From geology to archeology, from glaciology to botany, there were many experts on the Adventure Canada trip to the high arctic.
Below, you will find images that relate to the more science-based landings and learning on this trip. But I want to start by writing about the Inuit and their culture.
As a tourist, I was part of the 5th invasion of the Arctic, as Cedar, Adventure Canada's CEO, put it. First there were the explorers looking for the Northwest passage, then came the whalers, the missionaries, the bureaucrats, and now the tourists.
It is the hope of Adventure Canada, and myself, for that matter, that traveling there is worth the impact on the Arctic as tourists gain and share an understanding of the north and its people.
We had many points of access to Inuit culture on this trip. Our expedition leader, Jason, was Inuk. There were several on the expedition team who have lived for long periods of time in Nunavut and there were three Inuit culturalists on board of three different generations. They shared their knowledge of the political, cultural, economic, historical, and social circumstances of Nunavut freely. They were warm, happy, and proud of their society as well as concerned about the challenges to be faced.
As Heidi explained, the media often cover the challenges of Nunavut rather than its many successes. They don't speak about the joyful nature of the people, the richness of their culture, and the fortitude with which they take on the impact of past invaders. I hope the words and images below contribute to a more rounded view of Inuit life.
On our first evening, we were visited by people from Resolute who demonstrated sports and games enjoyed in their community. On the second night, there was a formal welcome that included Inuit customs. We visited Pond Inlet and were welcomed with a cultural demonstration and soccer game. Among the many presentations by the experts on board were sessions by Inuit culturalists.
- Heidi Langille delivered a presentation on the fundamentals of Nunavut, Inuit society, and culture. She spoke about demographics, food security (or insecurity), the harmful decisions made by others, resilience, community values, and their amazing sense of humor. She spoke about non-verbal communication. For example, if asked a question, an Inuk will raise their eyebrows if the response is yes but scrunch their face, just a bit, if the answer is no. Finally, she shared insight on what it is like to be an Inuk mother and Inuit parenting practices.
- Martha Flaherty's documentary, entitled “Martha of the North,” the name of which gives a nod to her grandfather's famous film, “Nanook of the North” was shown. After the film, Martha answered questions and spoke at length about the impact of having her family moved by the government to Grise Fiord as part of its relocation project for northern sovereignty.
- Robert Comeau spoke about the creation of Nunavut, Inuit governance in Canada, and the Inuit Circumpolar Council that involves all nations in the Arctic. The Nunavut government does not have parties and decisions are based on consensus.
Here's what I gathered from my 12-day trip that other tourists should know. When traveling to the north, please
- go with an open mind and without preconceived ideas.
- do not judge. There are always reasons that people do what they do. For example:
- What may look like garbage in a person's yard could be a resource of replacement parts that are otherwise difficult to find.
- Sustainable practices from the south may not work in the north.
- respect the people. Don't take photos of children, adults, dogs, homes, etc. without consent. Raised eyebrows mean yes.
- follow local practices. Recognize that the landscapes are vulnerable. Walk on boardwalks. Follow local guidelines.
- Ask straightforward questions so that your understanding grows.
Landings for Learning in the Arctic
With only one exception, we were off the ship every day of the trip. Sometimes it was a challenge to find an appropriate landing place but it was almost always successful. On shore, the experts came along and positioned themselves in appropriate places on our hiking route to help us understand the natural environment. The following experts were on the trip:
- Inuit art specialist
- Inuit culturalist – 3
- nature photographer – 2
Now, here is just a smattering of images from nature in the north.
On board there were places where people could record their sightings of birds, mammals, and plants. Collectively, professional and amateur ornithologists, botanists, and biologists put together quite a list.
- Bearded seal
- Polar bear
- Harp seal
- Ringed seal
- Humpback whale
- Minke whale
- Fin whale
A short list of the 37 species of birds sighted.
- Rough-legged Hawk
- Glaucous Gull
- Great Black-backed Gull
- Ivory Gull
- Sabine's Gull
- Great Cormorant
- Parasitic Jaeger
- Common Ringed Plover
- Red Phalarope
- Purple Sandpiper
- Red-throated Loon
- Snow Goose
- King Eider
- Northern Wheatear
- Lapland Longspur
- Horned Lark
- Rock Ptarmigan
This trip was sponsored by Adventure Canada but, as always, the views and opinions are my own.
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