The Pirurvik Preschool in Pond Inlet provides early childhood education (ECE) that is child centered and based on the Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ) principles and is enriched through the use of Montessori materials. The team aims to improve the social well-being of children, families and communities and will undoubtedly positively impact the lives of hundreds of young children and their families by providing a positive first experience with education. Pirurvik Preschool is actively creating environments that speak to the communities’ own needs and values by reflecting Inunnguiniq practices in these positive educational experiences for children, and their families.
Quark Expeditions aims to be the leading expedition investor in outreach projects within the polar regions. We will work with the widest circumpolar network of scientists, community leaders, and sustainable innovators, and have a team of field and office staff members tasked to collaborate internally and externally to meet these goals. Our goal is to contribute a minimum of $500,000 USD each year through in-kind donations, Quark Expeditions funding, and funds from passenger auctions in support of key polar environmental research, community engagement and sustainable development projects.
Communities have played a key role in Quark Expeditions’ experiences throughout our history in the polar industry. We believe that by expanding our sphere to include those who live in the North as essential partners in the development of our expedition narrative, we will be able to build a better Quark Expeditions, ensure social and economic benefits for communities, and provide a greater experience for our guests.
In 2019, we are excited to direct some of the generous donations from our guests to support the following community projects.
Supporting Community Projects
Food security in Nunavut is a real and alarming faced by all residents of the territory. The Mittima Food Bank, based in Pond Inlet, provides a grocery drop to over 400 families every two weeks. This program puts several healthy meals on the tables of families in need.
The Elders Tea is a community-led weekly gathering for elders where they can come together, enjoy a meal, tea, and activities. The atmosphere of the gathering combined with the access to country food, such as char, seal, whale and caribou, makes this a positive and powerful recurring event for the elders of the community.
Incorporated as a non-profit, community-based Inuit organization in 1997, Ilisaqsivik Society strives to support community development and wellness in a way that maintains respect for traditional Inuit teachings and learning, and is accountable to the community. Founded, led, and staffed by Inuit residents of Clyde River, the society offers a wide range of culturally based programs that support the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs of all community residents from infants to Elders. Ilisaqsivik Society serves many communities by dispatching Inuit counselors to communities in crisis, and their land-based programs will soon be part of a territory-wide rehabilitation program.
Investing in Polar Research and Conservation
Since 2011, Quark Expeditions supported the South Georgia Heritage Trust (SGHT) and the Friends of South Georgia Island (FOSGI) to deliver a multi-year, multi-million-dollar Habitat Restoration project on South Georgia. On 8 May 2018, SGHT announced that the project had successfully eradicated rats and mice from South Georgia, freeing South Georgia’s birds and wildlife from over two centuries of predation. Already there have been extraordinary signs of wildlife recovery, with South Georgia pipits and South Georgia pintails being witnessed in greater numbers than ever before in living memory.
To ensure the legacy of the Habitat Restoration project, robust biosecurity measures are being implemented to ensure that rodents never return. Quark Expeditions supports a rodent dog detection team from Working Dogs for Conservation (WD4C) that aim to protect the native flora and fauna on South Georgia from alien invasive species.
Quark Expeditions is a long-time supporter of Penguin Watch, a citizen science initiative seeking to find solutions to the present data gaps, using cameras and genetic analysis. Together, these approaches have resulted in an integrated monitoring network that has the capacity to provide data to policy-makers on areas particularly sensitive to fishing and human disturbance.
2019 was the first year that Penguin Watch used drones for counting, and the results were spectacular. The tool allows them to count colonies with less disturbance (often the penguins can’t even see the drone) and are invaluable on short visits where they otherwise wouldn’t have time to complete the count. The use of drones also opened new study opportunities, for example, tracing the highway that penguins use to commute between the nest and the sea between successive years.
Polar Bears International (PBI) is dedicated to the worldwide conservation of polar bears and their sea-ice homes through research, education, action programs and stewardship. PBI is considered the world’s foremost authority on polar bears.
Part of the proceeds from the charity auction were directed to PBI’s Polar Bear Den Monitoring Project, which is a collaboration between PBI, the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, and the Norwegian Polar Institute. This year, they set out to remotely observe polar bear family groups during their den emergence period using special solar and wind-powered cameras to record HD video and still images. These cameras were deployed in two locations, one northeast of Longyearbyen, the other on the Northern part of Spitsbergen.
Quark Expeditions has been a supporter of Seabird Watch, a citizen science initiative aimed at monitoring seabird populations across the globe, since its inception. Built from the successful toolkit developed by Penguin Watch, Seabird Watch uses time-lapse camera technology to monitor seabird colonies in difficult to access parts of the world, including Svalbard, Iceland, and Greenland in the Arctic. Members of the Seabird Watch team travelled with Quark Expeditions on board Ocean Adventurer to Svalbard to access cameras, change batteries, and collect the images that were taken.
Building Capacity Through the Inuit Cruise Training Initiative
Nalunaiqsijiit, The Inuit Cruise Training Initiative (ICTI), is an exciting opportunity to collaborate with Inuit communities to create opportunities and support the growth of more engaged tourism on their land. The program aims to provide Nunavummiut with the qualifications and certifications required to work on board expedition cruise ships, and includes in situ training and experience on board.
Quark Expeditions hosted two Nalunaiqsijiit interns on Ocean Adventurer voyages traveling to Nunavut during the Arctic 2019 season and invited an additional four interns on board Ocean Endeavour during the 2019/20 Antarctic season. These internships are an exciting opportunity for us. We will be working closely with the Government of Nunavut and the lead instructor at Nalunaiqsijiit, an Inuk from Nunatsiavut, to prepare the interns for their experience on board our ships. Partnering with these groups allows us to communicate the expectations for the intern’s participation, mentorship, and ongoing capacity building while they are on board. If the internship and training are successful, we hope to continue to engage with and hopefully contract these new guides for future work within our expedition team.
Innovative Community Engagement in Ittoqqortoormit
With Quark Expeditions’ increased emphasis on engagement with local communities in the Arctic, and the growth of expedition tourism in Scoresbysund, Greenland, we began investigating innovative and meaningful ways to integrate local narrative into our expedition experience. Through one resulting initiative, we invited community members from Ittoqqortoormit to join us on two voyages on Ocean Nova during the Arctic 2019 season. These community ambassadors were paid for their time and were expected to do nothing more than share the experience of a Quark Expedition voyage with our guests, and their perspectives whenever and however they felt most comfortable doing so.
It was a very positive experience for everyone involved and we hope that it will be similarly positive for the community in the long term, as they define what tourism in Ittoqqortoormit looks like.