“The prevalence of ice throughout the Arctic Archipelago for most of the year means that the physical realities are fundamentally different from sea lanes and maritime routes elsewhere. The Inuit have always recognized this and have adapted their methods of travel over the sea as a solid surface similar to land for much of the year”.
Shelley Wright – Our Ice Is Vanishing
On May 9th, after approximately 520km and 28 days skiing, the Bear Witness team arrived back safe and sound in Pond Inlet . While tired, the team were happy to be back and to have successfully circumnavigated Bylot Island. While the ice conditions in areas around the island were at times challenging, the weather on the whole was great. Cold at the start (around -35C at night) but as spring approached and arrived, the temperatures gradually increased. David, Eric, Ingrid and Martin consider themselves incredibly lucky and fortunate to have experienced, and traveled in, this extremely remote and wild part of Canada. The expedition now continues as the team works to bring awareness and attention to this area through schools, media, talks and presentations.
The expedition would not have been possible without the incredible support of all the sponsors involved. Special thanks to them and to everyone who supported, encouraged and followed the team around Bylot Island via the website.
In April 2017, an international team of explorers will circumnavigate Bylot Island, by ski. An historic, remote and uninhabited island in the Canadian High Arctic. The island lies at 73 degrees North, more than 700 kilometres above 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. This ambitious 500 km journey will take close to a month to complete. The expedition will include travelling through the eastern entrance of the fabled and historic Northwest Passage.
The entire Bear Witness Arctic 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 BearWitness Arctic Expedition are to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday and bear witness to the changes taking place in the Arctic. The project will celebrate, document and interpret this remote and important part of the world. The expedition team will provide a (close to) real time perspective and interpretation of this important and challenging environment.
The Bear Witness Arctic Expedition will look back 150 years and at the same time look forward 150 years. With the rich oral history of the Inuit, who have lived in the region for thousands of years, insight into what the sea ice, environment and climate was like almost 150 years ago, can be found.
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 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 let Bylot Island tell the story - one that is rich, compelling and fascinating.
The expedition will be documented, photographed and filmed. With a comprehensive social media strategy in place and the intention to fully document the expedition for book and film components, the Bear Witness Arctic Expedition will reach an incredibly large audience. Canadians from coast to coast to coast and adventurers throughout the world will be able to follow along, experience and feel part of this celebratory and important journey.