Hard to believe I’ve been back from my amazing voyage with Students on Ice for more than a week. What an unbelievably incredible trip. Such an intense, action-and-learning-packed two weeks: beginning in Ottawa, flying to Iqaluit, Nunavut, boarding our ship ‘Akademik Ioffe’ (with the assistance of the Canadian Coast Guard…but that’s another story, more on that later…), sailing to Kangerlusak, Greenland with many stops in between…i don’t even quite know where to begin with describing everything I saw and did and learned and felt.
Imagine: 75 international high school students – many from the North, both Canada and Russia and Greenland – plus 40 staff – many of whom are scientists, polar experts and expedition leaders, with a few journalists, media people and artists in the mix – together on a ship for two weeks, learning about the North: about Inuit culture, about glaciers, about icebergs, and rocks, and ocean currents, and global warming, land claims, marine biology, colonial history and so much in between. Going out in small Zodiac boats to get ashore, hiking and visiting communities; cruising around icebergs, seeing polar bear and walrus and endless incredible vistas of sea and ice and mountain and sky from the top deck of the ship, sun setting around midnight and rising again about 3:30 am. The incredible visual landscape: the stunning, floating art gallery of icebergs drifting by. The incredible collection of powerhouse Inuit women on board: Madeleine Redfern, Mayor of Iqaluit (my cabin-mate!), Mary Simon (Canada’s first Ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs), Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory (amazing artist and activist), Mathalie Aneraq Okalik (SOI staff), from whom i learned so much.
I think I’ll be digesting and writing and talking about this trip for a long time to come…and thanks the Canada Council for the Arts, over the coming year I will be starting to develop a new show inspired by this recent experience, and my interest in the many issues – environmental, socio-political – facing this unique region of the planet. So….there will be more, much more, that you’ll be hearing from me about THE NORTH.
In the meantime – how crazy is this: The Harper Government is sponsoring a huge new expedition to find the lost ships of Sir John Franklin, lost in in 1847, trying to find the Northwest Passage. And CBC is running a special about it…check it out. Must be time to release my new track “Northwest Passage Revisited”, as I’ve been promising to do all summer…