Baffin Island Expedition 2007

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Educators and explorers Will Steger, John Stetson, Elizabeth Andre and Abby Fenton will join three Inuit hunters on a 1200-mile, four-month-long dogsled expedition across the Canadian Arctic’s Baffin Island. The expedition will be traveling with Inuit dog teams over traditional hunting paths, up frozen rivers, through steep-sided fjords, over glaciers and ice caps, and across the sea ice to reach some of the most remote Inuit villages of the world.

Each day, the team will use innovative technologies to post video, images, sounds and text to the www.globalwarming101.com website, and communicate with online participants around the world. Students and teachers will integrate the educational curriculum components developed by the team into their coursework, and will participate in the expedition through research and forum discussion. During the week-long visits to each Inuit village, the team will listen to and document the Inuit’s experience with climate change. These collected images, sounds and stories will illustrate the dramatic climate-related changes happening in the Arctic: starving polar bears, retreating pack ice, melting glaciers, disrupted hunting and traveling, and the unraveling of a traditional way of life.

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inuitvoiceThe Inuit Voice

Because of its remoteness, the great changes in the Arctic regions go unseen in our media. The Inuit people, the polar bears, and all life in the Arctic have no voice. They are the innocent victims of global warming; the stories they tell of their daily lives will show that it is real. The expedition will be recorded through a documentary film that will help educate people around the world about the plight of the Inuit people and put a human face on a problem that will soon consume us all.

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The Expedition RouteBaffinIslandMap_Small.gif

The expedition will depart from Iqaluit, Baffin Island, the capital of Nunavut, for a 1200-mile journey starting during the second week of February 2007. Following the frozen McKeand River over the Hall Peninsula, the Expedition will cross Cumberland Sound to the community of Pangnirtung. The expedition will spend at least one week in each of the five communities along the way to document the native people’s observations of the rapidly changing climate. The emphasis will be on interviewing the elders — to hear their stories of the past and their concerns for the future. These elders, many of whom are in their eighties, remember the days before the influence of western culture on their society, and they provide an important historical perspective to our changing times and climate. It will be important to document the stories of their era before it vanishes.

The varied topography of the route offers some of the best Arctic photographic and documentary opportunities of North America. Dog teams and other hunters from villages along the way will be joining the expedition en-route. Once across the mountains, the expedition will travel on the sea ice along the Atlantic side of Baffin Island. There they will visit Qikiqtarjuaq (formerly known as Broughton Island) and Clyde River, two of the most remote communities in North America. These villages rely on the sea ice to obtain their food, and the dramatic shortening of the winter season is having a profound effect on their way of life. Leaving Clyde River, the expedition travels west to cross the rugged mountains of Baffin Island.

Along the route the team will travel along the southern edge of the Barnes Ice Cap, a remnant of the past Ice Age. Upon reaching the east coast of Baffin the expedition will cross the pack ice of the Foxe Basin to the destination at the community of Iglulik, the cultural center and ancestral home for the hunters and dogs of the Canadian Inuit. Their people settled in Iglulik 2000 years ago and, until recently, the currents that flow from the Hudson Bay to Lancaster Sound have provided ample hunting. The cold, fifty-below winter freezes the moving water solid for eight months of the year, but global warming has disrupted these weather patterns and, by extension, the entire Inuit way of life. The recent warming has reduced their hunting season by fifty percent, and the people say that, if these were traditional times, there would be great starvation.

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Expedition Sponsors:

Fagen, Inc EPIC Gander
NatGeo Shaklee

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