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Queen’s student joins Canada 150 sea expedition

"Queen's student Thomas Dymond explains the Canada C3's route through the Northwest Passage"
Thomas Dymond makes a presentation on the Canada C3 project, a 150-day excursion aboard a refitted icebreaker from Toronto to Victoria through the Northwest Passage. Mr Dymond will be aboard the ship July 22 to July 29. (Photo by Andrew Van Overbeke)

One of Queen’s own has been selected to take part in a high profile expedition this summer as part of the Canada 150 project.

Thomas Dymond, a second-year student at the School of Medicine, says he is excited for the opportunity to work with the Canada C3 project, a 150-day excursion aboard a refitted icebreaker, as it sails from Toronto to Victoria through the Northwest Passage.

 The journey, Mr. Dymond says, is about engaging Canadians from coast to coast to coast: the three Cs which give the expedition its name.

“It’s about bringing people together and exposing different people to different parts of Canada, parts they wouldn’t otherwise get to see,” he says.

Mr. Dymond will be boarding the expedition from July 22 to July 29 as it travels its sixth leg from Nain, Newfoundland and Labrador, to Iqaluit, Nunavut. He will be joined by youth ambassadors like himself, as well as scientists, artists, and Indigenous elders, among others, each with a different representative role to play.

Of Mi’kmaq heritage and the recent recipient of a national Indspire Award for outstanding Indigenous youth advocacy, Mr. Dymond sees his role, first and foremost, as being a positive representative of his diverse identities.

“Regardless if I intend to only represent myself on this journey, I am still going to be looked on as an Indigenous person, as a youth, and as a medical student, and so I need to respect my representation of those identities,” he says.

As an Indigenous youth in particular, Mr. Dymond feels that his participation in the C3 expedition is an opportunity to promote conversation about the Canada 150 project and interact with the Indigenous resistance movement surrounding it.

“It will be challenging at times to go into places that may not be welcoming of the project. I am trying to go into this experience with an open mind and facilitate some of these difficult conversations,” he says, “We’re going into communities, many of which are Indigenous, to listen to their stories. We are not going there to shape those communities, but to learn from and be shaped by them.”

To Mr. Dymond, such a conversation means discussing the negatives of Canada’s colonial history, while also highlighting the achievements of the Indigenous population.

“I think it’s important for the conversation to include the movers and shakers, the people protesting Canada 150. But also to have the other side of it, the Indigenous population who believe that they can celebrate Canada 150 because it means that they are still present and thriving and are part of the movement towards reconciliation,” he says.

Mr. Dymond says it has been difficult for him to find positive representation of his community in the media. Ultimately, he hopes that by participating in this project he will be able to shed light on the prosperity of Aboriginal Canadians.

“I feel like most of the time, the media is so focused on the issues that Indigenous communities face,” says Mr. Dymond, “My hope for this project is to have positive experiences that I can then share at home and with Canada.”

As a part of this goal, Mr. Dymond will be broadcasting his Canada C3 experience through his personal social media accounts. To stay updated on his journey, visit him on Twitter and Instagram at @tdymond91.