Every 2nd year, AUPED 281 shuttles students to the Northwest Territories in the dead of winter for a 2 ½ week arctic excursion.
During this course, students can expect an authentic northern experience marked by retrieving water from the Great Slave Lake, collecting firewood, ice-fishing, and, of course, dogsledding. Each student handles their own team of dogs on the week-long expedition on the arctic tundra.
Back on the homestead, mornings are spent studying narratives of the north, reflecting on Canadian cultural identity, and gaining knowledge of Canada’s northern heritage. Afternoons are spent outside doing a variety of exciting activities.
Learning in the North:
Erika Heiberg along with 7 other students partook as co-collaborators to create a journey that was all theirs in the Canadian arctic. Their expedition began the first day of classes with a month of intensive holistic preparation and pinnacled with an eighteen-day dogsled excursion to Great Slave Lake. Students spoke anecdotally of creeping up on ptarmigans, falling off of their sleds, learning to keep warm and used an outdoor privy in very cold conditions. As groups they camped on the tundra and spent a week at a remote homestead on the shore of Great Slave Lake; all of this formed a shared story.
Beyond the group experiences, students encountered personal trials, revelations and development. Erika shared how her journey to the North connected her to the land and people she had read about and studied. “The North is full of stories, populated by the footsteps of those who have passed before us”. Erika also brought back insights of herself, such as how much she enjoys getting to know people that are connected to place, the personal challenges of self-sustenance, that she has a longing to live close to nature and her strengths and shortcomings related to patience and other group living skills. It is learning like this that students speak of frequently and which transforms great experiences into a journey of growth.