The route, it is a changin’
We had a busy day in Arctic Bay today, filled with meetings, a school visit, interviews, and gear preparations for heading out on the land.
The day kicked off with an interview with Clare Kines, economic development officer for the hamlet of Arctic Bay. Arctic Bay is a community of about 800 people located on the northern tip of the Baffin Island (Qikiqtaaluk), which sits to the west of Greenland.
Following our interview with Clare, Aaron was interviewed via Skype by Tanya Rivero at the Wall Street Journal. Click here to view the full video interview.
After lunch, we met with Paul, an Inuit elder, and Kataisee Attagutsiak to confer about the expedition route and discuss current ice and snow conditions. Paul shared a preferred traditional route to Pond Inlet that differed from the route we’d previously been considering. Based on Paul’s assessment of the terrain and for safety concerns, the team has decided to alter their original route plans and follow Paul’s suggested route instead. We also had the opportunity to sit down and interview Paul about life growing up in this region starting in a time before Arctic Bay existed as a settled community. Many thanks to Paul for his insights and to Kataisee for providing translation assistance!
We next visited Inuujaq School, which serves students in Arctic Bay in grades kindergarten through high school. We were honored there to have the opportunity to meet with and interview two awesome high school students, Rosalina and Letia, who shared their perspective on life for young people in the high Arctic. Thanks also to teacher Paulette Campbell for providing an educator’s view on teaching in a remote community like Arctic Bay.
The day finished up with prepping gear for our expedition to Pond Inlet, which will kick off on Wednesday, and editing media and this current field report. Don’t miss tomorrow’s update, which will feature a video with clips from today’s interviews and the team’s travels to date. And don’t forget to share your own #choose2care stories with us via Twitter and Instagram!
Baffin Island is the largest island in Canada and the Arctic Archipelago, and the fifth largest island in the world. The majority of the island lies north of the Arctic Circle. It is home to one of the world’s largest fjords, is surrounded by five different bodies of water, and is known as one of the most beautiful places on Earth! Baffin’s overall population is around 18,000, with approximately 80% of residents of Inuit heritage. Inuit have lived in Arctic Canada for over 4,000 years.
The Baffin communities are isolated, with no roads to connect them. They are situated within harsh Arctic terrain. The landscape surrounding Pangnirtung, for example, is comprised of 85 percent rock and ice, dominated by glaciers, polar sea ice, and sheer granite mountains. Baffin communities can be reached only by plane, snow machine, dogsled, or foot in winter, or by boat in summer. Understanding how, when, and where to travel across land, ice, or water is critical.
Hunting and fishing are a key means to feed and clothe Baffin communities. These activities serve an important cultural, as well as practical, role. Groceries on the island are among the most expensive in Canada. A recent report showed, for example, that a basket of just 28 standard grocery items tallied $252.47 in Pangnirtung. By comparison, a family of four could eat well on about $189 per week in the city of Ottawa. This fact reinforces the importance of hunting and fishing, the traditional ways of life for Baffin communities.