Arctic Challenge for Sustainability Project

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Salluit Day 0: Arriving at Salluit

My name is Merry Sailonga Faluaburu, and I am a PhD student (from Solomon Islands) of the Graduate School of Biosphere Science, Hiroshima University, under supervision of Professor Takeshi Naganuma. This time, I am so glad to have a great opportunity to participate in the sub-Arctic expedition to Salluit in northern Canada.

Having breakfast, I was waiting to board an Inuit Air flight at the Montreal Trudeau  Airport, heading finally to the Salluit community for a 6-day stay. Salluit, formerly known as Sugluk, is in Nunavik, Quebec’s northernmost region. Its population is 1,347 in the Canada 2011 Census and is rapidly growing. Salluit community is located at 62o 12’N and 75o 39’W, within the tundra region.

After finishing the meal, I headed to the boarding lounge and boarded Dash 8 Air Inuit. It was a pleasant morning with clear blue sky. Although the plane was filled to its maximum capacity, the flight-attendant hosted us with friendly smiles and brief conversations. I was flying over long outstretches of boreal forest and after few hours, the transition into Arctic tundra came into sight. It was amazing to see endless stretches of treeless land, although but only patches of ponds and river, shrubs, grasses and rocks. That’s when I realized that I am now seeing the amazing Arctic tundra of Inuit, Canada.

Our first stop-over was at Kuujjuarapik airport, then at Umiujaq airport. However due to the plane’s mechanical problems, we waited at Umiujaq airport for almost 4 hours for another plane to pick us and complete the rest of the journey. By past 8 pm, still in the daylight, we finally arrived at Salluit and got picked by researchers who arrived a day earlier. The Salluit community sits on a steep-sided valley bottom, running roughly perpendicular to the coast.

The centre consisted of 3 bedrooms, each with a bunk bed. Two of the three rooms were occupied by Professor Masanobu Higuchi from Tokyo University and his 3 staff. They were interested in the botany and ecology of tundra vegetation of Salluit, and were to help me collecting lichen samples. 

It took me several minutes to introduce and settled in to the life at the Salluit Research Centre. I’ve never been to far southern or northern hemisphere so the experience was surreal. It took me sometime to absorb the chilly atmosphere in Salluit, and stared in awe at the sun light that glow a magnificent backdrop of a nearby mountain around midnight, my first sight of long daylight.

Though surrounded by new sensation from all the new experiences, I had to catch some sleep for the begin of a sampling schedule the next day. Trying to pull myself into focus by having a warm shower, and once my head hit the pillow, I drifted off to sleep.

Merry Sailonga Faluaburu

Treeless rugged land

Midnight sun-light at Salluit