Penelakut Island BC
Thanks to a committed group of people, led by Melvina James and Augie Sylvester, the canoe races on Penelakut Island (formerly Kuper) are making a comeback. 2019 marks the 3rd year that this culturally essential sporting event is being revived after a 50 + year hiatus.
“In the old days there were 40 or 50 canoes competing at each of the races --from clubs up and down the coast” recalls Penelakut elder Augie Sylvester. “Everyone was excited because all of the reserves and nations were re-united at the races”.
“Historically, the whole community was involved” said Tribal Council member Sharon Cross, “the men and women in the community would prepare physically, spiritually, and culturally for the events”. She went on to describe how honouring the spirit of the canoe required that it be “cleansed and prepared before journeying onto the waters”, and that the canoe pullers likewise “need[ed] to be physically fit and mentally prepared…”and live clean lives”.
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