Journey of a Lifetime: Homeward Bound to Antarctica 2016

(2016-12-01) Nearly two years ago, on a cold and snowy January morning, I stood on the balcony of my condo in downtown Ottawa, Canada, making a two-minute video. Why? I was making an impassioned “balcony pitch” setting out the reasons I wanted to be a participant in the inaugural round of Homeward Bound, a 10-year groundbreaking leadership, strategic and science initiative for women, set against the backdrop of Antarctica. So, why was I, a woman with two graduate degrees and many years of great work experience, braving the snow and cold to make this video? My reasons were, and are, both professional and personal, grounded in the desire to help make a better, more just, more equitable world for all.

I was just starting a new position as the head of Global Forest Watch Canada, an environmental group I had helped found 15 years before. I felt ready to take on the challenge of evolving the organization to address changing technologies and new areas of potential work. However, I was also disheartened at the then Canadian government’s muzzling of scientists and attitude towards action to address climate change. I felt a need to increase my skill set, and my network, to ensure I would be at the top of my game to be able to help find a sustainable future for ourselves and the planet we call home.

Science tells us that humans are contributing to climate change. We are witnessing its impacts already in many parts of the world. The future and all its unknowns – especially when it seems bleak and out of our control - can seem frightening. Our instinct may be to take flight or to fight what we don’t want to acknowledge. But facing the unknown is something we each do every day of our lives. The choice we have is how we face those unknowns and those challenges.

From a young age, I have felt how connected I am to nature, to the world around me, to both the people and animals who inhabit it. I grew up running and playing in the woods on a small family farm near Ottawa. I have benefited from being born in a certain age and place that let me take off and soar from that locale, travelling and studying abroad, but always connected back to the woods I loved so much as a child. I feel that I have a responsibility to contribute back to society and to the world that is my home.

We must hope for a better future and each do what we can to help achieve a better future, to help us shift the direction in which we are travelling. But it is equally true that none of us can achieve that needed change on our own. We need networks and collaborators who can help inspire us to achieve our best, to go further than we thought possible. As Homeward Bound has gained momentum and as I have engaged in some of the leadership diagnostics, I have felt amazed, anxious, awed, and grateful for being part of this initiative.

As I read Fabian Dattner’s post of November 28 (see and how her dream has become I reality, my awe is renewed. I have already benefited from leadership diagnostics this past year, and can only imagine what is in store for us over the next three weeks. Follow us on the Homeward Bound journey and share in our learnings. Better yet: join us in your own way to help transform our societies. Let’s all be brave adventurers on this journey we call life, on this planet we call home.

I will post when I can. Otherwise, stay tuned for more upon my return.


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