As part of their annual Canoe Journey and to strengthen links with Huu-ay-aht First Nations, Ahousaht canoers arrived to Pachena Bay on July 23.
A delegation, composed mostly by Huu-ay-aht’s beach keeper family (Peters), Ta’yii Ḥaw̓ił Derek Peters, his mother Norah, his daughter Olivia, his speaker Wish-key and Government staff welcomed the canoes ashore by following ancient protocols, at around 2 p.m. Afterwards the team leaders introduced themselves to the audience, cheered and had time to rest before the feast.
The annual Canoe Journey started in Seattle, in 1989. A teacher named Emmett Oliver (Quinault) wanted to give First Nations proper representation at the State of Washington’s centennial celebration and came up with the idea. This year, it was broken into different routes with stopovers that allowed paddlers to rest and others to join the teams along the journey. In this way it was less time consuming, safer and more affordable.
Ahousaht Youth Counsellor Louie Frank Jr. (ciixʷis) was among the canoe pullers. He said paddling together taught the youth and other citizens what collaborative teamwork means. It was also a good workout, reinforced their values and revitalized their traditions.
Dorothy George, member of the ground crew, said approximately 150 people were part of this adventure and represented four generations. She was delighted to be at Pachena Bay.
Guardian and Social worker at USMA, Penny Mathews, considered this a unique opportunity for kids in foster care. They were visiting our Cultural Camp, received cedar headbands, witnessed the arrival of the canoes and shared dinner with the crowd. At least 10 of the children have Huu-ay-aht ancestors or are citizens, while two belong to Ahousaht.
Six canoes in total took part – four black and two white ones. Some of them were unnamed, one of them featured a hummingbird and the rest had names such as Clipper and Quw̕utsun. Huu-ay-aht acknowledges the generosity of Georgie Nookemus Jr. who donated crab, Jane Peters who prepared a pasta dish, which was devoured in seconds, Judy Johnson for the fish, Zelta Clappis for the bannock and other dishes, USMA for the Caesar salad, Pachena Bay Campground staff for their support, and BMSC students Aviva Lessard, Ian Sellers, Kierstin Hamilton and Ria Hoyer, who volunteered for the set up and cooking.
With information from:
Ahousaht, Muckleshoot, Semiahmoo and Sliammon Host Canoe Journeys
Richard Walker (July 2nd, 2015)