Jason Edmunds

Cruising for Inspiration: Jason Edmunds Navigates Expeditions and Education

He left home to study politics, learned to build houses instead and ended up building a career out on the open seas. Jason Edmunds is originally from Northern Labrador and now lives in Mississauga. He works for Adventure Canada, an expedition cruise operator that sails in Greenland, Northern Canada and Europe as well as Antarctica. Additionally, Edmunds provides training on cross-cultural communication and employment readiness for the expedition cruise industry. Through his professional activities, he gets to travel, see new places and learn new things. 

Sailing away into this profession was a sudden change in itinerary for Edmunds when the territorial government decided to train guides with the opening of a national park. He was selected to travel with Adventure Canada and complete guide training. Greenland was the first place he travelled, somewhere he always wanted to go.

Before this opportunity came up, he wasn’t even aware the industry existed. The industry relies on polar bear monitors and staff who can operate zodiacs, something Edmunds learned to do growing up hunting, fishing and working as a polar bear monitor for his dad who was an outfitter. 

As far as his education path went, Edmunds did well in high school and went to Memorial University to study political science. Unfortunately, he wasn’t ready for the move South and wasn’t able to manage culture shock and the academic demands. Carpentry was what he learned next and he worked in construction until he started with Adventure Canada. His current employers accepted his life experiences as equivalent to educational experience when assessing his suitability, luckily. 

After his own experiences, Edmunds suggests those considering moving away from their home communities for work or school to spend some time in their planned new location to get an idea of what to expect. He also suggests learning about culture shock, what it looks like, how it can impact you and how to mitigate it. Being able to recognize it is something he feels would have been helpful so he didn’t just feel inadequate. 

When it comes to obstacles, Edmunds has been fortunate not to have many. In high school, he was on youth council and in sports, providing opportunities for travel. Moving to Mississauga, barriers around access to training and education started to pop up. The training required to join the expedition cruise industry is very difficult to access in isolated communities, making it hard for Inuit to get involved. 

If he could give his younger self advice it would be to take opportunities when they come. “I think there's a natural fear sometimes of putting your name out there, taking those opportunities when they could fail. Especially if you're from some of these smaller, isolated communities to then take those opportunities out or to travel,” he reflects. 

Beyond that, Edmunds is a man of few regrets. “I don't know if there's anything I would like to go back and change. Even the things that were struggles, even the things that I wish I had known are things that helped me now in my career as an educator. Some of that experience of wishing I had known things puts me in a situation where I can inform others,” he confides. 

“Some of that experience of wishing I had known things puts me in a situation where I can inform others.”

When it comes to his downtime, Edmunds confesses he doesn’t take enough of it. He is someone known to be too busy but when he gets the opportunity to get out of town, he likes to go home and go hunting. The cost of travel and raising two kids makes trips home more infrequent than he would like but getting back home is a priority for him, too.  

On a day-to-day basis, Edmunds finds inspiration in Indigenous people doing great work. He’s also inspired by the advancement in education and understanding coming from the hard work of Indigenous people and the social change coming from it, particularly in southern urban centres. 

"With the social change, there's just so many opportunities, I think, that are coming our way, maybe not quickly, but in the next generations as well. I think it's a really exciting time for us to try to find out how to take advantage of those and we have time to do it," he dreams aloud. 

He left home to study politics, learned to build houses instead and ended up building a career out on the open seas. Culture shock derailed Jason Edmunds’ plans but he ended up right where he was meant to be, exploring on the ocean. Inspired by Indigenous excellence and guided by his dreams, he’s charted a path with twists, turns and opportunities.

Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this article.

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