BC Timber Sales and Campbell River-area First Nations council provide cedar log for canoe carving

BC Timber Sales (BCTS) and the Nanwakolas Council have provided a large western red cedar log to Carihi Secondary School to be used by students and staff to carve a traditional canoe under the guidance of Indigenous students, artists and Elders.

Inspired by the Qatuwas, the gathering of the canoes in Campbell River, Carihi Secondary School principal Fred Schaub and teachers Ray Wilson and Jeffrey Lontayao began planning the project two years ago. The project is endorsed by Wei Wai Kum, Wei Wai Kai, Homalco and Klahoose First Nation councils, as well as the Métis National Council. The project will provide Indigenous students with the opportunity to take on a leadership role with other students and staff across School District 72.

“We are deeply honoured and humbled by being entrusted with this cedar log from our local Indigenous communities and Nations as a symbol of their trust and generosity,” said Fred Schaub, principal, Carihi Secondary school. “With this gesture comes a great responsibility to us, as a school and as a school district, to work closely and under the guidance of our local Indigenous communities, an opportunity to show reconciliation in action. As this canoe emerges from its tree, we will work hard to build trust and collaboration at all levels in education and in the community. We invite everyone to be a member on this canoe journey, from the tree in the forest to the canoe in the water. As with any other canoe journey, we will get to our destination with a skilled person at the helm, pullers who pull together and many support persons helping us on the way.”

READ MORE: ‘The legacy Carihi gives to the community’

When the Nanwakolas Council requested assistance locating a 1.5-metre by 9.1-metre (five-foot by 30-foot) red cedar log from BCTS’ Strait of Georgia Campbell River operating area, BCTS operations technician Dave Hamilton took on the logistical tasks of locating, banding, falling and delivering the log from the operating area to the school grounds. The tree was located in the traditional territories of the Tlowitsis First Nation and We Wai Kai First Nation. Both fully support the project.

With the assistance and expertise of carver and instructor Max Chickite, a member of We Wai Kai First Nation, Hamilton found a large cultural tree in the Eve River Valley suitable for carving a canoe. Students from the Carihi Secondary forestry class were treated to a field trip that included learning the process of inspecting, marking, mapping and documenting the key characteristics of monumental and legacy trees. The tree chosen is approximately 170 centimetres in diameter and is one of several large cultural cedar trees that BCTS has inventoried and reserved for First Nations to access under permit.

The log was delivered to the school grounds on Saturday, Feb. 2. As is customary, a traditional blessing organized jointly by Wei Wai Kum and Wei Wai Kai will occur before any carving begins.

Many companies assisted in the successful delivery of the log to the school: Holbrook Dyson Logging Ltd. for yarding and loading, Sibola Mountain Falling Ltd. for falling, Fearless Trucking for trucking, Strategic Natural Resource Consultants for log banding and Discovery Crane for unloading the log at the school.

BCTS staff based in Campbell River periodically contribute their time to the forestry program at Carihi Secondary and are excited to be able to assist in this community-building Indigenous cultural program and event.

The Carihi Mirror will be following the carving of the canoe. Watch for updates in upcoming editions of the Carihi Mirror in the page of the Campbell River Mirror and online at campbellrivermirror.com

Quick Facts:

* The Nanwakolas Council is comprised of six local First Nations, including the Mamalilikulla, Tlowitsis, Da’nada’xw Awaetlala, Wei Wai Kum, Kwiakah and K’omoks. The Nanwakolas Council serves as the vehicle through which the member First Nations regionally pursue land and marine resource planning and management of resource-based economic development activities.

* Large cultural cedars are old-growth cedar trees of sufficiently high quality to be used in traditional First Nations practices, such as canoe and pole carving or for traditional-style longhouses.

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