Iqaluit, NU – After 65 days of travel across Baffin Island, kayakers Erik Boomer, Katherine Breen, and siblings Eric and Sarah McNair-Landry were treated to a special welcome as they arrived in Cape Dorset, completing their crossing of Baffin Island. Hundreds of community members turned out to welcome them as they paddled their traditional Inuit style kayaks into the harbor. The team traveled with support of the National Geographic Genographic Legacy Fund, which supports projects surrounding the cultural challenges and pressures faced by indigenous and traditional peoples
“We were overwhelmed by the greeting that we were given in Cape Dorset,” says Katherine Breen. “The sight of so many people waving and cheering as we landed on the beach brought tears to my eyes. It was amazing to know that so many people were excited about our arrival.”
The team started their adventure in Qikiqtarjuaq in mid July, traveling across the Penny Ice Cap and through Auyuittuq National Park to Pangnirtung. From there, they paddled and portaged a historic route from Cumberland Sound to Nettiling Lake, the Amadjuak River to Amadjuak Lake, and through a series of small lakes to the Southwest coast of Baffin Island.
For the final leg of the expedition, they followed the ocean’s coast to Cape Dorset.
“It certainly isn’t the first time that people have traveled this route. Nearly every day we saw signs of previous travelers on the land.” Sarah McNair-Landry says that the combination of a historic route and a traditional method of travel made for a unique expedition that paid special tribute to the Inuit people of Baffin Island. “Stone cairns and Inukshuks, tent rings, and other artifacts like kayak stands were reminders that people have been traveling on this land for thousands of years.”
Erik Boomer, says that his kayak is the most impressive thing that he has ever build with his own hands. “People were really excited to see our kayaks. The fact that we built them ourselves added a special element to this expedition. In a small way, it is nice to know that we are doing something to help keep the kayaking tradition alive in Nunavut.”
“The expedition brought many challenges including some that we hadn’t expected, says, Eric McNair-Landry. “We’ve heard from many people that this is the coldest summer that they have experienced in over 30 years. The temperatures hovered around zero degrees for the last few weeks of the expedition and staying dry and warm took some creativity. But, challenges like that take and make a great team. We all feel lucky to have had the chance to experience the incredible natural environment that Baffin Island has to offer.”
The team has now arrived back in Iqaluit where they will spend the next few weeks wrapping up the expedition. More information about the team, their route, and traditional kayaks can be found on their website www.pittarak.com. You can also follow them on Facebook at Pittarak Expeditions.
The expedition was made possible through the support of The National Geographic Genographic Legacy Fund, NRS, The Royal Canadian Geographic Society, Fist Air, Klattermusen, Hilleberg, Adventure Technology, Camino, Watershed and Voke.