Expedition Leaders Mille Porsild
& Paul Pregont
Q: What is the objective of
At Nomads, our mission is to foster cultural understanding, instill a sense
of environmental responsibility, and create adventurous spirits. We
accomplish this by using the allure of sled dogs and magic of arctic travel
to promote learning, developing quality, multidisciplinary educational
programs that captures the imagination and fascination of students of all
ages, and providing access to advanced interactive telecommunications to
inspire a global exchange of ideas.
We want to engage the world in the excitement and drama of a major dogsled
expedition. The arctic is environmentally connected with the rest of
the globe. It is not as many believe, a pure, pristine far-away land that remains
"untouched". In fact, it is ever-changing. Our major
objective is to draw attention to, and educate people about, the
environmental and cultural issues that are critical to the arctic today. We want to
underscore vital role the Arctic plays in
sustaining a healthy global environment. Because of our tremendous
environmental changes such as Trans-boundary pollution and global warming are being played
out right before our eyes.
Q: Where did the idea for
Arctic Blast 2001
A: It was when we met an older native musher,
Paloosie Kooneeliusie of Qikiqtarjuaq, (Broughton Island) at a travel show in Chicago in
1997... Paloosie does not speak English, but through his
grand daughter, the use of hands, face and a map he told us of his life dream to
dogsled from his home to Grise Fiord following ancient routes of his
ancestors. Instantly, the idea of Arctic Blast 2001 was born. Paloosie
with us, in spirit, and help celebrate the new voice of Nunavut. The birth of Nunavut is a unique
opportunity to highlight the future while paying our respect to an
ancient culture. Because our chance encounter with Paloosi, Nunavut and the native voice is a
major focal point as we strive to create a representative, multi
Q: Why such emphasis on educating children and
adults about the Arctic?
presents a history of our relationship with the our planet. Think of the
as a magnifying glass; most issues exist in extremes. For example, the native people do not talk
of global warming as theoretical phenomena, the consequences are already part
of their everyday vocabulary. We have often been told
matter-of-factly, "No, you cant travel that route since global
warming!" As we observe the subtleties of the land and people, we
realize the voice of the arctic is not very loud. It is crucial for
the world to listen and understand the value of 'traditional' ways and respect.
We sincerely hope the solutions become more obvious through our efforts.
|| Q: Why do you find
computers and telecommunications so useful in educating children about the
environment, science, social, and cultural issues?
We want people to experience the joy of traveling by a dog team through
the arctic. Todays technology give us the ability to interact globally person to person,
school to school, student to adventurer. In a fraction of a second, we
bring the sights, sounds, and smells of this incredible expedition to
everyone, everywhere. Our communication system is an incredible tool
that helps students of all ages broaden their world perspectives.
Schools click in to watch, listen, and learn one of the 30 different
Inuktitut words for snow. They
meet "Sarah," the
girl who lives in Grise Fiord the most Northern village of North America.
The world shrinks; they talk and exchange thoughts.
Computers also help us connect our curriculum, collaboration activities,
and daily perspectives with any subject area. An interactive online classroom program
like Arctic Blast can transform the natural interest of students in adventure into a
comprehensive global understanding.
|| Q: What are the risks
involved in an expedition like this?
There is always a risk that a team member dog or human will be
seriously hurt. We will be traveling, alone, across an immense tundra, shifting sea ice,
water over a four month period. Our fate is partially controlled by the
whims of Mother Nature. We will be far beyond the realm of immediate medical assistance; quick action,
careful and detailed
logistics planning, and intense training are all we have to fall back on.
Polar bears present a constant threat, although a dog's bark usually scares
them away. An agitated walrus is a different story.
|| Q: How are you preparing
for this expedition?A:
Last spring, we
completed a training expedition in the western arctic. Beginning on the Arctic Coast
our way back into the MacKenzie Delta, we practiced and refined all the skills needed for the
2001 expedition. It is important to anticipate problems while having the
resource and knowledge base to correct even the unexpected. A
great deal of work goes into team building. We constantly discuss conflict
resolution, interpersonal communication, team work, and group dynamics
The dogs are run according to their training schedule. Their health
and performance is monitored daily.
|| Q: You have already
completed a number of Arctic Expeditions What sets Arctic Blast 2001 apart from all
the other internet expeditions out there?A: Arctic
Blast is not an expedition with the sole objective of getting from point A
to point B. It is an education project . In other words, the expedition is the tool
not the goal.
Our goal is to fulfill a growing need for
relevant, engaging, and even fun interactive content
the keyword is, of course, interactive. This is way we are so excited
to bring Lotus QuickPlace and Lotus Sametime into the classrooms across
North America. These are tools that will finally allow the
collaboration we have been looking and hoping for, for so long. This we
believe can revolutionize the way we look at communication and collaboration
within the school system.
We also like to emphasize
that we are not the focus of expedition, the dogs, the students, and the native people of the land traveled.
How will the dogs be the focus?A: We can only
do so much! Ultimately, it is our Polar Huskies that get kids excited about learning.
The dogs are literally "the characters" on the trail. As the
ambassadors of Arctic Blast, they will be telling the story on the website, and
can even be considered the event
coordinators, calling out to the kids. Ten years experience
has proven that by following the personality, drive, compassion, and
dedication of our sled dogs captivates students of all ages. They are inspired to learn through the bond they
with the dogs. Really, this is what puts our expedition above and beyond anything else out
|| Q: But is there any
"first" about the expedition itself? A: Yes,
but our expedition is not necessarily about firsts. That said, it will be the
first ever live transmission from the magnetic North Pole. Our signal
will reach classrooms
around the world. Our mode of transportation
dogsledding has been used by arctic nomads for thousands of years, and our
style of travel is not that different from early expeditions. We are combining a number of ancient routes
that have been past down for generations. Taking us
through 5 villages varying in size from 2 to 3000 citizens over almost 2,500
miles, we will not be completely separated from
civilization, but it will be close.
Ironically, in a matter of minutes,
we are connected with beaches of Sydney,
the ruins of Mexico city and the streets of New York. We simply pull
our laptop out of its waterproof carrying case, hook it up to the antenna on the sled, and beam the sounds and
images of the arctic to the worldwide web. Our educational focus is what makes our
journey out of the ordinary. It is a strong mixture that makes for an
adventure, exposing our audience to the many faces of the arctic. We also have
another unusual "first" - the largest live moderated chat ever orchestrated by the
Polar Husky dog boss "Spank"!
|| Q: What do you hope will
come out of Arctic Blast 2001?A: I hope those who take
part in Arctic Blast will come to appreciate how interconnected, fragile,
and amazing our world really is. The
biggest obstacle in dealing with environmental as well as cultural problems is a lack of
education, understanding, and most importantly, awareness. On one hand, people are more aware now than ever
before. Sustainability has become a common word of our present day
culture, yet we remain
unaware of the effects of our lifestyle and resource use on the
environment and ultimately its people. Education is a powerful tool that
helps us promote respect, understanding, and care of the natural world.
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