Prospecting in Nunavut


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Over the Labour Day long weekend, I tried my hand at prospecting in Nunavut. My friend, Lou, had taken the Nunavut Prospectors Program offered by the Department of Economic Development and Transportation, and invited me to be part of his Prospecta Incognita exploration team. He must have known I have an affinity for rocks. He could not have known I have spent hours of my life memorizing minerals in my undergraduate Earth and Ocean Sciences class. For both of those reasons, I was clearly in. Lou had taken the Introduction to Prospecting Course, which is available to any Nunavummiut who is interested in learning the basic skills needed to explore for minerals. The course is delivered by Government of Nunavut geologists in different communities on a rotating basis. Once you’ve taken the course, you too can apply for program funding and receive up to $8,000 per year to help pay for wages, materials, and supplies when looking for minerals.

So on a misty morning in Iqaluit, our fearless team of five set out on a grand adventure about 100 kilometers down Frobisher Bay. Over the following days, we explored parts of Nunavut that few people ever get the chance to visit. We climbed epic mountains and gathered various samples. We forged new friendships and fostered old ones. We had an incredible time doing so.

Here's how you can do it, too:

1) Get informed (by taking the Prospecting Course) and funded (through the Prospectors Program)

Lou, Prospecting Course Graduate, Prospectors Program Awardee, and Prospecta Incognita Lead.

Lou, Prospecting Course Graduate, Prospectors Program Awardee, and Prospecta Incognita Lead.

2) Find good friends (with a sense of adventure)

John, Field Assistant and Bear Patrol.

John, Field Assistant and Bear Patrol.

Sara (me), Field Assistant and Photographer.

Sara (me), Field Assistant and Photographer.

3) Find new friends (with a boat)

Tak, Co-Captain.

Tak, Co-Captain.

Jamessee, Co-Captain.

Jamessee, Co-Captain.

4) Pick a location

Navigating our way down Frobisher Bay.
Navigating our way down Frobisher Bay.

5) Collect rocks!

Put 'em in your pockets, put 'em in your socks...

Put 'em in your pockets, put 'em in your socks...

6) Keep track of your rocks

Requisite field gear.

Requisite field gear.

7) Sort your rocks for the science-y stuff that takes place elsewhere

There could be worse places to work, no?

There could be worse places to work, no?

While prospecting was a great experience in and of itself, it also gave us the ability to take advantage of many other activities that Nunavut has to offer. If you don’t believe me, check out some more photos from my trip.

Boating

Approaching our first field site.

Approaching our first field site.

Getting dropped off at our second field site.

Getting dropped off at our second field site.

Enjoying the bluebird skies and flat-calm water.

Enjoying the bluebird skies and flat-calm water.

Camping

Home sweet home.

Home sweet home.

Tak and Jamessee's camp, living in luxury after the sun had set...

Tak and Jamessee's camp, living in luxury after the sun had set...

... And then there was our camp. We struggled.

... And then there was our camp. We struggled.

Hiking

Crisp fresh air and vibrant fall colours.

Crisp fresh air and vibrant fall colours.

Camp Prospecta Incognita, dwarfed by Nunavut's massive landscape.

Camp Prospecta Incognita, dwarfed by Nunavut's massive landscape.

Shed caribou antlers along the riverbank.

Shed caribou antlers along the riverbank.

Berry Picking

Not a bad berry picking view, if I do say so myself.

Not a bad berry picking view, if I do say so myself.

With Iqaluit so far away, these berries were all ours for the taking.

With Iqaluit so far away, these berries were all ours for the taking.

Hunting

Tak's bullet skips along the water. The seal got away.

Tak's bullet skips along the water. The seal got away.

After many hours of hunting, Tak and Jamessee's honed skills eventually paid off.

After many hours of hunting, Tak and Jamessee's honed skills eventually paid off.

Our two hour boat ride back to town took twice as long as planned, but it was worth it.

Our two hour boat ride back to town took twice as long as planned, but it was worth it.

Memory Making

My trip involved all of this and more; it was definitely a highlight of my life in Nunavut.

My trip involved all of this and more; it was definitely a highlight of my life in Nunavut.

So if you’re a shameless geology nerd like me, keep an eye out for the Prospecting Course being offered in your community. Or, to learn more about prospecting in Nunavut, call 1-888-975-5999 or email edt@gov.nu.ca.