On October 28th of this year, the Canadian Icebreaker, Polar Prince, successfully completed its 150 day voyage from Toronto, Ontario to Victoria, British Columbia. The aim was to travel via the Northwest Passage, a distance of 23,000 kilometers, exploring Canada from coast to coast to coast in honour of 150 years of Confederation. This epic journey, named Canada C3, explored the four key themes of Canada 150:
- Diversity and Inclusion
- Youth Engagement
- The Environment
Canada has the longest coastline of any nation in the world, being surrounded by the Atlantic, the Arctic and the Pacific Oceans. This unprecedented journey was to celebrate our environment and share stories of coastal communities. Stops along the route reflected the diversity of our country and included scientists, artists, Indigenous elders, historians, community leaders, journalists and educators. The Polar Prince, a former Canadian Coast Guard vessel, featured a Legacy Room which served as a meeting place for diverse organizations, leading to meaningful connections and understanding, an important legacy for generations to come.
Researchers from across Canada conducted studies on the effects of climate change on both the environment and native wildlife, especially in the Arctic, an area hit hard by these changes. The Arctic region accounts for 40% of Canada’s landmass but boasts only 100,000 inhabitants out of the total population of 35 million. With the Arctic temperatures warming at twice the global rate, the shrinking ice fields are putting unprecedented stress on Polar Bear populations, eroding their habitat and access to food sources.
One unforeseen consequence of these climate changes is the appearance of a new hybrid species of bear, the Pizzly or Grolar bear, a hybrid of the Grizzly and Polar Bear. To escape the warming environment, the Grizzly Bear populations are moving north and as a result of the diminishing of the Arctic ice field, Polar Bears are spending more time on land leading to an overlap of the populations and interbreeding.
This journey was divided into 15 legs, ranging from 7 to 12 days in length. Each leg brought a new group of participants on board to share experiences, stories and adventures. A cross-section of Canadians made up of scientists, artists, Indigenous Elders, historians, community leaders, journalists, educators and youth participated as the eyes and ears of Canada. Our unique route travelled through seven ecozones, from forests to tundra to sandy beaches, which allowed scientific researchers to study lesser known areas of Canada’s coastline and interact with indigenous populations to draw on their traditional ecological knowledge. A detailed recap of the experiences on each of the legs can be found on the Canada C3 website here: https://canadac3.ca/en/expedition/the-places-of-canada-c3/
It is hoped that the discoveries and connections made on this historic journey will leave important legacies for generations to come. We look forward to the next 150 years of Canada.