Canoe families coming to Campbell River for Tribal Journeys gathering

The We Wai Kai and the Wei Wai Kum are welcoming around 100 canoe families into their territory in the beginning of August for the annual Tribal Journeys gathering.

Some canoe families will be paddling daily for more than five weeks to attend the gathering. Each stop along the way provides an opportunity for different communities to share, learn and practice the important cultural protocols of their communities.

The journey itself is an acknowledgement of the coastal waters that sustain and connect First Nations communities to one another physically as well as a common thread in histories, stories, art and families.

It is a journey of healing and health for the individual as well as the community. For many it represents a connection to each other, to the land and to their cultural heritage.

The canoe families will be welcomed at Cape Mudge on Aug. 5 with traditional ceremonies, a public feast and an exchange of gifts.

On Monday they will cross the strait to be welcomed by the Wei Wai Kum in Campbell River with another round of ceremonies, feasts and gifts.

Jodi Simkin, the executive director of the Nuyumbalees Culture Centre Society, said Tribal Journeys provides families with a chance to share the stories of their canoes, take part in a gift exchange and share meals. Spectators are invited to gather on the shores and witness the arrival of the canoes, as well as attend the feasts welcoming the families.

Simkin said more than 500 volunteers will be involved in the event and they are expecting to serve 70,000 meals over the duration of the event.

The event is expected to bring 5,000 people to the community. Last year the host community, Nisqually, welcomed 102 canoes and 8,000 spectators.

The first ever journey took place in 1986 when the Glwa canoe family paddled 500 kilometres from Bell Bella to Expo’86 in Vancouver. In 1989 the family invited all canoe families to their territory and the event has continued since then.

Aboriginal Day