Nfld. & Labrador

'Such an adventure': Olympian among crew as Canadian coast to coast voyage hits St. John's

A 150-day voyage around Canada is one quarter of the way done, with participants arriving in St. John's on Tuesday.

Canada C3 is exploring the theme of reconciliation during the 150-day voyage

The Canada C3 icebreaker docked in St. John's Tuesday morning, on Day 41 of a 150-day voyage from coast to coast to coast. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

A crew taking part in one leg of a 150-day voyage across Canada arrived in St. John's Tuesday with stories about what one sailor — an Olympic athlete — called an incredible bonding experience. 

"It's been unbelievable. I never in my wildest dreams expected it to be what it was," said Lizanne Murphy, a two-time Olympian for Team Canada Basketball who joined Canada C3 in Charlottetown at the end of June. 

"We've been able to experience so many things in Canada, from big cities to smaller fishing towns and everything in between. It has really been such an adventure."

Lizanne Murphy is a retired basketball player and former Olympian who participated in Leg 4 of the Canada C3 voyage from Charlottetown to St. John's. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC News)

The Canada C3 expedition is a journey from Toronto to Victoria along the Northwest passage on board a Canadian icebreaker. The arrival in St. John's means the journey is one-quarter complete.

Canadians from all over the country are taking part in the trip, with the ship turning over participants every 10 days. It's designed to connect Canadians through experiences, stories and ideas. 

Canada C3 — 3 standing for all three coasts — started out as a celebration of the 150th anniversary of Confederation, but the man at the helm says it's become much more than that. 

Voyage of discovery

Expedition leader Geoff Green says the spirit of truth and reconciliation has emerged as the common thread linking all the participants, who have been learning about the country's history. 

Geoff Green is the expedition leader of Canada C3. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC News)

"There's a lot of people that don't want to celebrate Canada 150, for good reason," Green told CBC News. "There's been atrocities committed in our last 150 years against our First Nations, Metis and Inuit."

Canada C3 is exploring four themes during the trip — diversity and inclusion, youth engagement, the environment, and reconciliation.

The crew on Murphy's leg of the voyage included educators, scientists, entertainers, Indigenous leaders and even a former premier of the North West Territories. She said the time they were together was intense, and an incredible bonding experience. 

Canada C3 is on its fourth leg of a tour across the country. The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker is bringing together people of all backgrounds. 5:02

There were "playful moments" such as a kitchen party in Francois on Newfoundland's isolated south coast, but also lots of serious discussion.

"Immediately on the first day we had some pretty serious topics. We talked about residential schools and that was after only meeting each other a couple hours prior," Murphy said. "Everyone just put themselves out there."

Tears and laughter

Marie Wilson, former commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, led those discussions. 

"There have been a lot of tears, there's been a tremendous amount of laughter, and there's been a deep kindness between and among all the people on the ship," Wilson said. 

Former commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Marie Wilson, was aboard the Canada C3 vessel for Leg 4 of its journey. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC News)

Participants say the theme of reconciliation is the one they will take home with them as they leave this experience.

"People have worked really hard to deepen themselves, expand their horizons and, without exception, pledge to going home and trying to find ways to take what they have learned and spread that more broadly," Wilson said.

"The ship is the moment, and the going forward from here is the longer journey."

Canada C3 begins the next leg of its voyage on Wednesday, when it will depart for Nain. The journey will end in Victoria on October 28. 

The map shows the path of the C3 expedition up to Tuesday, July 11, with the journey one-quarter complete. (Canadac3.ca)

About the Author

Avneet Dhillon is a multi-platform journalist based in Toronto. She is currently working as a social editor/presenter for CBC News.

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