Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2017. One of the highlights is a 150-day expedition following Canada’s three coasts from East to West. More than 300 Canadians have been selected to participate in the different legs of the maritime expedition, including 33 Youth Ambassadors representing Canada’s young people.
July 1 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of Confederation, when the British colonies in modern day Canada joined to form the self-governing British Dominion of Canada. The C3 Expedition (coast to coast to coast) is an extraordinary way to link Canadians and highlight the beauty of the country, as well as focus on reconciliation between the country’s indigenous population and more recent arrivals.
150 days, 300 Canadians, 3 Coasts
From 1 June 1 to 28 October (150 days), the C3 Expedition ship will travel from Toronto, Ontario, in the East to Victoria, British Columbia in the West.
Canada is the second largest in the world after Russia, and has the longest coastline of any nation. So what better way to explore the country than in an old coast guard ship? It’s an ice-breaker, which is essential since a long section of the voyage will be along the Arctic Ocean coast and through the Northwest Passage.
European explorers searched for the Northwest Passage for 300 years, believing it was a shortcut from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It was eventually navigated by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen in 1903-1906. But it remains a difficult route, only passable by ice-breakers during summer months. However, summer ice is becoming rarer. Scientists believe this is caused by climate change, and that the Passage may become a viable commercial route for part of the year as soon as 2030. Sailing through the Passage cuts 14 days and 7000 km off the voyage from North Atlantic to Pacific.
This video is a good introduction to the expedition and to Canada. Since it IS Canada, though, there are French subtitles. No matter, the images tell their own story.
The C3 expedition aims to fulfil the four themes of Canada 150: the environment, youth engagement, diversity and inclusion and reconciliation.
C3 will be a rich cultural experience, but it will also include science, in particular in connection with climate change. Many coastal areas, and particularly the Arctic are seeing adverse changes due to climate change. C3 participants will collect scientific data along the way, especially about water quality, as well as using the interest generated in the expedition to draw attention to climate issues.
A Cross-section of Canadians
The 300 participants represent every Canadian experience. The organisers, Students on Ice, have been taking teenagers on Arctic and Antarctic expeditions for many years and were keen to include young people. The 33 Youth have very diverse origins. About a third are from different indigenous groups. And several are immigrants to Canada, Including Abdul Fettah Al Masoud, who arrived in Canada from Syria only a year ago.
Like other countries such as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, where colonists displaced indigenous populations, Canada is consciously trying to promote reconciliation, apologising for past wrongs against First Nations peoples. The expedition route will take it through many indigenous communities, particularly in the Arctic, and it hopes to create meaningful exchanges with the participants on board and all the Canadians following the expedition online.
Our B1 Ready to Use Resource about the youth ambassadors, and videos by young Canadian storytellers.
Students on Ice