My name is Candice Sudlovenick, and I am one of the Community Ambassadors traveling on National Geographic Explorer. I was born and raised in Iqaluit, Nunavut, the capital of the territory, and I spent over five years in Western Nunavut in Cambridge Bay from 2015 to 2020.
As National Geographic Endurance sailed through the Beaufort Sea, we got to see some wildlife throughout the day: grey whales, bowhead whales, Pacific walrus, and seabirds. Throughout the day, some whale blows were seen in the choppy waters. The wind and waves made it hard to identify the whales, most likely grey whales given the area we are in.
The staff gave great presentations, starting off with Steve and, “The Legacy of Whaling in the Arctic.” Serguei then talked about, “Plants and Their Adaptations to the Arctic.” After a great feast of sushi at lunch, Jamie gave a presentation on, “The Art of Migration,” discussing animal movements across the globe. After teatime, Gail presented on life in the sea below the horizon. At recap, Steve shared with us the Northwest Passage Rap he wrote about our voyage, and the delivery was followed by a standing ovation!
As we sailed during the day, we passed by Utqiagvik (Barrow), Alaska. We could see the city in the distance. I grew up in Nunavut, and the biggest “city” had a population of about 9,000, so Utqiagvik seemed massive to me. I have always heard stories of the Inupiaq living in Alaska, and I am very excited to see and hopefully meet some of my fellow Arctic Indigenous peoples when we arrive in Nome.
This trip has been amazing. I love talking to people and sharing my Inuit culture and practices. Everyone on board the ship is so welcoming, which reminds me of home, so I am not homesick at all. Sailing through the areas where I grew up for the first four years of my life in Pond Inlet and then going by Cambridge Bay, where I spent time and learnt a lot during my young adulthood, is a blessing. Seeing my own lands from other people’s perspectives, engaging in deep discussion about my culture, and sharing the land, wildlife sightings, and visits have all reinforced for me how proud I am of my roots. I will continue to share and help people understand the Inuit perspective on life and how we view our world.
The Arctic is always described as barren, cold, and dark, but if you see it from my eyes, it’s full of life…from the plants in the summer to the wildlife all around us to my people who make it a warm and welcoming home. My ancestors had a high level of knowledge about the land, water, weather, and animals. They needed this knowledge to not only survive up here but to thrive. I am still learning about their amazing, vast, and extensive skill set. And I hope our guests got to see a glimpse of how beautiful, warm, and welcoming it is here…these qualities that I am privileged enough to see every day.