It’s warmed up to -4 degrees C in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut – right in time for my arrival. The ice will be softening over the next few weeks and beginning its rapid retreat. By mid-June, the ice will be too dangerous for travel. There’s a similar situation in the fall when the ice is beginning to re-form. That’s when the days are just a few hours long, the sun preparing to set for a full month before rising again in January. But for now, the ice is still solid enough for travel, and the sun is up nearly 24 hours a day.

I’ll be spending the next two weeks in Gjoa Haven, where I’ll have the privilege of working with some fine young Inuit leaders – the Junior Canadian Rangers (JCRs), collecting data on the physical and biological state of the ocean around Gjoa Haven, meeting with various folks in town and generally getting to know the community better. It’s all part of Ikaarvik: Barriers to Bridges, a partnership with five Inuit communities, researchers with the Canadian Rangers Ocean Watch (CROW), the Vancouver Aquarium and several other zoos and aquariums.

As the program’s manager, I had the honour of accepting the 2013 Arctic Inspiration Prize on behalf of all of the Ikaarvik program partners. It’s that prize that has allowed us to expand the program from the Vancouver Aquarium and the community of Pond Inlet to four more communities, four more zoos and aquariums, ARCTIConnexion, CROW and a host of other research groups.

Youth in each of the partner communities are learning about science and exploring how science and Inuit Traditional Knowledge – Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (we usually call it IQ for likely obvious reasons) – can work together to address issues of local concern in the Canadian Arctic communities. We’re also putting that knowledge to work through CROW, teaching these young leaders not only how to use the scientific equipment and collect data, but also what the data mean and how it may be relevant to the communities involved.

It’s been good to catch up with friends here in Gjoa Haven, and I’m looking forward to the next couple weeks. My last visit took a rather tragic turn and it’s nice to be here under substantially better circumstances. I’ll be heading out into the field in a few days to assist with some fisheries research and collect data for the CROW program and I’ll be in touch again before we go.

Blog post written by Eric Solomon, Vancouver Aquarium’s director of Arctic Connections. For the next couple of weeks, Eric is in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut and traveling along the eastern coast of King William Island with the Canadian Rangers Ocean Watch to collect important data about our oceans as part of the Ikaarvik: Barriers to Bridges program.

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