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2016 Schools on Board Dispatches

September 25, 2016 (1)

Arriving in Pond Inlet (NU) was a sad moment I was trying to postpone it as much as I could. It would represent the end of the trip. At least they slowed down the ship when approaching the village. In Eclipse Sound we saw Pond Inlet from miles before the final stop. The slow speed and the distance gave us some time to say goodbye to the crew, scientists and to the boat. When would I have the chance to sail the Arctic in an Icebreaker? Probably never again. These are the thoughts I had to deal with approaching Pond Inlet. Regardless of the sad moments, the scenery was astonishing. Northern Baffin Island could definitely be called the Rockies of the North. In front of the hamlet lies Bylot Island, home of Simirlik National Park. This park is a refuge of over 70 species of birds, including 45 species of breeding birds and a population of over 200 polar bears. To add to the beauty, three major glaciers plunge into Eclipse sound from Bylot Island facing Pond Inlet. Dramatic! Unreal!

Oui le voyage se termine mais se poursuit pour un des membres de l’expédition, William Saunders. Un seul d’entre nous pouvait dire qu’il était enfin rentré à la maison! En effet, il y avait une des participants de Schools on board qui était originaire de Pond Inlet. Il semblait revivre. Une certaine fierté émanait de son visage de pouvoir enfin nous montrer son chez soi. Nous avons commencé les visites par le centre d’information-librairie. Une visite des plus intéressante. Leur exposition est exceptionnelle, riche et variée. Considérant que nous nous trouvons au 72e parallèle, c’est tout à fait extraordinaire qu’ils possèdent cette qualité de montages animaliers et cette quantité d’artéfacts. Ensuite, nous nous sommes dirigés vers la librairie où nous avons pu scruter des albums photos d’un passé pas si lointain mais qui semblent surgirent d’une autre époque.

Later in the afternoon we had the chance to relax in front of an almost freshly brewed Tim Horton’s coffee. Without any further research, I could say that It’s the most northern Timmy’s in the world. Considering that Tim Horton will soon conquer the world… quoting our previous Prime Minister. The evening was busy too, volleyball-bounding with local students, dishwashing, polar bear chasing and the list goes on. We woke up the next day with the smell of tasty French toast lovingly made by our fantastic host, the vice-principal Claude. A Jamaican teacher making French toast in an Inuk school. Is it enough to call that a blend of culture?

Le dernier jour, visite du poste de la Gendarmerie Royale, pour se diriger ensuite vers les bureaux du parc national Simirlik. Un gardien-interprète ainsi que le directeur nous ont reçu avec une session d’informations typique d’un parc national mais quand même intéressante. Le gardien interprète Inuk est issu du système scolaire avec une formation de guide naturaliste, comme quoi il y a de l’espoir dans l’éducation.

Les au revoir avec William furent difficiles. Ce petit bonhomme timide aura laissé une trace dans notre mémoire collective. Le parc, aussi, aura semé une graine de curiosité, je ne sais pas si j’en ai terminé avec Pond Inlet. Peut être qu’une randonnée ou une expédition en kayak de mer s’impose.

The farewell with William was hard. This little Inuk student and his community will leave something in our memory. I’m not sure if I’m done with Pond Inlet. Maybe I will have to come back for a trek or a sea kayak trip. The future will tell.

René Lapierre, Enseignant accompagnateur, Whitehorse, Yukon

Figure 1. Getting some java at the most northern Tim Horton’s... in the world...
Figure 2. Archeological treasures… sod house… whale bone too.
Figure 3. Narwhal, found in the beautiful Pond Inlet visitor’s centre.

September 25, 2016 (2)

“A house is a building, a home is a feeling" ...

Our final day aboard the Amundsen came way too quickly. In just a week, the ship became not only a work place for Arctic Science research but a welcoming home thanks to the convivial crew and scientists. It was heartwarming watching the student participants say their farewells and appreciations to everyone who made their experience as memorable as possible. The researchers truly did involve and engage the students and teachers in every part of their study. From late night sampling to engaging lab work, the Schools on Board program is a true testament to the power of authentic, experiential learning. I can say, without reserve, that this week has changed these young peoples’ lives and my own forever.

As a teacher participant, it has been inspiring and motivating to see how passionate this group of youth is in challenging climate change and learning about Arctic Science. It is this enthusiasm I hope to ignite in my own students and community. As an urban school teacher, it has been hard relaying the urgency of protecting our North because of never having the opportunity to personally connect with it. In two weeks, after learning from the knowledge of the residents in Kugluktuk, the Amundsen, and Pond Inlet; I feel it is my moral obligation to speak to the issues that are seemingly so far away.

Getting off the helicopter in Pond Inlet, it was an emotional experience for most. The quiet of the airport was overwhelming. Equally as overwhelming but too no surprise, was the hospitality of the hamlet and Nassivik High School. From the airport we walked as a group to the school, taking in the community and the unfamiliarity of not walking on moving land for a week.

We had a delicious meal of Arctic char before having a provoking conversation with the local youth on the issues pressing their people and the land they so greatly rely on. Some of the concerns raised were ones that I have never considered. Issues such as waste, cigarette butts, airport runoff, and apprehension with the scientific community put into perspective that climate change goes far beyond melting sea ice. The visit to Pond Inlet and hearing from the locals was a powerful way to wrap up the journey by not only working with scientists but appreciating the traditional knowledge of the Inuit. It is important to go forward with this dual thinking when considering environmental issues and promoting change.

Figure 1. SonB participants on deck watching Pond Inlet come into view.
Figure 2. ‘What would you want to research if you lived here (Pond Inlet)?’ Was the discussion question posed to the participants. Group discussion was lead by Inuit youth and Shelly Eleverum.
Figure 3. Pond Inlet or ‘Mittimatalik’. View of Bylot Island
Figure 4. Country foods of Muktuk and smoked Arctic char were so generously offered for participants to try.
Figure 5. Me at the most ‘northern’ Tim Hortons.

September 23, 2016

Sometimes things don’t go as planned, but as a team we always make the best of every moment. As we slowly creep towards the end of our journey, today marks our seventh day out at sea. Time truly hasn’t slowed for anyone and it is escaping some of us faster than others. Today we took the time to thank all of the scientists that allowed us to assist in their research, and thanked those that gave us the privilege of getting a first hand look at the impact of climate change in the Arctic through their research. My name is Jaden Ford, I am 16 years old, and I am here representing Dawson Creek Secondary School.

We began our day by delivering Schools on Board tee shirts to all of the Amundsen’s crew and the scientists on board. We wanted to make sure that we had the chance to thank everyone who made this trip possible, and that made this trip an experience of a lifetime. Everyone was very excited to be receiving a gift from all the students they worked with over the past week, but we were just as thankful for them welcoming us into their world for a little over a week. Later, throughout the day, we began to enter a region of multiyear ice. The boat had absolutely no trouble crushing through every piece of ice that stood in its path. It made for an intense yet extraordinary ride. As we encountered more multiyear ice, our wildlife sightings increased. Some students were even able to catch a glimpse of seals and a polar bear! After a long day of breaking the ice, we finally had escaped the layer of multiyear ice. This, however, came with a new Arctic condition. The waves became enormous and the boat began to rock incredibly. Waves began to crash over the vessel and drenched those of us that were on deck, it was freezing yet exhilarating!

After our day of witnessing all the Arctic had to offer us, we then retreated inside to warm up for our final days on board the Amundsen. We decided to enjoy a movie together as a team, in the Officers Lounge. Laughing and eating was the perfect way to end the night. It was fun to just enjoy each others presence and spend some down time with not only our team, but our new family.

Figure 1. Crew member receiving a Schools on Board t-shirt as a thank you for supporting this once in a lifetime learning experience.
Figure 2. New 'family members' having some fun on the heli-deck.
Figure 3. Investigating pH in the lab.

September 22, 2016

My name is Mira Mason. I am in grade 12 at F.H. Collins Secondary School in Whitehorse Yukon. This is our 6th day on-board the Amundsen.

With Zodiac rides, engine tours, and presentations it was once again an action packed day on the CCGS Amundsen! We started off with delicious crepes for breakfast made by the amazing kitchen team. This was followed by a presentation about the Evolution of Canada’s Arctic by Dr. Milovan Fustic, a geologist from the University of Calgary. Dr. Fustic also spoke about oil and the micro-organisms that live dormant under the Earth’s surface. These small organisms eat the oil and multiply while releasing gases. It was a fascinating presentation that tied together and gave context to all of the information he taught us during our time in Kugluktuk. At 10:00am we had a little bit of time to write some postcards to thank our sponsors and family for making this amazing trip possible! Not long afterwards we had a conference call hosted by David Babb from the University of Manitoba. Once all schools got online, they took turns asking the student from their school who is on the ship with a question. There were quite a variety of questions and the same one never got asked twice, which kept it interesting for the whole group.

At 11:00am we had a wonderful lunch of lentil soup. Half of the group got their names drawn to go on a Zodiac ride. I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to go! Charles and I both went on the first boat with James Singer who wanted to test Mercury levels in surface water. The scientists could not use the CTD Rosette for this sampling because they do not want any of the boat’s exhaust or other influences to contaminate their sample. While the other group made up with Jaden, Emma-Jean and the photographers went out on the the water, the other students got divided into two groups. The first group went with Lauren to get an explanation on ice cores and difference between the freezing of salt water and fresh water. In order to get a sample from the ice core she used a saw at 10cm intervals and placed filters on them to see the different ice crystals and composition. The other group was down in the engine room with Nick, where they learned about the 6 diesel engines and 3 generators that power the boat. He also spoke about the backup engines and gave us a full tour of the machines and their purposes. The group met back up in the Officer’s Lounge and headed down for fajitas soon afterwards. We had a presentation on dog mushing by Rene Lapierre, one of the schools on board teachers. We also had a chance to go out on deck with David, a scientist studying C02 in the atmosphere. He showed us the tower at the front of the ship that measures temperature, wind speed, and pressure. While we were out on deck the boat was hitting some very large ice and could hear the ice crack. It was truly amazing! Once we had some tea and got warm, all the Schools on Board participants gathered and did some group activities. This finished off another wonderful and busy day on the Canadian Coast Guard ship, the CCGS Amundsen!

Figure 1. Zodiac deployment off the side of the CCGS Amundsen.
Figure 2. Me on the zodiac.
Figure 3. William and Milovan Fustic sampling water from the CTD Rosette.
Figure 4. Ice core and difference of fresh water ice and salt water ice demonstration

September 21, 2016

The beautiful sunrise this morning marked the beginning of our fifth day at sea. Several of the Schools on Board students, including myself, decided to begin the morning at the sharp hour of 2:30 AM. My name is Maxime Therrien, I’m seventeen years old, and I am part of the Programme Francophone at NDSS in Nanaimo, BC. Since sampling on board the ship takes place whenever we arrive at a station, lots of the work ends up being done at night. We wanted to see what it was like! The ambiance was certainly different than during the day. Setting up, deploying and analyzing data from the various nets and samplers is no easy task - especially with little sleep and no sunlight. I’m sure the scientists were grateful for our help.

After catching up on sleep, we attended a total of three lectures throughout the day. These were specially prepared for us by the scientists on board. Today’s speakers were David Capelle, Olivier Sulpis and Louis Fortier - the chief scientist for our leg. Their topics were all related to climate change, ranging from greenhouse gases in the Arctic to ocean acidification and even Arctic Cod. We also participated in a special lab with Gabrièl Deslongchamps, in which we had to determine a mystery solution by applying the effects of salinity and temperature on water density. We are so privileged to be able to listen, learn, ask questions and converse with so many scientists on a daily basis. Of course - it was difficult to contain the excitement as the boat began to shake and rumble - we were breaking ice!

Leaning over the side of the bow, our entire Schools on Board team smiled, pointed, and shouted at the incredible view below us. Fog was thick, clouding the surreal scene with mystery. While listening to the crunch of the ice, I was able to fully appreciate the moment. Surrounded by so many professionals devoting their lives to the Arctic, I feel inspired to share my experiences with others, to help preserve this beautiful landscape and our planet for the future.

Figure 1. Breaking ice.
Figure 2. Beam trawl deployment on deck of the CCGS Amundsen.
Figure 3. Schools on Board participants on deck.... thrilled with seeing sea ice for the fist time and feeling the ship break through it.

September 20, 2016

Hello, my name is Savanna Moore. I am in grade 11 attending Kiilinik High School in Cambridge Bay Nunavut. This is our 4th day on-board the Amundsen.

My morning started off quite early. A participant from the Schools on Board program and myself woke up at 6 :00 to launch a weather balloon with two of the scientists on deck. The weather was not very warm but we all got to watch a beautiful sunrise. Nathalie and Lauren, the two scientists are the ones who run the weather lab and they release a weather balloon twice a day. One at 6 :30 and the second one at 18 :30. Each balloon is worth about 500 dollars and they can go out into the sky as far as 100km depending on the wind conditions. As it accelerates into the sky, it expands more and more until it pops and that is when the radiosonde will stop collecting data.

The whole purpose for releasing these latex balloons is to collect data on what the temperature is like, what the humidity is and also the pressure. Usually Environment of Canada would cover the cost for the weather balloons but this year they didn’t have it in their budget. So this year the University of Manitoba is covering the expenses of the weather balloons and all of the atmospheric instruments. The data that is collected is for the University only and who ever Is apart of the project.

Figure 1. Myself and Maxime filtering water samples on board the CCGS Amundsen.
Figure 2. Launching a weather balloon with and attached radiosonde off the heli-deck.
Figure 3. Observing the box core sampling on deck.

September 18, 2016

Charles Asselin
Lat:68 45.981
Lon:105 00.567

Je me suis réveillé au son du EK300, un système de sondes qui émet des rayons de son à tous les 1.84 secondes afin d’en faire une image 3D. Ce n’est pas à tous les matins que nous nous levons au son de la science. Il faut dire que je ne m’attendais à rien de moins de ce navire qui m’offre, depuis mes débuts ici, ce sentiment de bien-être et de satisfaction inconditionnelle. My name is Charles Asselin, I live in Québec city and I’m in my last year of high school at Collège François-de-Laval.

Enchaussant mes Crocs, je me suis immédiatement dirigé à la cafétéria où un bon petit déjeuner croissant m’attendait. J’ai donc pu satisfaire mon besoin en chocolat et en gras en beurrant le tout de Nutella et en l’accompagnant de bonnes tranches de bacon cuites par Alain, notre chef cuisinier. À mon retour dans la cabine, j’ai pu poursuivre ma lecture sur les changements climatiques que j’avais débuté la veille. Vers 9h00, nous entamions notre rencontre quotidienne dans le “officer’s lounge" qui traitait principalement de papiers à remplir pour l’infirmière afin qu’elle puisse nous fournir des soins au besoin. À la suite de celle-ci, nous sommes allés chercher les boîtes d’équipement de sécurité comprenant une tenue, un casque ainsi qu’une paire de lunettes. Après avoir trouvé les bonnes tailles d’équipement, je suis allé à la cantine pour procurer des souvenirs (pins, porte-clés, crayons) à ma famille et mes proches. J’espère simplement qu’ils ne lisent pas cet ordre du jour à l’instant pour ne pas briser l’élément de surprise!! Avant le diner, je me suis rendu au poste d’ordinateurs afin d’entrer en contact avec quelques proches et professeurs et ainsi reprendre quelques notions manquées.

Vers 12h10, je suis descendu à la cafétéria pour le diner. Cette fois-ci, le chef nous avait concocté une bonne escalope de dinde accompagnée de délicieuses patates pilées et garnie de petits pois éparpillés un peu partout dans l’assiette. C’étais exquis! Après l’avoir dévoré, j’ai saisi deux biscuits, intelligemment choisis par leur apport en pépites de chocolat. À 13h00, nous a Lauren présenté une activité de “Weather Ballooning” où 2 étudiants pourront déployer et/ou retirer des ballons qui consistent à examiner la température respectivement entre 18h30 et 6h30. L’heure suivante, nous sommes sortis à l’extérieur en groupe afin de prendre quelques photos avec Sira, une artiste/photographe qui travaille sur la promotion des différents programmes d’ArcticNet. Une fois sur le pont, j’ai pu observer la composition du logiciel permettant d’obtenir cette image 3D des fonds marins envoyée par l’EK300.

At 3:00 PM, we attended Dr Louis Fortier’s lecture on polar ice and sea levels. It was very interesting and we got to know more on the consequences that a warmer arctic could mean around the globe. He also explained what ArcticNet was, how it was created and why. I was surprised by such low percentages of clean energy used in countries worldwide. Did you know that Canada was 16th on that list? His lecture raised my interest in ecology and made me worry about our planet’s future. I couldn’t help but fantasize about how fast this statistic could change if our government invested more money in renewable energy.

At 5:00PM, it was the fancy dinner. Traditionally, every Sunday each crew member has to wear their fanciest clothes for dinner. It was nice to see the effort that everyone made. We ate pasta and it was once again phenomenal! Finally, we had our daily science meeting featuring the whole research team here on the Amundsen and I was very impressed to see how they’re working together to make their mission a success.

At 7:45 PM, Cyril took us on deck to do some plankton sampling. It was very impressive to see the deployment of the five different nets used for research on the Amundsen. My favorite part of this last operation was sorting through the different types of species caught during.

I finally got to sleep, to the chirpy sound of the multi beam sounder.

Figure 1. Lecture in the officers lounge with some scientists joining in too.
Figure 2. Charles hosing down tucker net after it being deployed.
Figure 3. Sunday 'fancy' dinner on board the CCGS Amundsen.

September 17, 2016

Hello! My name is Emma-Jean Koscielny. I am a grade 12 student from Strathclair, Manitoba.

Today’s events were filled with a lot of excitement and “firsts”. Thankfully a local bus driver from Kugluktuk volunteered to bus our group from the high school to the airport; it would have been a heavy load for us if we had to walk! Once we were at the Airport, the helicopter pilot and ground crew helped us figure out our immersion suits. They were pretty hefty! The helicopter ride was only about 45 seconds from shore to ship but it was quite the experience! Since I had never been in a helicopter before, I did not know what to expect. It was quite loud in the cabin, but it pretty sweet to see Kugluktuk and both the fuel tanker and the CCGS Amundsen from the air.

Once we landed on the ship we were helped out of the helicopter by more Coast Guard workers and were instructed to go down below deck where we were greeted by the Chief Scientist, Professor Louis Fortier. Since the helicopter was only able to take 5 people per load, it took a few minutes to transport our whole group to the Amundsen. While we were waiting we received our room numbers and were able to settle in our quarters and unpack, as well as meet a few crew members wondering through. They were quite friendly! Following everyone’s arrival, Dr. Milovan Fustic, a geologist who met up with us in Yellowknife, gave us a brief tour of the ship. Our tour included all 6 floors, the bridge, and a few labs. I was surprised by how many rooms there are on the ship! In addition, the views from the bridge are quite amazing. After Dr. Fustic’s tour, we met with a Coast Guard to review the emergency practices and were given another tour of the ship to go through the safety features, for example where we would find lifeboats. Following dinner this evening we will be attending a meeting where we will be introduced to the scientists aboard the CCGS Amundsen.

This was a very busy, information-packed day and I can’t wait for more!

Figure 1. On the bridge of the CCGS Amundsen.
Figure 2. Getting ready to board the helicopter shuttle to the ship.
Figure 3. The CCGS Amundsen.

September 16, 2016

My first night in Kugluktuk, I didn’t expect to wake up to the sound of an alarm and someone mentioning “fire” off in the distance. Naturally, I rolled over and tried to fall back asleep. What turned out to be a false alarm set the pace for the rest of the day. That pace being of adventure and excitement. My name is Elijah Dietrich and I’m from Winnipeg, Manitoba, where I’m in my final year at Kelvin High School.

After sleeping through a couple of alarms (set to wake us up), I got up to have a shower and then change. The group came together at breakfast to lay out the day ahead of us. It began with a tour of the community, interspersed with stops during which Dr. Fustic, a geologist aboard the Amundsen who has been with us since Yellowknife, recounted the amazing life story of the various rocks around us. The words “Palaeolithic” and “igneous” floated through the air as we made our way from one lookout to another on the South cliffs of Kugluktuk. On our way, we came across five dead seals lying in a man’s front yard. Only the participants from Nunavut had seen such a thing before and we all curiously edged toward them. As the owner of the yard stepped outside, we asked his permission to inspect his game and not only did he kindly agree to let us feel the tough, soft pelts of the seals, but he also gifted us a massive bag of freeze-dried Arctic Char - a hot commodity which we were informed the night prior could only be obtained from a member of the community willing to share. Score!

Afterward, we came back to the high school we’re staying at to have lunch and get ready for our trek South to Bloody Falls, the namesake monument of the hamlet. “Kugluk" in Inuk means falls, and I can only infer that “tuk” designates a settlement. The journey there and back was much like Planes, Trains and Automobiles, except a Northern Canadian version that could be more aptly called “Buses, Quads and Jet Boats”. After busing to the end of the road, we hopped out and finished the remaining twelve kilometres through sand, mud and the cool Arctic breeze to the part of the Coppermine River where the falls are located. The way there was almost as beautiful as the destination. After passing through valleys, scenic vistas and skirting a Grizzly bear, we made it down to the cliffs on the Western side of the falls. We stopped for another snack and to take in the view. This was followed by my first, albeit unsuccessful, time fishing. I took off on my own for a bit as well to find the other side of the falls, but remembered this probably wasn’t the wisest thing to do with the presence of a bear in the vicinity. So I ran as far as the South cliffs, snapped a few pictures, and ran back. The way back from Bloody Falls, which we unanimously agreed were more like rapids, was off the beaten path and down to the shoreline of the river, with its looming banks on either side of us. We fashioned a few Inuksuk while waiting for the boats, and then raced back to town in time to cook dinner.

After spaghetti with chicken, bacon, spinach and mushrooms the Kugluktuk students demonstrated Arctic Games, their regional sport. From hopping on one foot and kicking to flying around the gym while flexing our pecs with red faces, they showed us what they were made of with the some of the best sportsmanship I’ve ever seen. Michelle’s gently rushing us into our rooms now so we get enough sleep to be ready for tomorrow’s helicopter flight on board the Amundsen, but the anticipation might just keep us up a little longer.

Figure 1. SonB participants and Kugluktuk High School Students at Kugluk or Bloody Falls.
Figure 2. Bloody Falls - Coppermine River, NU.
Figure 3. Hanging out at the falls. Snacks included dried char and dried caribou.
Figure 4. Dr. Milovan Fustic discussing the geological significance of the area.

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