Many may know about how ice sculptures are made, but how many of us truly understand the origin of ice, the ice-bound countries where almost all life is frozen? Three students from the United States recently had the chance of a lifetime to board The Polar Ambassador Ship on a 17 day exploration adventure, as part of a program called Students on Ice. The journey began and ended in Kujjuaq, Quebec, taking them along Arctic waters, stopping at Cape Dorset, Pangnirtung and Auyuittuq National Park. Known as the Ice Program, students had the chance to discover a world of frozen landscapes, to learn more about ice and the worlds it covers.
Some of the experiences enjoyed by these students included the following highlights:
“After breakfast every day we had to get ready because we would do a landing on an island or go for a Zodiac cruise,” recounts Art Sateana, one of the program’s students. Students and facilitators would disembark at various islands to learn, watch for wildlife and teach each other about their cultures.
“The best moment was seeing the polar bears. We saw 17 on one island and 10 of them on another island,” says student Samson Taipanak. Seeing polar bears in their natural habitat is something that few people are lucky enough to see, and in these icy conditions, seeing how the animals use the ice to adapt their behaviour was a huge highlight of the Ice Program.
Auyuittuq National Park
“We walked to the Arctic Circle and back. It was 24 kilometres long and took us 11 hours,” said Sateana of the trip to this beautiful park. The park has a range of polar landscapes, including fjords, glaciers and ice fields and very scarce vegetation, as well as just 12 species of mammals – Lemmings, Arctic Hare, Ermine, Polar Bear, Arctic Fox and some Barren-ground Caribou.
“Climate change was a focus of the trip. I learned a lot about that, seeing how the Arctic is getting impacted so fast,” Sateana said of the trip’s focus and purpose. Educating the younger generations on ice melts, climate change and other conditions was a key focus of the program, to help shape attitudes at an early age.
“It made me want to share what I experienced with my community and it made me want to be outdoors more. It made me want to travel the world,” said William Noah, the third student on the program.
Endorsed by the International Polar Year Joint Committee, the program is funded by private partners as well as the federal government and government of Nunavut. Students had the chance of a lifetime to learn many valuable lessons about the icy world of the Arctic regions, helping them understand the impact of climate change from a first-hand perspective through the enriching Ice Program.