Trip of a life­time for high school stu­dent

PJC’s To­bias March fundrais­ing to go on Arc­tic ex­pe­di­tion

The Expositor (Brantford) - - NEWS - MICHELLE RUBY EX­POS­I­TOR STAFF mruby@post­

A 17-year-old city stu­dent has been in­vited aboard an Arc­tic ex­pe­di­tion that could change the course of his life.

The only thing stand­ing be­tween To­bias March and this ed­u­ca­tional adventure, which would in­tro­duce him to the arts, cul­ture, his­tory, pol­i­tics, and science of the north, is fund­ing.

“Fi­nan­cially, it’s scary,” said mom Lau­rier March. “But it’s a huge op­por­tu­nity.”

March, a Grade 11 stu­dent at Pauline John­son Col­le­giate where he is en­rolled in the spe­cial­ist high skills ma­jor pro­gram fo­cus­ing on the en­vi­ron­ment, has been se­lected to join about 125 stu­dents from around the world for this year’s Stu­dents on Ice Arc­tic ex­pe­di­tion.

The ship-based trip brings stu­dents to­gether with sci­en­tists, elders, ed­u­ca­tors, artists, mu­si­cians, CEOs, dig­ni­taries, jour­nal­ists, au­thors and in­no­va­tors. Aboard this year’s “float­ing class­room” will be Natan Obed, pres­i­dent of the ITK (Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami), a non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that rep­re­sents more than 60,000 Inuit.

Past par­tic­i­pants in­clude Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau and his wife So­phie Gre­goire and Cana­dian jour­nal­ist Peter Mans­bridge.

The two-week jour­ney will in­clude pre­sen­ta­tions, work­shops, hands-on re­search, hikes to “wild places,” encounters with po­lar bears and other wildlife, vis­its to Arc­tic com­mu­ni­ties, as well as the op­por­tu­nity to get first-hand ed­u­ca­tion and in­sight into the dy­nam­ics of cli­mate change, tra­di­tional knowl­edge, sci­en­tific re­search, pol­icy and other im­por­tant Arc­tic and global top­ics.

While many stu­dents have the en­tire cost of the ex­pe­di­tion cov­ered by Stu­dents on Ice, March has been of­fered a $5,000 schol­ar­ship by the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

He­has­raised­somem­o­neythrough fam­ily and a Go Fund Me page, but still needs to gather about $7,000 to cover the cost of the trip.

Ex­pe­di­tion man­ager Shirley Manh said Stu­dents on Ice founder Ge­off Green, a Cana­dian ex­plorer and ed­u­ca­tor, wanted to pro­vide a lifechang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, par­tic­u­larly for high school stu­dents, “be­fore they made ca­reer choices.” The char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tion was founded in 1999.

“We want to get ex­pe­ri­ences into the hands and hearts of young peo­ple old enough to un­der­stand com­plex global issues,” said Manh.

Stu­dents on Ice con­ducts two ship­based jour­neys an­nu­ally: typ­i­cally one to the East­ern Cana­dian Arc­tic and western coast of Green­land (and oc­ca­sion­ally Ice­land); and the other to south­ern South Amer­ica, the Antarc­tic Penin­sula and sur­round­ing South­ern Ocean. The Antarc­tic trips have been sus­pended for a cou­ple years but will soon re­sume, said Manh.

March said he was very young when he first be­came aware, on a ba­sic level, of en­vi­ron­men­tal issues.

“IwatchedArc­ticTale(adoc­u­men­tary from the Na­tional Ge­o­graphic So­ci­ety) with my mom when I was about seven years old,” he said. “If any­one in the house was waste­ful with re­sources I would say, ‘Turn out the lights, you’re killing the po­lar bears.’

“Of course I was re­ally young and didn’t re­al­ize how im­por­tant an is­sue po­lar ice would be­come.”

March, who is con­sid­er­ing a ca­reer in en­vi­ron­men­tal work, spends time on wilder­ness ca­noe trips with his fam­ily, and hik­ing the trails where he picks up garbage. He re­cently painted, with his class, warn­ings on city storm sew­ers to help keep out con­tam­i­nants.

“The Arc­tic rep­re­sents life,” he said. “It is an en­vi­ron­men­tally-sen­si­tive eco-sys­tem we need to take bet­ter care of. It has species and cul­tures that may be lost if we don’t do more to pre­serve the re­gion.”

The Stu­dents on Ice ex­pe­di­tion will be held from July 23 to Aug. 7. To con­trib­ute to March’s fundrais­ing campaign go to www.go­fundme. com/to­bi­as­march


To­bias March, a Grade 12 stu­dent at Pauline John­son Col­le­giate, has been ac­cepted into an in­ter­na­tional youth ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram to the Arc­tic, called Stu­dents on Ice, to learn about the won­ders and global im­por­tance of the Po­lar Re­gions. March has re­ceived a par­tial schol­ar­ship for the trip, set for July, but still needs to raise about $7,000 to cover his ex­penses.

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