Adventurers document High Arctic trek to teach about climate change

A University of Minnesota professor trekked 238 km in the High Arctic to document how communities are finding solutions in the face of climate change.

Aaron Doering and his team trekked 238 km from Arctic Bay to Pond Inlet on skis and snowshoes

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      A University of Minnesota professor and his team endured whiteouts and snow flurries as they trekked through the High Arctic to document how communities are finding solutions in the face of climate change.

      Last month Aaron Doering and his team flew into Arctic Bay, then trekked 238 km to Pond Inlet — some on skis, others with snowshoes. They carried everything they needed to survive on the land with them on a sled.

      "We endured everything of the Arctic," said Doering.

      "From complete whiteout to snow to sunshine."

      Doering dubs himself an adventure-learning pioneer, and he has been all across Canada's Arctic.

      "We endured everything," said Doering. "From complete whiteout, to snow, to sunshine." (The Changing Earth)

      Despite his experience, the original route that Doering and his team had envisioned was ill-conceived.

      "We sat down with an elder in Arctic Bay and we followed the traditional route instead," said Doering.

      They didn't encounter any polar bears but they did spot an Arctic hare and other animals along the way.

      The team's journey is chronicled on their website as part of an online education program. Viewers can track the team and see their progress in real time from all over the world.

      "There's one thing that gets students motivated and that's to follow an adventure and also see the content in real time," said Doering.

      'Nobody is listening to us here in the North'

      As part of their trek the adventurers also took the time to meet with residents and elders in both Arctic Bay and Pond Inlet to hear what issues they deal with every day.

      "A common theme that came throughout is that nobody is listening to us here in the North," said Doering.

      "Because we are experiencing climate change in a way that no one is talking about."

      A decade ago Doering travelled six months by dog team from Yellowknife to Pond Inlet. He said he's noticed a difference in the communities' willingness to communicate with outsiders like him.

      "They're more willing to tell the story than they were years ago. To me that's refreshing because people in the South need to know what's it's like living in the North," he said.

      The team trekked from the community of Arctic Bay to Pond Inlet, a distance of nearly 250 kilometres. (The Changing Earth)

      On this journey Doering and his team were also looking at positive solutions to the changing climate.

      While Doering's main focus is on climate change, he is also speaking to communities about other social issues in the North such as the high cost of food.

      He said local hunters tell him that they need to go out on the land and catch country food not only to preserve their traditional skills but also because of the scarcity of affordable food.

      Doering said he hopes that his project can bring more attention to these issues.

      "My ultimate goal is to get more people involved, from politicians to those people who can actually make a difference to see a change in the North."

      Doering and his team are heading to the tropics next to chronicle how people are adapting to climate change in that region.

      With files from Nick Murray and Kevin Kablutsiak