Geoff Green, Canada C3 vessel expedition leader, points out a lacrosse stick in the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Legacy Room aboard the icebreaker boat. (KARL YU/The News Bulletin)

VIDEO: Canada C3 celebrates Canada 150, raises subject of reconciliation

Research icebreaker, travelling the country's oceans as part of 150 celebrations, docks in Nanaimo

The Canada C3 vessel embodies the celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary and doesn’t gloss over uncomfortable parts of history.

The research icebreaker has been travelling across the country on a 150-day journey with the intent of celebrating the environment, sharing stories of coastal communities and connecting citizens, but it also addressed the poor treatment of aboriginal peoples, according to Geoff Green, C3 founder and expedition leader.

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The vessel had the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Legacy Room, after the late lead singer of the Tragically Hip and a First Nations boy who ran away from a residential school in Kenora, Ont. and subsequently died from exposure and hunger when he attempted a 600-kilometre walk back to his home.

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Green said it’s the heart and soul of the ship and the first of its kind in Canada.

“It’s meant to be a safe, sacred place to bring together indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians to help heal, learn and to share, learn about some of the real horrible parts of Canada’s history, like residential schools … other ways our indigenous peoples have been mistreated and I think Canada 150 is an amazing opportunity to look ahead,” said Green. “We have to learn from the past and tell those stories, make sure Canadians know what happened. Heal this relationship and then look to the future.”

Green said even those aboriginal children that did make it home were never the same, but one thing he’s seen on the Canada C3 journey is there is hope.

“There’s conversation happening that wasn’t happening before,” said Green. “There’s an awakening taking place that I think is going to lead towards a turning point, but we have to make sure that we get there and if we don’t it’s our failure and we can’t let that happen.”

The Canada C3’s journey will conclude in Victoria next Saturday, Oct. 28.

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