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Voyage of a lifetime

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, October 17, 2007

CHESTERFIELD INLET - A recent Grade 12 graduate from Victor Sammurtok school in Chesterfield Inlet completed the voyage of a lifetime this past month.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Doriana Sammurtok of Chesterfield Inlet steers the 100yearold schooner, the Noorderlicht, during the Cape Farewell project's voyage to Svalbard, Norway, this past month. - photo courtesy of the Cape Farewell project

Doriana Sammurtok, who turns 18 today, was selected to take part in the Cape Farewell project - a global initiative to highlight the issue of climate change.

A total of 12 schools from England, Canada, the United States and Germany participated in the project.

Victor Sammurtok joined schools from Calgary and Montreal as the Canadian representatives.

Cape Farewell is a charitable organization that promotes the understanding of climate change through students learning more about science and art.

The project brings artists, scientists and educators together to collectively address and raise awareness concerning climate change.

The project was created by David Buckland and has led three expeditions into the High Arctic on board the 100-year-old schooner, the Noorderlicht.

The most-recent trip saw the group travel on a two-week cruise to Svalbard, Norway, this past month.

Sammurtok, who is currently in her first year of the Nunavut Sivuniksavut program in Ottawa, Ont., said the voyage was everything she had hoped for and imagined.

She said life on board the schooner was completely awesome, and she enjoyed getting the chance to work the ropes to hoist the sails, steer the schooner and be held at the bow of the vessel by a single net.

"I was the first person to actually steer the ship and go on the net at its bow," said Sammurtok.

"The Noorderlicht was really comfortable to be on, and all the other students were just like my little brothers and sisters back home in Chester because I was the oldest student on the schooner."

Sammurtok said she was surprised to discover that most of the scenery around the area of Norway they visited was practically the same as around Chesterfield Inlet.

She said as far as she's concerned, the only real difference was the fact they had more hills and mountains.

"It was really interesting to see how everything was done, but, on the scientific side of things, everything was the same as I'd learned at Victor Sammurtok school in Chester.

"I mean, I got to see how they used the actual equipment to measure everything, the procedures the scientists use and things like that, but my teachers had me well prepared for everything we did on the trip.

"I can't really say I learned anything different than what I was taught in class."

Sammurtok's special project for the trip was a throat-singing composition.

She said she's still working on the piece and doesn't want to talk too much about it about until it's completely finished.

"I talked to the other people on the ship about life in the Kivalliq here and there, but I never really got the chance to talk about the Kivalliq or Inuit culture to everybody all at once because we were kept so busy doing our individual projects, working on the ship and stuff like that.

"I did, however, really enjoy visiting a weather station up in the mountains.

"It was like a big office building, only it was full of all sorts of scientific equipment.

"Only two people work there because it's so isolated, so I'd class it, and the other buildings there, as more of a science or research station, really, than a real settlement community."

Sammurtok said she would highly recommend getting involved in the Cape Farewell project to any student who had the opportunity.

She said the trip was a once-in-a-lifetime experience which made a lasting impression on her.

"When I talk about it, sometimes I don't want to stop because there's so much to describe to people.

"I made some really good friends on the trip and I've been staying in touch with most of them.

"It can be a little hard to actually talk with some of them or be on the Internet at the same time because of the six-hour difference in the time zones.

"It was a great group. As soon as we met we were flowing like we already knew each other."

Sammurtok also spoke highly of the scientists and the rest of the crew on board the schooner for the voyage.

She said the students always felt comfortable around the rest of the team.

"The trip was mostly all about work for us, with hardly any free time, and that really was an awesome thing.

"In fact, that's one of the things that made it such a great trip, that we were kept busy just about all of the time."