UBC grads travel the country with only $150 to celebrate Canada 150
Hitchhikers prove there is plenty of generosity, support in Canada.
University of B.C. graduates Ori Nevares and Phil Roberge have found a particularly unique way to celebrate Canada’s 150 years of Confederation — hitchhiking across the country with only $150 each.
Inspired by the free Parks Canada pass being offered as part of the Canada 150 celebrations, the pair applied for grants to travel across the country, go to each of the parks and capture the natural beauty. They were met with a lack of support both from those offering grants and from family and friends.
Not to be deterred, they turned their project from focusing on nature to focusing on people.
Having departed from Yellowknife, N.W.T. on July 8 and now in Moncton, N.B., (as of press time) on their way to St. John’s, Nevares and Roberge have spent only $9.99 of their budget. Though they have tents, food and the necessary supplies to be self-sufficient, the culture of hitchhiking has resulted in many invitations for a meal or a place to crash.
“It’s been surprisingly good. … We’ve had nothing but good experiences the whole way,” Nevares said over the phone as he and Roberge walked along the side of the highway in Moncton looking for a ride to Antigonish, N.S.
Nevares and Roberge both said one of the highlights of the trip thus far was going on a lobster fishing boat in Baiesainte-anne, N.B. The pair spent 11 hours on the boat, assisting and observing the fisherman, ending the day with lobster and champagne, an unexpected treat for a trip on a tight budget.
“It was really cool to see an insight into a fisherman’s life,” Roberge says of the experience.
When asked what he is looking forward to for the rest of the trip, Roberge says, “I’m really looking forward to puffins in Newfoundland,” explaining that he has wanted to see them since he was young and hopes to have the chance to take photographs and video of the birds.
“I think the trust among one another should be improved,” says Nevares, explaining how all the people they have met along the way have been truly wonderful, shattering many of the perceptions about hitchhiking.
“There were a lot of incredible people, and Canada is full of them and we’d encourage the youth to go explore,” says Roberge, adding hitchhiking can be a wonderful experience as long as you take the necessary precautions.
As they moved across the country, they collected stories of people who have given them a ride. They have been posting these stories on their Facebook page along with short videos of themselves, updating how the trip is going.
Upon arriving in St. John’s, Nevares and Roberge will go to Signal Hill, where their journey will be officially completed. They also plan to have a pint of beer and donate the money left over from their trip to charity.
At the end of their trip, they plan to accumulate the video footage into a full-length documentary and possibly create a book from the stories they have been told.
Ori Nevares, left, and Phil Roberge are hitchhiking from Yellowknife, N.W.T. to St. John’s.
Ori Nevares and Phil Roberge in Dawson Creek, B.C.