A class of students at Jens Haven Memorial School in Nain will soon know if they have triumphed in the “My Parks Pass” contest, led by Parks Canada.
Through online voting, a class entry has made it to the Top 10 in the video contest.
The grand prize is a trip to Banff National Park in Alberta — potentially the trip of a lifetime for students from the province’s northernmost municipality.
The winner is being decided by a panel of judges, scheduled to hold a teleconference today.
As a caller to The Telegram newsroom pointed out Wednesday, winning will mean new challenges for the Nain students, relating to transportation in and out of the remote community.
The prize includes flights to and from Banff plus meals, four days’ transportation, accommodations for three nights and passes to the Banff gondola, a Banff Lake cruise and a Columbia Icefield Glacier adventure.
The estimated value is $51,000.
Yet, according to the contest rules, the flights included with the grand prize are only to and from “a major airport.” For the Jens Haven students, that airport is in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
Booking individually for 16 students and four chaperones (the number of chaperones being selected by The Telegram for cost estimation purposes), flights to and from Happy Valley-Goose Bay would total $17,809.
Officials with Provincial Airlines have said a special group rate would be available to the class. The new total, taxes in: $16,412.
If this cost is covered, there is also a scheduling issue.
The Twin Otter aircraft used on the Labrador coast — including flights in and out of Nain — carry 17 passengers, meaning two flights would be needed to transport a group of 20 students and teachers.
Should the students leave on a Sunday, there is only one flight scheduled out of Nain that day. Provincial Airlines offered to contact their partners at Innu Mikun Airlines, the flight operators, to have a second flight added as required.
Other departure dates have similar obstacles requiring consideration in regards to scheduling and logistics.
Another option for student travel would be the ferry service. Unfortunately, the coastal service with CAI Nunatsiavut Marine does not begin until June or July — as ice conditions permit.
The contest trip must be taken from May 28-31, according to contest rules.
Even if the trip could be delayed, the cost of sailing could vary widely, depending on the ages of the students and their chaperones. For example, from Nain to Goose Bay, according to the provincial government website, a “Child (ages 5-12)” rate is $71.30, while a “Student (13 and over)” is $136.50 — almost double the price.
Class teacher Natalie Lushman, was reached by The Telegram, but declined comment on the challenges of travel in Labrador.
The “My Parks Pass” contest was developed by Parks Canada in partnership with Nature Canada and the Historica-Dominion Institute. It was set to run from Sept. 12, 2011 to Jan. 31, 2012, but the discovery of inappropriate voting practices — with online voters finding a way around contest rules — led organizers to start the process from scratch, Parks Canada told The Telegram.
Precautions were taken and new dates were set. Voting was then held from Feb. 14 to March 5, 2012.
The results will be formally announced in early April (it has to first be determined if the grand prize will be accepted by the winning class or if a substitute prize of equivalent value will be arranged and student releases are signed).
The school in Nain, part of the Labrador School District, falls within the land area of the Labrador Inuit and the regional Nunatsiavut Government.
The school’s video entry, created in 2011 by the then-Grade 8 students, is focused on the significance of Torngat Mountains National Park and how students feel the park is representative of the connection between the Labrador Inuit and all Canadians.
The video — a lesson in civic pride, environmental appreciation and aboriginal relations — can be viewed on the contest website http://myparkspass.ca/video-gallery.