Worldwide sailing expedition once-in-a-lifetime experience
- EFN Staff | September 20, 2017
Indigenous youth across Canada had a lifetime experience sailing across the Atlantic Ocean in a tall ship throughout the month of August. The shipping expedition called Msit No’kmaq: All My Relations which was a first-time initiative where 45 Indigenous youth from across Canada and Northwest Territories had the chance to be sailors. The sailors left Halifax on August 1st and sailed across to LeHavre, France on a ship called Gulden Leeuw.
“We learned all the ship stuff like how to set the sails, do all the knots, we did navigation and the steering and we [also] cleaned the ship,” said facilitator Cheryl Bear. “We came up with programs to do while we were on the ship.”
Bear from the Flying Dust First Nation was invited by the founder and CEO Pytor Hodgson of Three Things Consulting, an Indigenous owned company from Kingston, Ontario that helps with youth engagement and community program development in collaboration with non-government organizations in every province and territory across the nation.
“He asked me if I wanted to go and I said no twice [but] he kept asking me,” she said. “I’m really glad I went because it was very life changing.”
At first, Bear was seasick but it didn’t take her long to enjoy the exciting ocean life where they saw dolphins along with a moon fish, whales, jellyfish, an octopus, a shark and a sea turtle. Bear said it was one of the most memorable experiences she’s ever heard.
“I never had an interest to go on the ocean,” she said, “When the opportunity presented itself, I was scared because it’s the ocean and I don’t know what’s in there.”
Part of the ship expectations for the sailors was to walk the red road throughout the trip by incorporating the programs created by the facilitators and the Three Things Consulting company. One program that Bear introduced to everyone on the ship was called the 46th Warrior where sailors reflected on who they thought would benefit from the sailing trip whether if the person has passed on or stuck in addictions.
None of the sailors had internet or cell services sailing across the ocean so they entertained themselves through conversations from reconciliation to how the Europeans came to Canada.
“All the conversations were deep. It was nice to see everyone making connections and building friendships,” she said.
Elisha Merasty, 18, from Flying Dust First Nation was one of the youth that attended the sailing trip. She said it was an experience that she is still trying to process in her mind.
“It felt real surreal to me,” she said. “It was amazing. I never thought I would be able to do something like that.”
Merasty said the most memorable part of the trip was making new friends on the ship and seeing the ocean wildlife.
“I had only seen dolphins in movies but was excited when I saw a dolphin [on the sailing trip],” Merasty said. “Being in the middle of the ocean, it didn’t feel real to me because stuff like that doesn’t happen to normal people.”
The Regional Chief for Newfoundland and Nova Scotia Morley Googoo and who also holds the education portfolio for the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) had the idea to send 45 Indigenous youth to France. The participants sailed on the tall ship on August 1st and arrived in France on August 24th.