If you were to search ‘Canadian arctic’ online, you were come up with endless pictures of white landscapes, maps of the untouched territory, and unimaginable wildlife. Though this a true representation of the Canadian north, it ignores another side, one that leaves an all too common bitter taste in your mouth that humans and ‘southern economical progress’ have passed though.
The north has always been coveted for holding many valuable resources but in the past, every time a crew was sent up, or a base was built to exploit those resources, the location was sentenced and doomed to house the contaminated scares of progress until a time when someone felt like cleaning it up.
It is this clean up initiative that brought me to the western edge of the arctic archipelago, to the uninhabited Prince Patrick Island. To fly people and their camp in, so they can take out not the natural resources but the mess left behind years ago and return it to an unspoiled area that it used to be. Mould bay is one of the southern bays on the island and had once been home to a weather station inhabited year round by between 10 to 40 people. Everything had to be either flow, or barged in and after almost 50 years of operation the garbage has piled up. Most noticeable are the empty fuel drums stacked in piles and littered across the Tundra. Flying from Mould to the northern Satellite Bay, it is easy to spot abandoned drums miles away from any human encampment making you wonder how the hell they even got there. These days the general policy is to take out everything you bring in, but back then it doesn’t seem as if it was even a side thought.
The government of today seems to care a little more about its home and native land though. It’s spending millions upon millions of dollars to clean up sites like this one. It’s hard for a government, that is playing a nation wide version of a high school popularity contest, to ratify the use of tax payers dollars on cleaning up its predecessor’s messes in places that no one sees or have ever heard of. But it’s needed. The wildlife on this island alone, unfamiliar to human interaction, is something few people will ever get to witness. Caribou, muskox, snowy owls, foxes, and seals are abundant on the land and easy to spot. Roaming around this island are also many animals that hide a little better, including wolves, and polar bears.
Add in a landscape that seems to be from a different planet and you have an amazing ecosystem that’s worth protecting.