IN THE FIELD: Day 8 – Oceans Day
On my final day in the community of Paulatuk, the community hosted Oceans Day – an annual event in the Western Arctic to celebrate the ocean, it’s wildlife, the connection between the people and the wildlife, and their efforts to manage and conserve the ocean environment. A delegation of regional leaders and members of Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Parks Canada organized the festivities and arrived with the feast and activities for the days celebrations. It was a very friendly and well attended event, with both the very young and old getting involved in the games. I volunteered to help with the “Life of a Char” relay race where the kids took part in an obstacle course representing the challenges faced over the lifecycle of an Arctic Char- from swimming upstream, to avoiding fishermen’s nets and bears, to laying and hatching their eggs. Later, I took part in the harpoon throw. And despite my track and field background in javelin, I missed the target in my one-and-only attempt.
Dan participating in the harpoon throwing contest at Oceans Day. © Blythe Brown
Following a huge community feast that featured hamburgers, maktaq, and dried whitefish, the community celebrated with a giant cake. The day ended with another performance by the Moonlight drummers and dancers group, and excitement for the local Jambouree that would be taking place over the next two days.
After one brief week in the community, the local kids knew me by name, and I had heard some incredible insights from hunters about whales, fish, and bears, and vivid stories from elders and the old days. By the end of my visit to Paulatuk, I was sad to leave the community, but also excited for future opportunities to work with the communities on environmental issues that are important to them.
Paulatuk is community, among many in the North, which are taking leadership to monitor and adapt to changes in their environment. It was a great honour for me to be allowed to visit their community and camps, and I look forward to identifying other projects we can collaborate on with Northern communities for the sake of conservation in the Arctic.
Final night on Egg Island and the first time in 6 weeks I saw the sun dip below the horizon. © Dan Slavik, WWF-Canada