As the Arctic warms and polar sea ice continues to melt at unprecedented rates, 75 international high school students – including three from Ottawa – and a team of inspiring leaders sailed on the latest Students on Ice Arctic expedition: A Voyage of Discovery and Transformation. Students on Ice is an award-winning organization offering unique educational expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic. Its mandate is to provide students, educators and scientists with inspiring educational opportunities and, in so doing, help them foster a new understanding and respect for our parched planet. Students on Ice is headquartered in Gatineau, Quebec.
Launching from Iqaluit in Nunavut, the ship- and land-based journey explored the eastern Canadian Arctic and western Greenland from July 29 to August 13. The expedition involved Canadian and international students, ages 14-18, and included more than 30 Inuit youth from Canada’s North. The students joined a team of 35 world-class scientists, historians, artists, explorers, educators, innovators, polar experts and Aboriginal Elders on a once-in-a-lifetime journey that expanded their knowledge of the circumpolar world and gave them a new global perspective on the planet, its wonders, and its present and future challenges.
Students on the expedition came from countries around the world including India, Russia, Germany, Monaco, Belize, Greenland and the United States. Through the generosity of partner organizations, almost all have been awarded scholarships to participate in what is sure to be a transformational, life-changing experience. Joining the Students on Ice team this year were Mary Simon, Inuit leader and former president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami; Madeleine Redfern, mayor of Iqaluit; and Bill “Father Goose” Lishman, the renowned artist, inventor and pioneer. The president and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Nature, Meg Beckel, also joined the expedition along with several CMN scientists.
The themes of the 2012 Arctic Expedition were interconnection, discovery and transformation and every day on board the ice-class expedition vessel was different. The approach to expedition learning weaved together exciting shore landings, interpretive hikes, community visits, Zodiac cruises and ship-based exploration. Expedition activities included extraordinary wildlife encounters, educational day excursions, visits to remote Arctic communities and archeological sites, and opportunities to acquire first-hand knowledge and insight into the dynamics of climate change. Participants explored how human and natural systems are inextricably connected and how personal and societal transformation can take place even in the harshest environments.
“There has never been a more important time to expose the youth of Canada and the world to the Arctic,” said Geoff Green, the founder and president of Students on Ice. “This region will be front and centre in the coming years in terms of its global importance to a wide range of issues – from climate change to sustainable development. For Canadian youth in particular, this expedition represents an opportunity to connect with our emerging identity as an Arctic nation.”
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