When I was growing up in Pond Inlet, we’d see about 15 cruise ships a year visit the community. When I joined One Ocean Expeditions for the journey through the Arctic, I thought, “Ooh, I know what it’s like to welcome tourists, but now I get to see what it’s like to be one of them.”

I was honoured and humbled to represent Nunvaut on-board, and meeting with passengers and people in communities in the North on a daily basis was a rewarding experience. They were 12-hour days, but they didn’t seem that long.

I did presentations about life in the Arctic and talked about cultural identity. To have had the chance to share my culture was important — I saw it as an opportunity to bridge the gap between the North and the south. For example, I shared stories about the extreme temperatures and light changes we have to deal with. In May, the sun is out until 10 p.m. Then, from about the end of October onward, we’re living in darkness. What does that mean for the community and schools?

Sometimes, my own community doesn’t always see the potential of tourism. But then when they see someone like me come off the ship, it can give them hope. The young people see that I’m from here and they realize that they have the potential to do this, too.

– Leslie Qammaniq
Community justice specialist with the government of Nunavut and Parks Canada intern aboard the One Ocean Voyager, 2015