Applications open for sea voyage around Canada's 3 coasts

An ambitious plan for a sea voyage around Canada's three coasts was "born in the Arctic" says expedition leader Geoff Green.

"Even the name of our journey, Canada C3, coast to coast to coast, in itself is part of what we're trying to communicate—that it's not sea to sea. We've left out our largest coastline for too long," says Green, founder and director of the Students on Ice Foundation, which educates about the polar regions.

As part of Canada 150's celebrations, the Students on Ice Foundation has organized an 150-day voyage starting in the Great Lakes, sailing down the St. Lawrence River, through the Northwest Passage, around Alaska and down to Victoria, B.C.

The trip will be broken into 15 10-day segments, five of which take place in Nunavut.

The ship can hold 60 people, half of which will be crew, while the other half will be invited politicians, artists, and Indigenous leaders.

And some "everyday" Canadians.

Applications opened today for any Canadian over the age of 18 to apply for one of the journey legs.

It's free to apply and participate. Green says the main criteria are "passion and interest." This voyage for Canada 150 is not exclusively directed at youth or students but there will be a digital classroom component for students to follow along, he said. 

"It's not a tourist trip," Green said. Participants are meant to be ambassadors, so people following along can see themselves reflecting back in the diversity of the group, he said.

In addition to following online, people can attend the 50 events scheduled at way-points during the trip and visit the hub locations that will be set up at museums in each province and territory.

"A lot of Canadians don't really know that we're an Arctic nation or that our largest coastline is the Arctic Ocean," he said.

Green's crossed the Northwest Passage many times since Students on Ice started in 1999, and says it's always getting easier.  

Climate change and the challenges relating to food and housing security in the Arctic will be discussed, as well as what the next 150 years might look like for the country.

The ship, an old Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker, will be painted to reflect the Canadian flag.

Inspired by Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie's initiative to promote the discussion and understanding of Indigenous issues, there will be a legacy room onboard for ceremonies and practicing traditional medicine. 

"At first when we were creating Canada C3 it was very much a journey to celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary, but people like Senator [Murray] Sinclair started to say, this really is a voyage of reconciliation," Green says.

He says C3 will use storytelling to further reconciliation.

At the end of the journey the art, music and scientific data collected will be compiled — there will even be a cookbook showcasing cuisine from coastal communities sampled on the trip.

The application process closes March 24.