A Visit to Halifax: Strengthening Seafarers’ Welfare

May 27-29, Halifax, Nova Scotia

During a recent visit to Halifax, Nova Scotia, the focus was firmly set on seafarers’ welfare.

Day 1: Exploring The Mission

On Monday, the tour of The Mission to Seafarers facility was led by Mission Manager Helen Glenn. Helen showcased the latest additions to the center, including a new deck and basketball court, a cozy sitting room, and several other upgrades. The Mission serves as a welcoming home away from home for seafarers, with a dynamic staff and more than 30 committed volunteers providing essential services like cooking, cleaning, and transportation.

Day 2: Presenting at the ACPA Board Meeting

The core purpose of the trip was to present a report on the financing of seafarers’ welfare centers in Canada at the Association of Canadian Port Authorities (ACPA) Board meeting. This opportunity was facilitated by Debbie Murray, chair of the Canadian National Seafarers’ Welfare Board. The presentation highlighted the project’s origins in a Gap Analysis conducted the previous year and the support from the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, and other peer countries. The presentation spurred significant questions and some firm commitments to study the issue further with local teams.

Innovation at The Pier

The ACPA meetings were held at The Pier, a collaborative workspace in the Port of Halifax, home to several maritime startups. The sessions included pitches from over a dozen startups focused on AI, autonomous boats, improved drivetrains, better weather reporting, and eco-friendly innovations. The showcase of innovation aimed at increasing efficiency, enhancing safety, and reducing emissions was truly impressive.

The Mission to Seafarers Canada Board Meeting

Concurrently, The Mission to Seafarers Canada Board, led by chair Bud Streeter and including Liaison Bishop David Edwards of Fredrickton, NB, and Board member Eric Phinney from Port Saint John, was also in town. The region is managed by The Rev’d Judith Alltree, who has been instrumental on the National Seafarers’ Welfare Board, particularly in the initiative to revive a seafarers’ welfare mission in St. John’s, NL. Judith has announced her retirement but remains passionately involved until the end of her term.

Farewell to a Champion

This visit also marked the last overseas trip of The Rev’d Canon Andrew Wright of The Mission to Seafarers before his retirement. Andrew, a steadfast advocate for seafarers’ welfare for over a decade, shared his insights on the value of partnerships and the importance of staying focused on core missions.

Engaging with New Chaplains

Time was spent with new chaplain Jason Flinn and part-time chaplain Andrew Cooke, a retired Canadian Navy Chaplain. Jason, previously a teacher and now a grief counselor, provided fresh perspectives alongside the seasoned experience of Deacon Art Mitchell, Stella Maris chaplain and recipient of the Peter G. Bernard Award from the International Sailors’ Society Canada, recognizing significant contributions to seafarers’ welfare. It was great to meet also with Kevin Walker who assists NAMMA on research and other key programs.

Celebration of Volunteers

The three-day visit concluded with a celebration dinner for the volunteers at The Mission. The joy and camaraderie among the team were palpable. Helen Glenn, Andrew Wright, and Judith Alltree expressed their gratitude to the volunteers. The Halifax Mission to Seafarers stands as a model for missions worldwide, and the seafood chowder served at the celebration was a delightful end to a meaningful visit.


NAMMA members receive a print copy of The MARE Report, NAMMA’s annual magazines for seafarer’s welfare professionals