Hello friends and strangers! I’d like to thank Students on Ice for arranging funding through the Schad Foundation so I could participate on this expedition and for connecting me with Earth Rangers so I can share my experience. As well as my scholarship references the incredible Tracy Beck and Matthew Coleman. Lastly is the support of my friends and family whom seem to have run the cycles of excitment with me preparing for this journey
Last night at the beginning of the lecture we were given an introduction to Inuit and Nunavut history. As a history student this of course was fascinating, however what excited me the most was hearing about Inuit Youth banning together and launching the Coppermine Conference, and the Land Claims era that followed. As a southerner, I feel there is this distorted perception of absolute negativity in the northern communities, but there are those who break out of poverty cycles and turn away from substance abuse. Earlier this summer I found myself on the west coast and had a similar feeling walking the neighbourhoods and streets of Berkeley, home to the Free Speech Movement. I look forward to learning more specifically about that group of Inuit youth in the 1970’s who banded together for change. As a young person this strikes a chord within me; it makes me optimistic for the future.
Another presenter last evening was Mary Simon herself! I found it most interesting her advice to us that climate change will not be obvious to us on the expedition. She emphasized, and I completely agree, that the Inuit perspective is crucial. Only after seasons of change is catastrophe obvious, this highlights the importance of oral histories and the necessary interactions with elder groups.
As students trickle in from around the world, the last few days here have been a journey all their own. Meeting new faces, young and old, exotic and familiar, there already seems to be a camaraderie between the expeditioners, perhaps built purely through the excitement we all share. For myself after months of anticipation through the scholarship process, stressful examination sessions and the building excitement to this point, it is hard to believe tomorrow night my head will rest in Greenland.
Students here seem to share the excitement of simply experiencing the arctic in all its facets. The wildlife, flora/fauna, culture and landscapes. For Canadians, myself included, I feel coming from the border regions we have a massive disconnect with the land and people who inhabit the rest of our shared space. I think Canadians in general could perhaps benefit from a cultural and environmental education, creating a connection and “social sovereignty” if you will, before jumping into political or military show of occupation. I too, am excited to experience the arctic on all the sensory levels. I hope some one reading this (perhaps a young Earth Ranger?) catches the same bug I felt three years ago upon first hearing about SOI.
I leave with a send off from my idol, Bjork, whom I had the pleasure of seeing for the first time before joining SOI on Sunday.
“This is an alarm call, so wake up, wake up now” “The journey itself is home”