Day Six: Tuesday, September 28, 2010
BACK TO IQALUIT
Satish, Sunanda, Rishi and I greet this, our last day in Resolute Bay, before sunrise. Out the breakfast room window, the wind blows powdered snow across the rocky ground and out over the frozen Arctic Ocean where yesterday we walked on icebergs. Today the sky is cloudy, still darkened by the remains of the night. Our bags are packed, awaiting us at the front door of the inn so that we may catch an early flight to Iqaluit today, en route back to Toronto. Tonight we will rest in Iqaluit, Nunavut territory’s capital city and largest community located on the south coast of Baffin Island at the head of Frobisher Bay.
We say our goodbyes to Chris at the inn, then Meghan at the airport who drives us to our departure. There is no doubt we are sad to leave. This has been an enormously important trip for each one of us, the likes of which seems still masked by a cloudy feeling that draws across my inner sight. I cannot quite see the magnitude of what this all means. All I know for sure is, like a child who marks their growth with lines on the inside of a doorjamb, the growth of my Self is marked on the doorjamb of my life by this trip to the North Pole.
The flight, which left the ground at 6:30am, is relatively uneventful. It retraces our Northbound steps, now moving back over land that we saw just a short time ago with the miracle of virgin eyes. Today’s clouds partially masks the view of the geographic magnitude we were privy to witness on the way up. Despite the cloud, I can still very much feel the expansive, harsh rock and ice that rolls out in broad, carved strokes below me. This is the land of the Inuit people where humans have survived for thousands of years. Like a child that intuitively knows its mother, I feel a connection to this part of the world, our Mother Earth, as though within me a baby Inuit soul is being born. I understand fully how I heard Her call that drew me on this journey. I am connected to the planet, to these people, to all people through my humanity, through my reliance on this majestic planet’s selfless generosity for my very survival.
The 6000-plus populated Iqaluit, by comparison to the Resolute Bay community of 200, seems like a booming metropolis. But still, the modern buildings are laid out over rough roads and sidewalks, which lend some insight into what perhaps most cities were like in early inception. Founded in 1942 as an American airbase, Iqaluit, meaning “place of many fish” in Inuktitut, is a young city.
As we arrive at the new Nova Inn, we are told that there are no rooms left to accommodate our needs. Somehow Sunanda creates magic and soon we are up in our room. The day is yet young, so we head out for a planned meeting at the Elder Centre. It is I in particular who wants to visit with the Inuit elders to hear what they have witnessed in environmental changes, to learn from their insights, to see if there is a way we can serve them and in so doing, serve the Earth.
WISDOM FROM THE ELDERS
A bilingual, middle-aged Inuit woman greets the four of us at the Center. She is our translator. Most of the elders speak only Inuktitut. Some of these people are over 100 years old.
The large, bright room with a bay window at one end is filled with perhaps people, mostly women, who sit at tables and chairs playing cards, conversing and sharing time. Rishi asks if he is allowed to videotape our visit. We are given permission.
Two women, perhaps eighty or so, become spokes people for the group. They share stories about the enormous changes they have seen over the course of their lifetime, illustrating how snow used to be pure white but is now dark, dirty and yellowed. They speak of life living off the land and how they now no longer live in igloos but in built houses. They share stories from their grandfathers, how their elders saw the coming of the white people and how they would bring this environmental change.
These elders say they have hope, that is, hope for their children. They see the Inuit children now more educated and as such, with more ability to deal with the environmental problems. For them, the future depends on the health and strength of the children.
Satish reaches into his jute bag to pull out his eco-silk fabric message, dedicated to children. Sunanda and I help open it up and walk around the edges of the room so that the elders can see the many signatures from around the world it showcases. We talk about Satish’s work and share the reasons we have come to the North Pole. I share how my music is dedicated to helping people remember the good of life, awakening to who we are, how we are all interconnected as one human family. I am asked to sing, so I spontaneously choose “You Gotta Believe”, a song I wrote on 9-11 and had the privilege to sing in New York City at the world famous Madison Square Garden. As the sound pours out of my mouth, I feel my whole body shiver with waves of energy moving through. I am reminded and humbled yet again that there is a force here that is so much greater than our limited selves can see.
SPEAKING AT THE CITY COUNCIL MEETING
The next meeting that Sunanda organized for us is with City Councilor Simon Nattaq. We make our way over to the government building. Shaking Simon’s hand is like touching the strength of the Earth. Like Sam the hunter who brought us yesterday out to the ocean icebergs, Simon feels made of the land itself. This is not a feeling I have had shaking any other politicians hand. I soon find out that Simon is not only a politician, but a respected elder in the community. A government employee translates Simon’s native tongue Inuktitut into English and our words into Inuktitut.
Satish and I speak of our mission to help awaken people to the necessity of understanding our interconnection, how we are all children of the same Mother, the planet Earth. Simon is open to this message and warm to our communication. We spend a generous half hour together. He signs Satish’s fabric in traditional Inuktitut geometric writing. His penmanship stands unique among other signatures in various languages on the electric-green silk.
We are offered a place to speak at the City Council Meeting today. At the meeting, Satish and I individually step to the microphone and each share the call of our parallel missions. As I speak, I watch the Inuit women on the board resonate with my words:
I am not a scientist who works in external laboratories. I have no clinical evidence to prove the agitation that is in Nature at this time. I am an artist. My laboratory is within. Through my inner, quiet, contemplative practice and meditation, I have felt called from within from the Earth herself to make this journey. We are one Earth family, all inter-connected through Nature, our Mother Earth.
Being a singer, songwriter and performer, what I can offer is my voice. I am here to help give voice to the environment and bring with me a message from the North. Being in the media, I am in a position to help raise awareness of the melting polar ice in people all around the world, many of whom are disconnected from Nature and are unaware of the role we each play as Earth Walkers. I am here to be present with you, to connect, to listen, to honour your ways, to respect those that are acutely aware of our interconnection with Nature. The reason we have come is to build a community of mutual trust and support. We know that only when we listen and work together can we bring about the change that is so urgently needed. I would like to hear from you if there is any way you feel we may serve you and our shared Earth.
The message from the council members echoes what we have heard unsolicited from the elders, hunters, healers, environmentalists and politicians: tell the south to stop polluting. The world’s pollution ends up in the North, at the top of our world. Nature is dying; the animals are leaving; and as such, we are suffering.
After our City Council talk, several young adults at the meeting who are part of Katimavik, an organization that educates Canadian youth through community involvement, come up to us to share how touched they are by our North Pole mission. Yes, hope is in the children. And this environmental crisis calls each one of us to make positive change in our own lives, in what we think, in how we treat ourselves, in how we listen to each other and in how we respect our planet. Yes, now more than ever, hope is born from awakened consciousness in all we do.