In early April, the Bear Witness Arctic Expedition team will head North to Pond Inlet at the Northern tip of Baffin Island. Preparations are in their final stages and now the fine-tuning details of putting such an ambitious expedition together come into play. On April 7, the team assembles in Ottawa and after a couple of days packing, head North on April 10 with First Air.
A truly international team — Eric is from France, Ingrid (originally from Germany) lives in Spain, Martin (originally from Spain) lives in Nelson, British Columbia; and David (originally from Scotland) lives just outside Ottawa — they bring with them a tremendous amount of Arctic expedition experience. That experience will be relied upon as the four skiers attempt to circumnavigate Bylot Island, a journey expected to take about a month.
As part of the expedition outreach program, members of the team will work with schools, in Ontario and Pond Inlet, to involve youth and invite them to follow the expedition. Teachers and students at one Ontario school are creating a competition amongst the students to design a flag. The winning entry will be taken and carried by the team on the expedition and showcased throughout.
Plans are also in the works to include a strong science component. The team is looking to take a special device (known as an electromagnetic icemeter EMP) to measure the thickness of the sea ice throughout the circumnavigation. In addition, during the expedition the team will compile information on weather and wildlife.
In consultation with local Inuit hunters in Pond Inlet, the team realizes that great care needs to be taken, particularly along the North coast of Bylot Island. Situated on the south side of Lancaster Sound and facing Devon Island, this area is known to contain many polar bears. In collaboration with one Inuit hunter, two sled dogs will be taken to act as “bear dogs” in case bears get too curious!
The expedition around Bylot Island will be documented and following its completion a book will be released to tell the story of this incredible part of Canada.