The Churchill Northern Studies Center is about 19 km from the actual town of Churchill. The town is right on the Hudson Bay and on the eastern shore of the Churchill River which flows into the bay.
It is a place full of history, culture, industry, and wildlife.
Today…we spent the day in town.
Exploring, adventuring, learning and connecting.
There are no roads that lead to Churchill. You can only get there by plane, boat or train. In the town itself there are roads…but it is isolated in many ways from the rest of Manitoba, Canada…and the world.
The population is about 900 year round residents…many descendants of the Cree, Dene, and Inuits. Their history dates backs over 3000 years.
Throughout this area as well as other arctic areas of the world you will find Inukshuks. Rock people. These were made by the Inuit to mark or indicate the direction to a good hunting or fishing or camping spot. They also often were used to mark sacred places in the landscape. In Churchill, you will find them scattered throughout the town.
Everything is either shipped in or brought by train. It is a life of simplicity…
A strong tourist industry helps boost the local economy. But life here on the edge isn’t easy. You can see it in the faces of the residents.
Yet there is a pride…and a deep love of this land and her creatures. A respect of the harsh and extreme elements…and a spiritual reverence for the wildlife that coexists here in the lowlands of the Hudson Bay.
Our first adventure was a boat ride across the river at the mouth, where salt water meets fresh, to see the Beluga whales. This time of year they descend upon Churchill for calving season. There were dozens of whales. Many with their babies riding on their backs as they glide through the water. It was truly breath taking. These majestic creatures…swimming all around us…showing no fear, only curiosity. Talkative and playful as we listened in on their conversation over the hydrophone.
It is a sight and an experience I will never forget.
As we rounded one of the coves…there on the beach sat a huge male polar bear. The first I had ever seen in my life. They come ashore in the summer where they live near the water in and around the rocks. It is during the summer that they fast…waiting patiently for the ice to come again so they can feed. This male had been in that spot for about 3 weeks. Injured we learned, and so he was left alone.
I wasn’t able to get a clear picture…he blended so well with the beach. But his mighty image is etched in my mind and heart forever.
This intense and up close interaction with nature…gives a new perspective on the interconnectedness of all life on this planet. Every species has a role and is an important piece of the puzzle we call life.
Here on the edge…
I am feeling my heart expand. Opening and understanding more and more about this fragile place we live.
Inspired to do all I can…to make a difference.