WINNIPEG — A man paddling his canoe across the country to raise awareness for veterans suffering from PTSD is making a stop in Winnipeg.
Mike Ranta, 45, is making his way across Canada from Vancouver to Cape Breton Island.
“I couldn’t think of a more Canadian way than to paddle from coast to coast, going Legion to Legion, getting the signatures of these guys, personally shaking their hands to say thank you,” he said.
The inspiration came from one of his mentors, an avid canoeist and Korean War veteran, who died two years ago.
His brother is also a veteran of the conflict in Bosnia.
He’s already been paddling on the water for almost 70 days, lost 60 pounds and is accompanied only by his dog, Spitzii.
“He’s my navigator, my chief bear scarer and just my all around best friend, hands down,” said Ranta.
He plans to stop at The Forks and visit Legion halls in the city to have veterans sign his canoe, something that’s been happening at stops throughout his trip.
Ranta has encountered some wildlife along the way. He said he rescued a baby moose that was stuck in a logjam and saw several mountain lions and bears, all of which help to break up the long days on the water.
After passing through The Forks, Ranta will head north on the Red River towards Lake Winnipeg and then turn east on the Winnipeg River.
He hopes to be in his hometown of Atikokan, Ontario by Canada Day and then end his trip on Cape Breton Island by the end of September.