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Student to get first hand look at Arctic climate change

Dawson Creek Secondary's Jaden Ford heading to Nunavut in the fall
Jaden Ford was chosen over the ten other applicants from Dawson Creek and Tumbler Ridge Secondary schools.

In a few months, South Peace Secondary student Jaden Ford will be on an Arctic expedition with the Canadian Coast Guard. 

This unique opportunity is the result of a cooperation between ArcticNet researchers and school districts across the country. The program, called Schools on Board, is based out of the University of Manitoba.

Heading into his graduation year, Ford plans to take advantage of the experience to decide what he wants to study during his post-secondary schooling. With an eight-day cultural exchange to Beijing already under his belt, it’s the second international field trip Ford has taken during his high school career. 

“Anything that comes my way I am willing to take,” Ford told the Dawson Creek Mirror. “I thought there really was no harm in applying. I like doing everything to 100 per cent of my ability. If you are doing anything less, there is no point. I figure I should always seize these kids of opportunities when they come my way and I am hoping that with these trips, I can see (if) marine biology really interests me or another type of research.”

In September, Ford will travel from Dawson Creek to Edmonton, where he’ll fly north to Kugluktuk, Nunavut and board the Amundsen research vessel to work with researchers observing the impacts of climate change in the north. 

He first heard about the trip over the announcements at school one day and immediately got to work on the required essay. 

At the outset, Ford and other students on the trip will meet with the communities of Kugluktuk and Pond Inlet to hear from elders and youth about how a changing climate has impacted their lives. 

“They can give us their experience of climate change,” Ford said, “and we can use that as a launching point.”

Ford’s interest in the topic stems from previous science fair projects, including one that examined the impacts of air pollution on human health. School District 59 principal Mike Readman said Ford’s work and his drive to make the most of the trip are what gave him the edge over the ten other applicants from Dawson Creek and Tumbler Ridge Secondary schools.

“His interest in balancing climate change with economic opportunity and the development of resources in our area, combined with the opportunity to be on a research vessel that’s actually looking at the effects in a region that seems to be experiencing quite rapid change, is what made him stand out,” Readman said. 

While on the trip Ford will record video of his experiences that he will package into a final presentation for schools in the district. 

“I am not sure what kind of research I will be assisting in, but I am just excited to be working with scientists,” he said. “I am heavily involved in the study of science. I have always really liked data collection and analysis.”

The trip will run from Sept. 14 - 28, when the Amundsen floats through the famed Northwest Passage. Experiments will include oceanographic sampling and mooring operations that aim to further understandings of Arctic marine ecosystems and the impact of climate change.