Saturday, 21 canoes will launch from Mackenzie Beach near Pacific
Rim National Park on an eight-day journey to Port Alberni that is
much more important than simple transportation.
The canoes are part of the 2011 Pulling
Together Canoe Journey, representing police and other public service
agencies, First Nations and youth from across the province.
Pulling Together is a physical, cultural
and spiritual canoe journey that takes place every year on the west
coast of British Columbia, usually on the south coast. Together,
living within Aboriginal culture for the duration of the journey,
all participants face the demands of a long and difficult canoe
trip together. By the end of the journey there is a newfound understanding
and friendship between participants.
"I think it highlights the way things
have come full circle, that relationships can change," planning
chairman Boyd Pearson said. Pearson is an RCMP constable in Port
Alberni, and a member of the Metis Nation from Batoche, Sask. He
has participated in two other such events, and this year brought
it to the Alberni Inlet.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada joined the
journey in 2008, as the idea began expanding beyond simple law enforcement.
For Jim Robson, the WCVI detachment supervisor, this is his first
journeyand he is stoked.
"It's important for youth and elders of
the communities to see the officers as individuals, see what they
stand for at this base level," he said.
is fundamental to First Nations on the west coast, so it was a natural
fit to include DFO officers on the journey, Robson said. "Salmon
fishing is at the root of their culture and creation," he said.
"We've had a long relationship with First Nations and at times it's
"When we can sit down and talk about the
root causes of issues and know each other, we often come to an understanding,"
He has already seen some of that, after
his canoeSto:mex Skwo:wech, or Sturgeon Warriorparticipated
in Aboriginal Days at Paper Mill Dam. Robson spent part of the day
taking children for rides in the canoe in an area that has been
known for its fisheries conflicts in the past.
"It was a pretty powerful day," he said.
Pearson would also like to see new relationships
develop between First Nations youth and elders and public service
agencies, but his biggest reason for wanting Pulling Together to
come to the Alberni Valley was to bring back the canoe culture to
"The ultimate goal is for a successful
journey this year but also to get canoes in the water locally,"
he said. He would like to see canoes from this region participate
in future Pulling Together events.
"I don't confess this is going to solve
all the problems of the world," he said. "I look at it as a first
To follow the canoe journey, go online