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Students on Ice sail into SV on the Polar Prince

SOI in front of the Polar Prince in Stephenville on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2023. – Submited photo

By Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

STEPHENVILLE – On Saturday, Aug. 4, World Energy GH2 and Horizon Maritime hosted the Students on Ice Foundation (SOI) at the newly purchased Port of Stephenville. The SOI Foundation aims to inspire and empower leadership for a sustainable future by giving youth the experiences of being connected to nature, people, knowledge, and resources that give them the necessary tools to make a difference. SOI goes on numerous expeditions, giving youth the opportunity to take educational journeys around the world, and this particular expedition, ‘Blue Futures Pathways Expedition,’ saw the group sail from Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Jul. 29, through Nunatsiavut and down the southern shore of Newfoundland, ending in St. John’s on Aug. 10. The educational focus of this expedition was on building a sustainable blue economy, which is using ocean resources to help benefit economies, livelihoods, and the health of ecosystems. The expedition brought together individuals from the ages of 18 to 30 from across Canada, and introduced them to Indigenous knowledge holders, scientists, and industry personnel who could highlight potential career pathways within this robust industry and connected them with different cultures and communities and the ways in which everyone contributes. SOI offered numerous updates on their expedition, sharing locations visited and experiences had in numerous communities across the province. As part of their third update, published on their website, soifoundation.org on Aug. 8, their visit to the Port of Stephenville was highlighted. The Town of Stephenville hosted the presentation portion of the event, which highlighted Project Nujio’qonik, the green hydrogen project by World Energy GH2 that will be located in Stephenville and the Bay St. George area. “Participants asked company and town representatives everything from the environmental to the social impacts of the proposed project. As we considered sustainability, we also discussed the impact large projects might have on rural communities in need of an economic boost,” said SOI in an excerpt from their expedition update. World Energy GH2 was proud to be a part of this educational journey. “A group from Students on Ice visited the Port of Stephenville on Saturday, August 4. Students on Ice takes youth participants on educational ocean journeys, and this particular voyage was taking place on Miawpukek Horizon Maritime’s Polar Prince. World Energy GH2 was pleased to host a group of 44 people from Students on Ice as they visited the Port of Stephenville for the following program:

  1. Tour of the Port of Stephenville. 9 – 9:30 a.m. Port of Stephenville

  2. Presentation regarding Project Nujio’qonik. 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Stephenville Town Office, 125 Carolina Ave. • Lunch. 11:45 a.m. – 1 p.m. Hartery’s Restaurant, 109 Main St.

  3. Tour of the Polar Prince. 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. Port of Stephenville “Approximately 60 people participated in the visit, including:

  4. 44 people onboard from Students on Ice

  5. World Energy GH2 team members

  6. Horizon Maritime Services team members

  7. Miawpukek Horizon Maritime team members

  8. Chief Mi’sel Joe, Miawpukek First Nation

  9. Mayor and councillors from the Town of Stephenville” World Energy GH2 considered the experience a positive one. “We would be happy to host Students on Ice in the future. All of the feedback from the day has been very positive, and the hosting group was especially impressed with the students.” Mayor Tom Rose was equally as impressed with the students. “It’s an intriguing program, referred to as the Blue Economy, and we had the privilege of a group of university students, primarily involved in environmental science, I presume, and they had their mentors’ leaders and coaches with them,” said Rose. “The Blue Economy is about the ability of water that’s on the planet that encompasses all of our oceans, seas, lakes and rivers. If we look at our planet, I think about three quarters of our planet is underwater, and there’s a rich protein source in our oceans and rivers and lakes that sustain human life. So the blue economy is about the economic impact and the sustainability on the human race, and these university students get to play a role and learn about it, and maybe some of them, as they complete their studies, they could be people involved with developing and framing out policy. That’s going to be very beneficial from a stewardship perspective on protecting these sensitive ecosystems.” Rose also felt the event was memorable. “It was really interesting. The Polar Prince actually sailed into the Port of Stephenville, which is owned by World Energy GH2 and Horizon Maritime, and it was the first time their ship actually pulled into their very own port, so it was a significant milestone, and it was an epic day for the Port of Stephenville, for the company, and for the crew of the Polar Prince,” said Rose. “Actually, that Polar Prince was built in 1959. It is an icebreaker, and actually, Canada was the first country in the world to build icebreakers.” Rose sees this expedition as an important first, and would welcome a chance to do it again. “These students get a chance to spend time in the Arctic, and as you well know, explorers of the past cut their eye teeth or lost their lives in the Arctic, and it’s expeditions like the Franklin Expedition, which is notorious in the history books, but it’s people that endeavoured to take on the challenge of the high north and the high Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean, people like the Munson and Davis and signature names that these areas of the world were named after,” said Rose. “So it’s pretty important and why it’s so important is, if you do some research too, and you look at these gyros they refer to in the Pacific Ocean where there’s no food source there because it’s polluted with plastics, and there’s these major gyros that are the size of some U.S. states that has habitat left and that’s like, even in the Gulf of Mexico, there have been so many fertilizers over time and pollutants in the Mississippi River that there’s a part in the Gulf of Mexico that has no sustainability of life because of the pollutants. So when they came to Stephenville, it was great because they ended up being hosted in our town council chambers. They had a presentation from World Energy GH2 about the green initiative and plan to produce hydrogen in Stephenville that’s going to supply energy to the world to lessen the carbon footprint. So it was a really good day and I was very happy to host them.”

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