Students on Ice Arctic Expedition 2019 ‘The Arctic communities are really nice and welcoming,’ says Kelsy Gill | 22 August 2019
The Students on Ice Arctic Expedition 2019 brought together 131 high school and university students from around the world and 100 inspiring scientists, elders, dignitaries, musicians, historians, artists, thought leaders and innovators for a two-week expedition whereby they were immersed in nature and engaged in cross-disciplinary activities around the Arctic Circle.
Among the 131 students was 18-year-old Seychellois student Kelsy Gill who won an opportunity to be part of the expedition through an essay writing competition advertised by the Sids Youth AIMS Hub (SYAH Seychelles) earlier this year.
She caught up with Seychelles NATION for a brief chat in which she reminisced on the experience and the impact that the trip has had on her perspective and outlook on life.
Environment-enthusiast Miss Gill started her journey towards the Arctic Expedition by submitting her written essay about the implications of climate change in Seychelles and her efforts as an individual to mitigate the impacts locally.
“I wrote about the changes that I have witnessed such as unpredictable weather, coral bleaching, coastal erosion and a little about the work I have done with SYAH and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Whenever I can, I try to help out and participate in environment-related activities. Last year, I was the focal person for SYAH for the mangrove rehabilitation process. I am not involved with a specific group or NGO but I like to participate in different environmentally-friendly activities,” Miss Gill told Seychelles NATION.
A young Miss Gill has always had a passion for the environment. As from September this year, she will embark on the next chapter of her life as she furthers her studies in environmental science at the University of Seychelles.
“I was really excited when I learned that I won the contest and I would actually be making it to the expedition. The overall experience was life-changing and has helped me change my perspective and I think I am more environmentally-conscious and I have also learned to be more empathetic especially after interacting with the close-knit Arctic communities where they rely on the environment for food and other basic necessities and seeing how climate change is impacting on this way of life,” she stated.
Miss Gill was one of two students who was sponsored by Canada Goose.
Students on Ice Arctic Expedition 2019
The expedition began in Canada’s capital city, Ottawa where the members congregated and were flown to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. Upon reaching Greenland, they set sail to discover communities, fiords, bays and islands along the country’s west coast including the Unesco world heritage site Ilulissat Icefjord.
Over the course of the two weeks, members visited several sites in Greenland and Arctic Canada and engaged in workshops, panel discussions, Zodiac excursions, shore landings with plenty of opportunities for wildlife sightings including of seals, whales and polar bears.
Through the experience, students learned, through a lens of science, art, history, policy and culture, an understanding and appreciation for the people who call the Arctic home.
Asides from climate change, students learned about sustainable development, healthy communities and the Blue economy through days filled with exploration, discoveries, hands-on research.
“I was amazed by how such communities live in the Arctic where they are isolated and still have a very simplistic way of life. They still hunt for food and what is even more impressive is that they do not waste anything. Asides from feeding themselves from the meat, the seal skins are used to make clothing among other things so that was really eye-opening for me. Climate change is affecting their way of life. As the sea ice melts, they cannot necessarily go hunting as it is riskier and the winter periods are shortening through climate change,” added Miss Gill.
“I was away from home but I felt so at home. The Arctic communities are really nice and welcoming. Part of the journey was visiting an orphanage in an Arctic community and they were so welcoming, instead of us giving them things, they were giving us all sorts of goodies and that was really touching to me,” Miss Gill stated.
She asserted that it is imperative that everyone work collectively in Seychelles to mitigate the impacts on climate change by being more conscious about the environment especially since small island states are most affected by the impacts.
Miss Gill also has a message to youths of Seychelles, urging them to follow their dreams and to make the most of opportunities at their disposal.
“I did not expect to win the contest but I’m very glad I did. Youths should follow their passions and grab opportunities presented to them. I think it’s also important that they are more mindful of their daily choices as it does matter and it is only together that we can make a big impact and make a difference,”
she stated cheerfully.
Miss Gill promises to be active locally in environment-related projects and in the future once she has successfully completed her university studies.
The accompanying photographs show some highlights of the expedition.
Photo SOURCE: Students on Ice Arctic Expedition