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Canoe races in Ladysmith set for Labour Day weekend

Stz’uminus seeking sponsor support for annual event
Stz’uminus canoe racing is always intense, like this event last year. (Photo by Duck Paterson)

The Stz’uminus First Nation’s chief and council is hosting its traditional war canoe races Sept. 3 and 4 as part of a usually busy Labour Day weekend in Ladysmith and looking for some financial support from the community.

“We are determined to make sure that our races will be fun, safe and successful for all,” noted chief Roxanne Harris.

“The races are free to attend,” added Town of Ladysmith Councillor Duck Paterson. “Come down to Transfer Beach.”

“The Canadian circuit for Indigenous canoe races promotes a healthy way of living for our First Nations people,” Harris indicated in a letter to community partners. “The paddlers live a clean lifestyle free of drugs and alcohol and have weekly strength and core training.”

The circuit entails host weekends for the Malahat, Songhees, Musqueam, Snuneymuxw and many other First Nations as well as the Stz’uminus.

Race brackets include children from five years old to adults. More than 1,000 people came to the Town of Ladysmith last year for the races, Harris pointed out.

“This year, we’re hoping the event will be bigger than ever.”

Extensive fundraising is required to host the canoe races, Harris emphasized. Many things need to be provided such as first aid, water and boat committees, cash payouts for all races, certified food vendors, camping locations, grounds maintenance and more.

Businesses will be highlighted as a valuable sponsor on the Stz’uminus web page, social media channels, marketing materials and an advertisement in the Ladysmith Chronicle newspaper.

Sponsorship inquiries can be directed to the Stz’uminus administration office at 250-245-7155, Ext. 225.

The loggers sports exhibition that’s normally another big part of Labour Day weekend in Ladysmith won’t be happening this year. Dave MacLeod, the workhorse behind the event, suffered a serious injury and isn’t able to carry out his abundant organizing duties.

“He was the one that supplied the ‘working wood’ for the show as well as found the competitors and he also did the tree act and competed himself,” noted Paterson. “He would only have been able to supervise. Our local committee is very small and so things just did not fall into place.”

COVID put the squeeze on loggers sports the last two years, but it was just coming back only to have a fluky accident put MacLeod out of commission, the main man and wood supplier for the events.

After Labour Day weekend, it won’t be long before the 25th anniversary of the Cops For Cancer Tour de Rock and Paterson will get his first haircut in a year on Oct. 3 as a fundraiser.

“Since last year’s Tour de Rock I was challenged by one of the riders if I would let my hair grow,” said Paterson. “It’s for kids so I get a kick out of it.”

Some folks in his age group may have trouble growing their hair, but not Paterson. It may be thinner, but he has a lot of it to cut off for the charity.

Paterson said he’s already raised a couple of thousand dollars. “I’m hoping for about $8,000,” he added.

The exact location for the massive haircut when the Tour comes through Ladysmith has yet to be set, but will likely be at Ladysmith Secondary School.

Folks can support Paterson by dropping off donations at the Ladysmith & District Credit Union and letting the teller know it’s for the Tour de Rock account or they can call 250-245-2263 and Paterson will pick up their donation. Those providing their names and addresses to the Canadian Cancer Society will be issued a tax receipt once the Cops for Cancer is done.


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Duck Paterson is sporting a new look after a year of growing his hair, but needs to shed this soon with some Tour de Rock donations. (Photo submitted)

Don Bodger

About the Author: Don Bodger

I've been a part of the newspaper industry since 1980 when I began on a part-time basis covering sports for the Ladysmith-Chemainus Chronicle.
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