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Emma Berthou and Khairunnisa Intiar are pictured aboard the C3 ship, the Polar Prince, off Quebec’s Magdalen Islands. (Ossie Michelin) The conversations that and non-Indigenous participants are having on board a former Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker, the Polar Prince, are helping them understand each other, and the country, better.

Travelling since June 1 from Toronto to Victoria via the Northwest Passage as part of the Canada C3 Program — C3 stands for "coast to coast to coast" — the ship brings Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants together. It’s a signature project of Canada 150, funded by Canadian Heritage.

And the topic of Indigenous Peoples and comes up again and again.

"We learned about Indigenous culture in elementary school and high school in a very generic, vague way," said Anna Velasco, who was born and raised in Vancouver.

"So for me to have an Indigenous person sitting beside me in my cabin, or next door, or sitting across from me at dinner has been very eye-opening, and it makes me feel closer to my colleagues on C3, learning how to respect their culture as a non-Indigenous person." The C3 ship, a former Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker called the Polar Prince, is travelling from Toronto to Victoria via the Northwest Passage. (Canada C3 Program) Velasco, who identifies as Filipino-Canadian, said that after living and working in New York City for over five years she felt the need to rediscover Canada and the people who live here from a new perspective.

Participants applied for the C3 program by submitting a short video explaining why they wanted to go on the ship. Organizers selected a diverse cross-section of participants from across the country, including Indigenous people, non-Indigenous people who are born in Canada, and newcomers to the country.

More than 5,000 people applied for approximately 200 spots on […]

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