Since opening its doors three years ago, the Prince Rupert Seafarers’ Centre has hosted over 10,000 sailors and those whose lives and careers depend on the Pacific Ocean. It was exactly those fok who were the subjects of celebration last Thursday afternoon.
This fifth annual Day of the Seafarer, recognized every June 25 by Canada’s Ministry of Transportation and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a United Nations agency responsible for the safety and security of shipping, made its way to the shores of Prince Rupert and both the Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA) and the Prince Rupert Lighthouse and Harbour Ministry staff were on hand to honour those with “careers at sea” – the theme of the day.
“It’s just a recognition of the sacrifices these guys make, leaving their homes and their families for long periods of time and not being able to communicate. So when they come to a port and they come off the ship, they come to a place where they can relax and they can go on Wi-Fi, they can go on the telephone and shop,” said chairman of the Lighthouse and Harbour Ministry Society and Seafarers’ Centre Norm Craddock.
“We try to make it as attractive a place as we can for them.”
A lounge at the centre on Third Avenue filled with games, computers, couches and more welcomes those coming from all over the world and the PRPA helped out with a large lunch and cake and $5,000 towards the centre’s operations.
“We talk about being a port on a global scale and a part of that also means being a part of a global shipping community and a mission like this is certainly a part of making sure that there is a community here. When [seafarers] visit us, the centre ensures they have a home away from home and that can’t be understated. And so, from the port authority, it gives us great pride and pleasure and it’s certainly very appropriate that we support this mission as well as we can and we’re very happy to be doing that,” said PRPA director of public affairs Ken Veldman.
A release by the port authority mentions that the typical visitor works under a 10-month contract on vessels and some even longer.
“We’re proud to be one of many organizations around the world who specifically support international mariners while they’re in port and taking a break from their duties at sea,” Craddock also said in the release.
The money contributed by the port will go towards the upkeep of two vans that help transport sailors to and from the ships as well as the centre’s property tax payments.
Both locally and abroad, seafarers were under the spotlight as Canadian Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt chimed in, in another release from Ottawa.
“I encourage all seafarers to share their stories and all Canadians to acknowledge those who earn a living at sea and their contributions to Canada’s prosperity,” Raitt said.
Approximately 15 volunteers help out with the Seafarers’ Centre and anyone wishing to get involved can call 250-624-6724 between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. or 250-624-8237.