While most students look forward to the summer heat, one Queen’s medical student spent his July in the chilly northern-Canadian landscape.
Thomas Dymond, Med ’20, was one of almost 5000 individuals to apply to embark on the Canada C3 expedition this July — a 150-day boat excursion that traveled from Toronto to Victoria via the Northwest Passage. On April 25, Dymond was confirmed as a youth ambassador for the expedition, making him one of the lucky 350 to 400 to be accepted.
The C3 trip was created as a voyage to celebrate Canada’s 150 years of confederation. The 150 celebration has been criticised by Indigenous activists and allies for failing to properly acknowledge Indigenous groups and Canada’s history of mistreating Aboriginal communities.
Dymond applied to and embarked on leg six of the 15-section expedition, where they started the trip in Nain, Nunatsiavut on July 22. After starting in the largest community of that region, the group ventured north towards Iqaluit, where their portion of the trip ended on July 29. Although his trip was just seven days, the entire 150-day journey began on June 1 and will continue until October 28.
Throughout the trip, they stopped at locations such as Hebron, an abandoned community that was forcibly relocated in 1959, and the Torngat Mountains National Park.
According to the Canada C3 website, this Canada 150 signature expedition was a journey that explored four primary themes as it traveled from “coast to coast to coast.” The four themes — diversity and inclusion, reconciliation, youth engagement and the environment — are reflected upon through a variety of projects, programs, ideas and stories of individuals from across the country.
The excursion aimed to give Canadians “new perspectives, triggering unexpected connections and sparking fresh ideas on how to build a better Canada.”
Dymond, who heralds from Nova Scotia and is of Mi’kmaq heritage, is a strong advocate for the Indigenous community.
During the expedition, Dymond had the chance to give a workshop to a youth community and engage in discussions about topics like reconciliation and diversity.
Looking back on the experience, Dymond said it allowed him to gain “a larger appreciation for how vast Canada as a nation is.”
“I think it’s important for people who are non-Indigenous to go to these places and see these communities and to meet these people firsthand,” he said.
Despite the controversial reaction from Indigenous communities to the 150 celebration, Dymond said there was a “major Indigenous component to the journey,” and conversations surrounding reconciliation were always organic and genuine throughout the trip.
“There was a lot of resistance towards Canada 150, and I still can appreciate that resistance and why people have an issue with Canada 150. But a project like this Canada C3 project, is really doing something more than just celebrating Canada,” Dymond said. “It’s really connecting a lot of places and a lot of people that would never have the opportunity to ever be connected ever again.”
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