The Canada C3 expedition finished its final leg this morning sailing into Victoria’s inner harbour marking the end of a 150-day, 23,000-kilometre voyage across three coastlines, through the Northwest Passage.
A large crowd gathered on the Wharf Street docks to wave hello as the 220 ft. Coast Guard vessel Polar Prince docked with Green Party leader Elizabeth May and Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna onboard.
The Canada 150 signature project set sail from Toronto June 1 to explore the nation’s coastal communities in the name of diversity and inclusion, reconciliation, youth engagement and the environment. The expedition engaged 20 million Canadians along the way, providing new perspectives, sparking connections and fresh ideas on how to build a better country.
“There’s a lot of apprehension about Canada150,” Canada C3 founder and expedition leader Geoff Green said.
He described visiting with Indigenous communities, leaving awakened and transformed. “We left as friends when they realized we weren’t just there to celebrate the last 150 years, we were there to learn about it, and to understand and to heal.”
The Polar Prince – which Green now calls “a Canadian treasure” – sailed across the Canadian coastline, the longest of any country in the entire world, half of which is in the Arctic. Navigating 12,000 nautical miles, the trip was divided into 15 legs, each with a new group of participants including scientists, artists, Indigenous elders, historians, community leaders, youth, journalists and educators.
Even The Tragically Hip performed on the back of the ship when it landed in Kingston, Ont. Onboard is the Gord Downie-Chanie Wenjack Legacy Room, one of growing list of safe spaces created to share thoughts and discuss reconciliation.
Canada C3 is funded by over 150 partners and also aims to provide a platform for researchers and scientists to conduct studies on land and at sea. McKenna joined Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Dominic LeBlanc, to announce five per cent of Canada’s coastline is now protected, meeting the conservation goal set by the federal government.
“We are a polar nation, and an ocean nation,” Green said. “Life on land needs life in the ocean, not the other way around.”
Of the journey and what it means, Green said it’s been as much about looking to the past, as looking forward.
“We have to come to terms with and accept the truth and learn about it,” he said. “We can only move forward if we do that. This voyage has been very much a journey of reconciliation.”