Spotlight: Arctic Journey at TELUS World of Science

Photo courtesy Tamara Aschenbrenner

Follow the caribou tracks from the lobby to this important glimpse of the Arctic, now the biggest permanent gallery ever installed at the TELUS World of Science and one that brings together First Nations, Métis, and Inuit cultures.

The new Arctic Journey explores the Canadian Arctic through the eyes of both Traditional Knowledge and modern science. “Knowledge is contextual. Knowledge is what you need to know,” explains Alan Nursall, the science centre’s president and CEO. “And if you want to live and survive and thrive in the far North, you need to pay attention to the knowledge of the Inuit.”

Photo courtesy Tamara Aschenbrenner

Elder Piita Irniq, a cultural teacher and artist who served as Nunavut’s second commissioner once it was established as a territory, created the central piece of the exhibit, around which the rest of the gallery was eventually constructed. For more than 40 years, Elder Irniq has been building inuksuit (man-made stone landmarks) in the Arctic, as well as travelling throughout Canada and around the world to share Inuit culture.

The inukshuk (plural form is inuksuit) built at TWOSE is specifically a niungvaliruluk, a window- shaped inukshuk that features a space to look through, used in the Arctic to direct travellers to points of interest. Here, you are pointed towards a display to learn about the significance of seal hunting.

“The land is cold… It can be cruel. The land is also home. It sustains life… It nourishes our culture. We are part of it as it is part of us.” The full quote by Elder Amagoalik from Nunavut is one of the first you see when entering the gallery, setting the tone for what you can learn. Quotes from other Elders are included around the room, and one display features recorded personal stories you can listen to.

More features include videos of Inuit drumming, dancing, and throat singing, as well as a simulated dog-sled experience. Of course, environmental science and global changes are also addressed, including how climate change impacts not only animals like the polar bear and Arctic fox, but specifically Inuit traditions. “Climate change is a huge issue,” Alan emphasizes. “But the effects of climate change are concentrated in the North.”

After visiting this important new exhibit, make sure to also visit the Indigenous Traditional Room. A respectful area featuring local Indigenous artworks and ceremonial items, it offers opportunities for Indigenous and non-Indigenous guests to ask questions about Indigenous Cultures and ceremonies, and learn from on-site Elder Gilman Cardinal, guest Elders, and Traditional Teachers.

More from the Aurora Project!

The multi-year, $41-million project has brought several exciting additions to the science centre. Here are a few highlights.

Zeidler Dome: In 2018, TWOSE became home to the world’s highest resolution dome theatre. The Zeidler has state-of-the-art 10K resolution capabilities. Images are displayed from 10 projectors onto 350 individual panels made up of 78 million pixels that blend to create seamless images.

Nature Exchange: The Nature Exchange gallery features three areas for kids to explore and analyze natural artifacts. Members can visit the Trading Centre with their discoveries, trading newfound knowledge about leaves, rocks, animals, and other natural finds for points they can redeem for various cool prizes in the Nature Exchange shop. Each available specimen was found in Alberta, with choices like a small meteorite, seashell, or amethyst stone.

Health Zone: The revamped exhibit opened in the Allard Family Gallery earlier in 2022. Through various activities and experiments, you can test your flexibility and leg power, and then see your veins, zoom up close to your skin, or hear your heartbeat. There is even a lab space where guests can channel their inner scientist and do a DNA extraction!


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