LIVE – David Saint-Jacques speaks to the Umiujaq neighborhood

published on July 3, 2020

Hello everyone and welcome to Kiluutaq

Welcome everyone live from Kiluutaq

(Indigenous language)

My name is Mathew Bryan and I am the principal of Kiluutaq School

Today is a very special day

This is not only our last day of school, it is a chance to talk to a special guest

The Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques

has been aboard the international space station for the last six months

and he will join us live here at Kiluutaq School from the space station

(Indigenous language)

I think everyone is very much looking forward to this special moment

I would like to invite Sarah Tookalook to come up and open us up in prayer

(Indigenous language)

(Indigenous language)

Now, a number of you, several are up to date with David Saint-Jacques’ mission

We’re going to watch a short video, about two minutes,

about what he does on the space station

In a few moments we’ll watch a video to see what David Saint-Jacques

has been doing on the space station

(Indigenous language)

On December 3, 2018, David Saint-Jacques’ dream came true

He flew to the International Space Station for a space mission that would last over six months

The days leading up to David’s departure were exciting and emotional

They included qualification exams, traditional ceremonies and press conferences

When astronauts are quarantined before their departure,

their dream becomes more and more real

The December 3 launch was a success

David’s journey to the space station took six hours

He is now orbiting 400 kilometres above Earth

Once they are on board, the astronauts have a very schedule

From conducting science experiments to maintaining the space station,

exercising every day and talking to young Canadians all across the country,

David has to do a multitude of tasks to ensure the success of his mission

David’s view from the windows is breathtaking

To share it with as many people as possible,

he takes photos so that you can also see the most beautiful thing in the vacuum of space:

our planet, Earth


Very inspiring!

Now it’s my great pleasure to introduce Véronique Morin

She is David Saint-Jacques’ wife

She’s also worked in Nunavik

So Véronique

Dr Morin is currently a medical consultant for the department of infectious diseases

at the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services

She began her career as a family doctor in Nunavik

and still sometimes replaces people at clinics in the region

So, thank you, Véronique Morin

(Indigenous language)

(Indigenous language)

Thank you Thank you for having us

So our love story with Nunavik started a long time ago, 12 years ago

And we were lucky to bring our little ones here and share our love of Nunavik with our children

David and I both met when we were in high school

and we had that dream of discovering the north

Yeah, so David finished med school in 2007 and took a job in Puvirnituq

And Umiujaq was the little community that he visited

I finished med school in 2009 and flew up to Puvirni (ph)

and I worked there for five years as a clinician and then moved to Inukshuak (ph)

and now I work for the health board based in Kushuak (ph) and also from south

And we are very proud of sharing that piece of our life

So that’s David in Puvirni (ph) with the interpreters

David was sitting in the space station’s cupola two weeks ago

when the station was passing over Nunavik,

and David saw Lac Guillaume-Delisle through the cupola

He said to me, “Oh, I miss the North

I remember when I used to go running on the cliffs, at the entrance of the park”

And he said that it was one of the most beautiful places he had seen in the world

I think that once you’ve lived in the north, the north lives within you,

and David likes to say that there’s a piece of the tundra with him on the board space station



Some of this peace and the beauty that’s unique to the north

We’re so excited to be here today Both of us

So, as we heard earlier, David took off on December 3 in a Soyuz rocket

That’s us, saying goodbye to him

Watching a Soyuz rocket take off is quite impressive

First, you feel the earth trembling

The light is very white

The rocket takes off

It’s quite a humbling experience to see a rocket, a Soyuz rocket, lift

There’s a lot of energy And you can’t stop thinking about all the man power

and the brain power that goes into it and then eight minutes after you’re in orbit

And you see a little bright dot in the sky

You get closer and closer

And then suddenly you realize, the little bright dot is a house

It’s like our outpost, our camp in space, the International Space Station

So David has been living in this house now or in this camp

It probably feels more like a camp for six months now with five other crew members

from all over the world

So why do we have a space station?

So we have a space station because humans like to explore

We’re explorers and we always want to push the boundaries further

So to do this, we need to learn to live in space,

and that’s probably the main purpose of the space station

But we also use it as a lab where people do experiments to see what effects the space has

on our bodies, but also to study some diseases that are really unique

and some effects that space has on our body is the same as some disease processes

Personally, I am very interested in this because my clinic in Kiluutaq (ph)

is like the space station

I’m isolated, I’m all alone There are no specialists in my clinic

I don’t have all the technology in my clinic in Inukshuak (ph) that they have down south,

so in some sense my clinic feels a bit like the space station

And I’m really interested to have on Earth some of the things that David is working with

on the space station

This is a Canadian-made shirt that they’re testing whether they can send all of David’s

vital signs directly on Earth

They also have things to do blood tests on the space station,

all things that eventually we will be able to use in our communities

And sometimes the space station is a little bit like Umiujaq

There’s no doctor at all, eh?

So here are some of the highlights of David’s mission

David walked in space, he did a spacewalk

That was really exciting

He’s in a space suit ready to go

That’s him playing outside, so he got to play outside once in his trip

You need a big suit

It’s like up north, you know? You need to be covered all the way

That’s David using Canadarm

So you see Canadarm there, which is our legacy to the space station,

to catch a cargo vehicle

But what David likes the most is to just sit and watch the Earth

The planet is beautiful

From up there we can see that we’re all human beings,

all sharing this big spaceship called planet Earth

He really enjoys his time up there

Yeah So who of you are explorers?

Who’s been out on the land to explore the land?


Who has a remote camp?

Who has a shack on the land or a camp?

Who likes to camp here?

Yeah, eh?

You’ve got the explorer feeling

Station, this is Véronique Morin in Umiujaq, Nunavik How do you hear me?

Véro, I have you loud and clear

(Indigenous language)


So there’s big cheers here

I’m at Kiluutaq School in Umiujaq

and we’ll go right ahead with the questions because we have students eager to talk to you

Where are you in the Space Station?

So here on the space station

this is a laboratory in orbit

We do a lot of research, a lot of research on medicine and on health care

For me, it was very important to come here

You know, I was a doctor in Nunavik, in Numiak (ph), and in Puvirnituq

and in other places in Nunavik, and I know that sometimes it’s difficult to get health care

When you’re far away from the big cities, it’s difficult to get medicine

Here in space it’s the same problem

We’re far away from the big centres, far away from the big hospitals,

so we develop a lot of medicine and health care technologies

to help what we call remote care medicine

So anything we invent for the astronauts to take care of themselves

while they’re far away we can apply on the ground for people who live in the villages

that are far away from big cities,

so that’s a lot of our research is on the human body and medical technologies


How do you use the toilet?

Very important question Very important question

So imagine here on the ground this is how you use the toilet, right?

The gravity takes your pee down and then you pee in water

and water catches your pee and then you flush the water

In space we have no gravity to take the pee down

and we cannot waste water like that,

so we use a fan Imagine it’s a little bit like peeing inside the tube of a vacuum cleaner

And then our pee goes into a machine,

and you know what that machine does?

That machine cleans our pee and it recycles it, it cleans it,

and it turns it into drinking water and the next day we drink

that water that was recycled from our pee

And that’s a little bit like what Earth does for us

You know, on Earth there’s never any new water It’s all old water

Old air that Mother Earth and nature recycles for us all the time

Here in space we have to use a machine because we don’t have the trees and the oceans

like we have on Earth, but it’s the same idea: recycle everything


Hello How many Canadian astronauts are there and, if possible, their names?

At this time, there are four active astronauts

There’s me, David Saint-Jacques

There’s Jeremy Hansen, who was hired at the same time as me

There’s Joshua Kutryk and there’s Jenny Sidey,

who were hired a few years ago and have almost completed their training

But there are others, too

Eight others since the start of the Canadian space program

So there are 12 astronauts in total

The first was Marc Garneau, who now works for the government

There Steve Maclean There was David Williams, Julie Payette, Bob Thirsk

There was… I don’t want to forget anyone Bjarni Tryggvason Dr Roberta Bondar

So 12 people in all since the start of the Canadian space program

And Dr Steve Maclean, of course


How do you eat or drink?

Aha! So this is interesting So first, how do we drink?

That’s the most important We cannot drink out of a glass, right?

Because the water would fall,

so we drink a little bit like a baby

We drink out of a bag with a straw

So here is a bag of water, with a straw

And I can drink out of a bag like this

Sometimes I can even play a little bit with the water like that

So drinking is quite easy with a straw, but you don’t want to make a mess

As for eating, it’s a bit more complicated

We don’t have a fridge and we have to keep food for a long time,

so, of course, we can eat food in a can like this

You know these cans, like you can buy at the co-op

But we have special food for space It’s dehydrated food

It’s food from which all the water was removed

and it comes in little packets like this with all the air come out

and we add hot water and within a minute it becomes normal food again

This is a very special one because this is food prepared by my wife, by Véronique,

who’s there with you, and it was sent my NASA to space for me

to have some special family meals from time to time


Can you see Nunavik?

Yes, I can see Nunavik from here, through the window

It’s very easy for me to recognize Hudson’s Bay,

Lac Guillaume-Delisle, one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen

We can see very well from space

You can see all the way to the north

We can see all the way to (inaudible) when it’s nice out We can see Ungava Bay, too

So it’s very easy to see all of Nunavik through the window here in space

Did my grandfather Daniel Humaluk (ph) make the ring you are wearing?

Yes Actually, this ring was made by Daniel Humaluk (ph), yeah

And you know what? If you ask Dr Véronique Morin who’s with you, my wife,

she has a very similar ring because this is the ring we used to get engaged

and then to get married, so we have a little bit of Umiujaq with us throughout our life

I have other things from Nunavik in space here with me

I wear this seal skin wristband with me very often

And also let me get it

For good luck I have a little pair of mini (Indigenous language)

that I have with me in the space station

So I brought a few souvenirs of my life in the Arctic with me up in space

There’s a lot of cheering here, David

Is the internet faster in space?

The internet?

No I mean it’s not very fast in space

Maybe it’s like it is if you use a Tamaani

You remember the Tamaani we had? I don’t know if you still have Tamaani in Nunavik

for internet It was similar to that Not super fast, but OK

How many people are there with you?

How many people live with you?

Here in space? Yes

There’s six people in the space station right now

There’s myself, our commander is a Russian, Oleg

The two of us we flew with an American lady

She’s called Anne McClain

And there are three more people who joined us about two months ago:

my good friend Nick, and Christina, both Americans, and Alexei,

another Russian cosmonaut, so six people from different countries

Go ahead Read your question

When you were a kid, did you want to be an astronaut?

Oh yes Yes, I wanted to be an astronaut when I was, when I was about six

Six or seven years old

And I saw photos of Earth, seen from space

When I saw the whole Earth, as seen from space, it really impressed me,

and I decided that I wanted to be an explorer, that I wanted to be a scientist,

that I wanted to understand everything around me

And I didn’t think it was possible to be an astronaut

But for me it was like a dream

It was like a dream, and it gave me the courage to do sports,

to continue studying and to learn languages, to travel

It guided me It was an impossible dream for me, maybe,

to want to understand everything, but I told myself that I would try to become an explorer,

to try to understand as much of the world around me as possible

That’s how I got the idea that I wanted to be an astronaut

How much physical exercise do you need in order to stay healthy on board the ISS?

Well, we do about two hours every day

One hour maybe one a bicycle or on a treadmill to run to get your heart and your lungs strong

and then one hour on a special machine to take care of all the other muscles of your body:

your legs, your arms, your back

We don’t use weights, of course, because in space there’s no weight,

everything weighs nothing, so we use pistons,

the resistance of pistons, and that way we can actually stay pretty strong

And when astronauts come back to Earth, they still have a problem that they don’t

have a good sense of balance for several days, but at least their strength is there

Can you see airplanes flying?

Yes, we can see airplanes, but we need to use binoculars

With good binoculars or with a camera with a very, very big lens, we can see airplanes

And how do we find them? You know the white lines in the sky behind airplanes?

We can see them from space

We see the airplane’s white line and then, we go to the end of the line and then we can see it

From here, seen from here, they look tiny, because we are up really, really high

We are 400 kilometres above Earth

Airplanes usually fly about 10 kilometres above Earth

Why can’t we breathe in space?

Yeah, we can’t breathe in space because there is no air

Here, I’m inside the spacecraft

Inside the spacecraft, we have normal air

We keep air with oxygen, remove the carbon dioxide and we can breathe normally

But outside the space station is space and space means there is nothing

Not even air Nothing at all

So the sky is black It doesn’t have any air to make it blue

So, even during the day, the sky is black

Even when I see the sun, the sky around it is black

That’s why we can’t breathe because there’s no air at all

There’s nothing in space

Is the space station big?

Yes, pretty big So, you see here, I’m in the end of a module

The Japanese module

The size of the station

Imagine it’s as big as, if we were to compare it to the nursing station in Umiujaq (ph)

It’s about three times the size of the Umiujaq (ph) nursing station

About that big Inside Outside, it’s bigger, because there are giant solar panels

It’s an electric space station

So, we have enormous solar panels

So, that’s as big as several school gyms, the outside of the station

But the part that we live in, it’s about three or four times as big as the nursing station

Can you see the northern lights in the ISS?

Yes, we can see the northern lights

They’re just as beautiful as seen from Umiujaq

But you know what?

They are below us

We are flying over the northern lights

Sometimes we’re flying through the northern lights

It’s really amazing when you do that

To have all these colours, green and red

They’re like dancing over the Earth They look a little bit like waves,

green waves, dancing on the surface of the atmosphere

It’s one of the most beautiful things you can see in space


Do you like floating or walking?

Me, I like to walk, but coming to space

I had to learn to fly

Initially in the beginning it was very difficult because whenever I was trying to move

I would always hit my head somewhere or with my arm I would hit something because

I could not fly straight I was like a baby bird trying to learn to fly

But now I’ve learned to fly and I’m actually pretty good now

that I can do little tricks like this

It’s quite a lot of fun to be flying all day long

Thank you, David

(Indigenous language)


(Indigenous language)


We still, we still have a few minutes

We have three minutes left with you

Is there some thoughts that you would like to share?

Oh, OK

We have a question

I wrote some Inuit

Yeah, maybe one

Yeah I would just like to say please do encourage students that they can become

anything that they want to become

Look, you have come so far and have made it how you have made it

That’s so far from Quebec

Thank you very much for this opportunity to talk to you

through amazing technology and thank you

(Indigenous language)


Thank you very much You’re right

Every child in their head have some dreams and these dreams are the most precious things

humanity have

The dreams in the heads of children,

that’s where our future is

We have found one last question here

How do you keep yourself clean?

Aha! Yes Well, you know, you cannot take a shower here,

because if you take a shower, the water would go everywhere: in the computers,

into the machines It would make a big mess

So, we wash ourselves a little bit like you wash a baby

So we have towels, like this Just a regular towel

I put some hot water on it, and then I would wash one arm like that,

and then wash another arm, and then wash my face, wash my body,

piece by piece like you wash a little baby

And then you can dry yourself with another towel

So it’s very easy to keep yourself very, very clean

(Indigenous language)

David, we’re going to lose you in a minute

It’s been good seeing you and we’ll see you soon back on Earth

Good seeing you

This is Houston ACR That concludes the event

Thank you Canadian Space Agency and participants

Station, we are now resuming operational audio communications

All right Wow! Wasn’t that amazing?

So, I’d like to thank the CSA team, Véronique and all the students that asked questions

It was just such a pleasure to have a chance to talk to David Saint-Jacques,

someone that we know and that has been to Kiluutaq

It’s just wonderful to hear from him And that Kiluutaq still has a fond place in his heart

So I thank you to everyone that has come out for this event

(Indigenous language)


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