eXXpedition Office Manager and North Pacific crew member Soraya Abdel-Hadi introduces fellow crew member, PhD candidate and bursary recipient Bimadoshka Pucan…
“Bimadoshka is a strong, inspiring woman, who despite being told at school that she couldn’t achieve her dreams has proven that if you work hard enough you can do whatever you want. When a force like that joined us on eXXpedition North Pacific, she changed the perspective of those on board. A fascinating person with many assets, PhD candidate Bimadoshka recently tracked down recordings made with medicine men from indigenous communities in Canada and brought them back to the elders in her community in Ontario and others. She liberated them from the museum archives where they had been kept after reading an obscure reference to them in a book. I think that gives us insight into her diligence and drive.
Bimadoshka shared with us the experience of being an indigenous person of Canada, the laws that have shaped how different racial groups are treated and the services they have access to, as well as the challenges of fighting for a safer and cleaner environment in a community with a huge influx of tourists each year, financial concerns and land ownership disputes. To most of us on board, the details she shared were moving and eye opening.
Many of the solutions that would work within our neighbourhoods would not be straightforward to introduce in Bimadoshka’s community. It made us review what is reasonable when campaigning for change, and the importance of understanding and inclusiveness at the consultation stage. How can you ban plastic bottles in a society that does not have access to clean water in their homes? What are the options for engaging indigenous communities in environmental action when they have limited financial resources to spare to purchase more expensive ‘environmentally-friendly’ alternatives? How can environmental campaigning be encouraged in a society where those who pollute the most are the ones who bring in the most income to the area (ranging from mining companies to tourism)? These were just some of the ‘big’ questions we began to discuss.
An important participant in daily life on board, Bimadoshka was a valuable member of the team and pushed through, even when worried about her sons and suffering sea sickness early in the week. This soon settled and she began to show her more independent side – teaching us all something about spending less time on our phones and more time with ourselves in reflection. At our talk in Victoria about the experience, she did us and her community proud, bringing the house down with her passionate words about safeguarding the environment for generations to come.
I’m excited to see what Bimadoshka does next and how she decides to engage her community in the issues surrounding safe water and plastic pollution, as I know once she sets her course in a particular direction, there is no doubt that there will be change coming!”