Women plan sea ice trek for cancer
Six women to walk across Coronation Gulf in May for cancer research
Walking for cancer research is not a new idea, but six women in Nunavut are taking it to a new frontier this spring — the Arctic sea ice.
Edna Elias, Janet Brewster and four other women have been training for months for a two-week trek across the frozen Coronation Gulf in May, from Umingmaktok (formerly Bay Chimo) to Cambridge Bay.
"It sounds like now we have an airline that will fly us to Bay Chimo," said Elias. "And then (we) walk from Bay Chimo to Cambridge Bay which is 220 kilometres. Most of it is on the sea ice."
They are calling their group Women In Action and the walk Steps of Hope. It's the first such event in the Canadian Arctic. They aim to raise $80,000 and all funds raised go to the Alberta Cancer Foundation.
The women will hike more than six hours a day for about 14 days, sleeping in tents and living off rations.
"We could be sitting in a cramped tent for a day or two," said Elias. "You never know when a blizzard might strike."
Besides unpredictable weather conditions, there’s also the possibility of encountering grizzly bears, but these are small obstacles, they say, for a cause so close to their hearts.
Elias’s sister Margaret died of cancer in 2008. Treatment for the disease took her far from Nunavut, to Edmonton, where Elias was living at the time.
In the city, Elias said Margaret found comfort in the most unusual places, like the bean sprouts in Chinese chow mein.
"They taste like the roots we used to pick and eat off the land. So she used to eat a lot of that," said Elias. "When I order Chinese food, I have to have a serving of that, just for her."
Elias and Brewster have found a way to take Margaret on their walk, along with others, by carrying a book of names of cancer patients.
"When we're having tea or packing up for the night or getting ready to go, we'll take that book out and take turns reading the names," said Brewster.
The women are scheduled to set out on May 7.