Arctic Awe 2023 | Rekindling a Sense of Wonder in Canada’s Far North
Updated: Jan 8
A 700km, 6-week ski journey in Canada’s High Arctic from Ellesmere Island to Devon Island and beyond, raising awareness on the benefits of experiencing awe.
The timeline. 2023 Mar 21 to May 04 (44 days, 6+ weeks)
The why. Our society lives in a state of overstimulation. We are bombarded with so much information that it has become a full-time job to sift through the noise. As we become more reliant on gadgets and apps, we find ourselves increasingly disconnected from our bodies, our communities, and our surroundings. Our modern lives have cut us off from something important…nature. Periodically, one must disconnect, seek out nature, and surrender to a childlike sense of wonder. We aim to experience and share awe in some of Canada’s most breathtaking topography, teeming with incredible wildlife and rich culture.
The journey. The expedition will commence in the hamlet of Ausuittuq (Grise Fiord), Nunavut. We will don our skis and pull pulks south along the North Water Polynya to Devon Island where we will explore the eastern coast. In the mid-1800s, an Inuit shaman named Qitdlarssuaq ventured northward from Baffin Island with a small group. They travelled for nearly a decade, finally connecting with a vanishing population of Inuit in northwest Greenland. We hope to visit the remnants of one of the Devon Island settlements along this historical migration route.
Depending on ice conditions in Lancaster Sound, we will then decide whether to aim for Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet), Ikpiarjuk (Arctic Bay), or Qausuittuq (Resolute) - the uncertainty is part of the package. The region offers spectacular scenery and wildlife no matter which direction we choose! With climate change now undeniably present, we need to be adaptable and focus on the journey rather than the destination.
The outcome. The goal is to simply be; falling in synch with nature and rekindling the
relationship with our true selves. Our messaging aims to erase competitiveness and invites reflection, awe, and growth. We believe that the magnificence and uniqueness of Canada’s High Arctic can ignite and inspire. We don’t expect that everyone will be spurred to embark on multi-week expeditions, but we hope that our messaging and imagery will reach people and trigger a desire to seek the restorative power of nature in their own way. Research has linked nature (and awe) to symptom relief for both physical and mental health issues. As noted by anthropologist Agustín Fuentes, “awe serves as inspiration and a catalyst for change.” (https://bigthink.com/the-well/awe-animals-humanity)
Experiencing awe is shown to make us rethink how we see the world and our place within it. By experiencing this sense of connection to something greater, we can craft a more interconnected, meaningful life. We can all adapt and unite to honour and preserve our world by changing ourselves and our perspectives.
If we don’t have awe, wonder, feel passion inside – then what do we have?
Pascale Marceau – Canmore, AB
Scott Cocks - Ottawa, ON
Photos by Jayme Dittmar