On October 28, the Polar Prince will dock at Victoria Harbour, concluding its 23,000-kilometre journey from Toronto via the Northwest Passage.
The ice breaker and former Canadian Coast Guard vessel stopped at the Port of Vancouver on Monday en route to its final destination, where members of the media and guests were invited aboard for a tour.
The unique vessel was selected for Canada C3, a 150-day expedition divided into 15 legs that began on June 1.
By the time it reaches Victoria, the Polar Prince will have travelled from coast to coast to coast, carrying a total of 300 Canadians from every corner of the country. (Participants had to apply to participate, and each leg featured a diverse group complete with youth ambassadors, Indigenous leaders, scientists, musicians, artists, newcomers to Canada, Canadians with disabilities, politicians, and more.)
The expedition, a signature project of Canada's 150th anniversary, is meant to highlight four themes: diversity and inclusion, reconciliation, youth engagement, and the environment.
Expedition leader and founder Geoff Green first traveled to Arctic in 1994 and has since led over 120 expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic regions through Students on Ice, which he founded in 2000.
Though he's been on many journeys to the earth's polar regions, he says Canada C3 was unlike any trip he's ever experienced.
"This journey helps us look at the past of our country, including parts that we haven’t looked at as much," Green told a group of reporters, bringing up Canada's residential schools, and the more recent suicide epidemics in remote Indigenous communities.
"This voyage of reconciliation that our country is on, we have dove deep into that on this journey... from the moment we left Toronto, in the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee, to the moment we arrived here, we've been in traditional territory the whole journey, and we've been meeting and learning and sharing and healing," he said.
"It's been incredibly emotional to hear some of the stories, but that's kind of what this has become: a giant storytelling and sharing platform."
In addition to being a platform for storytelling, Green went on to describe the various initiatives that are taking place on the vessel. One such initiative includes an on-board laboratory, housed in a shipping container.
Kristi Miller is the head of the molecular genetics lab at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and used the on-board lab with her team to sample marine environments from coast to coast to coast.
"Most of our work is centered around biodiversity and environmental health, and properties of water quality," she said.
In the ship's hangar, C3 team members from each leg of the ship have left messages reflecting on their journey.
"Canadian Inuit welcome C3 to Inuit Nunangat!" reads one message.
"What a transformative week," reads another. "I feel privileged to have taken part."
The Polar Prince will be in Vancouver until Tuesday.
Check out images of the vessel below. Learn more about the expedition here.