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In the spring of 2007 the Canadian Forces and the Canadian Rangers, the regiment responsible for providing a military presence in isolated communities, set out on a treacherous journey across jagged sea ice and over steep and hostile terrain. Their mission was to travel over two thousand kilometres by snowmobile from Resolute to the Canadian Forces Station Alert, and plant a Canadian flag en-route at Ward Hunt Island. Author, photographer and filmmaker Dianne Whelan is the first woman to accompany the Rangers on this never before patrolled route of the north-western coast of Ellesmere Island. Walking in the path of the historic giants of exploration, they were the first to reach this destination in the High Arctic since American explorer Robert E Peary's famous voyage in 1906. Operation Nunalivut (the Inuktitut word for "land that is ours") pushes Whelan to her physical and emotional limits. There are some chilling moments, such as when her snowmobile catches fire or later when she plunges into a twenty-foot crack in the ice, but Whelan boldly faces conditions only few can imagine and makes history as the first woman to successfully complete the gruelling trip.
In "This Vanishing Land" Whelan shares her personal journey and explores the tumultuous political history and global significance of the Canadian High Arctic.
Dianne Whelan is an award-winning Canadian photographer. She has studied journalism and documentary filmmaking and has a degree in political theory from McGill University. Whelan is currently working on a documentary film with the NFB about her experiences on the sovereignty patrol in the Canadian High Arctic with the Canadian Rangers. The film, This Land, will be released in fall, 2009. Dianne Whelan lives in Garden Bay, BC Canada.