The Tsq’escen First Nation (Canim Lake Band) has been loaned a new canoe to take part in the ‘22 Pulling Together Canoe Journey July 11-21.
Dave Loop, program officer for Indigenous engagement and restorative justice for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, presented the band with the Sto:méx Skwo-wech, or Sturgeon Warrior, on Tuesday, June 21 – National Indigenous Peoples Day. The loan comes after the band’s canoe was damaged last year when its storage shed collapsed due to flooding.
Chief Helen Henderson said Simpcw First Nations fisheries and wildlife coordinator, Tina Donald, pulled some strings and arranged the loan.
“We have plans in place to purchase one but apparently there’s only one place in the province that you can have them tailor-made,” Henderson said, noting the band will have to raise funds to buy a replacement.
Loop said the DFO was happy to loan the canoe to the band so its members take part in this year’s Pulling Together journey, which takes place this year in the traditional territory of the Secwepemc. The 10-day journey brings together First Nations communities, police, other public service agencies and youth in an effort to enhance and improve relationships between the police and First Nations.
“We weren’t using it for Pulling Together and I knew Canim Lake was in need, so this is a good place for it,” Loop said. “I’m hoping it comes back to us in a good way with new lessons, new teachings and good feelings from this community.”
The canoe will be on loan from June 21 until July 21 when the Pulling Together wraps up. Henderson said Canim Lake has been asked to host the last leg of this year’s journey, which will take place on Green Lake. Traditionally the canoe journey is done on the river, but high water levels have scuttled this option.
“We’re doing just lakes which is ideal for us as the people of the lakes,” Henderson said. “Pulling Together brings youth of indigenous communities together and gets them out on the water. We’re a firm believer in water-based healing and this journey should be healing for our youth.”