The Polar Sea

Ambassador Bruce Heyman speaks at the University of Ottawa screening of The Polar Sea.
Ambassador Bruce Heyman speaks at the University of Ottawa screening of The Polar Sea.

Yesterday the Embassy co-hosted a pair of screenings of The Polar Sea, a documentary offering a panoramic view of the Arctic and its numerous aspects.

The morning screening was presented at the University of Ottawa, alongside the University’s Environment, Society and Policy Group. The event featured a condensed version of the film, and was followed by a lively Q&A session with a panel of experts who discussed the effects of climate change on the Arctic. On hand to answer questions were filmmaker Kevin McMahon, University of Ottawa professors Jackie Dawson and Willow Scobie, as well as two of the feature subjects of McMahon’s 10-part documentary series, Swedish explorer Richard Tegner and American ornithologist George Divoky. Mr Tegner documented his adventures as he sailed the Northwest Passage in a 9.5-metre sailboat, while Dr. Divoky, who has been studying the Black Guillemots of Cooper Island since 1975, is one of the first scientists to provide examples of the biological consequences of climate change. Approximately 75 people attended the event, including members of the diplomatic community, students and academics, environmentalists, and representatives from NGOs.

In the evening, Ambassador Heyman and his wife, Vicki Heyman, welcomed approximately 50 guests from the government, environmental and diplomatic communities to their home for a second screening of the condensed version of the film.

“Despite the beautiful scenery, this film is a sobering up-close view of some of the threats the Arctic is facing,” Ambassador Heyman remarked prior to the University of Ottawa screening. “The Chairmanship of the Arctic Council will transfer in April from Canada to the United States. Canada is our closest partner in the Arctic, and we’ve incorporated the good work of their chairmanship into our own Arctic Council themes. Those themes reflect issues that are important to President Obama, Secretary Kerry, and me: stewardship of the oceans, improving economic opportunity and quality of life for residents in the north and, of course, tackling climate change.”

Ambassador Heyman also invited guests at both screenings to join in and continue the conversation on Twitter, using the hashtag #OurSharedArctic.

Between screenings, Dr. Divoky spoke with the Embassy about his work. This interview can be viewed on YouTube. More information on The Polar Sea can be viewed on its website,, while Ontario viewers can find out more, including viewing times for the entire 10-part series,