The Mission to Seafarers: Port of Thunder Bay
Updated 26 Jan 2022
Over the past 5 years, 100 to 130 ocean-going vessels come each year to Thunder Bay with crews from India, Philippines, Poland, Ukraine, Netherlands and many other countries. English is the working language on these ships.
The purpose of the Mission to Seafarers is to promote the spiritual, moral and physical well being of seafarers and their families world-wide. The Mission to Seafarers is an Anglican Mission, with stations in every region of the world. It operates the Seafarers' Centre located at Keefer Terminal, 100 Main St. (extension of the Harbour Expressway). Christian principles and the practice of the Anglican Diocese of Algoma and the Mission to Seafarers of London, England guide the Mission.
About 25 volunteers work for the local Mission to Seafarers, of which about 15 who work as a Watch Keeper/Driver.
Watch Keeper Staff the Seafarers' Centre: answer the phone and coordinate pickups with the Driver; visit with seafarers and assist them in contacting their families by selling SIM Cards, souvenirs, stamps and post-cards; distributing clothing, Bibles and magazines; and assisting seafarers in any way possible. This work involves looking after petty cash.
Driver Drive a 10 passenger van, pick up seafarers at their ship, take them to the Seafarers' Centre and/or shopping and sometimes to Fort William Historical Park or Kakabeka Falls and return them to their ship.
It is preferred that a volunteer is both a Watch Keeper and a Driver, while some prefer to be one or the other. When they are both, it gives more flexibility in terms of staffing the Seafarers' Centre.
Ship Visitor Visit ships in the afternoon: dropping off a bag with magazines and tourist information and making appointments for pick-ups with the Missionís van. The Ship Visitor may agree to seafarersí requests for assistance if he or she can help.
Other volunteers help with office work, maintenance, fund-raising or being a Director or a Person-in-charge.
Skills, Knowledge and Attitudes
Watch Keepers should be able to use a calculator. Drivers require a G license, and acceptance as a Driver depends on the insurance company not disqualifying a Driver. Volunteers must support the purpose of the Mission and be able to get themselves to the Seafarers Centre; it is not on a bus route.
Volunteers, who have experience as a Watch Keeper and as a Driver and are able bodied, can become a Ship Visitor.
The Seafarers' Centre is normally staffed with a Watch Keeper and a Driver, and when possible a third volunteer. The Chaplain is responsible for training and supervision of Watch Keepers and Drivers and is in overall charge of the operation of the Seafarersí Centre. The Board of Directors oversees him.
The Seafarers' Centre is staffed March 25 to December 21, with the busiest times in May and October to December. Watch Keepers and Drivers are scheduled one night per week; and they are called in if a ship is alongside, which is about 55% of the time or 133 nights. Ship Visitors are scheduled one afternoon per week. Allowance is made for volunteers who go away or need time off. Volunteers, who can be flexible about the night they can come in, will be given more opportunity to help.
The gratitude of the seafarers is the main benefit.
Interested persons are invited to contact the Chaplain. The Chaplain will interview them at the Seafarers' Centre. A visit to the Seafarersí Centre will be arranged when seafarers are in to see what goes on. It they are interested in becoming a volunteer, they will be accepted for a 3-month probationary period. They are given an orientation session, a port tour and on-the-job training, and a handbook has been written for them to use as a resource.
A Ship Visitor is expected to complete the Ship Welfare Visitor course within one year of being appointed as a Ship Visitor. This course has an on-line component and 6 ship visits with a short report for each visit that is given to the Chaplain.
The Chaplain and designated volunteers provide on-going supervision. Volunteers are invited to attend the monthly Eucharist and lunch on the first Wednesday of the month at 12:10 p.m.. During COVID-19 we are not offering the Eucharist, but instead mid-day prayers on Zoom. Contact Canon Ed for the link.
Contact Canon Ed Swayze, Chaplain, (807) 626-2571.