Arctic Exploration: Canada
Countless explorers have come to the Arctic regions, many attracted by the rich and unusual web of life that makes life in the Far North so unique. It is home to thousands of beluga whales, giant herds of caribou, tundra wildflowers, great boreal forests and a fascinating mix of cultures. This workshop offers you the opportunity to become an Arctic scientist as you use cutting-edge research techniques to research and discover the incredible diversity of this remote region. Journeying by train, boat, van and on foot, you learn about what makes the Arctic so special and important to protect.
After arrival in the late afternoon in Winnipeg, we settle into our hotel. After dinner, we have an introductory discussion about the ecosystems we will be visiting and the conservation issues that face the Churchill region.
Our morning starts with a city tour of the beautiful and historical city of Winnipeg. After lunch, we transfer to The Manitoba Museum where we learn about Canada's unique ecosystems and humans' past and present relationships with these ecosystems. This is a fascinating museum and our visit is a great way to set the stage for the rest of the workshop. In the early evening, we head over to the train station where we hop on the train to start our two night journey to Churchill.
On the train, we have time to take in the amazing landscape and hone our observation skills as we pass through different ecosystems. We discuss our hopes and expectations as well as conduct some preliminary research using our GPS units plotting our journey as we head north. The train affords us an awesome opportunity to meet some interesting local people, so we encourage sparking up conversations with those around us on the train!
We arrive in Churchill early this morning after another adventurous night aboard the train. After a short familiarization tour of the quaint town of Churchill, we enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. We then head out to the Churchill Northern Studies Centre (CNSC) to settle into our rooms and have a short introduction to the CNSC (by a CNSC staff member). We also take this opportunity to go over rules and expectations for our time at the CNSC and Churchill. We then head out on our first excursion into the Arctic Tundra where our instructor begins to get us acquainted with the area. During our first evening at CNSC, our instructor presents a slide show on the local region and the unique habitats that make Churchill a species diverse area. We begin thinking about and designing our research projects.
This morning kicks off our hands-on ecological explorations of this fascinating region. One of our objectives of this workshop is to examine the three very different ecosystems found in the Churchill area and to make comparisons between them. We conduct field research and set up transect-plot studies in at least two of these distinctive areas. We begin by venturing into the boreal forest this morning. This afternoon we enjoy a box lunch out in the field and then continue on to the tundra to repeat the morning's activities in a completely different biome. Again, we conduct some track and scat identification and field research here, including a transect-plot study to examine the diversity evident in the tundra. During the evening we begin to process the data that we have been collecting in the field. We learn to use GIS software and analysis tools. We may also venture out on an evening hike - you never know when an arctic fox or a polar bear may appear!
This morning, we head out to the Hudson Bay in search of beluga whales. The actual time of the excursion will depend upon the tides, so we have to be flexible today in the order of our activities. We spend part of the day learning about the whales and observing them from the boat. This is one of the most amazing whale-watching experiences in the world! After having lunch at CNSC, we spend the afternoon learning how traditional people use the land to survive in the Arctic through a wonderful hands-on cultural program. We follow up the presentation with a traditional Arctic dinner.
Today we continue our field research, collecting additional data about the region. We visit tundra, taiga and coastal Hudson Bay ecosystems. In the late afternoon and evening, we continue analyzing our results and begin to draw some conclusions about what we are finding. After lunch, we work together with local students on a community service project. We have plenty of time to learn about each other's cultures and share stories. In addition, we enjoy a bonfire and traditional Arctic dinner. Our evening may include viewing the Aurora Borealis.
This morning we complete our field research projects and finalize our conclusions. We spend time preparing a formal presentation that will be given to the CNSC staff, volunteers and researchers prior to our departure. Additionally, we head out for a final exploration of some unseen areas of the tundra, boreal forest and Hudson Bay and then return to the CNSC for a farewell party. We pack and prepare for our departure tomorrow.
After an early breakfast, we present our research to the CNSC staff and researchers. After lunch, we say our goodbyes to the staff at the CNSC. We head into town for a historical/cultural tour of Churchill as well as spending time shopping for souvenirs and gifts. We also spend time learning from the informative displays at the local Eskimo Museum. Dinner this evening is in town at a local restaurant. After dinner we head over to the train station and catch an evening train to Winnipeg and ride off into the sunset.
On the train, we have plenty of time to reflect on our amazing experiences and to record our final thoughts in our journals.
We arrive at the Winnipeg Train Station in the morning. Depending on our flight time, we may have some time to explore Winnipeg or we may head right to the airport for our final journey home.