A view of the Atlantic ocean as seen on a fishing boat, with the Canada flag hoisted on the back of the boatJune is Ocean month, with June 8 marking World Ocean Day each year. Dr. Shane Theunissen, an Associate Professor in the department of Child and Youth Study, brings his love of the sea into the classroom and beyond year-round through his passion for sailing.

This time last year, Dr. Theunissen launched of 40 Degrees North, a joint venture with Todd Ellis to raise money for The Nova Scotia Sea School. The cross-Atlantic journey was undertaken to shine a light on the Nova Scotia Sea School, a program that teaches youth sailing, and to raise money for their bursary program. The name “40 Degrees North: Where Change Begins” comes from the route they sailed.

Todd Ellis, Dr. Shane Theunissen, and Jack, posing beside their team bannerWith a $10,000 fundraising goal, Shane, Todd and Shane’s (at the time) 15-year-old son Jack left Halifax on a 2,500 nautical mile journey to Lisbon, Portugal. But the weather had other plans for their final destination. After island hopping through the Azores and setting their final approach on Portugal, the winds picked up causing them to change course to Spain, highlighting that long-distance sailing is about the journey, not the destination. More about their journey can be found on the 40 Degree North blog.

Shane’s passion for sailing is well known at MSVU. In 2018, he began a boat building program that connects undergraduate students with youth at HomeBridge Youth Society. He partnered with the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and with the help of Eamonn Doorly, Marine Conservation Assistant, the group constructed a 12-foot-long “Bevin’s Skiff,” a traditional wooden row boat that can be readily assembled in a short period of time. Some of the previously built boats were showcased at the MSVU Art Galley last fall in the exhibit Life Cycle of a Boat.

A waterfall located in the AzoresShane also co-edited The Collected Stories of the Warriors of the Red Road at Sea with Child and Youth Study Associate Professor Dr. Sarah Reddington. The book is a compilation of first voice reflections of 45 Indigenous youth aged 15-24 who set sail from Halifax to Le Havre, France aboard the tall ship Gulden Leeuw in the summer of 2017. Copies of the book are available upon request and by donation: contact Dr. Shane Theunissen, shane.theunissen@msvu.ca.

All proceeds from the book go to the 46th Warrior Fund, named for the 46th Warrior who the youth often spoke of on their trans-Atlantic journey. The 46th Warrior is the one who couldn’t make the trip, the one who should have been there with them. This fund provides financial support for Indigenous Canadians to attend Mount Saint Vincent University and other Indigenous youth initiatives across Canada. A dolphin swimming in the Atlantic ocean