What started as a “voyage of celebration” three years ago has become something “much, much” deeper, according to those at the helm of the project onboard a Canadian Icebreaker ship.
At the centre of the project is an epic 150-day sailing journey from Toronto to Victoria via the Northwest Passage, on the Canadian Icebreaker ship and former Canadian Coast Guard vessel known as the known as the Polar Prince.
And on Monday, the ship made a stop in Vancouver.
“It is a real honour to have been part of this journey,”said Geoff Green, the founder and expedition leader of Canada C3.
The trip, he said, “has been about sharing stories and the goal was for this journey to reach millions of Canadians coast to coast to coast and we have done that.”
The journey itself was a 23,000 mile expedition that began in Toronto, hit all three of Canada’s coasts, and will conclude on October 29, in Victoria, which coincidentally, will also mark 60 years of service for the vessel.
The 72-metre-long ship “could not have performed better,” during this voyage, Green said. “We’ve stopped every single day along the way at big cities, small towns, First Nation Communities, National Parks, and historic sites.”
There are a total of 60 people who are on-board and involved in the project.
This, Green said, includes the ship’s crew, as well as C3 staff and participants.
“Those participants are on board as ambassadors to share this journey,” Green explained. “They’re not passengers on a cruise; they’re participants representing the rest of the country and they are a real diversity of Canada: newcomers to our country, musicians, artists, scientists, youth ambassadors, and politicians.”
There have been a number of themes surrounding the ship’s journey, as well, Green said.
Those themes include diversity and inclusion, youth, engagement, and the environment.
But there’s one more aspect of the trip that Green said has “connected everything” and been a priority: Reconciliation.
“This journey has been an opportunity to share and hear stories to build understanding and trust and learn about our country’s past – including parts of our past that we are definitely not celebrating,” he furthered.
These parts of the past, he said, include things like residential schools, the relocation of entire communities and the suicide epidemic still gripping some communities.
“We’ve shed a ton of tears on this journey and this is part of the healing voyage that our whole country has to be on if we want to be a better country in the future,” he said.
“When we pull into communities, they’ll welcome us with open arms, but the next thing they’ll say is, ‘we’re not celebrating Canada 150,’ and how could they?” Green asked.
However, by the time the ship and crew leaves the community, “we’ve shared and become friends, a transformation happens to some degree during that day, and that’s what this trip has been all about.”