It turns out I’m only getting home today, instead of Friday. A series of unusual circumstances such as satellite problems and weather issues resulted in Schools on Board participants spending an extra 2-3 nights in Kugluktuk. I slept in a bed at the Explorer Hotel in Yellowknife last night for the first time in five nights. Being stranded in an isolated community would not have been bearable if weren’t for all the people helping us in Kugluktuk. The principal of Kugluktuk high school was very accommodating in letting us sleep in the school for five nights. Other community members were also invaluable in driving us to and from the airport each day we tried getting out, as well as helping us find things to keep us busy. All the children greeting us in the streets cheered us up. And if it weren’t for the program coordinator, teachers and parents constantly rebooking hotels and flights, we would never have made it out. It’s been quite the adventure and I’m happy to be finally heading home today. —Karen Butt ’12
In the morning, we crossed the street to go to the elementary school to give the students a presentation about our experience on board the Amundsen. We didn’t realize we’d be presenting to such a young audience, but we did a good job adapting our presentation on the spot. It was nice to hear the students ask so many insightful questions.
A science teacher at the high school then took us for a hike near the Coppermine River, just outside Kugluktuk. He explained the geological history of the area to us, which was much different than learning from a textbook because we were actually standing on the rocks he was telling us about. We came back and presented to the high school students.
We also went to the grade 7 Inuinnaqtun class. An elder in the community told us some Inuit legends and explained the way she lived as a child. I find it remarkable to see how well the Inuit have adapted to a living a Western lifestyle in such a short period of time.
In the evening, we had a community feast. The students performed traditional dance routines for us, and we also had some demonstrations of Arctic sports. We then had a meal with some of the students and other members of the community. I got to try some Arctic char! What a great way to end our stay in the Arctic! —Karen Butt ’12
Today was a great day, because we finally landed in Kugluktuk and got on board the Amundsen! The five students who met in Quebec City met the other 4 students today. We’ve learned to get along really well in such a short period of time.
One of the students needed to go back to Kugluktuk before getting on the ship, so I went with her and got to see a part of the town. Everything is so different! It’s a small community of 1,300 people, and everyone knows each other. The houses are built on supports in such a way that they are not touching the ground. The freezing and refreezing causes the soil to shift a lot, so they need to adapt their houses to the conditions. We drove by the hospital, the grocery store, the hotel, the arena, and the elementary and high schools. It’s not hard to tell that life in Kugluktuk is very different from Montreal, but I’ll find out much more once we get off the ship and spend a few days there.
We got to take a helicopter from the airport onto the ship. That was definitely the coolest thing I have ever done in my life. I can’t believe how much stuff there is on this ship. It never looked so big from the outside. The space is used effectively though, with narrow hallways and steep staircases. We’re free to go almost anywhere we want, and there’s so much to explore. We just went up on deck, and it’s actually really cold because of the wind. I’ve seen many instruments and scientific equipment and I’m really curious about how it all works.—Karen Butt ’12