The Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS) named Jill Heinerth, world famous Canadian cave diver, as its first Explorer-in-Residence to mark World Oceans Day today. “Exploration is in the DNA of the RCGS,” said John Geiger, CEO of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society. “We are so delighted to have Jill Heinerth in this new role. It is hard to imagine anyone who better embodies the courage and commitment of exploration.”
The new Explorer-in-Residence Program aims to provide Canadians with visible modern-day role models for exploration, scientific discoveries and adventure travel in Canada. “Jill was an easy choice to be our first explorer,” said Michael Schmidt, RCGS Expeditions Committee Co-Chair. “She has had a unique and extensive career as an explorer, and has a real ability to engage with her audience.”
Considered one of the world’s leading technical divers, Heinerth has collaborated with filmmakers such as James Cameron to shoot difficult underwater scenes. She has travelled farther (more than 3,000 metres in one dive) into deep caves than any woman in history, and is renowned for her photography, videography and speaking skills. She has also become an international expert on rebreather technology, which allows her to explore the world’s icy depths.
“In many ways, this appointment fulfills the dream of a woman who chose the road less travelled,” said Heinerth, who in 2013 was the inaugural recipient of the RCGS’s Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration. ”I have always felt that the very act of exploration in any context moves society forward. It breaks down barriers, encourages collaboration and seeks to make the world a better place.” In her new role, she wants to inspire Canadians to see their country, especially those places off the beaten track.
Heinerth is also leading the RCGS Expedition of the Year, in Bell Island Newfoundland. This expedition is documenting the Bell Island iron mine, flooded in 1966, as well as four sunken vessels in the area that were torpedoed by German U-boats: 70 merchant mariners lost their lives in this brazen attack that awakened the east coast to their role in the Battle of the Atlantic. Ultimately, Heinerth and the expedition team would like these Bell Island sites to become a national historic site and attract more visitors to the region. The expedition resumes on June 18.