• Tue
  • Sep 23, 2014
  • Updated: 10:40pm

Halfway home

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 September, 2009, 12:00am
 

Silent Sound's summer journey is about half done, but we're now entering some of the most treacherous waters in the Arctic as we sail past the graves of those who died hundreds of years ago.

We are nearing Gjoa Haven on King William Island. The island's Victory Point is where John Franklin's men left their last note before stumbling on through the snow, eventually dying a cold and miserable death.

We are hoping for better luck. The journey has become more difficult in the past week. We have had trouble with our engine and we ran aground on a reef just as we were approaching Cambridge Bay, our official halfway point. We had to spend seven hours on the reef until a rising tide lifted us off.

We have dropped anchor in some of the world's most remote communities and marvelled at how past traditions and 21st century life come together. Online social communities are a huge hit, and we've seen grandmothers put down the traditional skin clothing they are sewing to have a video chat with their grandchildren thousands of kilometres away.

Yet, we have also been struck by how the land and its wildlife permeate all aspects of life. Hunting still rules the calendar for many people. Those that do hold regular 9-to-5 jobs drop their work and pick up their rifles when the summer beluga migration begins or they spot a herd of caribou.

We visited a school in Ulukhaktok, a small village on the shores of Victoria Island, and asked the students what they liked to do in their spare time. Hunting, camping and driving their off-road motor bikes were the favourites. School begins early in the year so students can get out earlier in spring to go to their summer hunting camps.

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