Tribal Journeys canoes passed by Cape Mudge in 2014 on their way to Bella Bella. Next year

Regional district steps up to sponsor Tribal Journeys

The Nuyumbalees Cultural Society will receive some help from the Strathcona Regional District

The Nuyumbalees Cultural Society will receive some financial help from the Strathcona Regional District in hosting a monumental First Nations cultural event next summer.

The regional district board, at last week’s Wednesday meeting, pledged $10,000 to help host Standing Together-Tribal Journeys 2017.

The event will cost $945,000 to put on and has already received sponsorships from the City of Campbell River, BC Hydro, Interfor, Timberwest and the two hosting nations – the We Wai Kai Nation and the Wei Wai Kum Nation.

Tribal Journeys is a 25-year annual tradition that promotes cross cultural and intercultural exchange among thousands of pullers, spectators and dignitaries.

Roughly 100 canoes are expected to pull into Cape Mudge on Quadra Island and Campbell River on Aug. 5, 2017 and Aug. 7, 2017, respectively.

Paddlers will be welcomed with a traditional ceremony, a gift exchange and a public feast on both sides of the water.

A total of 5,000 people are expected to attend the feast on Quadra Island and a whopping 7,000 are estimated to attend in Campbell River.

The event is a massive undertaking, with 25,000 meals provided on the Quadra side throughout the event and 45,000 meals served in Campbell River. More than 500 volunteers will be recruited to help bring all of the plans for the Tribal Journeys event to fruition.

Campbell River Regional District Director and Mayor Andy Adams said the support from the regional district is a great show of collaboration.

“It’s another demonstration of support of an event that will be great for our area,” Adams said.

The event celebrates the histories and cultures of various First Nation families from around the world who will be coming to our region.

The official Tribal Journeys Talking Stick was presented to the two host nations – We Wai Kai and We Wai Kum – at the close of last year’s event in Nisqually to acknowledge the future hosts.

The Talking Stick will spend the next 12 months visiting the Wei Wai Kum Nation, the We Wai Kai Nation, Campbell River City Hall, the Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre – which is coordinating the event – and the Strathcona Regional District offices.

At last week’s regional district board meeting, directors narrowly passed a motion to request that the Talking Stick be displayed at the regional district’s corporate headquarters for at least one month.

Area C Director Jim Abram’s reasoning was that the board only meets twice a month and if the Talking Stick is at the regional district office on a week that no meeting is scheduled, then the public will miss out on seeing it.

That motion passed, but with directors Adams, Noba Anderson, Michele Babchuk, Larry Samson and Brad Unger opposed.

They felt that it wasn’t up to the regional district to dictate the Talking Stick’s schedule and didn’t want to inconvenience the coordinators.

Rod Naknakim, president of the Nuyumbalees Cultural Society, said overall, the entire event is very special.

“Tribal Journeys is a revival of the traditional method of transportation and a significant cultural experience for all the participants,” he said. “Tribal Journeys has helped promote cross cultural exchange among the thousands of pullers, spectators and dignitaries that have participated.”

The event has been ongoing since 1986 when the Glwa canoe family paddled 500 kilometres from Bella Bella to Expo ’86.

The event officially began in 1989 when the Glwa canoe family invited all canoe families to their territory.

The event is an economic boon to the regions who play host each year.

Last year in Nisqually, 102 canoes took part, attracting 8,000 spectators to the Port of Olympia.