Wild Coasts of Canada tour!


Adventure Canada is thrilled to present Wild Coasts of Canada: a presentation and performance in imagery, story and song. Two great friends—and Adventure Canada Zodiac drivers!—are pooling their talents to celebrate the beauty, and the fragility of Canada’s coastlines—and their cultures.

Photographer Scott Forsyth, Canadian Geographic Photographer-in-Residence, is launching his new hardcover book,  The Wild Coasts of Canada, filled with glorious images captured aboard our trips. He’ll be sharing stories and photographs from his travels along all three of Canada’s ocean coasts.

Expedition host and musician David Newland, Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, joins Scott with songs from his new CD, NORTHBOUND and other songs and stories inspired by his journeys at sea from coast, to coast, to coast.
Join Scott and David in the following locations. Click to book tickets!

November 24: Bowen Island, BC — Tir-na-n0g Theatre, 7:30PM
November 25: Victoria, BC — Gibson Auditorium, Camosun College, 7:30 PM
November 26: Vancouver, BC — Vancouver Maritime Museum, 2:00 PM*
November 26: Vancouver, BC — Unbounce Media, 7:30 PM
November 27: Kamloops, BC — Kamloops United Church, 7:30 PM
November 30: Penticton, BC — Penticton Art Gallery, 7:30 PM
December 1: Nelson, BC — Touchstones Museum Gallery, 2:00 PM
December 2: Cranbrook, BC — Stage Door Community Theatre, 7:30 PM
December 3: Pincher Creek, AB — The Lebel Mansion, 7:30 PM
December 4: Lethbridge, AB — CASA Community Room, 7:30 PM
December 5: Canmore, AB — Canmore Brewing Company, 7:30 PM
December 6: Edmonton, AB — Almanac on White Ave, 7:30 PM
December 7: Red Deer, AB — Snell Auditorium, Red Deer Public Library, 7:30 PM
December 8: Calgary, AB — Calgary Central Library, 2:00 PM

*Free with museum admission, no ticket required
** Tickets TBA
***Free show, click link to register

Watch for more Wild Coasts of Canada tour performances in 2020!

Remembering Graeme Gibson


Adventure Canada photographer Scott Forsyth wrote this lovely remembrance of Graeme Gibson — a fitting tribute from one artist to another.

Each time the spirit of a person we know who has touched us with inspiration, passes from human existence, it becomes a personal loss along our own journey of time, that conjures reflection on mortality. It is with sadness that the news of Graeme Gibons’s passing reached me through on the day of our re-entry from Greenland to Toronto. An appropriate setting, since it is the North that gave rise to my crossing paths with Graeme.

I’ve chosen this impressionistic photograph of the bird sanctuary on Prince Leopold Island to honour him, because he left me with an indelible impression, and he loved birds.

I met Graeme during an Adventure Canada staff and passenger briefing in preparation for departure to the Arctic. We were both picking through the buffet while the presentations were being held in the background. It was my first trip to the Arctic and I’m sure he could sense my excitement and when I asked him if he’s ever been there before he looked up and into my eyes for a moment, realizing I’m clueless, and then proceeded to answer in a kind and welcoming manner.

I had no idea who he was, and as usual just learned much more about him through his obituary today than I’d ever known. I think he liked my ignorance, and we quickly became walking partners on several occasions as he introduced me to the nature of the Arctic. When we first encountered icebergs grounded on the beaches he called me over and pulled out his knife to chisel a chunk of this ancient fresh water for me to taste, and later adorn with Scotch aboard the ship.

It was important for him that we experience a visceral, rather than just intellectual, connection to where we are. I could sense his knowledge of nature and his insights into the natural ecological systems around us. I was fortunate enough to travel to the Arctic with him on two additional trips and each time the experience left me with another layer of appreciation for the natural world.

It has occurred to me at times that in 150 years from now, nobody alive today will still be living ( I know … science may change that .. but you know what I mean). That means that the entire human collective of knowledge about our earth and its history, geology, nature, music, art …. everything, needs to be passed forward perpetually through education, culture, parenting, and mentorships. All of us living today are custodians of the past wisdoms and mistakes, and it is our duty to preserve this for the future. We can be thankful for the perspectives of people like Graeme; there is no higher achievement than to add to our collective perspective through time.

You will be missed, but thank you Graeme.

Andrew Sookrah: Inspired by the Arctic

Sookrah.3.aAndrew Cheddie Sookrah is an elected member of the Society of Canadian Artists (Lifetime), the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour, the Ontario Society of Artists and the Portrait Society Of Canada.

Born in Guyana in 1956, Andrew immigrated to Canada in 1974 and has passionately embraced the Canadian experience in art, design and business. As Creative Director of Engine Room, he worked on provincial and national campaigns, as well as international projects in the US and UK. His fine art body of work includes landscape, portraiture & figurative paintings and ceramic sculpture. Andrew was artist-in-residence aboard Adventure Canada’s Sable Island voyage in 2017. He will join Adventure Canada’s “Out of the Northwest Passage” expedition in 2019.

Andrew Sookrah spoke to us about what he loves, and looks forward to, aboard Adventure Canada’s voyages.

What surprised you on your first trip with Adventure Canada?
My first trip with Adventure Canada was the 2017 trip to Sable Island and from a logistics side of things, I knew what to expect having been on an expedition ship before (to the Arctic in 2006); and I had done some research on Sable Island before we left. But I wasn’t completely aware how comforting, and supportive the environment is onboard the Ocean Endeavour and when we were on the Island. The respect for the Island and its inhabitants shown by the crew and staff was not a surprise to me, but I did make a note of it.

Leaving.Gros.Moren.2.2019.SmlHow would you describe your work as an artist?
My artistic expression in one that is informed by many influences – from realism, graphic, abstraction and social commentary, it’s one that goes to the core of my existence, it’s one where I am constantly observing and documenting what is happening around me. It’s the study and the awareness of the interconnectivity of everything.

I knew from a very young age that my drawings and paintings were different from the ones being done around me; I did not know if they were better, I just knew that they were different. The work I do now is the result of an approach of constantly setting the bar higher for myself, to set myself apart from the crowd.

For many years I had dual passions; my creative direction career in advertising and my fine art. Now I am focused on my artistic expression, in some ways I am still driven by dual passions, I paint and I teach art. Being able to do what I do is a gift – one I’m grateful for and one that I know comes with an obligation. I should hope that I am respectful of that gift, and use it in a way that benefits the people around me. If I as an artist can paint pictures that are on some levels appealing or impactful but they also have a social commentary to them, I will have fulfilled my obligation.

On my first trip to the Arctic 2006, I did a bit of journaling. As I gazed on the icebergs for long periods of time it occurred to me that in the ten to fifteen thousand years of these icebergs being formed they were collecting information on the events that took place during their formation. And now that those icebergs are melting, they are releasing those stories, re-telling them to us. If we still our minds we can hear those stories. Some are joyful, some are devastating, and they are not just stories of the Arctic.

I do iceberg sculptures in porcelain, whenever I get into the studio I touch that clay and say thanks. I’m aware that that piece of clay has been around since the beginning of time. And it’s going to take a different form, like an iceberg takes a different form from water to ice to water. I am just a facilitator of that change, someone who strives to find a connection from one form of existence to the next.



How do you work aboard?
I find a spot somewhere, anywhere and I paint. I’ve always maintained that I could draw and paint everywhere (the staff were very helpful in this area when I travelled with them!). There was a spot where I was able to set up and paint, while interacting with the other adventurers, being in the moment of where we are. I share quite freely with anyone who is interested enough to talk to me about what I’m doing. There is a dedicated room set up for painting workshops as well where I will be working with groups of passengers wishing to paint.

I would dearly love to have them create a piece of art on the Ocean Endeavour, something personal that is of them and of the moment. Being in the Arctic can have the effect of profound transformation. The Arctic is one of those regions that emphasizes the spirituality of any place. I could help them in any style, to create a piece that is of them – that they can say this was done in the Arctic, on this trip. I will also be doing a presentation and talk about the art of the regions that we’ll be visiting. And I’ll also talk about my own work, hopefully with some live painting!

CITR.Series.Leaving.Gros.Morne.New.SmlWhat do you do after your trips?
I’ll tell you a quick story that will answer that question. When I was coming home from my first Arctic trip I was on Highway 401 coming back from the airport in Ottawa with my wife. She was bringing me up to date and saying “I made some changes around the house…” I started to worry a bit. She laughed. My wife had gone to Ikea, bought shelving, pushed the dining room table to one side, brought my easel and paints up from the basement. She said “I knew when you came back you were going to want to paint.”

I will spend every waking moment that I can afford to with my easel, with my clay. I’ll be very keen to talk about the experience. I’ll be producing work and sharing my experience with Adventure Canada. And there will be shows!!

Is there anything in particular you’re looking forward to?
One of the key things is to see the passengers have a painting/sketch that they bring back with them. I am also looking forward to being a part of the Adventure Canada Team. I’ve been in group environments for as long as I can remember and I try to treat each as one of collaboration.

I look forward to working with the staff. I saw the respect they had for each other and for the crew of the ship. We’re all part of a chain. If we’re aware of the link that comes before us and the one after us then the chain is strong and effective. I’m hoping to contribute whatever my link needs to be in the bigger chain. The two key words are respect and support.

Join Andrew Cheddie Sookrah aboard Adventure Canada’s Out of the Northwest Passage, September 2-18, 2019.

Nunavut at 20

Screen Shot 2019-03-28 at 10.58.02 AMToday marks twenty years since the Canadian map was redrawn and the Inuit territory of Nunavut was created. The following is a guest post by Robert Comeau, an Inuk student of the Nunavut Law Program. Since 2016, Robert has travelled with Adventure Canada as a member of the onboard expedition team, where he shares his culture and experience in the North with travellers.



My name is Robert and I am an Inuk. I was born in Frobisher Bay in the Northwest Territories.

In 1999, my family and I were living in beautiful British Columbia. That’s the year my mom, Udloriak Hanson, travelled home to what is now called Iqaluit—the capital of Nunavut. Just as Inuit reclaimed the Inuktitut name for Iqaluit in 1987 (instead of Frobisher Bay), 1999 marked another immense shift: Inuit had claimed their position within Canada through the creation of the separate territory of Nunavut. In the twenty years since the creation of Nunavut, Inuit have continued to claim our space within Canada—not only through politics, but also through practicing, protecting, and sharing our unique culture.

In the early nineties, a referendum was held, and Nunavut charged ahead. The Nunavut Agreement was signed in 1993, one year after I was born. On April 1, 1999, Nunavut became a territory. During this exciting time my mom, was coming into her adulthood. My mom was excited to return to her home and wanted to bring us back with her—but as a university student, she could not afford the travel across the country with a family of four for this celebration. What she did bring back to us in BC was an unmistakable pride in our home territory of Nunavut. After she earned her first university degree, my mom went on to work for public governments and Inuit organizations, always using her privilege to advocate for and better the position of Inuit. This is something that has stuck with me as I follow in her footsteps with my own advocacy.

Me n mum
But until I entered university, neither the Nunavut Agreement nor Nunavut as a territory had much of an impact on my life. Looking back now, however, I can see the immense importance it held for mom and the rest of my community. We created our own territory as an Indigenous group; this accomplishment cannot be overstated. In the 1970s, while many Inuit were still living on the land and sustaining themselves by harvesting, there were other Inuit using their residential school educations to become lawyers. They would go on to create the means for protecting our unique lifestyle—such as the Nunavut Agreement and the creation of our own territory.


For me, this protection means safeguarding our language and our harvesting rights. Inuit society depends on our connection to each other and our environment. These connections come from knowledge produced since time immemorial. Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit is what Inuit know to be true, also referred to as Inuit Knowledge—our own form of science, you could say.

This knowledge system is what guides our language and harvesting. When we harvest other animals that sustain us—like fish, caribou, seal, or whales—our respect for the animals is front of mind. We are taught to use every part of the harvest, from the meat to the bones. Our elders teach us which parts to share with who and why. Each season, I give my first catch to my Auntie Kathy because she is my Arnaqutik. This means that she was there during my birth. This is one of the special relationships that I carry with me and is but one example of a complex family support systems that comprise our unique worldview.


What do Nunavut and the Nunavut Agreement mean to me? It is the living process of Inuit planning and doing what is needed in order to protect our way of life. Inuit express these ways of life in myriad ways. To this day, we create amazing music, we perform tremendous athletic feats, and we produce gorgeous clothing and works of art. We revere the knowledgeable hunters supporting their families. We respect our change-makers who work to incorporate Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit into the everyday functioning of our territory. So, on the twentieth anniversary of Nunavut, it is important that we keep acknowledging these achievements and our values that guided them.

The Inuit in Nunavut have always worked and fought for the betterment of our own people. If it wasn’t for the hard work of Inuit who fought for equal recognition of our Inuktitut language, we would not be where we are today—with Inuktitut joining English and French together on territorial documentation and policy. If it wasn’t for those Inuit who fought for education rights, we would not be where we are today with our right to determine our own scholarly destiny. Now that I am able to understand the history of colonization in Canada and the impact it has had on my family, I need to make the conscious choice to use my privilege. How can I work to make things better for Inuit? One answer that I’ve been working on simply talking with other Canadians about it. The more we can raise awareness about our challenges and achievements as Inuit in Nunavut, the better the chance that when Inuit speak, the south will listen.

This is where I challenge you to go beyond celebrating twenty years of Nunavut. No Canadians should ignore the great achievements made by Inuit—and no Canadians should ignore the immense challenges we face. For a country that prides itself on a Northern identity, there has been little effort to learn about the peoples of the North. This process is not a comfortable one. It means deconstructing your preconceptions about us. It means active listening role instead of deigning to tell us how we should fix the problems we face. With the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, or the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples’ 440 recommendations, there are ample resources for each Canadian to have a direct impact on how we move forward together.

Canadian Treaties Map_0
One of the other ways you can support this work is by finding out upon whose traditional territories you live. Is there a treaty? What is the expectation of you as a treaty person? Celebrate the anniversary of their treaty or important date. If there is no treaty, you can still learn about about those Indigenous peoples. The twenty-year history of Nunavut marks the continuation of a tradition of resilient self-learning that has defined our culture for thousands of years—and will continue to do so for thousands more. As we pause to acknowledge these achievements, it also marks how far we still have to come as a country.

Robert is an Inuk law student studying in his hometown of Iqaluit as a student of the Nunavut Law Program. He graduated from Carleton University in 2017 obtaining a Bachelor of Arts with a major in History and a minor in Political Science. A staunch advocate for Inuit rights, Robert immerses himself in the dialogue by publishing, attending conferences, and facilitating workshops. He is a founding board member and the current Vice-President of the Qajakkut Society based in Iqaluit. In this work, Robert supports the delivery of qajaq building programs as well as Paddle Canada certifications. He enjoys any activity that gets him out on the water such as hunting, fishing, or paddling. This summer, he will travel with Adventure Canada aboard Into the Northwest Passage and High Arctic Explorer.

Lynda Brown takes the Lead with Students on Ice


Lynda Brown (left) with SOI colleagues Becky Okatsiak (centre) and Rachel Boere (right).


In late December, the wonderful youth-focused expedition organization Students on Ice announced they had hired a new Alumni Team Lead: Lynda Brown, formerly of the Ottawa Inuit Children’s Centre. This is terrific news—for SOI (whom we proudly support) and for Lynda.

Many Adventure Canada travellers have enjoyed the insights and enthusiasm of Lynda Brown as an Inuit cuturalist, throatsinger, and drummer, aboard trips to the High Arctic.

Enthusiastic audiences all over North America have enjoyed her work with Siqniup Qilauta (Sunsdrum), the duo she co-founded and currently performs in with throatsinging partner (and fellow culturalist) Heidi Langille. Both on their own, and as featured performers in “Northbound: The Northwest Passage in Story and Song” with David Newland, Siqiniup Qilauta have played for the Explorer’s Club, the Royal Ontario Museum, and numerous folk festivals and venues from coast to coast to coast.


Heidi Langille & Lynda Brown (Siqiniup Qilauta) with David Newland. Photo: Six String Nation.

But that’s just the fun stuff! Lynda, a self-described ‘urban Inuk’ has also been hard at work as Manager of Youth Programs at the Ottawa Inuit Children’s Centre, where she’s been instrumental in building programming from OICC’s first Early Learning program to the Centre’s current comprehensive portfolio of youth programs.

With her broad experience in program development and team management, her roots in the North (Lynda is originally from Pangnirtung), and her passion for youth and culture, Lynda makes a perfect fit for her exciting new role. Having worked with Lynda aboard and ashore, we know how much hard work, dedication, enthusiasm, and creative energy she’ll bring to her new position.

Please join us in congratulating Lynda on this exciting new opportunity—and SOI, on having found the perfect person to grow their alumni network. Empowering Inuit is what Lynda’s all about—and no one sets a better example. Congratulations, Lynda!


David Newland, Lynda Brown, Heidi Langille and Keely Nicholson. Photo: Dan Roy.

Catherine Hickson, ambassador for geology


Volcanologist Dr. Catherine Hickson may not be a household name outside geological circles, but she’s used to limelight, as well as limestone. Cathie’s first major mass media exposure came as a university student when she was a witness to the eruption of Mt. St Helens. As a fully fledged geologist, in 2004, she and her staff fielded inquiries from around the world about subsequent activity at the famed volcano.

Most recently, Cathie was thrust into the spotlight again, as a newly-discovered cave informally named “Sarlacc’s Pit” has made headlines around the world. The vast opening into a mountainside deep in the back country of Wells Gray Provincial Park in BC captured the imagination of people all over the world. Cathie, who did her thesis on Wells Gray, has a long-running association with the park, and was one of the first to learn about it after a helicopter pilot spotted the feature during an annual survey back in April.


“It’s a great story,” says Cathie, “with lots of interesting angles.” The cave may be one of the largest in Canada, with a glacial river running into it. Only accessible in September due to snowmelt, and apparently unknown prior to the recent chance sighting from above, “Sarlacc’s Pit” will take years to properly study—and Cathie is thrilled to be involved.

But Cathie says the story’s real hook is its fundamental optimism: “We’re all hearing such bad news, but here’s something: there are still places and things that we don’t know about. The world isn’t completely known!”


Cathie visited the cave as part of a Canadian Geographic Flagged Expedition on September 9, but the story didn’t break until November 30, as parks officials contacted local First Nations and worked on a media plan. (Due to concerns about potential illicit visits, the exact location of the cave is not being made public.) The morning after the story first broke in Canadian Geographic—a Saturday—Cathie got the first of what would turn out to be a flurry of phone calls: Global News, CBC radio, CBC TV, CTV, the Canadian Press, and many more. Even the New York Times!

Cathie takes it all in stride. “I’m happy to be an ambassador for geology,” she says. A member of the Explorer’s Club, a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, and the president of Geothermal Canada, Cathie is that and much more.

As Adventure Canada clients who have had the pleasure of travelling with her know, Cathie personifies enthusiasm, professionalism, and a passion for the planet. We are thrilled that Cathie has played, and continues to play a pivotal role in Wells-Gray Park, to which she has devoted much of her professional life, and to the advancement of the earth sciences.

Well done Cathie!

Travel with Cathie Hickson on Adventure Canada’s In the Wake of the Vikings voyage from Iceland to Greenland, July 14-25, 2019!

View photos, videos, and 3D spacial imagery of the Wells-Gray cave at Geothermal Canada’s website.

Jerry Kobalenko receives Polar Medal

JK and GG2

Explorer, writer, photographer and Adventure Canada resource staffer Jerry Kobalenko recently received the Polar Medal for his achievements in Canada’s Arctic regions. We reached Jerry to congratulate him and to learn a little more about this unique distinction.

Medal1What is the polar medal?
The polar medal is one of the Canadian honours given by the Governor General, and comes technically from the Queen. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I heard about it – the GG’s office left me a discrete message, about wanting to “talk to me about a nomination for a polar medal” and lo and behold, they said congratulations: do you accept?

Why are you surprised?
You know, I have always in many ways been an outsider. I have funded my own journeys. I have really rarely had institutional support. I’m sort of a dirt bag who has scrounged together ways of doing these expeditions affordably. And I certainly didn’t do anything to solicit it. You’re this weird guy who’s done everything his own way, and then suddenly they’re pinning a medal on your chest and saying thank you for your service!

What made them pick you?
That too was discrete. Somebody nominated me and I don’t know who! I’m very aware, working for Adventure Canada, that many other people are deserving of such an honour. These sorts of things normally go to northern politicians, prominent Arctic scientists and a small number of northern community workers.

During the investiture, there was a short paragraph which they read… “in recognition of your love, passion and knowledge of Canada’s north with you have shared with national international audiences through your many publications and lectures.” So that was nice, it has love, passion and knowledge… presumably that is the reason for the investiture. But again I am very aware there are a lot of people who would equally fit into that category.

The ceremony itself was at Regina, at the RCMP academy on October 20. We were hoping to hold out for Ottawa but I wanted to get that medal in my possession before somebody realized they’d made mistake! But it was quite appropriate, because 2 of my heroes were RCMP officers; Harry Stallworthy, who circumnavigated Axel Heiburg island while looking for a missing German explorer in 1932. (I’d still like to do that journey!); and Alfred Herbert Joy, who dogsledded 2900 km across the Arctic with another of my heroes, the great Inuk guide Nookapeeungwak.

sledding on Alex Fiord

What do you think deeply motivates you to do this stuff?
Physical restlessness and intellectual curiosity.

What would you list as some of your more extraordinary journeys?
The first one was the hardest one – I threw myself into the deep end. I had no experience, really. I just had the idea and the Arctic was deep enough in me that it bubbled to the surface. I skied alone from Churchill Falls to Nain, Labrador. I prepared as well as I could, but it was very cold and very alone and my gear although adequate at the time was not as good as it would be today… I suffered a lot with the temperatures going to -40 one night in three.

Ellesmere Island from Eureka to Grise Fiord, I wanted to see how fast you could go while man-hauling. It was a pure physical trip. I learned nothing about Ellesmere. I just wanted to burn rubber and see how it could be done. 12, 13 hours every day, moving very fast. That was quite a pure trip.

Nachvak kayaking8And a lot of the kayak trips I’ve done on the lab coast, many with with my wife Sasha – they’re difficult in a different way. The winter is not dangerous. The cold is a bogeyman. But the open sea is not a bogeyman. It is dangerous. Kayaking is one of those situations where you have to follow the positive power of negative thinking. You always have to worry, because worry keeps you safe.

And other trips of course are noteworthy because of the wonderful partners I’ve had. It hasn’t always worked out but I have found wonderful partners because you very quickly get close like you’re five years old again – where within a week you’re best of friends. And that’s how Sasha and I became close – our 6th date was two months alone on Devon and Axl Heiberg islands. Sasha was the brave one on that rip. She had no experience but she just went into this with all senses open.

What do you tell other people, when they admire you and think it’s adventurous and interesting?
Unlike most wildernesses, the Arctic does not have a lot of objective danger. It doesn’t take technical skill. It takes an equipment list and a certain attitude. You’re doing something you enjoy, and the discomfort is jut part of it. If you don’t want to do something, everything is a hardship But if you do want to do something, nothing is a hardship. The cold included. It’s a commitment, of time, money, energy. It’s a lifestyle. But it’s not like a lot of people couldn’t do this.

What’s next? What do you dream of?
I’ve dreamed of the Axel Heiberg circumnavigation in the footsteps of Stallworthy. In 2020 a friend and I are going to go from Clyde River to Pond Inlet. That’s a route that’s been done before, but it’s just an excuse to man-haul again. A definition of heaven for me is man-hauling through the Arctic. So I could do that forever.
hauling & sundog2b.jpg

Does the profile of the Polar Medal allow you a new platform?
Well, in a month or so I’m going to China, because someone heard about me… they want me to talk abut picking your own direction in life!

Expedition Report: Project North

A guest post by Dawn Bazely aboard Greenland & Wild Labrador 2018. Photos by Michelle Valberg.

Today was a big day, as we anticipated our landing in Canada, after crossing the Davis Strait from Greenland.

Nine years ago, expedition photographer Michelle Valberg founded Project North, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children in Canada’s North through sport and education. Project North delivers sports equipment to northern communities. Adventure Canada is a sponsor, and this year helped with delivering hockey gear to the village of Kangiqsualujjuaq in Nunavik, Quebec.

Nunavik_DSC2848 by Michelle Valberg

Our day began with an early Packing Party. Guests and staff filled twenty-five hockey bags with new skates, helmets, pads, and shirts. Part of the donation included 150 hockey sticks, collected by CIBC as part of their memorial to the Humboldt Broncos.

Nunavik_DSC3034 by Michelle ValbergNunavik_DSC3058 by Michelle Valberg

Zodiacs brought guests ashore to a warm welcome from the community. Bannock and tea prepared by Sarah and Susie, friends of culturalist Maria Merkuratsuk was served in sheltering tents. Along with other Inuit staff, Maria was delighted to reunite with family and friends!

Nunavik_DSC3120 by Michelle Valberg

The hockey equipment was delivered to delighted young members of the community. An exciting, fast-paced ball hockey game followed the presentation ceremony, in which the Adventure Canada team, was “narrowly” defeated by a score of 7 to 1 by the young Kangiqsualujjuaq team (who had, by all accounts, been asked to “take it easy”).

Nunavik_DSC3105 by Michelle Valberg
In this day filled with many highlights, we were truly thankful to be welcomed to Qarmaapik Family House by coordinator Minimaali Sinuupa, and a wonderful team of staff and volunteers. Qarmaapik is a unique and inspiring model of family support, designed and delivered by Inuit in the local dialect of Inuktitut. The staff help parents and caregivers feel confident and competent in raising their children in a healthy and supportive family environment.

Nunavik_DSC3149 by Michelle Valberg

Qarmaapik provides Inuit-specific counseling services, interventions, and a safe place for children and families in crisis. In 2016, Qarmaapik won the Arctic Inspiration Prize. This prestigious award provided $700,000 in funding to complement support from Kativik Regional Government and the Makivik Corporation, and community donations, including Adventure Canada’s Discovery Fund.

We were sad to leave Kangiqsualujjuaq, even as we stood on the ramp waiting for Zodiacs in the twilight, and it started to sleet, because we were dancing to music being played for us by our hosts who came to say goodbye!

Nunavik_DSC3209 by Michelle Valberg

Into and Out of the Northwest Passage: A Tale of Two Trips

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Chuck Ludlam joined Adventure Canada this summer for two expeditions, travelling on both Into and Out of the Northwest Passage 2018. Here are his thoughts on that undertaking.

When I signed up for the Northwest Passage with Adventure Canada, it was obvious that I had to sign up for both trips. Back to back. Thirty-three days. And it was a brilliant decision.Screen Shot 2018-09-21 at 12.01.51 PM

My friends from the first trip will never know what they missed on the second trip and the same for my friends on the second trip. I won’t tell them as they’d both feel bad. The two trips were quite different—even on the occasions where we visited the same site. Seeing the same site on a sunny day was completely different than seeing it in a blizzard. One trip saw much more wildlife—a huge scrum of walrus, four hundred belugas, three herds of muskoxen, and an up close viewing of a mother and cubs hunting on the ice. But the other had a big focus on climate change and superb Inuit interpreters—and we were bailed out multiple times by icebreakers.

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Two thirds of the thirty expert interpreters were different between the two trips. And the two groups of passengers were quite different. The weather was completely different. On both trips we visited sites that Adventure Canada had never visited before. But the key is simply playing odds: the more time you spend in the Arctic, the more you see. And you see much, much more. The Arctic has moods and seasons. Sometimes it’s intense and sometimes it’s sublime. You can’t plan it or organize it. And for most of us, we have one shot at the Arctic: hedging your bets with one trip makes no sense. I am delighted I took the time to soak it all in. No holds barred. All in. That’s the way to live life to the fullest.

Chuck Ludlam, Washington, D.C.

Photos by Scott Forsyth

Into Africa

A reflection on Adventure Canada’s Tanzania’s Great Migration Safari by Gay Peppin

Photos by Michelle Valberg

It does not matter how many TV programs you’ve watched or National Geographic magazines you’ve read, Africa will amaze you.

When I was young, I would sit spellbound by Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom and dream of visiting Africa. In February, that dream came to fruition when Adventure Canada sent me to Tanzania to learn more about our tour in partnership with Thomson Safaris.

I arrived at the Kilimanjaro Airport, the landing spot for those heading west for safaris or east to climb Africa’s tallest mountain.

Tanzania is a country created by tectonic plate movements and volcanic eruptions. The results include the Great Rift Valley, mountains and rainforests, soda lakes, calderas and gorges, dry and dusty expanses, acacia woodlands and seemingly endless grassland plains. In these diverse landscapes, we watched the circle of life unfold as young were born, animals foraged for food, and predators stalked their prey.

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The Serengeti is perhaps the best known of Tanzania’s many national parks, conservation areas, and game reserves. Here, we witnessed the migration of hundreds of wildebeest, antelopes, and zebras as they travelled—some single file—to find water and fresh grazing lands. And stalking them: lions, leopards, cheetahs, and the scavenging hyenas and jackals. There were also elephants, giraffes, baboons, warthogs, hippos, and a host of other creatures.

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During our travels, we had many up-close moments. Once, a herd of elephants crossed the road just feet from our safari vehicle; another time, we found a leopard lunching on a gazelle in a tree. We stared in wonder as a pride of lions took down a Cape water buffalo. There were also hundreds of bird species, making this a wonderful place for birders to add to their life lists: hornbills, cranes, kingfishers, ostriches, flamingos, and weavers, as well as birds of prey.

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Outside the national park, we were introduced to some of the Maasai people, who are the most populous of the more than 120 ethnic groups that live in Tanzania. A semi-nomadic people, they herd their goats, sheep, or cattle during the day and move them inside a protective enclosure called a boma at night to protect them from predators. They live as their ancestors did in mud and stick homes, which they graciously showed us during a visit. We also had a Maasai storyteller come to our camp and a group of young warriors performed a jumping dance. The women make extra money for their families by selling their beadwork or baskets at cooperative workshops.

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Though our camps had no electricity or running water, we were not roughing it out in the bush. Solar panels provided lighting at night and hot water was delivered to our tents for washing and showers. We were amazed at the wonderful food the staff created in the camp kitchens. At night, they would light a bonfire and we would sit around it gazing up at the night sky and watching shooting stars. After the lights were out, we could hear the night sounds as various animals came out to hunt. A ranger kept guard outside as we slept. Just before the dawn, the birds would start to sing and chatter, letting us know better than any alarm clock that it was time to rise. Acacia trees were silhouetted against golden hued skies as the dawn broke.

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Our trek also took us to Olduvai Gorge, a steep ravine of the Great Rift Valley that stretches for nearly fifty kilometres and is ninety metres deep. Considered one of the most important prehistoric sites, this is where Drs. Louis and Mary Leakey excavated to uncover evidence of early human evolution and where Mary discovered the fossil remains of a man who lived 1.75 million years ago. There is an old museum constructed in the early days of exploration as well as a new and comprehensive one that illustrates the significance of their discoveries.

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After leaving the gorge, we headed to the Ngorongoro Crater. The cone of this long extinct volcano collapsed creating a huge caldera of 264 square kilometres, sixteen kilometres wide and over six hundred metres deep. Its elevation of 1,700 to 2,200 metres results in the formation of cloud cover and rain. Protected by the crater walls, this area has one of the highest concentrations of wildlife and—if you are lucky—you can see the black rhino here. We were lucky to see these elusive animals from a distance. During the wet season, the lake fills up and attracts flamingos. This place is a world apart. The views looking down from the crater rim are equally spectacular.

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We started our trip at Rivertrees Inn and ended at Gibb’s Farm, both wonderful and relaxing locations.

Though now home, the sights, the sounds and the smells of Africa will linger long in my memory.

At the end of the safari, I had the opportunity to visit a child I have sponsored through World Vision for seven years. After an early morning start and two-hour drive, we arrived at a district office of World Vision, where the director explained the health and education initiatives they were undertaking in the area. We then drove to the school where I met Loombutwa for the first time. He is now twelve years old with a shy smile, and is finishing primary school. His teacher proudly pointed to the board showing his standing as either first or second in his class for the past four grades. We toured the school, which has five classrooms to accommodate over four hundred students. The remaining students take their classes outside. After another long drive to his village, I was greeted by over thirty women singing and dancing. I was sad to learn that Loombutwa’s mother had died two months earlier.

I was taken on a tour of the village and then there were speeches and gifts exchanged. I had brought items for Loombutwa and his family, but was surprised to receive from the villagers a beaded cape, gourd and a necklace that was almost as long as I am tall. A goat had been killed and roasted for the occasion and as I sat with the elders of the village, one of them asked me through the translator if I had any children. I told him I did not. He said that I now have a child in Africa. We escorted Loombuta back to the school because he had an exam the next day and we said our goodbyes. It is unlikely that I will see him again, but it is a day I will always remember.

Gay enjoys travelling the world with notepad and camera in hand and writing stories about her experiences— some of which have been published in a local magazine. She has been to thirty-two countries and her goal is to see fifty and all seven continents. For the last twenty-two years, Gay has been involved in recording and preserving Mississauga’s history through her involvement with various heritage organizations. As a member of the Adventure Canada Client Services team, she helps travellers make their trips truly memorable experiences.


40 Under 40 — Interview with Cedar Swan


Adventure Canada CEO Cedar Swan was honoured this month by Canadian Traveller as one of their Top 40 Under 40! As a leader and innovator in the Canadian travel industry, Cedar brings passion, humour, and determination to bear every day through her work at Adventure Canada. We sat down with our fearless leader to chat about her past in the industry, and learn a bit about why she loves her job so much.

What’s your earliest memory of working in the industry?

As children, we Swan kids had a lot of fun with our family business. Our parents included us all from a very young age. I sure knew my way around the mailroom as a kid! In high school, my girlfriends and I would have huge brochure stuffing sleepover parties. We’d have a great time hanging out together, watching flicks, and making decent pocket change stuffing Adventure Canada’s early brochures into envelopes.

When did you decide to work in travel full time?

At the age of fourteen I knew that expedition travel was my calling. My first expedition to the Arctic set that in stone. I loved the ocean, I loved the people, I loved the North. I worked my way up from a mailroom position through high school, handled sales and reservations during my university years and, later, took a full time position. Since then I’ve tried my hand at almost every role within the company. I adored working direct with our clients helping them find and book their perfect expedition, satisfied my creative side working alongside the marketing team, and loved the fine details involved in logistics. Today, I have the pleasure of overseeing a new path forward for Adventure Canada. The support of our clients, local hosts, and industry friends are key to our success as we plan for the future. As ever, my daily mission is to find new and innovative ways to uphold our company mission to engage, entertain, and educate by connecting people to each other and the land through innovative travel experiences.

What part of your job do you enjoy the most?

The greatest joy in my career is being a part of and building a remarkable community. My days are spent with interesting, thoughtful, and passionate people. We have a shared love of the polar regions. We share compassion and work towards understanding for our fellow humans. We take to heart global issues and work towards local solutions. My colleagues and our guests are truly exceptional people with a thirst for knowledge. It is both professionally and personally rewarding to work with and support such a fine group of people.

To what do you attribute your success?

The team I’ve built is incredible. Everyone on the Adventure Canada team is thoughtful, smart, creative, and loyal. We lift each other up, drive each other to excel, and push boundaries. I have a team that I can count on. My complete trust in and appreciation for Adventure Canada’s people allows me to pursue new avenues for our business and develop important relationships.


Where is your favourite place to visit?

The Torngat Mountains in Nunatsiavut, Labrador is my favourite place on the planet. My heart skips a beat and my soul is a peace there. The best time to visit is the fall. The mountains are on fire with fall colours, the berries are ripe and delicious, and the hiking is sublime. This is a place where you feel at the edge of the world. I love feeling humbled by nature.

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What’s at the top of your destination bucket list?

I grew up with stories of my folks travelling India. I became fascinated with the country and went on to study Indian history at the University of Toronto. I look forward to my first visit, where I can’t wait to be overwhelmed with the colours, tastes, and smells.

What advice would you give to someone starting a career in travel?

Get in! Get started. Try as many different roles within the industry as you can. Develop meaningful contacts. Look for creative collaborations. Care for your clients and do best by them. Take the time to carve our your niche when you find your passion.

Are there any exciting programs you’d like to share?

I am extremely proud to share a new partnership with Slow Food Canada and USA. The opportunities we have to work together, to enhance our best practices, to explore the culture of food in Newfoundland and Labrador on our Newfoundland Circumnavigation are incredible. Assisting in promoting and practicing good, clean, and fair food is something we are very proud of.


Slow Food rules in the Paris of the Prairies

Version 2Bill Swan, Partnership Development with Adventure Canada, attended and presented at the Slow Food Canada National Summit April 19th – 22nd in Saskatoon.  

The ‘Paris of the Prairies’, as always, did not disappoint and served as an outstanding host for this event.

Surrounded by a thriving arts and culture scene and great restaurants, delegates met local farmers, teachers, students, chefs and Indigenous leaders.

Discussion revolved around local farming initiatives including their challenges as well as their rewards, youth in farming, plant breeding, urban agriculture, Indigenous food sovereignty, de-colonization and food as an integral element in First Nations cultures and reconciliation in Canada.

At the Summit Gala Dinner, A ‘Waste Not’ Feast was served, utilizing foods otherwise overlooked or discarded foods. Field tours included a dairy farm, fruit farm chicken farm and the University of Saskatchewan research greenhouses that were all very inspiring.  Delegates tasted many food items grown in Saskatchewan that included pulses, mustard, moose, yak (yes, yak!), Haskap berries, deer, elk, duck, wild rice & fresh greens; we were never hungry!  

Bill provided Gala Dinner attendees with an overview of Adventure Canada’s expedition opportunities and in particular, highlighted our new Slow Travel initiative and alliance with Slow Food in Canada and Slow Food USA as we prepare to embark on the Newfoundland Circumnavigation together in October, 2018.

Joining Bill, (note – sporting the new white shirt/AC vest look) – Ingrid Jarret, Vice-Chair, Slow Food Canada (right) Ashlyn George, Saskatchewan Travel Writer (left). 

Bonus points – what is the most important food crop (as measured in export sales) produced in SK? Leave your answer in the comments!

Photographing Newfoundland: more fair than foul!

Circumnavigation of Newfoundland w/ Adventure Canada

Craig Minielly joined Adventure Canada’s Newfoundland Circumnavigation in the fall of 2017 as onboard photographer and Nikon Ambassador.

We do our best to prepare everyone, but Craig got the (pleasant) surprise of his lifetime… and the photographs to go with it.

Read on to discover how Craig’s preconceptions were overturned…. to stunning effect!


Newfoundland –  A place of fog, cold , pounding seas and driving rain…

Or so I thought!

Circumnavigation of Newfoundland w/ Adventure Canada
As I packed for my upcoming assignment, to be the event photographer for Adventure Canada’s Newfoundland circumnavigation, I had all sorts of visions of wonderfully fog shrouded coast lines, pounding waves against rolling decks of the ship, dark and driving rain for days that would season the images I was to capture with the rugged and terrible weather that is all that Newfoundland is supposed to be.

 I could’ve been more wrong—or perhaps not.

Circumnavigation of Newfoundland w/ Adventure Canada
The weather that unfolded throughout the trip was nothing short of spectacular. Ocean kissed coast lines, became tranquil bays of reflecting horizons and idyllic zodiac rides to our remote destinations, all of which were beautifully picture worthy under blue skies & temperate winds.

Circumnavigation of Newfoundland w/ Adventure Canada

Day after day the beautiful weather continued, in all its agonizing glory and summer-like conditions.

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It was only when we reached Newfoundland’s northernmost tip, of L’anse aux Meadows, that I was finally rewarded with some of my much anticipated and thoroughly storm driven weather – as only true Vikings would have it.

Circumnavigation of Newfoundland w/ Adventure Canada

Finally!  Rain, fog, wind and… coolish temperatures, openly greeted us on the shores where Eric the Red and his Viking crew had first stepped foot a thousand years ago… THIS was the weather that matched my much-anticipated dreams of exploring this oh-so terrible and desolate landscape for myself.

Our weather finally turned, but how appropriate to do so as we arrived to the first and desolately rugged Viking settlement of L'Anse aux Meadows - or "Jellyfish Cove" An archaeological site on the northernmost tip of the island of Newfoundland in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Discovered in 1960, it is the most famous site of a Norse or Viking settlement in North America. Dating to around the year 1000, #LAnseAuxMeadows is notable for its possible connection with the attempted colony of Vinland established by Leif Erikson around the same period or, more broadly, with Norse exploration of the Americas. It was named a World Heritage site by #UNESCO in 1978. - Source Wikipedia #worldheritagesite #NikonAmbassador #CraigOnAssignment #AdventureTravel #PrettyPlaces #NikonCa #intothewild #tinypeopleinbigplaces #bestplacestogo #travelphotographer #traveldeeper #suitcasetravels #letsgosomewhere #welltravelled #travelmemories ⠀ #passionpassport #lifeofadventure #stayandwander #folkgood #ourplanetdaily #ExploreCanada #explorenewfoundland #discoverearth #discovernewfoundland #AdventureCanada #outdoorphotography #landscape_lovers #Canada150 Circumnavigation of Newfoundland w/ Adventure Canada

My foul weather gear and weatherproof Nikon preparations, were finally being put to the test as I was able to enjoy the adversities in capturing the ice floes & earliest settlements—while savouring this first Viking landing as it was truly meant to be seen and experienced. 

As we left this area and onto new horizons, the weather of course turned again and I had to suffer through interminable sunshine, and balmy winds that brought only calm seas, but that was OK because I’d had my taste of the terrible climate and weather extremes that I’d come to expect.

Circumnavigation of Newfoundland w/ Adventure Canada


Circumnavigation of Newfoundland w/ Adventure Canada
I was ready to now soak up the suns soothing rays and 
enjoy the warmth of colourful destinations in all their glory… leaving my Viking worthy rain gear and sweaters back on the ship, where they belonged.

Follow Craig’s adventures at www.hotsaucecreative.com, or on instagram at @CraigOnAssignment

To join Adventure Canada’s 2018 Newfoundland Circumnavigation, click here!

To join Adventure Canada’s 2019 Newfoundland Circumnavigation, click here!

To join Adventure Canada’s 2020 Newfoundland Circumnavigation, click here!

A taste for adventure: AC partners with Slow Food

Slow food: those two word conjure images of mindful enjoyment of mindful, enjoyable nourishment. Which makes Adventure Canada’s brand of mindful, enjoyable travel the perfect partner for Slow Food in Canada and Slow Food USA.

Beginning with our Newfoundland Circumnavigation voyage this October, Adventure Canada will be working to incorporate Slow Food’s message of clean, healthy, fair food into our onboard programming and cultural visits. In fact, it’s a natural extension of the work we already do—a wonderful alignment of shared values.

After all, food is central to every culture, and culture is central to ecology in the regions we visit. Adventure Canada’s cultural advocacy includes supporting country food in the Arctic—like sustainably harvested seal meat. And in Newfoundland and Labrador, we do our best to search out the local delicacies that make travel there so intriguing, from cod tongues to bake-apples.

richard-mccarthy2We are particularly excited that Slow Food USA’s Richard McCarthy will join us aboard our Newfoundland Circumnavigation this fall. “Slow Food is so excited to partner with Adventure Canada because Adventure Canada makes real the values of Slow Food,” says Richard. “It is a partnership where we will begin to venture into that space of slow travel: travelling light, travelling slowly, connecting people to the taste of place, and ultimately building a community of people who give thought and meaning to travel, to food, and to the integrity of a place.”

Cedar“We all want to sample an experience in the places that we’re going to, and whether that’s by food or by music or through language, we’re excited to work with Slow Food to get those creative juices flowing,” says our CEO, Cedar Swan. “Between ourselves, leaders at Slow Food, and leaders in the communities that we visit, we hope to come up with real viable ways to incorporate food into the travel culture that we very much want to share with our guests.”

Starting and ending in historic St. John’s, guests aboard our Newfoundland Circumnavigation will embark on an intimate experience of Newfoundland’s local food, lively culture and dramatic scenery via daily expedition stops, community visits and engaging presentations. We’ll visit Red Bay’s Basque Whaling Station (a where locals depend heavily on food from the land, just as the Basque whalers did), learn about North America’s Viking history at L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site, and enjoy a taste of the Mi’kmaq culture in Miawpukek First Nation. Later, we’ll explore the remote village of Conche and enjoy a community meal of ‘the best cod in Newfoundland,’ before visiting the French island of Saint-Pierre to sample its cheese and wine, all in the company of local artists, experts, and naturalists.

Watch the beautiful and inspiring video Slow Food in Canada: Scratching the Surface, an official selection of Devour: The Food Film Fest.

For information about sailing with Slow Food on Adventure Canada’s Newfoundland Circumnavigation expedition, visit adventurecanada.com or call 1-800-363-7566.

Adventure Canada co-founder Bill Swan will be on site at Slow Food Canada’s National Summit in Saskatoon April 19-22. Drop by and say hi!

Twin Flames: One song at a time


It was a special thrill for us at Adventure Canada to see the nominations this week for the 2018 Indigenous Music Awards. Among the nominees are the inspiring husband & wife duo, Twin Flames (Jaaji Okpik and Chelsey June). We had recently invited Twin Flames aboard our expedition to Greenland & Wild Labrador 2018. What better time to introduce them to our audience than on the heels of an IMA nomination! 

Congratulations on your recent nomination best folk album in the 2018 Indigenous Music Awards. How does it feel to be named along with the likes of Buffy Ste. Marie?

We are super honoured every time we are nominated alongside legends in Indigenous music. Buffy is a legend and also a woman which means so much to me (Chelsey). Buffy is an Indigenous woman who has made it in the industry in a time when women and Indigenous peoples were still secondary. It is awesome that our music is gaining recognition and is being considered in a category with her. It is a testament to how far we have come in so little time.

You both had worked independently as musical artists. What brought you together?

We met on a TV Show for upcoming Aboriginal Artists (TAM on APTN) which was being filmed in Quebec Cit.  Jaaji was representing Inuit and Mohawk from the North, and Chelsey, Metis from the South.

Now you’re a couple, working together, travelling together, performing together, and making a life together. How do you do it?

We are best friends as well as a couple. We are very grateful for the life we lead, and that we get to share so many amazing adventures together. We have the same view on our dreams and goals, and each time we accomplish them together is a celebration. 

Together, you’re presenting a mosaic of identities. What moves you to make your music? Is there a core message you’re hoping to share?

Yes: our key message is “we are all human”. No matter our race or where we come from, we are all able to relate through music. Music is our international language. We can gently educate people about our cultures and where we come from and the journeys that we have lived. We hope one day our people will be treated as equals. We also try to remind people that there is hope and that good things can happen. We are living proof that with dedication and hard work dreams are possible.

You sing in English, French, and Inuktitut. As you travel and perform across the country, what kind of reactions do you see from your varied audience ?

We are storytellers and sharing our languages through music helps us to share our stories. People are generally intrigued, and many audience members have expressed how amazing they feel to listen to music in a language they do not understand while still feeling the emotion of the song. For those that do understand, they feel a great sense of pride that their languages are being shared and preserved. Again, music is an international language.

You put out your first album together in 2015, and since then you’ve won Aboriginal Songwriters of the Year twice at the Canadian Folk Music Awards, earned multiple other award nominations, and hit #1 on the National Aboriginal Countdown for your single “Porchlight”.  How does it feel to have your work honoured like this?

We feel extremely privileged an honoured receiving recognition for our work. We love what we do and work really hard putting one hundred per cent into it all. As Indigenous, Inuit, Metis artists we are proud to share our music nationally and Internationally. Our main objective is to give voices to our people in our communities that don’t always have one, to bring to the forefront issues that are communities and youth are facing and to break stereotypes.

The biggest reward we receive is the love from our fans and the youth we get to work with through music. Our fans are the reason we have made it to where we are. Inspiring one person to live a good life and to believe in themselves is why we do what we do. We want to bring happiness everywhere we go one song at a time.

The single, Porchlight, highlights the plight of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. What’s been the reaction to that song among your audience?

We wrote this song with no intention to ever publicly release it. We met a man at the Indigenous music awards in 2015 who asked if he could take a photograph with us and his little sister. He handed us a picture frame and explained that she went missing years ago and that he and his family never received any closure or any answers in her disappearance.

In that moment both of us were shot with a deep pain in our hearts. This was the first story of many that were to follow. The man we met urged us to release this song once we sent it to him. He used it in his National campaign for MMIWG which went on to become a comfort song to those living the movement and searching for answers. This song has become a way for people to release their pain for a moment to remember the loved ones no longer with us and know that we remember them.

How does making music help address the issues, including MMIWG, that confront Indigenous people in Canada today?

We are given a voice through our music, one which we are very humbled to receive. We share our stories and the stories of our people. The truth is that many Canadians have no clue as to what has happened throughout our history and the trauma which it has caused many of our people. Music gives us the platform to gently educate and maybe shine a bit of light on the issues—as well as the beauty that exists among the resilience, and the strength to still be here today. 

TwinFlames2It can get tiring on the road, tiring making music, and especially tiring trying to shed light on difficult subjects. What keeps you going?

We are doing what we love. The energy that we receive from the audience every time we play refuels us. When we receive the messages of how we have impacted someone’s life in a positive way, helped them find hope, even changed their mind to not take their own life in a moment when they felt they had nothing left… These are all reasons for us to keep going. A hug from a fan or a child that looks at us with awe and inspiration.

We may not be mainstream music but we are reaching people writing songs with deep meaning and living our dream.

You’ve come so far, so fast—what do you think is next for Twin Flames?

We would love to further break into mainstream music, and see Indigenous artists represented equally, at the same level as Canadian artists. We also love to travel so the more places we get to play the better. We are hoping to branch into Europe and Australia and venture more into the U.S. market.

Our third album is currently in the works which will be very interesting as we come more into ourselves as artists. The best part of what we are living is that real life has surpassed our most crazy dreams, so we will keep on dreaming and when those dreams come true we will make new ones. One song at a time.

What do you look forward to most about visiting Greenland, Nunavik, Nunatsiavut, Newfoundland & Labrador with Adventure Canada this fall?

We love that our music brings us to all different places. We are really looking forward to Greenand! We have not had the chance to visit Greenland yet and it has been on our bucket list of places to go and see. As for Nunavik, Nunatsiavut, Newfoundland & Labrador: those locations we never get tied of seeing and visiting. The spirits there have come to know us and it feels like a homecoming each time we return. Always new things to discover and beauty that surpasses imagination!

Join Jaaji and Chelsey June aboard Adventure Canada’s expedition cruise to Greenland and Wild Labrador, September 18 – October 2, 2018.

Remembering Louie Kamookak

me and louieSince the passing of Louie Kamookak on March 22 at age 58, I have been revisiting old photos in which he features. Here is one of the two of us that stems from August 1999. Louie made me laugh when he dubbed this “the Boat Place.” We were slogging south along the west coast of Boothia Peninsula, making our way back to camp. The previous day, we had found the ruins of the cairn John Rae built in 1854 to mark his discovery of Rae Strait.

Earlier in the afternoon, we had erected a memorial plaque beside it. We had toasted Rae and the two men who made the trek with him—the Inuk William Ouligbuck Jr. and the Ojibway Thomas Mistegan. I had suggested that we stop for a rest and Louie, with a twinkle in his eye, said let’s rest at the Boat Place. We had passed this overturned rowboat travelling north, so I knew where he meant. Like many people reading this, however, I also understood that he was alluding to the famous Boat Place on the west coast of King William Island—the location where, in 1859, searchers found a clothed skeleton from the lost Franklin Expedition sitting frozen at one end of a boat.

louie at cairn hi resLouie Kamookak is well-known now as the foremost twenty-first-century champion of Inuit oral history—that history which, in 2014, led searchers to discover John Franklin’s long-lost flagship, HMS Erebus. For decades, Louie dedicated time and energy to collecting oral history, traditional place names, and the history of Inuit groups before Europeans arrived in the Arctic. For his contributions, he was made an honorary vice-president of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, which awarded him the Erebus Medal. He also received the Lawrence J. Burpee Medal, the Canadian Governor General’s Polar Medal, the Order of Canada, and the Order of Nunavut.

In recent months, Louie made no secret of the fact that he was back and forth from Gjøa Haven to Edmonton, in and out of hospital, and receiving chemotherapy. But he was not yet sixty years old and I was in denial. I honestly believe he would remain with us for years. A couple of months ago, Louie agreed to become Gjøa Haven Consultant on the Arctic Return Expedition slated for 2019. Together, he and I intended to set out from Gjøa Haven and meet the four-person expedition at its culminating point, the John Rae Memorial Plaque and Cairn overlooking Rae Strait. By so doing, we would not only honor John Rae, but also mark the twentieth anniversary of when, together with antiquarian Cameron Treleaven, we located that site. I wrote about that adventure in Fatal Passage and Dead Reckoning.

After drinking cold coffee at the Boat Place, we reached our campsite and began packing up our gear. Louie said that, before recrossing Rae Strait to Gjøa Haven, he wanted to investigate a spot where sometimes he found good hunting. Louie had a passionate interest in Arctic exploration, but he was also a proud Inuk who lived, and so helped to preserve, a traditional way of life. In summer, he went hunting in his twenty-foot boat. In winter, he used a dog-team or a Skidoo. The water, the ice—they belonged to his world, and to the way his Inuit ancestors had lived for generations.

We piled into the boat and, with Louie at the wheel, away we went, south down the coast of Boothia. After about twenty minutes, we entered a nondescript bay, hauled the boat onto a sandy beach, and climbed a ridge to scan the horizon. I saw nothing. There was nothing to see. But Louie pointed and whispered: “Caribou!” A huge-antlered animal, all but invisible against the brown tundra, stood in profile more than one hundred metres away. Way too far, in my opinion. But Louie fell to one knee, brought his gun to his shoulder, and fired. Nothing happened. I thought he had missed completely.

But no! That caribou dropped down dead where it stood. I could hardly believe it. We all three went charging across the tundra. Louie was jubilant. When he reached the caribou, he cried: “Straight through the heart!” Treleaven and I watched as he said a few words over the dead animal. Then he skinned that creature, hoisted the heavy carcass up onto his shoulders, and staggered back to the boat. Heaving it into the stern, he said: “Meat will last all winter.”

We hauled the boat into deep water and set out for Gjøa Haven, returning from what had evolved into a successful caribou hunt. Louie Kamookak was feeling good. All three of us were on top of the world. And as we pounded across Rae Strait in the wind, I knew that I would remember these past few days forever.

Over the years, Louie and I kept in touch. We talked on the phone, traded emails. I saw him once in Calgary, once in Ottawa, and couple of times in Gjøa Haven when, with Adventure Canada, I called in there. Louie gave me a wonderful quote for the back cover of Dead Reckoning. As I say, we were planning to revisit the John Rae memorial plaque next spring. But my fondest memories remain those we created together in 1999, when we found a cairn, erected a plaque, went hunting for caribou, and located our own Boat Place.

Photos by Cameron Treleaven. For more of Ken’s thoughts on Louie, visit his website.

Interview with an Expert: Dr. Latonia Hartery

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Latonia in L’Anse-aux-Meadows, NL. Photo by Dennis Minty

Archeologist and filmmaker Dr. Latonia Hartery celebrated her thirtieth trip with Adventure Canada this past season. Beginning in 2005 with a tour of Newfoundland, Labrador, and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Latonia has worked with Adventure Canada every year since, doing several expedition voyages each season. One of Adventure Canada’s most experienced and respected resource team members, Latonia’s work aboard the ship (and ashore) includes interpretation of archeological sites, screening and interpreting films, and presenting her research.

Behind the scenes, Latonia manages Adventure Canada’s archeological sites’ permitting process, and is frequently consulted on best practices and new potential landing sites. She works alongside the Adventure Canada team to develop and implement approaches to sustainable expedition travel in sensitive environments.


Looking back, what were your first impressions of Adventure Canada?

My first impression was the natural camaraderie of the company as a family, which spilled over into how the passengers responded to staff and to each other. I was the youngest resource staff member at the time, and I noticed that people could have a lot of fun and adventure in a warm, safe environment.

What I also noticed was the easy access—getting to all these places that, even as a travelling archeologist, I had only seen on maps. All this coastline, all these places that you never in your wildest dreams think you’re going to reach.

What do you love about sharing your home province, Newfoundland & Labrador, with visitors?

I love showing people how fortunate I am to have grown up in this environment, surrounded by a rich culture that has afforded me the opportunity to follow my dreams about archeology and history.

I was born in a place where people have a very secure sense of identity, and they take care of each other. Not to say that living in Newfoundland doesn’t have its challenges, but there are many great things about this magical place that makes living here worthwhile—and this inspires me to do my best and to work toward helping Newfoundland be the best place it can be, as well.

What does it mean to share the archeology of this region?

Sharing archeology and history isn’t just interpreting—it’s helping people understand why we are the way we are. That is where the passion and love that many Newfoundlanders feel about their home probably comes from. There’s a bit of a misconception that people have been living here for only five hundred years, because of the fishery. That’s incomplete and inaccurate. You can’t understand the full history of Newfoundland and Labrador by starting around 1500AD.

It’s my job to illuminate the nine thousand years of life in the province, which began with the arrival of Indigenous people. And when you start there, it becomes apparent that every group that has been here interacted with the environment in similar ways—and within all of those different cultures, you find a through line that brings us to today. My own research at Bird Cove has helped reconstruct five thousand years of culture-history, both Indigenous and European. Some of our discoveries on the Great Northern Peninsula provided a flip side of how we saw past life in Newfoundland. It filled some gaps in the archaeological record, and shed light on how people dealt with changes in climate thousands of years ago.

What’s special about visiting Newfoundland & Labrador aboard an Adventure Canada trip?

Adventure Canada trips allow me to help people understand complex history and to reconstruct it. Whether through interpreting out on the landscape, or in a presentation, or even when having dinner together, I’m grateful for the opportunity to talk about the diverse nature of NL livelihoods.

People have a general perception about what Newfoundlanders are supposed to be like and the critical thing that Adventure Canada does is to hire locally, so that the passengers get to interact with Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, who interpret their own culture and heritage.

I also feel like my job is, generally, to interpret the province with as much enthusiasm as I can.

L’Anse-aux-Meadows is one of the highlights of Adventure Canada’s Newfoundland Circumnavigation. What makes it so special?

The site has both fascinating European and Indigenous history. L’Anse-aux-Meadows is probably one of the most affecting stops that we have, in terms of understanding just how early Europeans—Norse—were here.

Vikings in general are fascinating. It’s a wonderful exercise for people to try to imagine how the site would have been working a thousand years ago. Plus, a female archeologist – Anne Stine Ingstad, excavated this famous archeological site; with the help of locals and professionals, and it became one of the first UNESCO World Heritage sites.

What about Miawpukek First Nation?

Miawpukek is in the Bay D’Espoir region. I grew up in Milltown which is also part of the Bay D’Espoir area. That’s always one of the best days because I interact with friends I’ve grown up with, and my family. Smallwood once said that at the time of Confederation that there were no Indigenous people in Newfoundland, which of course, is not true. But unless people come to visit, it’s difficult to truly know Miawpukek and understand the Mi’kmaq history there.

I encourage travelers to come with us to Miawpukek and meet everyone there—they are thriving and living in one of the most beautiful, fastest-growing, and successful First Nations in Canada. Miawpukek is really showing a way forward— that’s a source of pride. It’s a very special experience for anyone who goes there.

You also travel in the High Arctic. What’s different about the Newfoundland & Labrador trips?

Arctic trips are incredibly adventurous, and can feature extreme hikes. But the Newfoundland & Labrador trips, while having some hikes and trips to isolated areas, is heavily community-visitation based. People come away feeling very nurtured, well taken care of, like they’ve had a lot of warmth run through their bodies. It is also very music focused, and feels lively and uplifting in that way.

You are a filmmaker with a focus on women’s stories. How does that dovetail with Adventure Canada trips?

I love getting more women’s stories out there, having a more equal playing field for women is something I strive for and AC is also taking a lead on this — they employ people myself, Holly Hogan, who’s one of the foremost seabird researchers, musicians like Geraldine Hollett of The Once—a lot of very competent female resource staff are on these trips, plus Cedar and Alana at the company. Exceptional women are met on land too during these trips, one being Cindy Gibbons, in Red Bay— who manages that National Park/UNESCO site.

In Newfoundland & Labrador, whether a woman had a career in the workforce, or worked at home, she was a strong pillar of her community. We learn to grab the world by its tail from our mothers and our grandmothers. They were, and are, very active. My grandmother had thirteen children. I watched her do anything and everything. When you come to Newfoundland & Labrador you will meet a lot of strong women!

Dr. Latonia Hartery runs a nonprofit called Amina Anthropological Resources Association Incorporated (AARA Inc.), specializing in researching and promoting Newfoundland & Labrador. Her own research station, Bird Cove in northern Newfoundland, is having its twentieth anniversary in 2018. She has received the JCI Outstanding Young Person Award, and a Cruise Vision award for her role in bringing Adventure Canada trips to select locations in Newfoundland & Labrador. She was named a Newfoundland & Labrador Emerging Artist in 2016. Her film production company, LJH Film supports stories about women, women writers & directors, and has a focus on the East Coast. She is currently working on a female feature film anthology featuring six different women directors.

Join Latonia in 2018 aboard our Newfoundland Circumnavigation, where she will explore the culture and history of Canada’s youngest province! Until April 15, save 15% on the berth cost of this one-of-a-kind expedition!


Remembering Bill Lishman: No Ordinary Life

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William Lishman

1938 – 2017


It was with great sadness we learned on December 30 that our dear friend and colleague Bill Lishman had passed away at home. He was surrounded with family and friends at Purple Hill, near Blackstock, Ontario.

It came as a shock. Bill had been labouring with some health issues–but his medical advisors thought, with luck, that he would be around for another ten years.

Little did we know it would be just ten days.

My brother Bill Swan was the one that first introduced Bill Lishman to Adventure Canada after seeing him as a guest speaker at the Wings Over the Rockies Bird Festival in Invermere almost twenty years ago. Brother Bill reported, “we’ve gotta get this guy”.

We did. What followed was many years of great travel in Canada and around the world with Bill as a presenter. He was beyond a pioneer. The US Department of Wildlife described Operation Migration–where Bill’s team taught geese, and then whooping cranes, to follow ultralight pilots on faltering migration routes–as “the wildlife equivalent of putting a man on the moon”.

And Bill was much more than that. He was an inventor, sculptor, filmmaker, underground house pioneer, activist, naturalist, author, family man, and an inspiration to those that knew him. Bill never saw limitation; for him, the world was only full of possibilities. As our colleague David Newland has stated, he was a true genius and a modern day Renaissance Man.

Bill was certainly one of the most imaginative and creative people I have ever met. That creativity also runs through the Lishman family, with his sons Aaron and Geordie, his daughter Carmen, and his partner, fur industry pioneer Paula. Signs are that this trend will continue with the three Lishman grandkids.

There is also another side to that genius. Bill had a learning disability; he was dyslexic and colour blind. But, as we use to chuckle, he was also “beautifully unencumbered by formal education”. Even in his seventies, Bill remained a seven-year-old at his core.

There was a delightfully silly side to Bill. He had an immediate appreciation of Adventure Canada’s sense of foolishness-and that humour was oil for the heart against life’s sorrows. We towed my old Chrysler minivan to the auto wreckers a few years back. The towing procedure wasn’t quite right, and the front bumper of the van flew forty feet into the air. We had a hard time not giggling for the rest of the day. On another occasion, when the question arose as to what to do with leftover pumpkins, we blew up a dozen at an AC Reunion at Purple Hill. Bill loved to blow stuff up.

Even though he could be crusty and grumpy, Bill was also one of the most compassionate and least judgmental people I’ve known. He had tremendous affection for the Inuit of Canada’s North. His many travels there were reflected in the design a revolutionary igloo-style dome housing concept, and the installation of a forty-foot stainless steel iceberg sculpture at the Museum of Nature in Ottawa.

For those of us that had the pleasure to know and spend time with him, he was a luminous companion.

God speed, Bill. Let us know when you have something to report back.


Matthew Swan

Adventure Canada




A Memorial and Celebration of Bill Lishman’s life will be held on January 20 at the Robert McLaughlin Art Gallery in Oshawa from 1:00 to 4:00 PM.

Donations in lieu of flowers to Bill’s name to his favourite organizations:

International Conservation Fund Canada

Green Durham Association

Bill was passionate about saving the Pickering Lands, whose expropriation for the proposed Pickering Airport he had protested in the 1970s. Here, Bill explains how these lands could once again become family farms, providing food security to Canada’s biggest urban region.

Canoeing the Keele: a New Expedition with Adventure Canada

“What sets a canoeing expedition apart is that it purifies you more rapidly and inescapably than any other travel. Travel a thousand miles by train and you are a brute; pedal five hundred on a bicycle and you remain basically a bourgeois; paddle a hundred in a canoe and you are already a child of nature.” —Pierre Elliott Trudeau


One of the best ways to explore Canada is by canoe. No other vessel has shaped our nation’s history more completely—no other mode of transport, except perhaps the kayak, seems more central to our ethos as a northern nation. The canoe is elegant in its simplicity, a craft that is as at home in the world of modern travel as it was essential to the lives of Canadians centuries ago. At Adventure Canada, we’re always concerned with looking backward as much as we look forward, and carrying a reverence for tradition into the new ways we explore our great country (and beyond). With that in mind, we’re proud to present a brand new expedition for 2018: Keele River by Canoe. Set against the rugged backdrop of the Northwest Territories, Keele River offers an iconic Canadian wilderness canoeing experience through the rugged Mackenzie Mountains; turquoise water flow from high in the divide between the Yukon and Northwest Territories through towering mountain scenery and broad valleys full of rugged black spruce with inviting vistas on every curve.

Adventure Specialist Sheryl Saint recently travelled alongside expert guides and excited guests to try out this fifteen-day trip of a lifetime for herself! When she got back to the office, we sat down for a chat—because she had a lot to say about the experience!

Mike Strizic: Hi Sheryl! How many trips have you done with Adventure Canada?

Sheryl Saint: I’m gonna say eighteen or more? I should count!

MS: What is your canoe tripping experience?

Screen Shot 2017-07-26 at 1.21.48 PMSS: Zero! When I was thirteen I did a canoe trip through a camp I went to. It was in Algonquin Park. We got initiated by rain, the entire week. We looked like drowned rats. And of course the canoe I was in got tipped. By me.

MS: What was most exciting aspect for you in preparing for this canoe trip?

SS: I was just blown away by where I was going. I was so excited to get up to the NWT and see some of the pictures I’ve seen in real life. The mountain ranges, the rivers.


MS: What were you most worried about? How did that play out?

SS: [laughs] lots! I was a nervous wreck! The biggest thing was having not canoed for twenty-some-odd years … or even camping! I haven’t done that in at least twenty-five years. Or at least, in a tent. I also have a moderate fear of water … at least, water that I can’t see through! But I persevered through those fears and after my first day on the trip they had been completely assuaged.

MS: What was the most useful piece of kit you had with you?

SS: Quick-dry clothing, and a good Thermarest [air matress]. It makes all the difference being able to stay warm and dry, and having that one-inch cushion to keep you off the ground is hugely important. People may not be aware that an air matress actually keeps you warm—because you’re not losing body heat into the ground. So that was huge for me.


MS: What was the most spectacular moment of the trip for you?

SS: Our first wildlife viewing. We saw a caribou swimming in the water. AT first it looked like a log, and then it started to move onshore directly opposite our camp. As it emerged out of the water, it was so dramatic and magnificent. It stared at us for a good three minutes before moving on. It made me feel that we were really with mother nature … it was the first day. One of those moments of being welcomed to the wilderness.

MS: What other kind of wildlife did you see on this trip?

SS: We saw a big black wolf! Also, two types of foxes. We saw lots of evidence of bears, and saw a few moose. Porcupines were around, ground squirrels, and tons of birds—eagles, hawks, whooping cranes, a variety of duck species. We had a birder along for the ride who was pointing out the never-ending bird calls.

MS: Who would you recommend this trip for?

SS: Anyone who is active! You don’t have to be an expert, you just have to know how to hold a paddle! One of our team was seventy-nine years old, which was incredible. As long as you know that you’ll be paddling six to eight hours a day—with lots of breaks—you can handle this. If you want to get close to nature, and really see the land by travelling through it, this is the trip for you.IMG_6196

MS: How was the food?

SS: The food was beyond exceptional! We had bacon, eggs, pork loin, pancakes, French toast, all cooked on a fire or on propane as the situation warranted. There were two guides who assisted with the food prep and obviously did all the shopping and packing—but we were assigned to teams that helped out in the campsite kitchen on any given night. It was actually a ton of fun to work with each other like that, as a team. It really gave us a sense of ownership over our experience and adventure. And food tastes so good after a day of paddling. Which was probably a good thing whenever I was on duty [laughs]. There’s also great fishing for those interested—both fly fishing and traditional.


MS: What was campsite life like?

SS: It was great. Every night we’d gather to get to know each other and tell stories, or reflect on the day. One day, we were trying to wait out some rain to pitch tents—and instead, ended up holding tarps up for each other while people pitched their tents underneath! It was amazing how quickly we shifted from being strangers to being friends, partners, and teammates. We were a well-oiled machine by the end of the trip.


MS: What surprised you about this trip?

SS: A few things. I found everyone came back feeling more self-confident. Everyone gained new nuances about themselves that they didn’t know they had. For me, it was strengths that popped out that I had been afraid of, previously. One woman confessed at the onset that she was out of her element and feared that the trip would break spirit. Instead, she found herself rising to and surpassing the challenges before her, and just loved every second of it. I guess that’s the transformative power of the wilderness … and doing things under your own steam. It’s such a great opportunity for Adventure Canada types—you know who you are—to experience the vastness of the north from the ground up. This type of intimate setting—fourteen people maximum—really lays it all out for you. We didn’t see another soul the entire time. It was utterly unlike anything I have ever done. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.


Click here to learn more about Keele River by Canoe 2018!

“Everyone must believe in something. I believe I’ll go canoeing.” —Henry David Thoreau

Student, On Ice

A guest post by Alexia Galloway-Alainga.

image2.JPGMy name is Alexia Galloway-Alainga. I was born and raised in Iqaluit, Nunavut. I am Inuk, meaning that I am part of the three different Indigenous groups in Canada. I am a third-year University student at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. I am majoring in Social Work and minoring in Psychology. I enjoy being on the land and outdoors, keeping active, throat singing, and learning. I participated in the 2017 Students on Ice Arctic Expedition which sailed from Resolute Bay, Nunavut, Canada, to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. Here is a tiny look into my wonderful Students on Ice journey!

My 2017 Students on Ice Arctic Expedition experience began in Ottawa, Ontario with a pre-program for the Northern participants. This included participants, elders, educators, and leaders from all across the circumpolar North. Nunavut, Nunavik, Nunatsiavut, Inuvialuit Region, Greenland, and Alaska. This pre-program ran for a couple days where we got to know each other through ice breakers, workshops, and sharing of our stories and talents. It was a great way to build on your own knowledge of Inuit homelands, by getting to know the experience of life on Inuit Nunaat from others across the circumpolar North. One particular eye opener for me, was meeting a participant from Alaska. It was interesting to learn about the differences in culture, in part due to the national border that separates the US and Canada. But more specifically, I was fascinated to learn about our similarities in life as Inuit, or as Indigenous Peoples, the border between us notwithstanding. These similarities span from Nunavut to Alaska, and East, from Canada to Greenland—values of the land, of family, and of practicing and preserving our traditions and culture. The pre-program for the expedition was meant to bring us together, with the knowledge of our homeland, and prepare us as ambassadors of the North. The remaining participants, those from other provinces in Canada, and from different countries around the world, came after the two-day program. We had a couple ice breakers the night before boarding the Ocean Endeavour, to get to know each other. We played some Inuit Games, and tried to do a square dance.

Day One rolled around and we flew from Ottawa, Canada to Resolute Bay, in Canada’s Arctic. There we attended the announcement of Qausuittuq Park, from Federal Minister Katherine McKenna, PJ Akeeagok president of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, and the Deputy Minister (I believe) of Environment, David Akeeagok. Along with the announcement, artist Celina Kalluk, who originates from the area, sang songs that were related to the families and land of the area.

Students on Ice was also fortunate to attend the announcement of Canada’s largest Marine Conservation Area, Tallurutiup Imanga (Lancaster Sound), measuring an area of 109,000 square kilometres. The protection of this area in Canada’s Arctic is comparable to twice the size of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. It was an honour to attend an announcement so important to Inuit, to Canada, and in the long run, to the world.

After the announcement of the opening of Qausuittuq National Park, we boarded our floating home for the next two weeks. On board, we attended workshops of our choice. These workshops varied in topic from science and climate change to reconciliation and cultural identity. We participated in these workshops throughout the expedition.

It was my goal to make Students on Ice as much of a learning experience as possible, so some of the workshops I chose were sometimes outside of my comfort zone. Some of them include, Finding Your Political Voice, held by Bruce Heymen and Nancy Karetak-Lindell, History of Inuit Dog Sledding, by Shari Fox Gearheard, Indigenous Identities, which was a panel that included Becky Mearns, Jessice Bolduc, Ivalu Rosling, and Brandon Pardy. These are just a few of the amazing workshops and presentations that were available to all of the participants and staff aboard the ship this year.

As the days continued, many of us began to lose a sense of time and day. With day-filled schedules, no cell phone or internet service, and so much learning at our fingertips, nobody really cared about what day it was. Our days were never set in stone, but each day typically consisted of attending workshops, eating delicious food (thank you, Ocean Endeavour crew!), adventuring on land to a historic site, or simply going ashore to do workshops, and reflecting on our own experience individually or in groups. The experiences created, either on land, learning about the history of Inuit at historic sites, visiting different communities along the way, or in workshops aboard the ship, were life-changing. As an Inuk, I found that it was an opportunity to share my culture, share the beauty and vastness of my homelands, and meet new faces from all over Canada, and the World. Students on Ice was an opportunity to build upon the knowledge I have about Inuit and our land, but was also an opportunity to witness other people and their discovery of the Arctic through their own lenses. These moments were my absolute favourite part about this year’s Students on Ice expedition. Sharing what I know, building on that knowledge, but also witnessing people from all around the world grow an appreciation for the Arctic, for Inuit, and for Indigenous Peoples.

I personally would like to thank the Students on Ice Foundation, from the staff on board to the staff in Ottawa, the sponsors who brought this wonderful group of people together, and the staff aboard the Ocean Endeavour for creating an experience that touched and/or changed the lives of everyone on board. The Students on Ice experience contributes to building a knowledge about Indigenous Peoples in Canada, that undermines what many Canadian youth are taught in schools. This experience shines light to some of Canada’s history that the government has repeatedly attempted to hide and/or doesn’t propagate. This was a life-changing and educational experience that will contribute to creating a healthier, safer, and truly multicultural future for Canada. Thank you to the International participants and staff who came into this experience with an open mind and heart, and for carrying this knowledge with you for the rest of your lives. Students on Ice was educational in the realization of the reality and rapidity of climate change and sea level rise, of the reality for Indigenous Peoples in Canada today and in the past, and was also an opportunity to meet many people with curiosities and lenses that sprout from all over the world. I am truly grateful to have participated in this year’s expedition, and will continue to be thankful for this experience for the rest of my life.

Alexia is a third-year student at Carleton University. Click here to read her profile on our blog. Each year, Adventure Canada sponsors an Inuk youth from one of the four Inuit regions of Canada to take part in Students On Ice, established in 2000 “to educate the world’s youth about the importance of the Polar Regions, to support their continued growth and to inspire initiatives that contribute to global sustainability.” We are proud to partner with such a worthy organization, and delighted to have sponsored Alexia on her journey.

Alexia Galloway-Alainga: a born ambassador

Each year, Adventure Canada sponsors an Inuk youth from one of the four Inuit regions of Canada to take part in Students On Ice, established in 2000 “to educate the world’s youth about the importance of the Polar Regions, to support their continued growth and to inspire initiatives that contribute to global sustainability.” Alexia Galloway-Alainga will join this year’s expedition, from August 8-23.


Born and raised in Iqaluit, Alexia, a third year undergrad in social work at Carlton U, may have been destined to play the role of cultural ambassador: Her mom’s side of the family hails from Arctic Bay, NU, while her father’s family is from NS. Alexia feels her roots are firmly planted in Nunavut, and she plans on returning to the territory when she’s completed her studies.

Alexia’s experiences in the south have taught her that southerners really don’t know a lot about Inuit. “I think people who, maybe are coming to the Arctic for the first time, or who aren’t familiar with Inuit—we’re not as represented, I find. That’s something I’ve really learned in my schooling in Ottawa. Ninety percent of the time people say they never got any education about indigenous peoples.”

Frequently, that leads to a knowledge gap, even at the most basic level: “Inuit, First Nations, and Metis people are all different groups of people. We don’t all have the same traditions. We don’t all do the same practices. We have different forms of dancing, different forms of singing. We live such different lives in such different environments.”

Alexia is excited to bring her own traditions and understanding to Students on Ice—but is also looking forward to learning from others. “Having come from Nunavut and spent my entire life here, I think my familiarity with Inuit cultural heritage and traditions is something I’ll bring. And being open and learning! My role is definitely learner.”

Thanks to a presentation in elementary school, Alexia had long been aware of SOI, and realized it could be a great fit for her after several acquaintances benefited the experience. “I figured, you know what, I should do it. I am a representative of the Arctic, I’m a throat singer… I know that I do hold knowledge about Inuit and Inuit Nunangat, but I know I have much to learn.”

image3.JPGAs someone who effectively lives in two worlds, North and South, Alexia is conscious of the unique perspective that comes with mixed heritage. She’s written a poignant blog post about being a red-haired, fair-skinned, freckled Inuk.

Alexia is just as keenly aware of the way her experiences while aboard SOI will contribute to her ability to represent Inuit, especially in the south. “Having that experience, widening my experience of Inuit Nunangat will help me a lot. This is an opportunity as an ambassador. Having that knowledge and having that experience that SOI will give me is a good asset… When people meet me (down south) they’re often super curious and don’t know much about the Arctic.”

Alexia realizes exploring the Arctic offers special learning opportunities. “I have never been to Resolute Bay. I have been to Arctic Bay only when I was younger. I have yet to go up further north…. I’ve been to Greenland but not to the three communities we’ll be visiting.” An experienced camper and traveller, Alexia is also excited about the SOI expedition as a chance to get outside. “I’m definitely looking forward to the land. I love being on the water. I love hiking, I love seeing plants, berry picking… that’s something I very much look forward to. Just being outside and doing these things.”

Photos courtesy of Dan Iqqaqsaq

Nunavut Day 2017: in the Words of John Houston



“There’s a gulf between the Nunavut that southern Canadians hear described in the media and the one that actually exists—there’s no substitute for going there and having the people share their land and communities with you.” —John Houston

With our team of resource staff, Adventure Canada travels the world’s wildest places. Our expeditions take us to the west coast of Greenland and the east coast of Canada, down the mighty St. Lawrence River, and even into the Tanzanian Serengeti. Next summer, our ship sets sail for Scotland, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands. And today, we’re anchored off the coast of Sable Island. But there is one region that has always been at the heart of all that we do: Nunavut.

Today is Nunavut Day, which marks the anniversary of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, which This agreement gave the Inuit of the central and eastern Northwest Territories a separate territory called Nunavut. It is the largest Aboriginal land claim settlement in Canadian history. The NLCA provided the Inuit of Nunavut with a number of new rights, including representation on wildlife, resource, and environmental management boards. When the territory was officially created in 1999, it represented the culmination of work that began in 1973 by the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada. On April 1, 1999, Nunavut as an independent territory with an independent government became a reality. This was a huge boon for the nearly 60,000 Inuit people who call the Canadian Arctic home, scattered across fifty-three communities in the vast North. Nunavut itself comprises a staggering 350,000 square kilometres—accounting for over twenty percent of Canada’s landmass—making it one of the most sparsely populate territories on Earth.

That being said, the Nunavut Inuit population retains a rich and vibrant culture, heritage to its origins over 6,000 years ago as the Thule culture. Nomadic hunters and fishermen originally, Nunavut art and culture follows a rote-oral tradition with a deep-seeded focus on storytelling, song, and a reverence for generational knowledge kept by elders. Today, the capital of Nunavut, Iqaluit, is a vibrant hub of culture including the widely attended Alianait Arts Festival, hometown heroes The Jerry Cans, and more. A new generation of young Inuit are making waves around the world as they find their place within a modernizing world, preserving their cultural heritage while working with contemporary organizations to carry those skills forward in a modern Nunavut.

Heart of the Arctic, Adventure Canada’s upcoming expedition, is by far and away our most community- and art-focused voyage, paying a visit to Kinngait (Cape Dorset)—epicenter of the Inuit printmaking movement. John Houston, son of James and Alma Houston, widely credited with introducing Inuit art to the world at large, has been travelling with Adventure Canada since 1991, making him one of our longest-standing resource staffers.

“My great thrill,” says John, “is the ongoing collaboration between AC and the Inuit of Nunavut, which is where I come from. Having the community greet us at the shore as we step out of Zodiacs that contain Inuit as drivers, Inuit as resource staff, Inuit as Expedition Leaders … seeing the looks on the faces of the young people gathered as they witnessing that collaboration, and perhaps see a path for themselves. That’s immensely gratifying for me.”

John grew up in Kinngait and, while watching westerns with the community at about six years old, decided that he wanted to make films and show them to his community. Since then, he’s dedicated his life to the creation of art and craft of filmmaking, and to continue the promotion of Inuit art and culture in the footsteps of his parents.

“Adventure Canada has grown up as a company with Nunavut,” John says. “We were up there getting going in the run-up to Nunavut becoming a terrority. We’ve had a number of Nunavut leaders aboard as staff and guests—like Tagak Curley, Ann Hanson [first commissioner of Nunavut]. The spirit and excitement of Nunavut becoming a territory matched our own spirit and excitement of exploration and getting to know the people who call the region home. In the early days, we didn’t know the first thing—we relied on local knowledge and understanding to equip ourselves with the skills to explore the region safely, responsibly, and sustainably. We do to this day.”

Tradition and Transition—Sharing the Work

Guest post by Ossie Michelin

arch research at Joahnnes Pt summer 2016

Arch research at Johannes Point, Summer 2016

Hundreds of years ago—in the late 1400s as Inuit spread east from the Western Arctic—groups made camp in what is now known as the Johannes Point on the north coast of Labrador. The point sits within the steep cliffs of barren rock that makes up Hebron Fjord. The deep inlet provides protection from the harsh weather of the Labrador Sea.

Few besides local Inuit have ever stepped foot inside the Hebron Fjord, but each year Adventure Canada passes by, brining visitors to this breathtaking location as part of its voyage up through the North Atlantic traveling between St. John’s and Greenland.


A traditional qulliq — photo courtesy of Tradition and Transition

Last summer, with the help of Adventure Canada’s and the Ocean Endeavour, archeologist Peter Whitridge and his team from Memorial University traveled to the remote fjord to study the archeological site. Whitridge is a researcher with the Tradition & Transition Research Partnership—a five-year research partnership between the Labrador Inuit, Memorial University, and many other partners—including Adventure Canada. The partnership aims to work with Inuit communities to protect, preserve, and promote Inuit culture and language—and to provide long lasting resources for the communities.

It is not hard to see why Inuit have been coming here for centuries. The area is abundant with wildlife and, to this day, remains a popular location for hunting, fishing, and harvesting. Many Inuit have cabins in the area and there were thriving Inuit settlements here until they were relocated in the mid-twentieth century.

Nachvak Fjord, Torngats National Park

Nachvak Fjord, Torngat Mountains National Park. Photo by Dennis Minty.

The cold temperatures of the subarctic mean that many archeological remains left behind by early Inuit are remarkably preserved. For archeologists like Whitridge, the pre-European contact sites at Johannes Point can shed some light on what life was like for early Inuit in the region hundreds of years ago. “This site can show us an interesting part in the story of the Inuit peopling Northern Labrador,” says Whitridge. “We were at Johannes Point for about five weeks this past summer mapping a really interesting Inuit site, and excavating small test units next to a couple features, especially a pre-contact Inuit winter house.”

The weather conditions can make entering Hebron Fjord tricky for large parts of the year. When Whitridge and his team tried to embark from the Ocean Endeavour, ice had blocked their entry. It took multiple tries but the researchers finally made it ashore, and the ship continued on its way to further adventures in Greenland.

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Adventure Canada brings visitors to the shores of Nunatsiavut each year. The entire area is steeped in history as Inuit lived, traveled, hunted, fished, and gathered all across the region for centuries. Because of this many of the visits include archeological sensitive areas. Michelle Davies is an archeologist with the Nunatsiavut Government, which represents the Labrador Inuit and PhD candidate at Memorial’s Department of Archaeology working with Tradition & Transition researcher Lisa Rankin. Davies traveled with Adventure Canada last summer to see how those policies unfold in the real world.


Arch Midden test at Johannes Point, Summer 2016 — photo courtesy of Tradition and Transition

“It was a great experience! It was pretty different from what you read in a report versus what is happening on the ground and what leads to certain decisions,” says Davies. “Even though I was working as the Nunatsiavut Government archeologist, I still gave a few lectures aboard and talked about the importance of archeology. I spoke about why it is important to protect this stuff and not to touch anything, and how to visit an archeological site appropriately, so that won’t be damaged over time.”

Davies says that ships like the Ocean Endeavour that bring visitors to Inuit communities have a lot of potential to boost the local economy and teach people from around the world about Labrador Inuit.

“Tourism is a growing industry in Labrador, as more ships and tours are coming in we really wanted to address this growing industry because it could potentially damage sites in the future if we don’t address it early on,” explains Davies. “I have to say that I was really impressed with the way that Adventure Canada approached us about this, and all the protections they had lined up and in place already.”

With partnerships like Tradition & Transition in place, Labrador Inuit, archeologists, and visitors can all make sure that the beauty and culture of the area are celebrated while making sure that history is preserved.

Ossie Michelin is a freelance journalist from North West River, Labrador. He grew up with his family going off on the land—hunting, trapping, fishing, and foraging. His heritage and upbringing instilled in him a lifelong love of the natural world—and of the Labrador environment in particular. He holds a BA in journalism from Concordia University and worked for five years with the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, eventually helping them establish its first home-based bureau in Labrador.

Explore more of Tradition & Transition’s work here, and follow them on social media here and here.

Adventure Canada will visit Nunatsiavut again this season with the Greenland & Wild Labrador expedition from September 23rd to October 7th.

Photography Tips for Your Next Adventure Canada Experience (Part 1)

Guest post by Kristian Bogner — Nikon Ambassador


Choose the Right Gear

Adventure Canada rips provide spectacular photographic opportunities and its important to bring the right balance of gear to capture it all while only carrying the amount of weight and equipment you are comfortable with. As a pro photographer I would bring at least three camera bodies, and an assortment of lenses ranging from fisheye and 14mm wide-angle to at least 600mm. I would also bring some adventure cameras like Nikon’s new Keymission 360 waterproof camera to capture video. For many people this would be way too much weight to bring. For those people I would recommend a camera like the new Nikon D7500, which has great high ISO capability, fast focusing, DX crop factor to extend the zoom of lens choices, great video and a lot more. Another more compact camera I would recommend is the COOLPIX P900 with a huge zoom range from 24-2000mm equivalent. Last year people with this camera got some wonderful up-close polar bear, whale, and bird shots.

Whatever you choose for a main camera, make sure you are familiar with it and it feels good to you. I would recommend taking a wider lens for shooting icebergs, villages and interesting trips to shore and a long telephoto lens for capturing wildlife, birds, and icebergs up close.

I also recommend bringing a backup camera just in case. It can be a smaller, less expensive camera or even a good cell phone, but make sure you have a backup option just in case something happens to your main.

You may also consider bringing an adventure camera like Nikon’s new Keymission 360 or Keymission 170. They are waterproof and shockproof and are great for capturing immersive videos and stills on hikes, in the zodiac and more. You can check out a 360 video I just did with some recent adventures here.

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Bring Extras

Some days on can be filled with non-stop visual surprises from polar bear to whale sitings, incredible icebergs, to unique birds and more. One of the most common issues that I see photographers run into is running out of battery power or memory card space before their day is done, causing them to miss capturing some of the magic.

I highly recommend bringing and extra one or two batteries for your camera and remembering to bring your charger.  I also advise on bringing several memory cards and buying cards of large capacity and good write speed. For capacity I recommend 64GB or 128GB cards, they have come down in price a lot in the past few years. I also recommend a fast write speed which will ensure that it is less likely to have a write error and that you can shoot video on your camera without dropping frames.


Get Steady Images from a Moving Vessel

Getting steady imagery can be challenging all by itself but while on a moving ship even more so. Here are some pro tips for getting images without camera shake:

First of all, and it may seem obvious, adjust your camera grip, use dynamic pressure and push with the butt of your trigger hand and hold the tip of the lens with your other hand and pull to create a locked grip. Next, shoot with a fast shutter speed like 1/2000sec where possible, especially outdoors on a nice day where there is lots of light and where you are using a longer lens. Even with a wider lens I would advise shooting at at least 1/500sec.  In order to make this easy, you can set your camera to Auto-ISO and dial in the Aperature and Shutter speed you want. The ISO will compensate to give the correct exposure. If your camera doesn’t have that feature try Shutter Speed Priority. With either of these options you can use Exposure Compensation on your camera to adjust if the meter is giving you a subject that is over or under exposed.

  • Vibration Reduction (Lens VR) can help you shoot up to two f-stops slower while avoiding vibrations and camera shake. If operation from a moving vessel I recommend using the Active option if your VR has it. I would warn however that under some circumstances VR can error and actually make the shake worse. In the situation where you are on a moving ship and your subject is moving and the water or waves are moving in different directions, test your VR, zoom in and ensure that your images are sharp. In these scenarios I would actually turn off Vibration Reduction, especially if its bright enough for you to shoot at 1/2000sec which should eliminate any vibration issues anyways.
  • Monopod or Tripod: Sometimes we are on deck for some considerable amounts of time and thats were a monopod, or light tripod like my Manfrotto Befree Carbon are great to rest your camera on, yet still have it ready to shoot if wildlife appears. A monopod or tripod can also help steady your camera and reduce shake considerably.


Protect Your Camera

We often go on smaller Zodiac boats to visit shore, go on hikes, etc. I recommend a lightweight waterproof bag to put your camera in if the waters get a bit rough or there is a bit of sea spray. You can buy these at MEC or other outdoor shops and camera stores. You can also get splash and rain proof lens and camera covers.

I also like to keep my main camera handy and immediately accessible while offloading the weight from a neck-strap to my shoulders by using my Lowepro Toploader Pro AW camera bag. These are amazing and also have an All Weather rain cover in case you start getting wet.

I also recommend a waterproof memory card holder hard case to protect any extra memory you might take on a day trip. At least bring a double zip-lock bag to put your memory card case inside just in case.


Master In-Camera Settings

Here are some in-camera settings that I would recommend for getting better images:

  • Picture Control Settings — One way to get better images right out of your camera is to adjust your picture control settings right in-camera. I recommend setting sharpening to about 6 out of 10 and saturation to nearly the max if you are shooting wildlife and nature. If you are photographing people set it to +1 so their faces don’t get too red.


  • Image Preview — Having image preview come on after each picture you take uses a considerable amount more battery, so I recommend turning that off and just previewing every couple of images or when your lighting or settings are changed. I also recommend setting your preview to display highlights so that you can see flashing highlights that are blown out or overexposed and compensate for that if necessary.


  • D-lighting — If you are shooting with a Nikon you will have a D-lighting option. This is a great feature to help fill in your subject in the midtone range. I recommend this setting at Medium to help balance the bright icebergs and darker water, along with many other high contrast situations.


  • White Balance — Another important in-camera feature is your white balance. Changing your white balance manually is like adding a warming or cooling filter to your camera. Auto white balance is fine for many situations but by changing your camera to shade or cloudy setting you can warm up the shot or use tungsten or other settings to cool it down and create some really interesting and creative effects.

Kristian Bogner is a third-generation pro photographer, speaker and ambassador for Nikon Canada, Broncolor, Lowepro and Manfrotto. His work has received numerous awards including 3-time Commercial Photographer of the Year for Canada with the Professional Photographers of Canada Association and 2015 Master Photographers International Commercial Photographer of the Year. Join him this summer aboard our Heart of the Arctic expedition, and put his photo tips to use in the #MyAdventureCanda photo contest—where you can win an Arctic expedition—presented in partnership with Nikon Canada!


Photography Tips for Your Next Adventure Canada Experience (Part 2)

Guest post by Kristian Bogner — Nikon Ambassador


Evaluate Your Images

I encourage photographers to have a look at some of your images each evening when you are back in your room, either on computer or in your camera and see how you did and what you could improve on for the next day. Zoom in to your images, preferably to 100% zoom and see if your images are in focus, if there is any camera shake and see what worked and what didn’t. This simple step can make a big difference and help you take your photography to the next level.

While on board attend any photo workshops that are being offered to get pro insights throughout the trip and ask Adventure Canada photographers to help you if you have noticed any issues in your nightly evaluation or if you want more tips for capturing unique subjects and situations that you might encounter. They will be happy to help you get your own spectacular images to take home with you.


Shoot the Light

There are exceptions to this rule but generally early morning and late evening provide the lowest, warmest and most unique and pleasing lighting situations to photograph outdoors. On my last Adventure Canada trip I would get up really early and capture that blue light time and sunrise and also be on deck before, during and just after sunset. I then tried to have a quick nap throughout the day at some point if it was possible to stay caught up on sleep. If that is too extreme, then just pick the early morning or late evening to shoot and get on a routine that allows it.


Use a Sharp Focus

I judge a lot of photo contests and one of the things I love to see is nice sharp focus on whatever the main subject or focal point of the image is to be. Here are some tips to get great focus. First make sure your camera is set to AF-C (continuous) vs AF-S. This will ensure that when you have that whale sighting in your viewfinder and you press the shutter, the camera will fire without delay, even if it thinks the subject isn’t in focus. Next use a smaller selection of points and your joystick on the back of your camera to set where the camera is to focus. I personally use single point focus selection, but some of you may prefer a bit larger cluster of points or group point focus if you have that as an option. I set the focus point where in my image frame I want the subject to appear and precompose the image, then I just make sure that point is on the subject for razor sharp focus.


Level Out the Horizon

The other big thing I like to see in images is a nice level horizon line. Most new Nikon cameras have a feature called Virtual Horizon which shows you if the camera is level. I like to go into my custom button settings and set the extra Function button on the camera to toggle between exposure metering and virtual horizon. That way once my exposure is set I can have the camera viewfinder show me if the camera is level and then I can quickly adjust accordingly.


Maintain Your Camera

On any longer trip I recommend a bit of ongoing camera maintenance to ensure that your camera performs at full capability throughout. First, bring several soft or microfibre lens cleaning cloths to wipe your camera lens and screen. Fingerprints, water droplets and dirt on the lens can degrade your image.  I always bring several of these and put a few in individual zip-lock bags just so they stay dry.

Next, I recommend an emergency sensor cleaning kit like Visible Dust swabs that fit your sensor and the Blue-capped cleaning solution. When on deck with the wind, etc., sometimes dust can get on your sensor during a lens change. If its a big piece of dust it could be on all of your images and having the ability to do a quick sensor cleaning in the field can be really useful.

Lastly Wipe Down your cameras and lenses at night with a towel and some fresh water just in case it got some ocean spray on it.


Keep the Passion! 

A child-like enthusiasm wins every time! An Adventure Canada expedition is truly a spectacular opportunity to photograph. Stay positive about your photography, bring a zest and a child-like wonder and enthusiasm to each new day and let your passion for capturing the amazing nature around you guide and inspire your next photograph.

I hope you enjoyed these tips. Check out kristianbogner.com for more tips, instructional videos and workshops throughout the year. I will be on the Arctic Safari this year and have many exciting talks and more great tips to share throughout the trip. I can’t wait and hope to see you there!


Kristian Bogner is a third-generation pro photographer, speaker and ambassador for Nikon Canada, Broncolor, Lowepro and Manfrotto. His work has received numerous awards including 3-time Commercial Photographer of the Year for Canada with the Professional Photographers of Canada Association and 2015 Master Photographers International Commercial Photographer of the Year. Join him this summer aboard our Heart of the Arctic expedition!