Canada 27 October: Vancouver - Victoria
Joining the final days of the historic C3 journey
The C3 Ship, an Icebreaker called Polar Prince, arrived in Vancouver Harbor early on the morning of October 23. Having begun its historic and epic 150 day journey from Coast to Coast to Coast, via the Northwest Passage, in Toronto on June 1st, the ship is close to reaching its final destination of Victoria!
Canada C3 is one of 37 Signature Projects for Canada's 150th Anniversary of Confederation in 2017. Through this unprecedented journey, Canada C3 is celebrating the Canadian environment, sharing the stories of coastal communities and connecting Canadians from coast to coast to coast. Canada has the longest coastline of any country in the world!
Honouring the past and looking towards the future, Canada C3 focused on exploring four key themes: Diversity and Inclusion, Reconciliation, Youth Engagement and the Environment.
You can learn more about the C3 Journey and philosophy here.
Long time Peace Runner and Peace Torch enthusiast, Devakripa Cohen, is a good friend of C3 Expedition Leader and Founder, Geoff Green. Geoff has been a huge supporter of the Peace Run for many years, having taken our Peace Torch to Antarctica, the Arctic, Iceland and Greenland on some of his nearly countless,(numbering in the hundreds!), expeditions to the Polar Regions.
Geoff most kindly agreed to take the very same torch on the whole C3 journey, displayed in the most significant and sacred Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund Legacy Room , which you will see pictures of in this report.
Brahmata and Devakripa met with the team near the beginnings of their journey in Brockville, Ontario.
The turtle on the side of the ship is called "Turtle Island". It is painted by an Aboriginal painter named Kirk Brant.
Turtle Island is a name for North America used by many indigenous groups. There are different stories in several traditions explaining the origins, generally agreeing that the name is due to the fact that North America is shaped like a turtle.
We went to a presentation about the C3 voyage at the Vancouver Aquarium. They passed around this small carved boat called "Paddle to the Sea" which has been on the whole journey along with the Peace Torch.
It is the original carving from the 1966 movie based on a book of the same name about an indigenous boy who carved this man and canoe and put it in Lake Superior. It was eventually found by a lighthouse keeper thousands of miles away at the ocean.
We caught a boat from Victoria to Salt Spring Island early the next morning while the sun was rising. As you can see, it was spectacular!
This ship engineer shared his most profound words of peace coupled with ancient Sanskrit mantras to inspire us for the day ahead.
I was a tiny raft
In the pond of learning.
I am now a huge boat
In the ocean of becoming.
Canadian Green Party Leader, Elizabeth May, also came to meet the ship. Here she is handed Paddle to the Sea.
The Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund Legacy Room became a central and sacred space for everyone on the ship. Reconciliation is one of the central themes of the journey, and as they went along, it became more and more evident that the first step to reconciliation is holding conversations. Many deeply insightful conversations concerning the past treatment, present role and future goals of the Indigenous people of Canada were held in this room. One of the C3 visions is for spaces of this nature will be set up all over Canada.
Along with our Peace Torch, the room contains many symbolic and historical gifts from the communities all around Canada that the ship visited.
The Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund Legacy Room is named after these two renowned Canadians who in their own very different ways bought attention to the unacceptable and inhumane treatment of the Indigenous people of Canada.
In 1966 at the age of 12, Chanie Wenjack escaped from residential school and attempted to walk 600km home. Tragically he never made it, but his attempt eventually gained national attention. Today his story is seen as a symbol of resistance against the residential school system.
In 2016, less than a year before his death from cancer, beloved Canadian musician Gord Downie wrote a concept album based on Wenjack's escape. The album was accompanied by a graphic novel on which he collaborated. Soon afterwards, Downie and his brother Mike, along with the Wenjack family, announced the founding of the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund to support reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Gord Downie passed away during the C3 journey, and relatives of his came to the room.
The Peace Torch amongst other symbols of peace and honoring the beliefs and traditions of all people.
It was fascinating and deeply inspiring to see group after group of young Canadians learning and sharing their own understanding of the past and future of their incredibly vast and diverse country.
Tim Straka, a core member of the Education Team on board, kindly invited us to share the message of the Peace Run and pass the torch around one of the groups of people who came into the room.
One of the rooms in the ship has its walls dedicated to artistic expression, and is now filled with powerful messages, poems and paintings from people along the way.
Mt Baker and some passing birds added a little majesty to the already glorious sunset on our boat ride home- also reminding us how close we were to the United States.
An afternoon walk in Gowlland Todd Provincial Park, close to Brentworth Bay, the final stop for the C3 ship before reaching Victoria.
Devakripa, faithfully equipped with fallen giant maple leaves to take back to her restaurant in Ottawa, yet never letting her attention waver from her phone and the task at hand.
Our plan to pass the torch around all the participants of leg 15 on the ship was dependent on us reaching someone who could pick us up by Zodiac from the dock at Brentworth Bay and take us to the ship.
A moment of concern when we mistakenly sent the zodiac,(immortally coined "Kodiac" by Devakripa), to the wrong dock...
Finally we made it to the ship and our dear friend and Expedition Leader, Geoff Green graciously introduced the Peace Run to the gathered team.
Brahmata explained the message of the Sri Chinmoy and the Peace Run, highlighting how inextricably linked our vision is with the goals of the C3. We are so honored that Geoff is a more than deserving former recipient of our Torch-Bearer Award. He accepted our humble Certificate of Appreciation on behalf of the team.
Geoff's wonderful wife, Lisa Glithero, is an Environmental Educator, and also a good friend of the Peace Run.
Our new fine friend, Lillian Howard is Mowachaht and dynamically committed to awareness, reconciliation, support and empowerment for Indigenous people. She works with the youth sector of the PHSA Indigenous Health Team, addressing systemic racism in healthcare. She is the co-chair of the Vancouver Urban Aboriginal Advisort Commitee and the Uplifting Indigenous Families Fund, which raises money to support families during and after the National Inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. She is also a speaker on residential schools, violence against indigenous women, and reconciliation.
Natan Obed is the President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, The National Representational Organization protecting and advancing the rights and interests of some 60 000 Inuit people from 53 different communities across the Northwest Territories of Canada.
Catherine McKenna is the Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
She made a lasting impression on the team this afternoon when, moments after arriving on the boat, she dived off to swim a mile or so in the beautiful but extremely tepid waters!
Earlier in the evening she told a very moving story about a young indigenous boy she met on the journey in the far north who bought to her attention the very real issues of global warming he has observed and is concerned about in his local environment.
Dr Kristi Miller-Saunders is a research scientist with the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans. She joined C3 to map organisms in different bodies of water by looking at cells left behind by everything from bacteria to marine mammals.
In Vancouver she spoke about the fascinating early results of studies conducted all along the journey. Just by taking water samples, scientists can tell all the animals and fish living in the area- even land animals!
Roger Bull is a scientist at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa. He runs the museum’s Laboratory of Molecular Biodiversity.
Roger also participates in field research to document the plant life of the Canadian Arctic. This is crucial baseline research for understanding the effects of a changing climate on northern plant communities. Roger spent two weeks setting up the C3 science labs before the expedition began and was part of leg 15.
Each of the 15 legs had official photographers and videographers to document the journey in a very powerful and professional way.
Brahmata pictured with Amanda Reid, a teacher and C3 Youth Ambassador. She works with inner city youth as an Aboriginal leader for the Vancouver Parks Board.
The Intrepid and good hearted C3 Ship Captain, Stephan Guy, and his wonderful wife, Sylvie Cossette!
Racelle Kooy, a member of Samahquam First Nation, is passionate about representing First Nations people and cultures to the world.
Shaorong Li is a scientist who works at the Pacific Biological Station, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, where she uses genetics/genomics tools to study Salmon stock assessment, migration, fitness and health.
The man on the right, Warren Barr, was the head chef for the last leg. We all enjoyed a wonderful meal!
Geoff, pictured with Canada 150 Project Head and Co Workers, skillfully took us back to the dock by Zodiac, weaving through moored boats in the dark.
All our gratitude to The C3 team of deeply passionate, progressive, dedicated and influential Canadians from all different fields, who tonight most sincerely and enthusiastically held aloft the Peace Torch, infusing it with their own hopes and commitments to Peace.
Will one day become