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Canada's 25-year-old Arctic explorer on the beauty of the nation's north

At 25, Caitlyn Baikie has several trips to the polar region under her belt and is currently on an another expedition in Canada's north. She spoke to Checkup from Sirmilik National Park.
Caitlyn Baikie, a young Arctic explorer, says despite the number of parks she has seen, Torngat Mountains National Park continues to be her favourite. (Caitlyn Baikie)

At 22, Caitlyn Baikie made history as part of the Arctic expedition team that located the wrecked Franklin ship in 2014. At 25, Baikie has several trips to the region under her belt and is currently on an another expedition in Canada's north with Students on Ice - an expedition program that educates youth about the importance of the polar region. She spoke to Checkup from Sirmilik National Park in Nunavut. 

Listen to her interview with Checkup guest host Susan McReynolds:

At 25, Caitlyn Baikie has several trips to the polar region under her belt and is currently on an another expedition in Canada's north. She spoke to Checkup from Sirmilik National Park. 5:35

Susan McReynolds: Caitlyn, tell us what you are doing there.

Caitlyn Baikie: I'm currently on the Ocean Endeavour ship with a 120 students from over 19 countries. We're on expedition learning all about the Arctic through various different lenses - from people who are originally from here in Nunavut. We have 50 Inuit on board with us, which is incredible. We have world-renowned scientists. We have some politicians. We have journalists and photographers. Singers and songwriters. You name it. We're exploring the Arctic together and learning about about it, its history and how we can influence a positive future for the region.

SM: What do you see right now? Describe what you're looking at.

I'm sitting in bridge of the Ocean Endeavour and I'm looking out and I see many, many glaciers. We just passed Canadian point, which is a famous landmark in Sirmilik National Park where they're developing some hiking routes. It is incredibly beautiful.  A lot of ice. A lot of seals. We've seen a couple of polar bears. We've seen a lot of incredible beauty today.

Sirmilik National Park. A herd of Walrus take a swim in the Lancaster Sound in the Eastern Arctic. (Mario Cyr/Parks Canada)

SM: On this journey, you will have certainly seen a number of national parks. Which ones stand out for you?

CB: I'm originally from Nain, Nunatsiavut in Newfoundland and Labrador, so in my backyard is the Torngat Mountains National Park and I think it's okay if I go with that bias and say that the Torngat National Park is certainly one of my favourites in Canada. It is a place where I get to connect to my culture, the Inuit culture. I get to travel with my family every time, which is really special. And of course, the incredible landscape and wildlife that we see. Experiencing that together with people who are originally from that area, including my family - the Torngats definitely hold a special place in my heart.

SM: It must be very hard to do out-do some of the places that you have already seen, some of the places you have grown up with. What does it take for you to really go 'wow'?

CB: I've been to the Torngats seven times now and I'm only 25. That's a lot of times that I've been fortunate enough to get there and this is my second time in Sirmilik National Park and I've seen many other parks. Many students have asked me the same question and I say: 'No matter how many times you see these awe-inspiring landscapes, it will continue to awe-inspire you.' I always learn something new.

One of the impressive ridges that overlooks the Torngat Moutains Base Camp. (John Gaudi/CBC)

I started travelling throughout these landscapes from a young age, so I'm fortunate enough that I get to grow up in them, so I get to learn a lot about them along the way. Every time that I visit the Torngat Mountains or I come back to Nunavut, I'm going through a different phase in my life, so I look at things differently. And I'm fortunate enough to travel these landscapes with incredible people, especially with these world-renowned educators in their various fields.

It's always opening your eyes to new things, looking at it a different way, you get to appreciate the landscape. When you're talking about things with youth, such as climate change or mental health, sometimes it's really challenging and pressing questions that we try to get them to tackle and these landscapes really open up your mind, but really your heart to learning those new things. It's a new experience every time and I hope to keep coming back.

Caitlyn Baikie's comments have been edited and condensed. This online segment was prepared by Ilina Ghosh on August 14, 2017. 

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