Looking North

Go North, young woman.

Well, that might not be exactly what Megan Harvey was told, but it is close enough.

The Thornbury university student left today on what’s likely an once-in-a-lifetime trip to the High Arctic and Greenland.

The tour is courtesy of the Students on Ice Program, which annually offers invitations to students across Canada and internationally to make a sociocultural and scientific visit to the Arctic on a converted scientific vessel turned semi-tour boat.

Harvey was scheduled to fly into Resolute Bay on Cornwallis Island, the second-most northerly settlement in Canada, to start the trip. Some of that trip will follow in the footsteps of the Franklin expedition, before visiting Greenland.

Harvey said she found out about the trip last summer while working locally for Parks Canada, and decided to apply for a spot reserved for department employees, even though it’s not exactly related to the media studies and business she’s been working on for four years.

She said she’s often been questioned on how those studies relate to her majors – after all, it’s not exactly a natural science branch – but she doesn’t see that as a problem.

Harvey said she can readily see a connection with both areas of study, since business is a large part of developing the North, and media has a huge impact too.

She’s been busy planning and packing ever since she was told she had secured a position, following a lengthy list of instructions provided by organizers.

Participants receive a complimentary toque and a down vest from Canada Goose, she said, but she’s planning on packing far more than that.

“I have a down coat, not a parka, but a down coat and I think I’ll be taking that,” she said. “There’s a lot of opportunity for field trips.”

“Layers seem to be the most important thing,” she said, citing the unpredictable weather in the region at this time of year.

She’s looking forward to seeing the long polar days, even though the Midnight Sun/Polar Days will be waning at this time of year. The sun will set for the first time since the Spring in the region on Aug. 14, at the tail end of her trip.

Harvey said she’s also really hoping to view narwhals, the famous small whale with a long ivory tusk.

She decided to apply for the trip after hearing former participants talk about it last year while she worked her summer job with Parks Canada.

She’s been fascinated with the North for some time, and those stories jump-started her determination to go.

Harvey said she is also excited about the chance to spend time with Inuit dignitaries and officials who will be on board and learning more about their issues.

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