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 marked the third year that this culturally essential sporting event was held after a 50+ year hiatus. What a day and what a success! A day for the whole community and for all ages.
“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 described how honouring the spirit of the canoe requires that it be “cleansed and prepared before journeying onto the waters,” and that the canoe pullers likewise “need to be physically fit and mentally prepared…and live clean lives.”
Thanks to all who participated and who supported this event.