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Sesquicentennial voyage

Memorial community part of historic Canada 150th marine journey

By Jeff Green

From students and alumni to an honorary degree recipient and the chancellor, members of the Memorial community are participating in portions of a 150-day marine voyage from coast to coast to coast.

Canada C3, a signature event of the Canada 150 anniversary celebrations, is an initiative of the Students on Ice Foundation, a national organization that has led educational expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic since 2000.

Via the Northwest Passage

The expedition — which stretches from Toronto, Ont., to Victoria, B.C., via the Northwest Passage — began on June 1 and continues until late October.

Students, artists, Indigenous elders, historians, business and community leaders, teachers, scientists and Canadians from other walks of life are taking part in the trip aboard a 67-metre research icebreaker.

The Canada C3 expedition stretches from Toronto, Ont., to Victoria, BC, via the Northwest Passage.
The C3 expedition stretches from Toronto, Ont., to Victoria, B.C., via the Northwest Passage.
Photo: Students on Ice Foundation / Mireille Sylvester

Select applicants have been chosen to travel on various legs of the trip where they are learning more about the four key themes of Canada 150: diversity and inclusion; reconciliation; youth engagement; and the environment.

Headed to N.L.

From July 8-23, the crew will explore 13 sites in Newfoundland and Labrador as part of leg four and leg five of the marine journey.

Memorial University is a supporter of the project and will provide programming or expertise at various sites. Participants will learn more about the university’s world-class teaching, research and public engagement activities, as well as Memorial’s more than 100 degree programs and areas of specialty.

Members of the university community will also demonstrate and share how Memorial is a national leader when it comes to the expedition’s various themes.

South Coast visits

The first stop in this province is on July 8 in picturesque Francois, a community that’s only accessible by boat or helicopter, which is part of leg four.

From there, the Canada C3 ship is scheduled to be in Conne River on July 9, where participants will help celebrate the Miawpukek First Nation’s 22nd annual traditional powwow.

While in Conne River, the Oceans Learning Partnership (OLP) will be on hand to introduce C3 participants to the world of ocean science.

The OLP is a network of scientists, educators and government and private partners, who promote ocean education to youth. Memorial is a member of the partnership, with several faculty members and students involved in research projects.

After leaving Conne River, the Canada C3 vessel visits Portugal Cove South and the Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve and World Heritage Site on the southeastern tip of the Avalon Peninsula. The site is one of the world’s most significant fossil sites.

Capital city stopover

From there, the ship sails into St. John’s harbour on July 11, where new participants and crew will begin leg five of the voyage, from the capital city to Nain. Memorial’s chancellor, Dr. Susan Dyer Knight, is one of the participants on this leg of the journey.

Chancellor Dr. Susan Dyer Knight is taking part in Leg five of the Canada C3 voyage.
Chancellor Dr. Susan Dyer Knight is taking part in leg five.
Photo: Chris Hammond

While in the city, participants are scheduled to take part in activities at The Rooms and at Government House where they will have an opportunity to meet Memorial personnel involved in the university’s Cold Ocean and Arctic Science, Technology and Society (COASTS) initiative.

Memorial will also host an evening event aboard the ship, featuring some of the university’s best faculty, staff and alumni storytellers.

Terra Nova bound

On July 13 the vessel’s schedule takes it to Terra Nova National Park where Parks Canada staff and OLP personnel will be on hand to provide guided interpretation and showcase the work Memorial researchers are doing in the area.

Fogo Island stop

On July 14 and 15 the expedition will visit historic Fogo Island, where participants will learn more about the work of the Shorefast Foundation, an organization founded by Dr. Zita Cobb, an honorary degree recipient of Memorial, which is dedicated to the economic and cultural revitalization of the island.

In 2015 Memorial partnered with the Shorefast Foundation to create a unique program that provides select faculty members with an opportunity to spend four weeks on Fogo Island as part of the Richard Marceau-Fogo Island Research Fellowship. The fellowships allow faculty members the opportunity to work on a significant manuscript or research project during their time on Fogo.

Dr. Cobb is also scheduled to participate in a future leg of the Canada C3 expedition.

Heads north

From Fogo Island, the ship sails north with stops on July 16 at L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site, where Gerald Anderson, director, Department of Development and Engagement, Marine Institute, will be on hand to greet visitors.

Mr. Anderson also serves as vice-president Indigenous with University of the Arctic (UArctic) and was recently appointed to the board of directors of Polar Knowledge Canada (POLAR) for a five-year term. POLAR was created by the Canadian High Arctic Research Station Act, which came into effect in 2015.

From July 8-23, the Canada C3 crew will explore 13 sites in Newfoundland and Labrador.
From July 8-23, the Canada C3 crew will explore 13 sites in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Photo: Students on Ice Foundation / Peter Wall

The ship is expected to visit Red Bay National Historic Site, Labrador, on July 17; the Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve on July 18; Rigolet on July 19; Hopedale on July 20; and Nain on July 22 and 23.

Rigolet programming

Among those from the Memorial community who will be on-site in Rigolet to meet the participants are Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo, director, Labrador Institute (LI), along with Dr. Sylvia Moore, assistant professor, Faculty of Education, who is based at LI; Michelle Baikie, cultural consultant for the Inuit bachelor of education (IBED) degree program at LI, a member of the Board of Regents and a Memorial alumna; Kayley Sherret, a graduate student in archaeology; Inez Shiwak, the leader of the Rigolet research and media lab who works with Dr. Cunsolo; and the IBED students.

Participants will tour the Rigolet boardwalk, hear local stories, learn more about archaeological interpretations, enjoy a traditional lunch and visit nearby sites before departing later that day. The IBED students will present to the C3 visitors, as well.

All of the Inuit bachelor of education students have created lesson plans about the land of Nunatsiavut. To date, three of those plans are part of the Canada C3 digital classroom, a national teaching resource for use during and after the expedition. Two of the students were also invited to extend their lesson plans by developing cross-grade, participatory learning activities that will make use of a giant floor map of the expedition, a Canada C3 teaching tool.

While in Nain, there’ll be a crew and participant changeover and a new leg will commence, going from Nain to Iqaluit, Nunavut.

Other connections

In addition to the stops in various Newfoundland and Labrador communities, Memorial is represented in other ways on the Canada C3 voyage.

The Ocean Frontier Institute is supporting the scientific effort through the use of, among other things, a retrofitted container which acts as a mobile laboratory for onboard research.

The OFI is also helping conduct research, including a DNA study that is analyzing filtered seawater samples to provide the groundwork for a pan-Canadian database of coastal marine biodiversity. This database will include an extensive list of species spanning the range of bacteria to baleen whales, an important reference for many realms of scientific study and outreach.

One of the Ocean Frontier Institute container labs that is part of the Canada C3 mission.
One of the Ocean Frontier Institute container labs that is part of the Canada C3 mission.
Photo: Michèle Charlton photo

The OFI is an historic partnership among Memorial University of Newfoundland, Dalhousie University and the University of Prince Edward Island. Established in the fall of 2016 through $220 million in funding from the Government of Canada and various private and public sector organizations, OFI supports multi-year research projects at the universities.

Several Memorial alumni are taking part in the voyage: Thomas Dymond, who holds undergraduate and master’s degrees in kinesiology; Kevin Ma, who holds a master’s degree; and Dr. Mark Graham, head of the Canada C3 science program, obtained his PhD at Memorial.

Also, a Memorial PhD student is taking part in leg 15 of the Canada C3 voyage from Campbell River to Victoria, B.C. Anne Provencher St-Pierre, who is completing her studies under the supervision of Dr. Pat Gagnon at the Department of Ocean Sciences, will volunteer with scientists onboard and participate in cultural and social initiatives.

The Canada C3 voyage is expected to dock at its final port, Victoria, B.C., on Oct. 28.

Follow the voyage and learn more about the trip online.


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