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Bear Witness Arctic Expedition to celebrate Canada’s History

© David Reid

In April 2017, a team of explorers will circumnavigate Bylot Island, by ski. An historic, remote and uninhabited island in Canada’s High Arctic, at 73 degrees North, Bylot is more than 700 kilometres North of the Arctic Circle.

Marking and celebrating Canada’s 150th Birthday, this ambitious journey will be a world first. The expedition will represent the largest island in the world ever to be circumnavigated on skis. Retracing some centuries-old historical routes, this epic 500-km journey will take close to a month to complete and will include travelling through the eastern entrance of the fabled Northwest Passage.

The expedition will take place within the boundaries of the proposed Lancaster Sound National Marine Conservation Area. Lancaster Sound is an incredibly rich Arctic ecosystem; polar bears, narwhals, bowheads, belugas, several species of seals, walrus and hundreds of thousands of sea birds call it home. At this time, the area remains unprotected.

The twin goals of the Bear Witness Arctic Expedition are to celebrate Canada’s 150th birth­day and bear witness to the changes taking place in the Arctic. Canadian Arctic history will be
revisited: stories ranging from centuries-old human migration to modern day sovereignty claims.

© David Reid
© David Reid

The expedition will look forward and ask important questions. Given the changing Arctic climate and environment, will such a journey even be possible in the not so distant future? With sea ice conditions in certain areas of the Arctic becoming less predictable, the challenge is not so much whether the expedition can succeed now, but will it even be possible 50 years from now?

The expedition will be documented, photo­graphed and filmed. With a comprehensive social media strategy in place, the intention is to fully document the expedition for book and film components. Canadians from coast to coast and adventurers throughout the world will be able to follow along, experience and feel part of this celebratory and important journey. www.BearWitness.ca