Two local area First Nations will play host to next year’s prestigious Tribal Journeys event that celebrates histories, cultures, and families and weaves them together.
Next August, the We Wai Kai and the We Wai Kum nations will welcome canoe families from around the world to both Quadra Island and Campbell River.
Rod Naknakim, president of the Nuyumbalees Cultural Society, said the nations are expecting around 100 canoes.
“It’s a pretty exciting event,” Naknakim told city council during Monday’s council meeting. “They’ll spend about two and a half days at Cape Mudge and another two and a half days here in We Wai Kum.”
Jodi Simkin, executive director of the Nuyumbalees Cultural Society, said the canoes will arrive at Cape Mudge first – on Aug.5, 2017 – and a public feast will follow.
“Over the course of the two and half days that the canoe families are in Cape Mudge, we will provide 26,000 meals on our side (Quadra Island),” Simkin said.
On the Monday, which will be B.C. Day, the canoes will journey across the passage to Campbell River where they will be greeted by the Wei Wai Kum and treated to another public feast.
“There will be around 70,000 meals served over the duration of the event,” said Simkin, adding that the nations expect 5,000 people total on the Cape Mudge side and 7,000 in Campbell River attending the event. “This is about a $750,000 venture, so not for the faint of heart.”
Simkin said Tribal Journeys provides families with a chance to share the stories of their canoes, take part in a gift exchange and share meals. There will also be welcoming ceremonies by the chiefs of both the Wei Wai Kum and the Wei Wai Kai.
Dan Smith, vice-president of the Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre, said he attended last year’s Tribal Journeys event with Simkin. He said the event, which was hosted by the Nisqually, was a tremendous success, attracting 8,000 people and more than 150 vendors.
A success he expects will repeat itself next year in Campbell River and on Quadra Island.
“I think we’re going to be challenged with accommodating the five or seven thousand people coming here,” Smith said, adding that event organizers are looking forward to collaborating with the City of Campbell River.
Mayor Andy Adams said there is no question that the city will do all it can to help.
“I think you can rest assured that you’ll have support from the City of Campbell River,” Adams said.