wake up at 5:15 AM in order to have time to pack my luggage. We left the dorms at around 6:45 AM, with no breakfast in the cafeteria. We made our way to the airport where we took a chartered flight to Kuujjuaq QC. On the flight, we had a pretty decent breakfast when talking about airline food, but not super high quality.

Once we landed, we had a nice walk around town, looking at the city. I managed to buy a few postcards during the walk, and also witnessed the highest priced bottle of coke I have ever seen. There were also alot of black flies. They were annoying. Very annoying.

We made our way to city hall where we had a nice lunch. I managed to eat 5 hotdogs, which was probably more than I should have eaten. While waiting for the bus to take us to the dock, I used the terrible wireless internet in the City Hall to keep me sane. I didn't use it for much, but because everyone else wasn't doing much it, it was quite useful.

Once we loaded on the buses, we drove a short distance to the dock, were small zodiac boats were waiting for us to take us to the main ship. I put on my life jacket and took the first boat to the ship. 5 minutes into the ride, I already had my regrets. why?
- It was quite cold on the ocean
- It was quite easy to get wet on the Zodiac
- The ETA for the ride was an hour.

Now, why would I be concerned about this? Well because I was wearing the following
- Hoodie, with a t-shirt under me
- Single layer of non waterproof pants
- All my waterproof stuff was in my packed luggage.
Oh, and did I mention our boat happened to have some motor problems making 5 other boats pass us on the way there?

Once I miraculously arrived on the boat alive and sane, I went up to my room to unpack my things. I then made my way down to the main gathering place to meet up with some friends. We talked, played some piano, and some other games while waiting for the announcement for dinner. We had a nice dinner at 7 PM; heck I even ate 4 courses of dessert. The food was high quality, and it made me feel really relaxed while eating.

After dinner, we walked around the ship and played a few more games before we had our evening meeting, where we had a talk about making the SOI experience unique and some other important information. Once we finished, it was time for bed, where I made my way back to my room and started to settle in.

I would say more, but it would make me want to sleep right now. I mean, the bed is just so comfortable. No, it really is.

But I'm having a blast right now... except for the thought in the back of my head telling me I need to do laundry right now. That's not fun at all...


San Francisco, California

I never knew a cruise ship could make me feel so wonderful and terrible at the same time. Don't get me wrong the Sea Adventure is the first and most amazing ship (not boat) that I have been on, but the world outside is so much more beautiful and interesting. Out here you don't have to stare at a small little computerized picture, you can go out and see it for yourself. Like today, we went out and saw ruins of an old town. It really showed me the there are so many people in the world and we are all so different. But we are also the same in many other ways well. In much of my life I have the mind set that i am the only one and all my problems are the most important, but they aren't. I am important but so are others. I hope to see many more amazing things on this trip and things continue to take my breath away.GO GERMANY!!!