we see the world around us changing. New buildings go up,
old ones are torn down, laws are made and laws are broken. Yet
these are only small, minuscule changes when compared to the changes
that are taking place in Canada's Arctic. Changes that is partly
due to our Southern ways that we aren't even aware of. Many of
our most educated citizens don't have a clue what is happening
in their own country.
how do I Susannah Robertson, a grade 12 student of Halifax Nova
Scotia know a thing about the Arctic you might ask? It was as
easy as reading the newspaper! Can you believe it? In October
2001 I was reading about "Students On Ice" a scientific
expedition to the Arctic and in August 2002 I was literally a
"Student On Ice" sliding down a glacier on the seat
of my pants.
it wasn't all that easy, between October and August I worked hard,
really hard. I wrote sponsor letters to local corporate companies,
newspapers and radio stations and did one fund-raiser after another,
from poinsettias at Christmas to cosmetics on Valentines Day.
In the end I didn't raise the total amount of $7,000.00 but I
passed my own personal expectations by far. So with some help
from my family and a few kind hearted Halagonians I was off to
the great Canadian Arctic, with butterflies in my stomach and
only one expectation, to see snow. Lots of snow!
the end of the first day all my hard work was repaid in smiles,
memories and new friends. Now don't get me wrong as Geoff Green
our expedition leader would say "this was not a vacation."
We did more than play Inuit games, sneak up to the bridge at night
and swim in one-degree water. We set out on a scientific expedition
and that is what we did.
We attended, sometimes voluntarily and sometimes with a little
persuasion two or more lectures a day. These were put on by a
group of exceptional scientists. Alain Fontaine (our ornithologist),
Lynn Gillespie (our botanist) George Hobson (our historian) and
many others. I learned a little about everything from bird migration
to ice flows and everything in-between. After two weeks in the
Arctic on the Russian icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov I learned
more than I have learned in all my years of high school.
Did you know that half a million birds depend entirely on the
habitat of Colburg Island to survive? Or that after baby chicks
take that first leap of faith from the cliffs edge to the deep
icy waters below they than swim all the way to Newfoundland.
Did you know that scientist know of no reason as to why walrus
have tusks? Or that after dropping their calves in salt water
they must go directly to fresh water in order for the mother to
lactate to feed their babies.
Do you know what a Musk-ox looks like? Have you ever seen the
beauty of a polar bear in its natural habitat? Have you heard
a scared walrus call out to his young?
Finally did you know that during an Arctic summer they don't have
snow!!!! Lots of mud and tons of ice but very little snow!
probably would have never known any of these things if I hadn't
read that newspaper article. One might say well who really needs
to know what a Musk-ox looks like? A couple of months ago I might
have said the same thing but to me the little things I learned
are what makes life worth living. They are the reasons why we
need to take care of our planet and one another. People talk about
climate change and the need to enforce the Kyoto protocol but
I don't think they truly understand how important it is. Its more
than just warmer summers it's a danger to the survival of a whole
way of life. If temperatures keep rising, for us its having a
heat wave, to the Arctic animals it means the melting of their
homes and to the Inuit an end to their traditional ways.
most important lesson that the Arctic has taught me is that to
get the most out of life we must embrace one another and learn
as much as we can. Talk to a stranger on the street or the person
sitting next to you on the bus because you never know what they
might have to share.
know I am only 17 and have a lot more to learn but I think that's
what makes Students On Ice such a great program. It was simply
two young adults, Geoff Green and Angela Holmes who had a dream
of teaching the youth of today about the world around them so
that as they grow they can teach the youth of tomorrow, about
things they would never get to experience otherwise.
dream is to travel the World and to learn about all it has to
I've started at one pole and I can't think of a better place to
go next than to the other pole. Unfortunately dreams take work
to become reality and my dream just happens to cost $10,000.00,
money, which I need for university next year. However I believe
that if you want something enough you can achieve it so I'll keep
dreaming. Maybe I won't be the first Canadian youth to see both
poles in one year but I'll get there someday. I know I will!
a ship searching for a leeway in the ice I'm searching for my
path in life and I think I'm one step closer.
ANDREW DARGIE'S ARTICLE
ABOUT HIS ARCTIC EXPERIENCES
out the Students on Ice