Inuvik’s Maddysen Kingmiaqtuq, 17, was one of five NWT youth to join their peers from around the world in travelling Canada’s Arctic with Students on Ice last summer.
“I was very nervous (before the trip) and I was thinking of all the things that could have been hard on this trip but honestly, it was all very easy to go with,” said Kingmiaqtuq. “I think I would say to someone trying to figure out if they want to go on this trip is to take the chance because if you don’t do it, then you don’t realize all the amazing opportunities that come to you basically. And, honestly, it’s so much fun.”
There were 130 students total aboard an expedition vessel from July 23 to Aug. 7.
They flew from Ottawa to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland and boarded the vessel.
After exploring western Greenland’s coasts, fjords and communities, they crossed the Davis Strait and ventured through Canada’s High Arctic and Northwest Passage.
They visited communities along the way, meeting with Inuit elders, scientists, archaeologists and other community members. They hiked through Sirmilik National Park, viewed wildlife and learned about the changes happening in the Arctic due to climate change.
“To explore the Arctic with youth, elders, artists, scientists and educators from around the world, provides a unique opportunity for cross-cultural and solution-driven conversations and initiatives to flourish,” stated Geoff Green, Students on Ice president and expedition leader.
“This expedition will be the beginning of a lifelong journey, and a very important step for youth to gain the inspiration, knowledge and support needed to contribute to a healthy and sustainable future for our planet.”
Kingmiaqtuq said every minute on the trip was “honestly the best” but her favourite moments were interacting with random people in communities.
She said she came back with many insights around shared issues in Northern communities, including the effects of colonialism, addictions, suicide rates, housing shortages, food prices and climate change.
“I feel like no matter really what the struggle is, people need support and other people to talk to,” said Kingmiaqtuq.
This is a bit of wisdom she hopes she can act on in her home community of Inuvik.
“I think that people who are struggling with addictions, they need support, and I think I want to find a way to give them that support because I don’t think there’s enough of that.”
Students on Ice regularly sets up youth expeditions and she encouraged other Northern youth to consider signing up.
“I think it was a great learning experience for me, especially at my age and because everything that you learned on that trip is eventually going to be useful,” said Kingmiaqtuq.
“I feel like everything that I’ve experienced on a trip had a lot to do with Indigenous culture and learning about the North.
“And exactly what the problems are and maybe find ways to improve the North.”