The Borealis Paddling Expedition consists of 5 women -- Meg Casey, Nina Emery, Beth Halley, Karen Stanley and Emily Stirr -- who have been fortunate to spend a great deal of their lives with paddles in hand and northern horizons on their agendas. Raised on the wilderness lessons and ethics of Camp Manito-wish YMCA, they have been radically impacted by their combined 65 summers as campers and staff members.

During the summer of 2005, the BPE undertook a three month expedition to the Arctic Ocean designed to initiate scholarship donations for campers of Camp Manito-wish YMCA. The expedition began at Wollaston Lake in Saskatchewan (a traditional starting point for Manito-wish canoe trips) and continued north for approximately 1200 miles via the Fond du Lac, Dubawnt and Back Rivers. In late August, after 95 days on the tundra, the BPE reached Chantrey Inlet on the Arctic Ocean; a few months later they surpassed their fundraising goal of $50,000. The money was used to create the Borealis Campership Endowment, which finances one young person's Manito-wish experience every summer.

Still moved by the energy surrounding the 2005 expedition and unable to stay off those Canadian rivers, the BPE headed north again in 2008. The 2008 expedition began at Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories and traveled to the Arctic Ocean via the Emile, Coppermine and Rae Rivers. The crux of the journey was a 50-mile overland stretch between the Coppermine and the Rae. Although this area was part of the traditional route between the Coppermine River and Great Bear Lake, we found no record of recent travel between the Coppermine and the Rae. Records of travel on the Rae River itself are equally sparse and we were excited to explore and document this remote and rarely paddled river.