A Rocky Mountain House man will see Canada from a unique Arctic vantage point, during a Canada 150 voyage through the Northwest Passage this summer.
Jordan Bertagnolli is one of three youth ambassadors from Alberta selected for a signature Canada 150 project called Canada C3. With other participants chosen from across the country, “it’s a big honour to be given this opportunity to represent my community and my province,” said the 24-year-old University of Calgary biology student and competitive speed skater.
Bertagnolli will spend a week on a 67-metre former Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker vessel for one leg of a 150-day expedition along Canada’s three coasts.
The journey’s total scope entails sailing from Toronto (leaving June 1), along the St. Lawrence River, then up Canada’s Atlantic coast to the Northwest Passage. The ship will skirt the coastlines of Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon, rounding Alaska to end up in Victoria, B.C. on Oct. 28.
Bertagnolli will be on board from Aug. 27 to Sept. 2, sailing from Cambridge Bay to Kugluktuk, Nunavut. Having only been as far north as Grande Prairie, he believes this will be a fascinating stretch, with the ship passing through Terror Bay on the southwest side of King William Island.
In 2016, Arctic Research Foundation found the wreck of HMS Terror, one of the ships of John Franklin’s lost expedition, in this bay after Inuit hunter Sammy Kogvik, a Canadian Rangers member on an Arctic Research Foundation expedition, reported seeing a mast protruding from the ice during a hunting trip in about 2009.
The Canada C3 journey will include scientists, youths, artists and interactions with local communities. The aim is to engage Canadians in a dialogue about our nation’s future, said Bertagnolli, who applied for the project after seeing a televised report about it.
“I’m hoping to get a better understanding of our country… We have all these different cultures and such a huge land-mass that divides us. I think the voyage will help break down some of these geographical barriers.”
Bertagnolli, who’s organizing camp programs for Rocky youths this summer, looks forward to the project’s interactive learning experiences. Real-time question-and-answer sessions will be digitally offered to K-12 students so they can converse with scientists on the ship, or while doing shore explorations and ocean dives.
Bertagnolli’s main duties will be connecting with indigenous Canadians, helping support reconciliation and “diversity of inclusion.” As well, the project will consider climate change impacts in the North, and “I have a passion for the environment,” he said.
Canada C3 project is offered by the non-profit Students on Ice Foundation, a leader in polar education, with funding from the federal government, as well as some private sponsorships.