My Canada C3 Experience: Paul Sawka

Crossposted with permission.

Originally posted on August 8, 2017 by CDSS Admin

By Paul Sawka

Photos are from Paul and from Canada C3 (Jackie Dives Photo and Yanick Lesperance Photo & Films)

Hey Canada, it’s Paul here. I just got back from a very exciting trip on the Canada C3 ship. I had a great time and I would like to share my trip with all of you. An organization that educates students on the importance of the Arctic, called Students on Ice contacted me to be a part of their Canada C3 expedition. Canada C3 is a project for Canada’s 150th Anniversary; it’s a 150-day sailing trip from Toronto to Victoria. Its goal is to connect Canadians. Henk van der Molen from Students on Ice read my blog and contacted me to ask me to be a part of one of the legs on the trip because they wanted someone with a disability to be represented. After talking with my parents, we decided this would be a once in a lifetime experience, I could not say no.

So, on July 21st I left for my adventure from Calgary.

Here is what we did on the trip:

On Saturday July 22nd, I met my “buddy” Jim and the rest of the crew and staff of C3. We flew from Montreal to Kuujjuaq, where we stayed in the airport for one hour, then flew to Nain in Labrador. The plane was very small. After the plane ride we met Vicky, my new friend, and my bunk mate Trevor. Trevor and I stayed in cabin 73. It was a very small room with a bunk bed; I slept on the bottom bunk so I didn’t fall off! Being on the ship felt funny at first but the crew, staff and everyone on board were very welcoming.

On Sunday July 23rd, we got to visit Nain and went to a church. We had lunch with all of the participants at the Parks Office and I met a girl named Aaku and she has Down syndrome just like me! The day finished with a sharing circle, everyone shared what they thought of the day and what they learned.

On Monday July 24th, we spent the morning on the ship and watched a Documentary called “Forever in our Hearts”. It talked all about Hebron’s Inuit population having to move. After lunch we got to visit Hebron, we went to a church and walked around a graveyard. I also met Yves who was a helicopter pilot and he asked me to be his copilot, I got to sit in the front seat! We flew through mountains and saw huge icebergs too.

I have never seen icebergs in real life, but I got to see them on the helicopter ride and from the ship. They were huge! When we spotted a polar bear, he was walking on a big iceberg too. It had big claws to capture and eat seals. I’m glad I was on the ship and not on land! It was a lot of fun.

On Wednesday July 26th, we anchored at Ramah Bay in the Torngat Mountains National Park and took the zodiac to the beach for an open air concert. Later that day my friend John, Trevor and I got together and formed a band. The band practiced for the big show on Friday!

On Thursday July 27th, we anchored in Eclipse Sound and took the zodiac to see a wonderful waterfall. Jim, the zodiac driver, let me steer the zodiac. I saw a bear and seal out on the shores. I couldn’t believe my eyes!

Friday July 28th was our last day on the ship. We spent the day cruising in the zodiacs on the ocean and watched presentations about Canada, but we finished the day off with a bang! Our band was called “The Canada C3 Just Not Fair Band” because we performed the song “It’s Just Not Fair” by Eric Nagler, but we changed the lyrics to be all about being on the ship. John played the guitar and Trevor and I tapped our feet and sang the song. It was great to have everyone dancing along to our song!

I enjoyed my whole trip, but my favourite experiences were exploring a new part of Canada and learning about it, the icebergs and polar bear sightings, the food, and our band.

I learned all about the Inuit people. Before my trip I didn’t know anything about them. Now I understand a lot more.

My experience on Canada C3 was a great one. I got to learn about Canadian history, I got to explore and see a part of the world many people don’t get to see, I also made new friends from all across Canada! I am grateful to have been chosen for this trip and am thankful for all of the friendships I made along the way.