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Salish Sea Sentinel | September 20, 2017

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Pulling Together: canoe journey wraps on shores of Vancouver

Pulling Together: canoe journey wraps on shores of Vancouver

Photos by Cara McKenna

A 10-day canoe journey finished up on the shores of Vancouver on July 14, as paddlers were granted permission to come ashore by Coast Salish leaders.

It was the first time in 16 years that the Pulling Together Canoe Journey landed in Vancouver, and the city hosted a Gathering of Canoes as part of its “Canada 150+” events.

The annual journey hosted by the Pulling Together Canoe Society is unique because it includes representatives from public service agencies, such as local governments and police, paddling alongside Indigenous people.

At the journey’s end, hundreds of people gathered on the shores of Vanier Park to watch the arrival of up to 30 canoes with more than 350 paddlers, some of whom came all the way from the Sunshine Coast.

Tsleil-Waututh Chief Maureen Thomas, Musqueam Chief Wayne Sparrow (yəχʷ), council  members and elders engaged in traditional protocol with the paddlers before they were welcomed ashore for lunch and celebrations.

“These protocols are as old as the land itself, they are part of who we are as Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh people,” said Musqueam Councillor Morgan Guerin.

Vancouver Gregor Robertson joined the paddlers for the arrival and said he felt “privileged” to take part in the journey.

“Today is a day that I will never forget,” he said. “There’s a feeling you get in these canoes when everyone is in sync … we were a diverse mix of paddlers of many different heritages and we were very fortunate to be in the same canoe together. It’s a great metaphor.”