Note to readers: This summer, we have the fortunate opportunity of receiving regular updates from two Vancouver Aquarium staffers who are visiting communities in Canada’s Arctic. Eric Solomon, director of the Aquarium’s Arctic Programs, and Neil Fisher, Aquarium photographer and videographer, will share their perspectives of people, places and experiences as they learn more about changes taking place in this region.

Eric and Neil’s accounts will be part of a series of blog posts titled “Arctic Connections.” This first and introductory installment is written by Eric Solomon.

I can’t complain about the perks of my job. This is my fourth trip to Canada’s Arctic and I’m certain it won’t be my last. As the Vancouver Aquarium’s director of Arctic Programs, I have the privilege of visiting Canada’s most northern communities and experiencing first-hand a vast, magnificent and rapidly changing wilderness.

This time I’m accompanied by Neil Fisher, the Aquarium’s videographer. It’s his first trip to the Arctic and I’m looking forward to hearing his thoughts as we spend time in the communities of Cambridge Bay, Pangnirtung and Iqaluit.

Why does a nonprofit aquarium in Vancouver spend time in some of the country’s most remote communities? The rapid environmental changes occurring in the Arctic affect all Canadians (indeed, the rest of the world). The pace of change in the North is unlike anything we’ve experienced in human history. Whether the goal is reducing, adapting to, or mitigating impacts of the changing Arctic environment, solutions begin with knowledge and dialogue.

Despite thousands of years of direct Inuit knowledge-building and a century of intense scientific study, we are struggling to understand the significance of these changes environmentally, politically, economically and socially. It will take every bit of knowledge we have and a lot we don’t yet have to respond in meaningful ways. And it will require a lot more communication and cooperation between Canada’s North and South.

For our part, the Aquarium is involved in some important research to help build our knowledge base (you’ll be hearing more about that in the next few days). But with a large national audience, we are also in a unique position to make connections and facilitate meaningful dialogue. That can only be done in partnership with northern communities, individuals and organizations; I get the privilege of spending time in the North building those relationships.

Over the next two weeks, Neil and I will report back about some remarkable research, fascinating people, vibrant communities, spectacular scenery, and important issues, ideas and perspectives we gain along the way.

Thanks for riding along!

 

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