An icebreaker in Victoria has packed up special cargo as it prepares to embark on a long journey to the Arctic.

More than 30 bicycles were loaded onto the Canadian Coast Guard’s Sir Wilfrid Laurier at the Victoria Coast Guard Base on Thursday.

The initiative is part of the ‘Polar Bike Project’ – an employee-driven charity that will deliver the donated bikes to kids in an isolated community in Nunavut.

The project was originally started by Alison Harper, a woman who moved to Kugluktuk with her husband a few years ago.

The couple brought their mountain bikes with them and were struck by the lack of bicycles in the town. They also realized how interested the local kids were when they saw the equipment.

Polar Bike Project

Last year, Michael Crummy of the Victoria CCG heard about the project and realized that the coast guard sails past the community on its annual trek to the Arctic. He managed to get 13 donated bikes together to send to the kids.

“We’re looking for kid’s bikes, we got a real mix and that’s kind of nice because the kids get to use it. Some of their families get to use them as well,” Crummy said.

This year the project collected 38 bicycles to bring to Taloyoak – a small town of roughly 850 people.

Crummy said he hopes that next year they’ll be able to collect 50 bikes as well as biking equipment like tire pumps, spare parts and helmets.

polar bike project

The overall goal is to get bikes to kids who would otherwise not have access to the gear.

“You can’t just drive up there, the places that the ship goes to, there are no roads,” Crummy told CTV News. “Basically it’s either ship or aircraft and that’s what makes this so advantageous for us and for the communities because this ship goes past all those communities.”

The ship is set to sail July 1.

Every year about 30 crew members and up to 20 scientists embark on an 18-week journey conducting various tasks - including icebreaking, aids and navigation work, search and rescue and outreach to coastal communities.

“It feels great, it’s a no lose situation, it really is. It gives you chance to do something nice for kids and that’s what matters,” Crummy said.

If you want to donate to the project you can call the Coast Guard at 250-480-2600.

For more information you can visit the Facebook page here.