July 30, 2008

Cultural voyage by canoe

'Tribal Journeys' paddle one of largest everThe sound of 1,000 handcrafted paddles being beaten in rhythm in the bottoms of more than 100 canoes echoed across Cowichan Bay on Vancouver Island Monday evening as the boats were drawn to shore in the shadow of Mt. Tzouhalem, the sacred mountain of the Quw'utsum peoples.

"Welcome our relatives from the south, from Puget Sound," called out Cowichan Chief Lydia Hwitsun. "Welcome our relatives from the west. From the east, from the north."

The canoes were part of the largest Tribal Journeys paddle in modern times. Begun in 1989, the event commemorates the paddles of old, before first contact and before arbitrary political boundaries, when members of coastal First Nations travelled unfathomable distances in open boats to trade, visit, or sometimes, wage war.

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