VIDEO: Ice breaker ends epic voyage around Canada

From coast to coast to coast: the Canada C3 ends its voyage around Canada

When a massive ice breaker arrives in Victoria’s harbour this week, it will mark the end of a 150-day-long journey exploring Canada’s coastline, communities and future.

The trip from Toronto to Victoria via the Northwest Passage coincides with Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations, but celebrations are just the beginning, said Geoff Green, expedition leader for Canada C3.

By the end of the journey, the ice breaker — called the Polar Prince — will have travelled 23,000 kilometres and visited 75 different communities.

More than 400 people have climbed aboard the ship over the course of Canada C3 — or Coast to Coast to Coast — including community leaders, musicians, chefs, scientists and other curious Canadians.

“It’s been a journey to help us look at our past, present and future, learn a lot about this country, it’s successes and it’s flaws and to look ahead to how we can be better,” said Green, founder of the Students on Ice Foundation, which leads educational trips to the Arctic and Antarctic.

The experienced adventurer said C3 has led him to meet incredible people and visit amazing places over the past five months and his biggest takeaway is hope for the future.

“I leave this 150-day journey with a great sense of great optimism, hope and potential for Canada in the next 150 years,” Green said.

Related: Arctic cruise tourism comes of age

Racelle Kooy of the St’at’imc and Secwepemc First Nations in British Columbia’s Interior said she was originally hesitant to take part in a project celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary because of the country’s troubled history with Indigenous Peoples.

After speaking to other Indigenous participants, she decided to join and Kooy said she has been able to sincerely engage with everyone on board.

“We’re a group of people from a variety of backgrounds, there’s so much to learn from each other,” she said.

For her, the trip has been about breaking down existing myths and building connections between communities.

“I think that’s very powerful,” Kooy said.

For other participants, the epic voyage has been an opportunity to do unique research. The ice breaker, originally built for the Canadian Coast Guard in 1958, is outfitted with a science lab where 23 projects have taken place since June 1.

Kristi Miller is a scientist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans who joined C3 to map organisms in different bodies of water by looking at cells left behind by everything from bacteria to marine mammals.

The data has surprising findings. Miller said she never would have expected to see evidence of predators that rely on aquatic ecosystems for food so far out in an ocean-adjacent inlet, but samples taken off the coast of B.C. show both predator and prey.

“Just opposite of Haida Gwaii … we had a huge abundance of salmon,” Miller said. “And we saw brown bear, black bear and eagle in that same (location).”

Results from the study could help determine the health of various ecosystems, said Miller, who is based in Nanaimo, B.C.

“Having some kind of indication of ecosystem health in the ocean is paramount and this technology is fast, cheap, easy to do, and doesn’t require any destructive sampling or big ships,” she said.

While many of the C3 participants have come and gone over the course of 150 days, Captain Stephan Guy has been at the helm of the Polar Prince throughout the voyage.

The project has allowed Guy, who is based in Lac Beauport, Que., an opportunity to join an elite group of seamen who have traversed the Northwest Passage.

He said the journey has reminded him of his “colleagues” who attempted the same voyage 200 or 300 years ago with varying degrees of success.

The highlight of the trip has been watching people come together and share, Guy added.

“Just put the people together and they will exchange and listen to the stories and they will find solutions to make (the future) better. I don’t know the solutions, but bring the people together, allow the communities to connect, and this will happen.”

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Single vehicle rollover on Highway 16 claims life of young woman, seriously injures another

The single vehicle incident occurred at Highway 16 and Hillcrest Way

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

COVID-19 cases grow to 13 at B.C. First Nation near Fort St. James

“This is very serious,” says Nak’azdli Whut’en Chief

Directional traffic change coming to one-way street beside McLeod Elementary

This change will be in effect starting Monday, Oct. 5.

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

B.C.’s top doctor encourages Halloween costumes to include masks

Dr. Bonnie Henry will soon be releasing guidelines on how to safely trick-or-treat this Halloween

Action demanded over death of First Nations youth in Abbotsford group home

Family and Indigenous organizations push for thorough investigation

B.C. nurses report rise in depression, anxiety, exhaustion due to pandemic

A new UBC study looks into how the COVID-19 response has impacted frontline nurses

Horgan frustrated as Transport Canada mandate for BC Ferry riders returns

Transport Canada reinstates rule that bans passengers from lower decks

Reincarnation, baby! Music-making B.C. couple celebrate ‘miracle’ pregnancy

‘I (said) to Adam, ‘I really think this is your brother reincarnated,’ Elise Estrada says

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Survey finds doctors worry supplies of flu vaccine, PPE will lag demand

Canadian health officials have said additional flu vaccines have been ordered to meet expected demand

Search suspended for Indigenous elder last seen mushroom picking in northwest B.C.

Mushroom picker Thomas (Tommy) Dennis has been missing since Sept. 16

Ahead of likely second wave, 60% of Canadians relaxing COVID-19 measures

Proportion of Canadians following safety measures has dropped by 3 per cent in the past two weeks

Most Read