There is a big difference
between sailing around the world on a sailboat or by ship.We did the later three times on ocean liners.
Not as paying passengers, but as guest artist, teacher and lecturer. It was the time-honoured barter system. In
exchange for our contribution, we were given ‘cabin and food’. In the process
we experienced cultures and traditions from dozens of ports of call, besides
the clean ocean air, sea life including albatross and shearwater, and free
On the other hand, Jeanne
Socrates, a 70-year young widow and grandmother, sailed solo around the world non-stop, arriving here at our doorstep in
Victoria BC at 03h00 Monday morning and setting a new world record.
It was her
third effort, two previous voyages failed due to various circumstances.
she’s be returning very early yesterday at the beautiful Inner Harbour.Her 38 ft. Sloop “Nereida” sailed in the dark
past the Ogden Point breakwater, a 5 minute walk from our abode, at 02h20. There
was a crowd of well-wishers at the Inner Harbour in front of the iconic Fairmont
Empress Hotel - including us at that
hour. Jeanne Socrates is a retired mathematician.
The 70-year old woman lives in London,
UK.Now a widow, she and her husband learned
to sail twenty years ago.Her husband
died of cancer. This motivated Jeanne to circumnavigate the globe solo, to
raise funds for the Marie Curie Cancer Care centre that provides free home nursing
for terminally ill cancer patients.Her extraordinary, non-stop journey over 289
days covered more than 40,000 km (21,600 nautical miles).
Later that morning: Jeanne Socrates at Victoria Inner Harbour. Photo Darren Stone, Times Colonist.
is what I call a true circumnavigation of the globe – ‘the crown jewel’ of travel.
Science doesn’t always
have it right. Often we hear ‘scientists
are baffled’ about something or other, ‘fish quota misjudged’, and ‘scientists perplexed
by new findings’. Sometimes science does
get it right, such as with climate change and the latest DNA research. The latter is what this post is about. “Breakthrough DNA study links British Columbia
woman with 5,500-year old ancestor.’”
Members of the Tsimshian-speaking Metlakatla First Nation, near Prince Rupert, who worked with anthropologists doing DNA research. Photo courtesy of
Metlakatla Treaty Office.
Anthropologists from the US and Canada have traced a direct DNA
link between the 5,500-year-old remains of an aboriginal woman (plus a second
set of ancient female bones from a nearby 2,500-year-old site) and a living Tsimshian woman from the
Metlakatla First Nation, located near Prince Rupert. She has the same DNA as her 5,500-year old
ancestor over two hundred generations in the past.
Anthropologist Ripan Malhi of the University of
Illinois and colleagues looked at mitochondrial
DNA, which helps direct how the cellular powerhouses called mitochondria
generate energy in the body. We learned that mitochondrial DNA passes along only through the mother and that the Tsimshian-speaking
Metlakatla people of this study have a matrilineal culture so an even clearer
picture was created over the generations. Of course their oral traditions speak
of being here in the region since untold time, but this new research proves ties
to five millennia ago.
Flying Frog Headpiece, Tsimshian
Not that this is something new to us, we know
the First Nations people were here first, otherwise we wouldn’t call them
First. (Incredibly from time to time we
come across indifference, ignorance or ill will about who were the original
inhabitants.) This groundbreaking study only goes to emphasize the difference
between the time of Europeans and First Nations’ being here. Europeans only
arrived in BC around the mid-1700’s. A
great contrast, “a whale to a sardine”. (We
live in an apartment in a house built in 1887 and the locals consider this to
be ancient.) "Having a DNA link showing direct maternal ancestry dating back at
least 5,000 years is huge as far as helping the Metlakatla prove that this
territory was theirs over the millennia," said Barbara Petzelt, liaison
to the Tsimshian-speaking Metlakatla community (and co-author of the study).
Tsimshian shamanic charm
curious, there is nothing about this discovery in the major paper here on
Vancouver Island, you’d think it would be on the front page, someone who lives
nearby just up the coast near Prince Rupert: a First Nations woman, who has the exact same
DNA as found in a her 5,500-year old ancestor ‘grandmother’ – all thanks to
scientific advances in DNA study. Now that