Arc­tic Ex­pe­di­tion a real ‘eye opener’ for NL stu­dents

Stu­dents on Ice par­tic­i­pants had hands-on sci­en­tific and cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ences in the North

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - -classified- - BY CHRIS­TINE HENNEBURY SPECIAL TO THE LABRADO­RIAN

While most peo­ple were en­joy­ing the hot­ter than nor­mal sum­mer weather, some young peo­ple from Labrador were in a cooler cli­mate, as mem­bers of the Stu­dents on Ice ex­pe­di­tion from July 23 to Aug. 7.

Pet­shish Jack, 24, from She­shat­shiu, Labrador, a re­cent Travel and Tourism grad­u­ate from Al­go­nquin Col­lege, says the Stu­dents on Ice ex­pe­ri­ence was in­ter­est­ing and fun.

“It was def­i­nitely an eye opener to see the dif­fer­ent cul­tures, homes and lan­guages,” Jack said.

“What I en­joyed the most was be­ing able to see all the wildlife and land­scapes. The moun­tain, and fjords were amaz­ing and I was able to see an­i­mals such as po­lar bears, whales and seals.”

Stu­dents on Ice, which started in 2000, is an im­mer­sive ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram that takes stu­dents through west­ern Green­land and the Cana­dian High Arc­tic with a team of In­dige­nous and non-In­dige­nous sci­en­tists, artists, elders and lead­ers.

The 2018 pro­gram fo­cused on cli­mate change adap­ta­tion, ocean lit­er­acy, sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment goals and truth and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion with a goal of cre­at­ing un­der­stand­ing and con­nec­tions be­tween youth from around the world.

This year’s ex­pe­di­tion in­cluded 130 stu­dents and over 80 staff from 20 coun­tries world­wide.

On­board were nine stu­dents from New­found­land and Labrador: Trevor Dicker and Syd­ney Dicker from Nain, Den­ver Ed­munds from Hopedale, Danika Mitchell from Makkovik, Pet­shish Jack from She­shat­shiu, Ocean Pot­tle-Shi­wak from Rigo­let, Adena Peters and Polina Kon­stanti­nova from St. John’s and Brady Reid from Cor­ner Brook.

Reid, 23, who is work­ing on his MA in En­vi­ron­men­tal Pol­icy at MUN’s Gren­fell Cam­pus, was with Stu­dents on Ice as part of his sum­mer po­si­tion with Parks Canada’s North­ern En­gage­ment team. He says the ex­pe­di­tion was a great match for his re­search goals.

“My the­sis is about what In­dige­nous knowl­edge looks like in en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­icy,” Reid said. “A big part of the Stu­dents on Ice pro­gram is rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and in­dige­nous knowl­edge. I learned so much from the elders.

“It was a re­ally cool to be able to take what I have been learn­ing through my re­search and see it in the real world, in a place like the Arc­tic.”

The ex­pe­di­tion ran into some com­pli­ca­tions with sea ice that pre­vented them from be­ing able to ex­plore as much of Canada’s High Arc­tic as they in­tended. That led to them hav­ing to al­ter their plans and re­turn to Green­land rather than fly­ing out of Res­o­lute Bay.

Reid’s first sight of a glacier had a pro­found ef­fect on him.

“Look­ing up at this glacier, it was just was so im­mense. I spent 10 or 15 min­utes just look­ing at it, think­ing about that amount of ice and think­ing of it melt­ing,” Reid said. “Cli­mate change be­came real when I saw how mas­sive that ice was and to think of it re­ced­ing.”

For Den­ver Ed­monds, 17, a stu­dent at Amos Come­nius Memo­rial School in Hopedale, a per­sonal con­nec­tion to the ef­fects of cli­mate change came in a work­shop aboard the ship.

“I think my favourite work­shop was the one about cli­mate change,” Ed­monds said. “I got to hear about how some­one couldn’t go seal hunt­ing be­cause of the bad ice, and how it af­fected peo­ple go­ing off on ski­doos and boats. And things like hav­ing a late spring and early fall and stuff like that. It was just kind of in­ter­est­ing to hear about how the cli­mate changed over the years.”

Whether they were learn­ing through work­shops or by spend­ing time in the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment, the stu­dents had a lot of fun. And they would en­cour­age oth­ers to try the Stu­dents on Ice pro­gram.

“I would def­i­nitely rec­om­mend the Stu­dents on Ice pro­gram to stu­dents who re­ally en­joy learn­ing new things and vis­it­ing new places,” Jack said. Ed­monds agrees.

“I liked go­ing to the lit­tle com­mu­ni­ties, and see­ing the high moun­tains, and see­ing glaciers for the first time and I liked tak­ing pic­tures,” Ed­monds said. “I loved the whole trip. I’ve al­ready told all of my friends to ap­ply.”


Brady Reid (far left) joined the Stu­dents on Ice pro­gram as part of a team spon­sored by Parks Canada. Reid ap­pre­ci­ated the op­por­tu­nity to learn from such a di­verse group of peo­ple on the ex­pe­di­tion.


Den­ver Ed­monds, 17, from Hopedale, ap­plied to the Stu­dents on Ice pro­gram so he could see the Arc­tic, meet new friends, and get some great pho­tos. He ac­com­plished all of that, and more.


Pet­shish Jack, 24, from She­shat­shiu, aboard the ex­pe­di­tion ves­sel near Uum­man­naq, Green­land. She will be able to use her ex­pe­ri­ences from Stu­dents on Ice in her ca­reer in travel and tourism.

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