Canada 28 October: Victoria
Passing the torch at the c3 expedition finale
The flags of the provinces and territories of Canada were proudly on display as the c3 ship pulled in to the harbor in Victoria; culminating the epic 150-day expedition to the three coasts of Canada. The ship set sail on June 1 from Toronto and carried the Peace Torch on board for the entire journey via the Northwest Passage.
Along the way, the c3 team - made up of incredible and diverse Canadians from all walks of life - worked on a number of projects. Educators visited schools and talk about the expedition, musicians played songs, a team of scientists conducted research using samples from the ocean in each region. Along the way, they would stop to host talks and events, meeting with many First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities. Reconciliation became a main focal point as the journey advanced.
For many of the c3 participants, their time on the ship was a life-changing experience. We were treated to stories of the meaningful connections, hard work and stunning scenery encountered on the journey. Helena Hlas, the Youth Ambassador for leg 15, held the Peace Torch and offered her message for peace: "to listen to each other and walk with consciousness of how everything affects everyone else."
Carole James, Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier of British Colombia held the torch with Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.
Alex Cuba, a Juno and Latin Grammy award winning Canadian-Cuban singer-songwriter stated, "I wish peace for the whole world, that we will not fight anymore!"
Heather Rankin, a beloved Canadian singer-songwriter and member of the famed Rankin Family, offered this message: "I'm wishing the world peace from my heart... there couldn't be a more important time in the world and in this country where we need to come together and work together and heal together and move forward in peace."
Shaun kindly shared one of his realisations from the trip in regards to peace, "One thing that I learned the most was just to stop and listen. Everybody's got a solution and those solutions can sometimes conflict with other solutions. It's important to have those dialogues, but the most important thing that I took from it was just to stop and listen."
Genevieve von Petzinger, a renowned paleoanthropologist from Victoria, joined us with her family. It was a delight for the team to spend some time with them and to hear about her fascinating work studying the earliest cave drawings known to humanity.
She was joined by her photographer husband and two lovely sons as well as her mother and father, who accompany them on many of the research trips to caves all around the world.
We enjoyed meeting Paul Sawka, Awareness Leader for the Canadian Down Syndrome Society. He was on leg 6 of the c3 journey.
Frances Litman, a longtime friend of the Peace Run, is a photographer and community connector. She is the founder of the Creatively United for the Planet Society and is a passionate environmental activist, we were happy that she could join us!
Penny Joy and Saul Arbess received the Peace Run Torch-Bearer Award in 2016 for their inspirational work as co-founders of the Canadian Peace Initiative, we enjoyed reconnecting with them.
Country singer Aaron Pritchett from British Colombia gave this message: "The world can get along, we just have to find a way. It starts with the individual. We individually have to speak to each other and communicate and that way we will learn how to love."
Jackie Gay and her husband John McRoberts are a Canadian paralympic sailing team, last year they brought home the silver medal from Rio! Today they brought their beautiful dog Zephyr along to enjoy the celebration with them.
We were so happy to reconnect with Lillian Howard. She had made a lasting impression on us the in days prior with her thoughtful and kind words along with her unwavering commitment to countless causes working to improve the lives of Indigenous people. We offered her a drawing by Sri Chinmoy entitled "Non-violence".
Nandita, a Peace Runner from Seattle, took the early morning ferry to Victoria so she could be a part of the event. She made lots of new peace-loving friends as the day progressed.
Raven Lacerte (right) is the inspirational Co-founder and Youth Ambassador for the Moose Hide Campaign - a national grassroots effort to end violence towards Indigenous and non-Indigenous women and children. She held the torch with her proud sister (left), they are members of the Carrier First Nation in northern B.C. and belong to the Grizzly Bear Clan.
Mark Leiren-Young is an author, podcaster and documentary film maker dedicated to raising awareness about the plight of the southern resident whales and the Chinook salmon. A self-proclaimed "orca-holic", his latest book is The Killer Whale Who Changed the World. We were pleased to present Mark with Sri Chinmoy's painting entitled "Be Kind to Animals".
The torch was passed all around the crowd, inviting each person to take a moment to reflect on peace.
Erin Downey-Silcoff from the c3 program team shared her message: "We have more similarities than differences when we are able to get together to share our stories."
Raymond Guillermo held the torch and shared an incredible spoken-word piece of his called "Women, Water, World".
Our friend Leona joined us for the day with her daughter and offered her simple wish for peace: "I wish for each person to go within and create peace within, because that way we create peace in the whole world."
Helena passed the torch to Sumitra, a Victoria local who has been working for the Peace Run since its inception in 1987.
Sumitra provided us with her reflections on peace, "We all have a very important role to play. If we have peace in our heart then we have something to share with the rest of the world."
Sulabha, a Peace Runner from Vancouver, helped to distribute "peace trees" and organic, local BC apples through the crowd while passing the torch around.
David Gray, an arctic biologist and historian, held the torch and pointed out some of the places it had gone during the c3 voyage and in previous Students on Ice expeditions on the giant map of Canada.
Stephan Guy, Captain of the Canada c3 ship, took a rare moment on land to hold the peace torch. He had the momentous task of navigating the Polar Prince Icebreaker for the entire 150-day journey including through the precarious Northwest Passage.
Geoff Green, c3 Founder and Expedition Leader, receives two of Sri Chinmoy's paintings "Save Earth" and "Earth Love" from Devakripa.
The team assembled for a group photo before everyone had to go back home to their respective cities.
As the sun set on the final day of the c3 expedition, the ship was bathed in golden light. For the c3 team, it does not end here, they will continue to build the legacy and to work in the fields of the 4 themes: Diversity and Inclusion, Reconciliation, Youth Engagement and the Environment.
This unprecedented journey ignited our imaginations, sparked our curiosity and touched our hearts. It was not only an exploration of Canada's beautiful oceans and coasts but also of national identity. What does it mean to be Canadian? How can we nurture and protect the land, water and people? How do we reconcile the past and move forward toward a radiant future? Everyone who was touched by the c3 expedition came away a little closer to answering some of those questions.
"A moment's truth
Can and shall make the world beautiful.
A moment's peace
Can and shall save the world.
A moment's love
Can and shall make the world perfect."
-Sri Chinmoy, Founder of the Peace Run