An icebreaker making a 150-day sailing journey has passed through the North Island, stopping in Port Hardy, Sointula, and Alert Bay.
The Canada C3 Expedition left from Toronto on June 1 and will complete the journey in Victoria on Oct. 28.
“We are nearly done and we are just doing the coast of British Columbia,” said Mireille Sylvester, who works on the Canada C3. “It’s a Canada 150 signature project so it was created to connect Canadians to their country and to each other.”
She noted the expedition is 150 days long in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation.
The 150 expedition is divided into 15 legs and hosts a cross-section of Canadian society on board, including scientists, artists, Indigenous Elders, historians, community leaders, youth, journalists, and educators.
“There are some really great Canadian participants on board right now including Tim Baker, the lead singer of Hey Rosetta!, Sara Harmer, some other musicians, and some indigenous elders,” said Sylvester.
The Canada C3 stopped in Port Hardy on Oct. 15 and then Sointula and Alert Bay on Oct. 17.
However, the ship’s stop was a bit of a surprise for some North Island communities.
“Port Hardy found out Oct. 1 and it was a scramble, and then a week ago they changed the date they were arriving in Port Hardy and then it was another scramble because it was on the Sunday,” said Port Hardy Coun. Pat Corbett-Labatt at the Regional District of Mount Waddington’s monthly meeting on the Oct. 17.
Corbett-Labatt noted that Port Hardy, Alert Bay, and Sointula weren’t listed on the ship’s itinerary, but an organizer informed her the stop’s weren’t scheduled because the ship had “blocks of time when they weren’t sure when the vessel was going to be in different places.”
“It went into Alert Bay yesterday too, but there was no contact with the village office,” said Alert Bay Mayor Michael Berry.
Heidi Soltau, RDMW representative for Sointula, added they “were trying to figure out what the big boat was anchored at the bay.”
Port Hardy resident Mervin Child was invited to join the North Island leg of the expedition, and he agreed to participate in the trip from Bella Bella to Port Hardy.
Corbett-Labatt said that despite the scheduling difficulties, she thought it went really well. “We had community members, not the numbers I wanted or would have liked to show up, but on a Sunday afternoon it’s kind of hard to get people there – but I think it was really good,” she said.