True North Strong and Free

Ashley Tufts | Faculty of Land and Food Systems | UBC

Ashley Tufts

Freezing temperatures, pristine beauty and the deep hush of new snow add up to an idyllic place to grow up, says Ashley Tufts who calls Iqualuit home. Perched on the south coast of Baffin Island at the head of Frobisher Bay, Iqualuit is the capitol of Nunavut and has a population of 6,500 people.

“There are more people on the UBC campus than all of the people in Nunavut combined,” says Tufts, a fifth-year student in the Global Resource Systems (GRS) program.

Tufts’ passion for Canada’s north stood her in good stead in Copenhagen this past December. Selected from applicants across Canada, Tufts co-lead the Arctic team as one of 30 youth delegates at the 15th United Nations Conference on Climate Change.

The issue of Arctic sovereignty is pivotal, says Tufts, in light of the melting ice cap and growing commercial interest in the natural resources and potential shipping lanes.

“The North is one of the few places in the world untouched by development. It would be a serious ecological and political mistake to open the Northwest Passage as a shipping route,” she observes.

Tufts’ advocacy for northern perspectives has also informed the GRS program, which allows students to focus their scientific study on a resource area and a region of the world. She successfully lobbied the Faculty to include a new topic area: the environment in the Circumpolar North.

Iqualuit’s distinct landscape, culture and profound sense of community all compel Tufts to return home.

“People ask me how I deal with all that open space and snow, but I’ve actually found it harder to get used to being around so many trees in Vancouver,” says Tufts

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