Sedna Epic: POV Proof-of-concept
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Coinciding with the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in Canada, the Sedna Epic Expedition’s sea women will mount their third polar dive and snorkel expedition to the High Arctic (since 2014), scouting, documenting and recording disappearing sea ice.
The Sedna Epic is comprised of a team of women ocean explorers, scientists, artists, educators, adventurers, and medical and scuba diving professionals from Canada, the USA and Mexico. Sedna’s sea women aim to create citizen scientists in Nunavut, empowering youth, girls and young women to become the next generation of Inuit leaders to tackle climate change, ocean change and societal change in the Arctic. During August 4-18, 2018, in partnership with Adventure Canada and Ocean Quest Adventures, Sedna’s sea women will explore Nunavut and western Greenland (see press release for additional details).
The Sedna Epic’s signature ocean knowledge mobilization program—called “bringing the ocean to eye level”—is the cornerstone of every arctic expedition. In consultation with Inuit advisors, Sedna’s sea women deliver their hands-on, experiential ocean knowledge sharing program in Inuit communities, via mobile touch aquariums temporarily housing sea critters and by running underwater robot-building camps for youth. Taking the concept of “bringing the ocean to eye level” to its ultimate conclusion, Sedna’s sea women lead Inuit girls and Elders on snorkel safaris to explore the marine biodiversity in their own backyards, so to speak…
Katujjiqatigii is Inuktitut for working together, shouldering the burden together, side by side. And, this spirit of North-South reconciliation and cooperation pretty much summarizes the Sedna Epic Expedition’s mission and vision. Johnny Issaluk, one of Sedna’s Inuit advisers from Nunavut, named Sedna’s expedition Katujjiqatigiit, because of its North-South relationship building and its cross-cultural educational outreach.
Subject to vessel availability and funding, Team Sedna plans to embark on a historic snorkel relay the Northwest Passage—all 3,000 kilometres of it—during the summer of 2020, navigating frigid arctic seas from Pond Inlet (Mittimatalik), Nunavut, to Inuvik, Northwest Territories. Supported by an expedition vessel equipped with rigid hull inflatable boats, the snorkelers will scout, document and record the impacts of global warming on this fragile arctic ecosystem and on the Indigenous peoples’ traditional ways of life. En route, Sedna’s sea women will deliver their ocean knowledge mobilization program in Inuit communities, with a special focus on empowering and inspiring Inuit girls and young women, the future leaders of Canada’s Arctic.
Immersing themselves in the issue of disappearing sea ice, the sea women will translate their findings into educational and awareness programs on climate change and its effects on the arctic ecosystem. The Sedna Epic Expedition will serve as a ‘call to action’ for citizens of the world, including youth, providing Indigenous and scientific knowledge in support of science-based policy that governments can implement to mitigate global warming. The Sedna Epic will also serve to inspire women and girls to think ‘big’ and to follow their dreams, no matter how out-of-the-box they may seem…
From Greenland to Alaska, according to Inuit legend, Sedna is the Inuit goddess of the sea, and she’s the mother of all marine mammals. Also known as the sea woman, Sedna will snorkel daily with the sea women during their epic journey through the Northwest Passage. One day, Sedna will take the form of a double-tusked narwhal or a beluga; the next day, she’ll be a ringed seal or a 200-year-old bowhead whale that swam by the HMS Endeavour and HMS Terror, in 1846, during Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated Northwest Passage expedition.
But, before tackling this epic Northwest Passage snorkel relay, Team Sedna has been gaining experience in the High Arctic, building relationships and partnerships with Inuit communities and testing scuba diving equipment in harsh and unforgiving arctic waters. In July-August, 2016, the sea women explored Frobisher Bay and delivered their innovative ocean knowledge sharing program—using mobile touch aquariums and underwater robots equipped with video-cameras—to Inuit youth, girls and Elders in Iqaluit. They also conducted Greenland shark research.
In July 2014, Team Sedna mounted a 15-day, action-packed proof-of-concept expedition, which included delivering the mobile touch aquarium and underwater robot program in Nain, Labrador. Traveling aboard the 116-foot MV Cape Race, up the northern Labrador coast and across the gnarly open waters of the Davis Strait to Western Greenland, the sea women demonstrated that snorkelers—using diver propulsion vehicles or “scooters”—can successfully ‘go the distance’ in a snorkel relay through ice-infested arctic waters.
Who would be crazy enough to answer such a cryptic appeal, inspired by Sir Ernest Shackleton’s famous 1914 advert—in a London newspaper—recruiting men for a perilous Antarctic expedition? Channeling the same spirit of polar exploration one hundred years later, Susan R. Eaton, founder and leader of the 2014-2018 Sedna Epic Expedition, advertised for all-female crew in mid-2013. Ten female ocean explorers, aged 26 to 56, from Canada, the United States, Mexico and New Zealand answered this intriguing call to attempt a world record—a snorkel relay of the Northwest Passage—and to go ‘where no man has gone before.’ In parallel, Milos Simovic, the owner and captain of the MV Cape Race, a 116-foot side trawler converted to carry passengers, placed his own Shackleton-inspired advert for crew. In July 2014, Team Sedna will mount its proof-of-concept expedition to Labrador, Baffin Island and Greenland, aboard this Canadian-built vessel that’s used to plying arctic waters.