Surviving a Pandemic Year: A Locals’ Look at Churchill
The subarctic hamlet of Churchill, Manitoba—population less than 1,000—on Hudson Bay is known as the Polar Bear Capital of the World. Many residents gain most of their income during the fall polar bear tour season, supplemented with winter northern lights visitors and summer beluga whale watching. But far fewer tourists came this past year, as global travel shut down and Churchill hunkered down to ride out the virus. What has the situation been like for locals, who have hung on through a long ordeal and are devising new ways to welcome visitors while keeping them and the community safe? Get a first-person account from two Nat Hab Expedition Leaders—Eleanor Edye and Judy Wilson—who are also involved with the Churchill Northern Studies Center, Edye as executive director and Wilson as a board member. Even though Churchill saw fewer visitors in 2020, it was still a busy year for small-scale ecotourism and wildlife researchers in the Canadian North. Our guides will fill you in on what the past summer and fall held, highlighting current research projects, and how tour operators are adapting to provide a safe and still magical nature travel experience.
Originally presented March 17, 2021
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